Summary: Sources of low cost helmets for promotion campaigns. Near the bottom of the page is a possible source of free helmets for individual children, not programs.
Good news for consumers!
If you need helmets for a campaign, or perhaps just for a large family, you will find sources below for helmets certified to the CPSC standard beginning at $3 to $5. For local purchase, Target and Wal-Mart have them starting at $10, and Wal-Mart has Bell's easier to fit True Fit system models starting at about $20. Toys 'R' Us and other retailers have them every day for $8 to $25. Even bicycle stores, with their higher level of service and valuable help in fitting, usually have helmets around $35. Some local bike shops will shave their prices for a campaign to encourage more walk-in business. So you may find good helmets for your program at a local discounter or bike shop.
Our research shows that cheap helmets provide the same level of impact protection as the most expensive ones do. In the past the less expensive models have actually scored better in Consumer Reports testing. The helmets below are mostly made in China, except for the Bells, made in USA of US and Chinese components.
There are also good deals from mail order suppliers with ads in bicycle magazines or on the Internet. Since the CPSC standard became law in 1999, any helmets you buy from a US retailer will have the sticker inside certifying to it. Sellers outside the US may have non-CPSC-certified helmets.
Bear in mind that helmets are a piece of wearing apparel. Some of the super cheap models look it. If you choose those, that seriously degrades the cool factor. So the helmet chosen is an important part of your campaign, constrained by what you can afford. We gave some moderately expensive helmets to a local youth program and the kids, who had been using the cheapest available dorky models when required for rides, started wearing the nicer ones around the shop.
If you are seeking bids for a large order, or do not have local sources of cheap helmets, there are many choices:
Safe Kids USA has arranged with one of their sponsors, Bell Sports, to provide helmets made by Bell to their local chapters at prices around $7.50 each, the price through December, 2004. Bell also provides multisport and snow sport helmets at a discount, and makes the program available through Safe Kids to other non-profits. Unfortunately, the cheaper Bell models do not fit very well, with a tendency to "strap creep." You can contact your local Safe Kids chapter or their national headquarters at 202-662-0600. You can also call Kathy Hoffmann at Bell Sports at 800-494-4543 ext 260, or send her a fax to 217-892-2662, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
The postal mailing address is
Bell Sports, Inc.
1924 County Road, 3000 N
Rantoul, IL 61866
She will provide interested organizations with current ordering information and a SafeKids contact in their area. She can also tell you about a direct program for police and EMS bike officers including helmets and other stuff. Riders and parents may appreciate the Bell name recognition factor for a low-priced helmet, although the fit in cheaper Bells leaves a lot to be desired.
The American Children's Safety Network, primarily a non-profit provider of low-cost helmets, informed us in March of 2005 that they had limited abilities to provide free helmets to local programs. They were contacting us looking for organizational funding at the time, so we would assume that their capabilities really are limited, but they are worth a try. They sell low cost helmets as well, but have no details on the Web.
American Safety ASHP has helmets for prices ranging from under $6 to $35 for BMX models, plus freight of $1.25 to $3 per helmet. Some models are Snell B-95 certified. They have a true dual-certified skate-style helmet that meets both the CPSC bicycle helmet standard and ASTM F-1492 skateboard standard for only $11. We would avoid their Swift 20 model with the pronounced rear overhang that adds nothing to safety and provides a potential snag point in a fall. ASHP has a 40 helmet minimum and a $25 surcharge for orders under $500.
HeadStart Technologies has a line of Canadian-made EPP helmets selling for $7 to non-profits. EPP is a multi-impact foam, so you don't have to trash the helmet after every impact. They
say the models for the U.S. are all ASTM certified. They also have toddler helmets made for either U.S. or Canadian (CSA standard) specs. The Canadian standard differs considerably from the US standard for toddler helmets, and is probably better. Contact Headstart Technologies, 558 Massey Road, Unit 6, Guelph, ONT N1K-1B4, Canada. tel. 800-423-3409 or 519-836-6646.
Helmets R Us has a line of TopGear helmets starting at about $20.00. They also sell retail to individuals. They have sizing info for retail sales and a How to Fit video for programs that costs $15.
J & B Importers has a line of helmets at about $7 to $15. They are certified to the CPSC standard. Contact Lisa Humphries, Sales Manager, by email at
email@example.com or by voice phone at 800-666-0400 x255. J & B is a well-known wholesaler to the bicycle industry of all kinds of bicycle parts and accessories. They established this program to deal with non-profits.
Prevention Alternatives Inc has helmets from Vigor Sports at $6 for 12-vent helmets with black foam and $8.50 for skate-style models, plus shipping if ordering less than 100 units. Discounts available on large orders. Prevention Alternatives, Inc, PO Box 16, Haslett MI 48840, 517-927-7731.
ProRider (Children-N-Safety or CNS) has "economy" bike helmets starting at $3.65 each, the lowest price we have seen anywhere. They have other models in the five to six dollar range, some certified to Snell B-95, a slightly more demanding standard than CPSC. Their skate-style helmets are certified only to the CPSC bicycle helmet standard, as are most skate-style helmets in this price range. Their BMX (motorcycle-style) helmets are certified only to the CPSC bike helmet standard, and are priced at about $45 to $50. Contact ProRider, 18370 Olympic Avenue South, Tukwila, WA 98188, tel. 800-642-3123, fax 425-251-5985, email
Disclaimer: We do not accept support from these companies or any other manufacturer. We have had no business relationship with any of them, so we can not actually recommend any of them. We would recommend normal business caution in dealing with any commercial enterprise, including non-profit helmet suppliers!
See our Free Helmets page.
In addition to the above, most major US helmet manufacturers have on rare occasion donated helmets for a local campaign of some kind. Usually the request has to hit just right, when they have some leftover (but good) helmets of a particular model, or it fits somehow with their current marketing strategy. They don't announce those donations because their full-price dealers would be upset and they would be inundated with requests. We don't have any more info than that, but you can check out our Links page for the Web sites of the manufacturers.
This page was updated or partially revised on: March 7, 2015.