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In this Service Honda guide, we go over a few basic pointers on how to spot fake motorcycle spare parts.
Counterfeit vehicle parts have grown to become a serious problem in recent years, so much so that the World Health Organization estimates that 36,000 fatalities and 1.5 million injuries in 2017 were linked in some way to counterfeit parts.
Compared to genuine original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and aftermarket motorcycle parts from reputable brands, fake parts and accessories are usually made from low-quality materials. This makes them more likely to wear down, if not fail entirely. Counterfeit parts are also not subjected to the stringent safety and quality control standards required for OEM and reputable aftermarket parts to go on the market.
Are Aftermarket Parts Fakes?
An aftermarket part or accessory is any replacement item for a motorcycle (or vehicle in general) that doesn’t come from the bike’s original manufacturer. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a counterfeit product.
There are plenty of reputable manufacturers of aftermarket parts and accessories for motorcycles. In some cases, these parts are even superior to their OEM alternative as they improve on their weaknesses. Aftermarket parts can also come in different colors and materials — an attractive feature for riders looking to customize their bikes.
Tell-tale Signs of Fake Motorcycle Parts
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Today’s counterfeit motorcycle parts are now harder to distinguish from the real thing. But there are still red flags that will help you spot a cheap fake.
If the Price Is Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
Everyone wants a great deal. This is especially true with spare parts — most people just want to buy a quick replacement and hop on their bike straight away.
You’ll often see online stores claim that they can offer better prices on their OEM and aftermarket parts because they don’t have the overhead of a physical store. This is true to some extent. But when prices are 80% to 90% lower than retail? You should definitely be suspicious.
Stores that sell fake parts typically get these items from overseas manufacturers that use inferior materials or don’t go through the lengthy research and development process that original manufacturers and reputable brands do. In many cases, they’ll reverse engineer a part’s design and fabricate it with cheaper alloys or plastics. For instance, a manufacturer may replicate a part made from industrial-grade cast iron with cheap iron scraps.
They’ll also likely use cheap labor to further cut corners. In the worst cases, these companies will use child labor.
Inspect the Packaging
Counterfeiters have gotten so good at selling fake parts that the packages they come in can sometimes look like the real thing. But a closer look at the labels and product descriptions may show some classic signs of a fake item.
- Fake vehicle parts are often manufactured in countries that don’t have strict laws against intellectual property theft. This also means that these manufacturers may not have a strong command of the original manufacturer’s language, leading to typos and grammatical errors on the labels of their products.
- You should also keep an eye out for products with words like “GENUINE” or “ORIGINAL” all over the box or plastic packaging. Overt labeling usually isn’t a good sign. The best way to verify an OEM part’s authenticity is to check the certificate of authenticity — a sticker with a unique security code and ID label. This can also come in the form of a unique holographic label. On the other hand, some makers of aftermarket parts will also have authentication codes on the label that you can verify on their website.
- If you’re in a physical store, look at multiple boxes or packages of the product you need. If they all have the same barcode, they’re most likely fakes.
Look Up the Seller
Always do your due diligence when buying a replacement part or accessory, especially if you’re dealing with a brand you’ve never heard of before. This should be as simple as doing a quick Google search.
Sellers of fake parts are likely going to come up in motorcycle forums and review sites. One complaint accusing a seller of selling a fake is probably an isolated incident of an irate customer. But if a seller shows a pattern of reviews mentioning fakes, you should probably stay away.
Inspect the Product
If you’re buying motorcycle parts in a physical, brick-and-mortar shop, we recommend asking to see and hold the product. It’s also a good idea to bring the original part you want to replace.
Because fake spare parts are usually made with inferior plastics and metal alloys, they’re likely to feel lighter than genuine parts. Counterfeit parts will also have shoddy craftsmanship, resulting in a product with a lower quality finish or color that looks off. The part may not have the same dimensions either.
If you’re buying online, look for sites that offer an ironclad return policy on their website. This gives you peace of mind knowing that you can return your purchase if you think it’s a fake (or if you’re not satisfied with it in any way).
Don’t Take Risks with Counterfeit Motorcycle Parts
If you have any doubts about the authenticity of an OEM or aftermarket part/accessory, don’t take the risk.
Fake parts are often not as durable as original parts, leading to compatibility issues with your bike. When this happens, the part may wear out faster than normal and cause other components to malfunction. This could very well lead to a life-threatening accident on the road.
When it comes to genuine OEM parts and aftermarket parts and accessories, Service Honda has you covered. Explore our range of OEM replacement parts from brands like Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, KTM, and more. We also have a wide selection of OEM accessories and gear from popular third-party manufacturers. So shop at Service Honda today and get up to 30% off on select items.