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Trek facing $5million lawsuit over WaveCel helmet safety claims

Joe Robinson
11 Jan 2021

Lawsuit filed claiming Trek's WaveCell safety claims were misleading and questioning testing procedures

A US$5 million lawsuit has been filed against Trek Bicycle relating to ‘false, deceptive’ claims made by subsidiary brand Bontrager in its WaveCel helmet technology.

First reported by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, Andrew Glancey of Staatsburg, New York began the process of suing Trek in a class-action lawsuit last Thursday, centring the court case around both ‘misleading claims’ made about the WaveCel technology and inaccuracies in the testing procedures.

The lawsuit's primary concern is the claim that WaveCel is ‘revolutionary’ and ‘up to 48 times more effective than traditional foam helmets’ in the prevention of concussions during a crash, the suit stating that the technology from Bontrager was ‘touted by the defendant as the most significant advancement in cycling in the last 30 years when it was released in early 2019’.

The suit, which was filed in the Southern District of New York, further details that ‘significant potential conflicts of interest’ were presented after allegedly misleading safety tests were conducted by those with a financial interest in the success of the technology.

Glancey also claims that the testing results presented by Bontrager were not from a Trek-made Bontrager WaveCel helmet but in fact from a Scott ARX helmet that had been modified with the WaveCel technology.

When released, the new technology from Bontrager certainly raised a few eyebrows, not just for its unique looks. It called WaveCel the biggest advancement in helmet safety for 30 years, shying away from the traditional polyester foam liner technique found in almost all other bicycle helmets.

Swedish helmet safety specialist Mips, which makes a helmet liner that also aims to prevent concussion from rotational forces, released a statement in response to the WaveCel technology stating that after conducting its own tests, it found that WaveCel did not live up to its ‘48 times safer’ claims.

Additionally, independent helmet testing conducted by Virginia Tech University found that while WaveCel performed highly in safety testing – specifically in the Bontager Specter WaveCel helmet – it was still outscored by traditional polyester foam-lined helmets with Mips technology.

Trek is ready to stand by its product, however, with a spokesman from the brand telling Bicycle Retailer and Industry News it is ready to ‘vigorously defend’ WaveCel against any accusations.

‘Trek believes in and stands behind our Bontrager WaveCel helmets,’ a Trek spokesman responded on Friday.

‘This lawsuit is without merit, and we will vigorously defend against it. The plaintiff has not made an allegation of physical injury. Trek will continue to responsibly promote and improve this innovation in helmet technology.’

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