Counterfeiters are getting better at manufacturing fakes, and more imitations are making their way into the market. With the black market for counterfeit parts on the rise, and more and more of these parts making their way online and into independent repair shops, motorcycle owners need to be vigilant.
Some sellers knowingly sell fake parts to earn a hefty profit, while some sellers don’t realize their suppliers are selling them fakes until their customers start to complain. So whether you’re a motorcycle parts seller or a motorcycle owner looking for parts for your bike, you should learn how to spot a fake.
In this guide, we will discuss the dangers of fake motorcycle parts and bike accessories. We will also give you tips on how to determine whether a part is authentic or a knockoff.
The Dangers of Fake Motorcycle Parts
Fake parts are not to be confused with the legitimate aftermarket motorcycle parts industry. While aftermarket parts are not connected or associated with original motorcycle manufacturers, their products are often equal to or even surpass the original. Counterfeit motorcycle parts, on the other hand, try to deceive consumers by copying the original part’s design and packaging. As knockoffs, fake parts will typically be made using cheap materials that were not tested for health, safety, performance, and durability. The World Health Organization suggests that the thousands of fatalities and injuries associated with motorcycles each year are linked to defective fake parts.
The problem with counterfeit parts and faked products is more than just copyright infringement. Fake parts can cause accidents or damage to your motorcycle. If counterfeiters are brazen enough to produce fake parts and take advantage of the public, then they are not likely to be concerned with safety. Therefore, their products will not go through the same rigorous testing that original parts undergo to ensure high performance, health, and safety.
Because fake parts don’t follow the same high standards and controls as authentic products, they’re also likely made with inferior materials. From sub-standard shock absorbers to brake pads made from cardboard or wood chips, the counterfeit market is filled with motorcycle parts made from materials that cause the part to be faulty and dangerous. Even a fake helmet can be life-threatening.
Tips on How to Spot a Fake Motorcycle Part
Distinguishing authentic from fake motorcycle parts is becoming harder. However, there are some red flags and tell-tale signs that you can look out for to help you spot a knock-off. Here are some tips:
Ask yourself if the price is too good to be true
Consumers will search the web for the part they need and get reeled in by low prices thinking they’re getting a great deal. Don’t be fooled into believing that original parts can be sold cheaper online because the seller doesn’t have to factor in the overhead of selling from a physical store. Counterfeiters try to attract customers who are searching for bargains. Therefore, fake parts are usually offered at a cheaper price.
Manufacturers of fake parts can sell their products for cheap because they likely use inferior materials and don’t go through research and development or testing. They won’t be focused on durability or whether the part fits and functions as it should. Counterfeiters will cut corners and use cheap materials to maximize their profits. They will also likely employ cheap laborers to make the products; in the worst cases, this involves child labor and sweatshops. Because poor imitations are made cheap, they can be sold for cheap. For example, a fake parts manufacturer may reproduce a part that was originally made using special grade cast iron, making it with cheap iron scraps.
Examine the packaging
Often, fake parts are made in countries that don’t enforce laws against counterfeiting strictly enough. Because the fake parts are made in another country or continent, they may not have a strong command in the original part’s manufacturer’s language. The result is often packaging that has misspellings and grammatically incorrect labels.
You would also be surprised by how many counterfeiters are so eager to pass off their products as the real deal that they would go to the extent of putting “genuine” or “original” on the packaging. It’s also not a good sign if the motorcycle part comes in a plain “no-name” package or marketed under an unknown brand name.
It’s true that some counterfeiters have become experts at replicating the original parts’ packaging as well. So even if the packaging looks legit, look for holograms and digital fingerprints. Compare the barcode on the boxes. If all the packaging has identical bardcodes, this is a red flag.
Research the seller and the product
Sellers of fake parts will likely pop up in forums of angry motorcycle owners. If you suspect the seller has simply changed their business name and continues to sell under a new name, check their ratings and reviews.
One of the best things about buying on eBay and Amazon is the ability for verified buyers to leave reviews on the products they’ve purchased. Take the time to read what other customers have to say about the quality of the seller’s product and service. Read the reviews on the product. See if customers speak highly of the part’s performance, fit, and function.
Handle the product
You won’t always have the ability to hold and handle the motorcycle part before purchasing, especially if you ordered it online. However, if you’re in a physical shop, asking to hold the part should be one of the first things you do. Because counterfeit parts are made with inferior materials, they will likely feel lighter than the original. Examine the part for craftsmanship. Poor quality fakes will look sloppy and rushed. The components of the part may also look ill-fitting.
If you order a part online from a seller for the first time and worry that you’ve been sold a fake, examine the part thoroughly before installing it on your bike. Compare it to the original part that you’re about to replace. Do they weigh the same? Is the craftsmanship identical? If you have any doubts, do not take the risk. Fake parts are not as durable and will not last as long as original parts. And using them may lead to further damage to your bike, or worse, a life-threatening accident.
With the market becoming rampant with fake motorcycle parts, it pays to be vigilant. Handle and examine the part before purchasing the product whenever you can. And if you order the bike part online, assess the part before installing it. Take the time to read reviews written by other customers. Only buy your parts from trusted, reputable sources.