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Cannondale Teramo bike helmet fails safety test

The chinstrap buckle broke, so we’ve judged this helmet to be a Don’t Buy: Safety Risk

Last updated: June 02, 2016 03:30 PM

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Cannondale Teramo bike helmet

June 2, 2016, update:

Cannondale has changed the buckle on the Teramo and the helmet now passes our chinstrap test. It also performed well overall and is now Recommended. If you own a Cannondale Teramo helmet with the old buckle design, we recommend that you do not use it. If you are buying a new Cannondale Teramo helmet, be sure that it has the new buckle design. Read "Cannondale Teramo Bike Helmet Changes From a ‘Don’t Buy’ to ‘Recommended’" for more information and images of the old and new buckles. (This article was originally published on December 22, 2014.)

Wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet is the “single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But in order for a helmet to protect you, it has to perform the way it’s designed to. In recent Consumer Reports’ bike helmet tests, one manufacturer’s helmet failed a crucial part of our safety evaluation, and we are concerned it might not reliably protect cyclists in the event of an accident.

The buckle on the chinstrap of the Cannondale Teramo helmet ($120) snapped off or broke into pieces with four out of the five samples we evaluated during one of our routine bike helmet tests. The Cannondale Teramo was the only one helmet that failed out of the 14 helmets that we put through the same test. We’ve rated the Cannondale Teramo a Don’t Buy: Safety Risk.

“When you hit the ground, your helmet needs to be in place—not just on—to protect your head,” says Randy Swart, director of the non-profit Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute in Arlington, Virginia. “If the chinstrap breaks, all bets are off. The helmet could fly off and allow your head to hit the pavement and cause serious injury.”

Before a bike helmet can be sold in the U.S., the Consumer Product Safety Commission requires that it pass a test to evaluate the strength and holding power of the chinstrap (called the dynamic strength of retention system test). Consumer Reports’ chinstrap test is modeled after, but not identical to, the CPSC's standard. We put all helmets through the same chinstrap test: We drop an 83/4-pound weight 2 feet. The weight pulls on the strap to simulate the force that might occur in a accident. In this part of our testing, we check to see whether the strap stretches too much or breaks or comes loose where it is attached to the helmet, and if the clasp or buckle remains intact.

We are not aware of any injuries related to chinstrap performance on the Cannondale Teramo and have not found mentions of problems with this particular chinstrap in user reviews on various websites or on the CPSC's SaferProducts.gov website. Nevertheless, when Consumer Reports discovers a potential safety risk during product testing, we report our findings to consumers and to the CPSC. The agency told us in an e-mail statement: “We are taking the issue seriously and following up on the information provided.”

When we contacted Cannondale and shared our test results, the company disputed our findings and said “we stand by our third-party independent test results.” Cannondale also said their helmets are “tested in accordance with the required [CPSC] protocol and have passed all testing" and that it had not received any reports of injuries.

We also inspected (but did not test) several other Cannondale models. It appeared that the chinstrap buckle on the Cypher was of similar design, and therefore that raises the concern that it could pose the same safety risk. Cannondale confirmed that the Cypher uses the same buckle as the Teramo, and said that their “independent third-party test lab batch tested the buckles” from the Cypher (also a CPSC test) and that “it has passed every test.”

When we asked Cannondale whether the company would consider giving Teramo owners a refund or credit for the helmet, it said “no issues with buckles or breakages exist.” Still, if you have concerns, we suggest you contact the company at 800-245-3872 or on its website

Bottom line: Consumer Reports’ recommends that you don’t buy the Cannondale Teramo. However it is vital that you always wear a helmet when riding a bike. If you already own this helmet, stop using it as soon as it's practical to do so. In our last test of bicycle helmets in 2012, we recommended the Bell Array ($80). We will be releasing the full results of our new bicycle helmet tests next spring.

—Consumer Reports

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