AliExpress BLD Helmet Review: If You Have a $17 Head

If you have a $17 head, this is your helmet.

I wear a modular motorcycle helmet when I ride. I don’t mind the weight or the extra airflow noise. I like being able to flip the chinbar up for a sip or bite while I ride. I like being able to open the face up so I can walk into a convenience store or get some air while stopped at a light. I also like knowing that responsible manufacturers have truly certified that my skull protection has met DOT standards and, even better, had their helmets independently tested to current ECE standards.

I love reviewing and sharing my experiences with fellow riders so they can make informed buying decisions. I love being able to shop till I drop. I support the manufacturers that innovate new products for motorcycles, and I absolutely will not buy a knock-off. I am very vocal about that on the many motorcycle forums I participate on.

So, when I saw this BLD-branded modular helmet on AliExpress for $17, with the description DOT- and ECE-approved, I had to check it out.

The freight charges from China ($21) were more than the cost of the helmet. I waited patiently, all the while wondering if I would receive a helmet that would fit my dog or a helmet to wear as part of a Halloween costume. There is no way a DOT- and ECE R22.05-approved helmet can have a $17 retail price.

Yes, this is how it was shipped—no box.

Some joke under their breaths that the brand-name manufacturers pay mere dollars for their products, with marketing budgets and profits lifting the MSRPs to the high levels we are accustomed to seeing. However, the reality is that the costs of R&D, engineers, warehouses, quality testers, and more must be covered. But, most importantly, we can trust the name brands to test and certify their helmets, or have it done by a reputable, independent lab. In the case of a budget helmet purchased via AliExpress, nope!

What I received from AliExpress in China was sealed in a plastic bag and surrounded by one layer of bubble wrap. Inside was a useless novelty helmet. Here is what I saw when I took my first look at my brand-new $17 helmet BLD modular helmet:

  • It was unbelievably light. The only aspect of the description that was true is its weight—2.84 pounds.
  • There is a blemish on the candy apple red paint (official color name: 21).
  • The back, front, and top of my head touch the EPS liner. The only padding is against the ears.
  • The chin bar wiggles.
  • The chin bar latches are plastic locking into plastic.
  • The chin strap uses a ratchet closure that is all plastic.
  • The faceshield is so thin that it flexes and won’t lock down when pushed with a finger; it is not marked VESC 8 compliant.
  • There is no ECE certification label sewn onto the chin strap, which is how the certification is officially to be labeled.
  • The DOT sticker on the back of the helmet is noncompliant with current DOT labeling requirements.
  • There is no Manufacturer’s sticker on the inner EPS with the manufacturer and manufacture date—part of the required labeling for DOT certification.
  • No BLD-branded helmets appear to have been tested by NHTSA since 2014. As there is no documentation that self-certification, testing is required under FMVSS 218, there is no way to determine if this helmet has ever been tested for physical performance compliance by the manufacturer. Regardless, it clearly fails to meet labeling requirements, which is a red flag.

There is no way I am going to ride with it to test the wind noise, or anything else about it. It is not a legitimate motorcycle helmet, and certainly not one that meets DOT and ECE standards.

Noncompliant labeling does not inspire confidence.

In an exchange of emails, the seller advised me that the helmets they are selling come to them with a DOT and ECE sticker on the back, and they make no claim as to authenticity. I also emailed the Black Lion BLD company, whose logo is prominent on the helmet’s exterior and whose imprint appears on the EPS foam. BLD did not respond to confirm whether or not the helmet I purchased was a genuine BLD product.

When I saw the BLD helmet on AliExpress, I was intrigued. I had a few dollars to spend to satisfy my curiosity, and I got a whimsical helmet in return.

Highly flexible faceshield won’t lock down.

You might be someone who will purchase a Chinese-sourced hard part that is not mission-critical when it comes to safety. We reviewed a Monster Fairing kit seven years ago and came away impressed.

However, do not waste your money on safety equipment with a price that is too good to be true. If you do, we’ll all know you have a $17 head.

Associate Editor Gary Ilminen contributed to this story

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