The Global Market for Bicycle Helmets
Summary: We don't have good data on the global market for bicycle helmets.
We don't have any authoritative or reliable statistics on the size of the US or global market for bicycle helmets.
The data may or may not be gathered, but if they are, the numbers are considered proprietary and not reported anywhere in the public domain that we have found.
We have a number of guesses and speculations, and we have collected those in the items below. They do not answer the question, but will give you all the hints we have heard here and there. We update this page whenever we get a new inkling of what the total numbers may be, so you are welcome to email us, but we won't have anything newer that the refresh date at the bottom of this page. We just do not have the numbers.
We recommend looking at our Statistics Page as well for related numbers on total numbers of cyclists and bicycle sales.
Statistics from Pure Speculation
by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
(Updated October, 2010. Nothing new since)
How Many Helmets are Sold Each Year?
We have asked many manufacturers if they had a good estimate of how many helmets are sold in the US market each year. If they do have that info, they are not sharing it. So we are reduced to reporting rumor and speculation on this subject. The best guesses we have found are in the 12 to 15 million helmets per year range. The bulk of those would be mass merchant sales, rather than the helmets sold in bike shops. The 4,800 bike shops in the US market were rumored to sell about 700,000 helmets in the May-June-July quarter of 2009. In the September 1, 2010 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, Easton-Bell's Greg Shapleigh is quoted saying that they sold 11 million helmets in 2009 "across all brands and categories." That would include bike, hockey, football, snow and baseball helmets, but BRAIN reported that "the majority of those were for cycling." The article was not on BRAIN's Web site when we last checked on September 3, 2010. But BRAIN published new numbers in its October 1, 2010 issue, attributed to the Leisure Trends Group. Based on a year that started in July 2009 and ran through June 2010, they estimated 1,661,036 helmets sold by bike shops totaling $88,573,775. From January 2010 to June 2010 they estimated a 6.64% decline in unit sales and a 3.00% decline in dollar value. The numbers included adult, child and helmet accessories. They did not estimate helmet sales by big box stores. Here is the article in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News where the numbers appeared.
The National Bicycle Dealer's Association may have more numbers, but we don't know how to get them.
We do not have good price trend information either. We noted a small price increase in advertised mass merchant sales prices in our area after 2000, ending in mid-2004 when Wal-Mart began marketing a helmet for $7.14, and others followed. In the May 1, 2002 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, reporter Matt Wiebe said that helmet sales in the US for 2001 totaled $150 million. He did not attribute that estimate, but in the next paragraph he does quote then Bell Sports' President Bill Fry.
One manufacturer who was willing to give us an estimate put the total world market for bicycle helmets at 25 to 30 million helmets per year. We have no idea whether or not that is correct.
Bell Sports informed us that they manufactured more than four million bicycle helmets per year in the US in 2002-03 although they have some models made in Asia. They did not give us total sales.
If you need very old market estimates for comparisons, back in 1990, Bell Helmets was good enough to share with us their market estimates for total industry sales of bicycle helmets for 1989-1990. We were grateful to have these numbers from Bell, since they were not available to us elsewhere, and still are not. Bell cautioned at the time that the usage rates, which they referred to in marketingspeak as Usage Penetration rates, were approximate.
Industry-wide sales (millions)
|World||2.5 to 3.0||3.5 to 4.0
If you are researching the helmet market and call us to ask about these numbers we will not have anything to add to what is on this page! That goes for the Usage Rate numbers below as well. When we find out anything new, it appears here within hours.
Usage Rate (all bicyclists)
Usage Rate (regular bicyclists)
Old Statistics from the Headstrong Group:
How Many Helmets are Sold Each Year?
From Headstrong Group (no longer in business--this is old stuff!)
Market Share of Some Major Manufacturers:
Manufacturer 1993 1994 Percent 1995 est.
Bell Sports 3,000 4,000 40% 4,500
Cycle Products 1,500 2,000 20 2,000
Headstrong 1,700 17 3,300
Troxel 1,500 1,000 10 1,000
Other 1,000 1,300 13 2,200
----- ----- ----- -----
Total 7,000 10,000 100 13,000
Note: The brochure where this chart appears did not make it clear whether these estimates are for the U.S., North American or World helmet markets. It also does not say whether or not it includes the non-bicycle part of Headstrong's sales of baseball, equestrian, ski, snowboard and skating helmets. The source is cited as "Various industry reports and internal estimates." Whatever the accuracy of the figures, we are indebted to Headstrong Group as the only manufacturer to publicly publish their estimates. They are still on this page because we have yet to find other published numbers.
Strategic has told us that they sell millions of helmets to the US market every year.
Statistics from Other Manufacturers
Kuji Sports informed us in 2004 that they are shipping 3 million helmets per year to the US market.
This page was last revised on: February 15, 2011.