Gone with the Gear: Should You Buy Motorcycle Gear off of Amazon?

Motorcycle Airbags (Life Jackets) Recalled - and That Ain't the Worst of it.

Amazon boxes being deployed to their respective new owners. Media sourced from Vox.
Amazon boxes being deployed to their respective new owners. Media sourced from Vox.
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You know those ‘catfishing’ ads that show off svelte, perfectly-fitting, leather-looking jackets with seemingly pristine safety certification ratings – and all for limbo-low pricepoints? 

If you know what I’m talking about, you also know that what’s on the screen is totally NOT what arrives in the mail a few weeks later. For years, 2D-vs-3D perspectives have skewed what really makes a safe set of gear for the ATTGAT-conscious rider – and in the case of this recent recall by the UK government, a failure to comply with basic PPE requirements caused the units to be pulled off the Amazon.com shelves entirely.

We should mention the big bit of scandal; that some of these units were life jackets masquerading as motorcycle airbags.

…yeah.

An image of a life jacket masquerading as a motorcycle airbag with irrelevant safety ratings. Media sourced from Bennetts.
An image of a life jacket masquerading as a motorcycle airbag with irrelevant safety ratings. Media sourced from Bennetts.

The report from Bennetts states that “the products are classed as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).”

“The products were not supplied with the required compliance documentation (PPE Regulation 2016/425), or markings to demonstrate that they have been adequately conformity assessed.”

“Some of those recalled ‘life jackets’ were also being sold as ‘motorcycle airbags’.”

An image of a life jacket masquerading as a motorcycle airbag with irrelevant safety ratings. Media sourced from Bennetts.
An image of a life jacket masquerading as a motorcycle airbag with irrelevant safety ratings. Media sourced from Bennetts.

The tricky part at this point isn’t the gear itself, but Amazon’s reputation as a reputable platform; according to this report, ‘ALL motorcycle clothing put onto the market since the 21st of April, 2018, MUST be tested and certified as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).’

To match this, Amazon’s contract with their suppliers, states that ‘third party sellers are independent businesses and are required to follow all applicable laws, regulations, and Amazon policies when listing items for sale in [Amazon].’

How does this affect Amazon as the representing body of third-party suppliers?

Not much, apparently. 

A motorcycle rider enjoying an electric motorcycle. Media sourced from Studio Cycle Group’s Facebook page.

The report details multiple people finding over 60 models of gear that were not safe to wear for today’s motorcycle safety ratings. The units – at least 38 – deemed by leading members of Personal Protective Equipment Regulation (such as Paul Varnsverry, an expert in the field), were ‘flagged by the platform and eventually removed, with the third-party sellers risking having their platforms removed.’

And that’s after a lengthy battle to have the items removed, with a long laundry list of communications between Amazon’s side and people like Paul.

This story is just one of many in an increasingly digital landscape – and Amazon’s reputation may eventually suffer from it. 

A view of YouTube Bikes and Beards trying out motorcycles purchased from a third party on Amazon. Media sourced from Youtube.
A view of YouTube Bikes and Beards trying out motorcycles purchased from a third party on Amazon. Media sourced from Youtube.

“Customers deserve to be well protected everywhere they shop,” argues Dr Jeremy Opperer, the Principal, EMEA Product Trust & Regulatory Affairs at Amazon. 

“Each part of the value chain has a role to play. From manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers to online marketplaces. Even authorities and consumers play a part.”

This quote is from a video of Dr. Opperer in an interview with Corporate Communications, showing what the brand’s beliefs. 

So how can we as riders make sure we get quality gear on a platform that promotes third-party sellers? 

Amazon's logo. Media sourced from Mint.
Amazon’s logo. Media sourced from Mint.

The same way we walk into a bazaar and know how to pinpoint the freshest plants, the finest cloth, the best deals: By using multiple tools to check a single resource from every angle possible.

1. Read reviews on the product. 

We at wBW spend a stupid amount of time reviewing gear that we get – and much to the chagrin of many, we’re embarrassingly honest about how well it performs. If you can find a platform where someone is giving their honest, it’s-not-all-a-basket-of-roses opinion of it, odds are you can take that and bank it as one of your trustworthy sources. 

2. Check the certification ratings…everywhere.

Do this both on the gear’s original brand website as well as whichever digital platform sells it – and do it before buying the thing. Who knows how much of a pain it will be to get that package back through the post on a return policy.

3. Stay Surf-Smart!

Did you just stumble upon an ad (or a website page) where a brand-new, genuine leather jacket sits discounted at 95% off with free shipping and a 10% coupon if you submit your personal information? 

Wow. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, don’t you think?

It isn’t, and please don’t. 

Take it from us – a deal like that doesn’t exist. You’re very likely getting a lesson in the groan-worthy side of bang-for-buck, so cancel that order while you still can. 

An adventure rider enjoying the dusty indies. Media sourced from Rider Magazine.
An adventure rider enjoying the dusty indies. Media sourced from Rider Magazine.

What do you think?

Comment down below – we’d love to hear from you. 

Be sure to also subscribe to our newsletter, where our main man Cameron Martel curates the best of the latest (including the newest in our team’s gear reviews!). 

Check ‘er out, give us a shout, and as ever – stay safe on the twisties. 

*Media sourced from Bennetts, Rider Magazine, and Studio Cycle Group’s Facebook*

Leave a Reply

  1. I would love to have here in Brazil a group of dedicated individuals such as yourselves to have our (very vulnerable) backs. Unfortunately, not everything you review is available to us here. But the advice is priceless and I always try to find out everything I can about a certain product. If it’s too good to be true, it´s because it isn´t. Keep up the good work!

  2. If the motorcycle gear manufacturers and the big retail suppliers weren’t engaged in price fixing no one would look to Amazon for reasonable prices. I’ve searched for a wide range of gear and accessories on 10’s of big suppliers and found that practically all of them have the same prices, with the exception of discontinued or odd size items.

      1. Definitely price fixing. For example look for a particular model of a name brand set of gloves. Every retailer has the exact price. No competition no matter how large(volume buying) the retailer is.

  3. I saw that airbag sold here in France 6 months ago, the seller confirmed it’s SRA approved (French safety body) but it’s not on the SRA list, hmm. No response from SRA and the seller still exists, i’ve also seen similar on aliexpress, I didn’t buy from them either.