Lawsuit hits Trek Bicycle Company for 'false, deceptive' helmet safety claims

Bontrager's WaveCel helmet technology claims to vastly reduce brain injuries following a crash
Bontrager's WaveCel helmet was introduced in 2019 (Image credit: Bontrager/Trek)

A class-action lawsuit was filed in New York seeking $5 million against Trek Bicycle Corporation related to its Bontrager brand, stating that the company used “false, deceptive” claims about the WaveCel helmets being highly effective at reducing brain injuries following a bicycle crash.

An individual in Staatsburg, New York, Andrew Glancey, is the lead plaintiff, which was reported by BicycleRetailer.com (opens in new tab) on Thursday. The suit not only called out the “misleading claims” about the technology described in the construction of the helmets, which were launched in 2019, but also pointed to inaccuracies in the tests conducted to prove marketing statements.

One of the issues is with a claim by Trek that the WaveCel is “up to 48 times more effective than traditional foam helmets” in the prevention of concussions from a bicycle crash. The suit said that Trek profited from the false claims, charging an inflated price that saw some models sell for as much as $299.99 at retail.

In a statement from Trek, it was noted that an allegation of physical injury was not part of the lawsuit and that the company would defend its product.

“Trek believes in and stands behind our Bontrager Wavecel helmets,” a spokesperson from Trek told Cyclingnews on Saturday. “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.”

According to BicycleRetailer.com, the suit claims that the study used a different, modified helmet for its testing, not the actual Bontrager WaveCel helmet that would be marketed and sold, but instead a “Scott ARX helmet modified to include the WaveCel component.”

In 2019, a press release for Bontrager's WaveCel helmet called it "the most advanced helmet technology ever designed." It described the technology as replacing traditional EPS foam with layers of cells designed to move independently until the cell walls crumple and glide, dissipating both direct and rotational energy away from your head. 

When Bontrager announced its WaveCel helmet technology, the fanfare about  safety and energy absorption was met with quite a bit of controversy. Information about the product testing, conducted at the Helmet Impact Testing (HIT) facility of the Portland Biomechanics Laboratory, did mention that Scott ARX helmets were used in the independent study.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Cyclingnews is the world's leader in English-language coverage of professional cycling. Started in 1995 by University of Newcastle professor Bill Mitchell, the site was one of the first to provide breaking news and results over the internet in English. The site was purchased by Knapp Communications in 1999, and owner Gerard Knapp built it into the definitive voice of pro cycling. Since then, major publishing house Future PLC has owned the site and expanded it to include top features, news, results, photos and tech reporting. The site continues to be the most comprehensive and authoritative English voice in professional cycling.