Trek Bicycle is being sued for $5 million by a New York man who says the company is making misleading claims that its Bontrager WaveCel helmets are safer than other brands.
Wavecel is Bontrager’s protection system that is applied to some of its helmets. Rather than using a slip plane, like Mips, it uses a collapsible cellular material that’s designed to flex, crumple, and glide to absorb the force of an impact. This did not replace the EPS foam that is used in most helmets but the amount of foam that’s used is greatly reduced.
Andrew Glancey of Staatsburg, New York, is the lead plaintiff in a class-action suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit charges that the WaveCel helmet technology was “touted by the defendant as the most significant advancement in cycling in the last 30 years when it was released in early 2019.”
Language describing the latest and greatest gadgets as “revolutionary” is nothing new, especially to anyone who’s been around cycling for a while. Using that language around safety concerns, however, is different.
Interestingly, the suit also alleges Trek’s study did not actually use a Bontrager WaveCel helmet. Instead, a Scott ARX helmet modified with WaveCel lining was used for testing.
“Trek believes in and stands behind our Bontrager WaveCel helmets,” a Trek spokesman said. “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.”
The company sold more WaveCel helmets at higher prices than it would have in the absence of the misrepresentations, resulting in additional profits at the expense of consumers, according to the suit. Trek has 10 Bontrager WaveCel models for kids and adults ranging in price from $89.99-$299.99.