Community Warned of Defective Helmets

Bici Centro Finds Cracks in Vigor Helmets Handed out for Free

A retired physician who volunteers with the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition has discovered a manufacturing defect in a helmet that’s been handed out to schoolchildren and people who have purchased bicycles at Bici Centro, the coalition’s downtown hub. Last month, 31 out of the 108 size-large Vigor 1080X helmets in stock at Bici Centro were found to have hairline cracks where the chin strap is riveted to the outer plastic shell, said Dr. Daniel Fishbein, who examined the shop’s inventory after a customer reported the problem. On the customer’s helmet, the strap had become completely detached from the cracked outer shell. The majority of the faulty helmets were white, though the same defect was also found in green, purple, blue, and black helmets.

Since then, the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST) ​— ​which originally purchased the helmets and resold them to Bici Centro at cost ​— ​has notified 10 Santa Barbara schools where the helmets were also distributed as part of its ongoing bike-safety program. “Our records indicate that there are [18] of these helmets out in the community,” COAST said in the notification. Over the past 13 years, COAST has sold at discount or given away more than 15,000 helmets, according to Kim Stanley-Zimmerman, a coordinator for the nonprofit. The helmet in question has passed federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.

COAST has also notified Vigor manufacturer VSI Products, based in Cerritos. VSI Brand Manager John Dow told COAST to dispose of any remaining 1080X helmets on hand, and that VSI will credit COAST toward future orders. “We will further investigate this matter with our customers who purchased 1080X helmets in 2015 and follow through in similar fashion,” Dow said. “We will do our best to take care of this issue accordingly together with our factory.”

Earlier this month, Fishbein filed a report about the helmets with the CPSC. He also purchased the exact same helmet (white, size large) at Amazon to see if the problem reached beyond the bad batch sent to Santa Barbara. His new helmet arrived with a hairline crack at the strap rivet, he said.

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