Have you ever wondered how often you should replace your bike helmet? If yes, then we are going to talk about when is the right time to replace your helmet. You would probably have heard that helmets expire. I know your helmet is working good for you and you have used it for a very short time. You take care of it a lot and everything looks good. Well sometimes what looks good is not really good. Sometimes you know when you need to replace your helmet, but other times a minor crash will make you think whether it is safe to ride again with it. So if you are in such state of mind, this article is for you.
8 things you should consider before taking a decision to replace your helmet.
Table of Contents
Effect of crash on a helmet
A very obvious way to know when you need to replace a helmet is that, if you ever hit your head and that hurts? You may need a new helmet in that case. If the helmet has been hit hard enough, the foam under the plastic shell will compress and leave an indent, that can compromise the helmet. A helmet can’t protect you if its foam is damaged. Crash from everyday life affects the helmet in such a way that it should not be used anymore.
After a crash many people say that they did not hit their head. In most cases, it is the helmet that did its job to protect the head from any damage. Often people don’t remember the hit on head and the helmet also don’t show any signs of crash. But you should get rid of the helmet if you have crashed wearing it. Because it can be used only once and you can’t risk your life wearing it again.
You should regularly inspect the helmet for cracks. Sometimes it is even impossible or very complicated to see internal cracks, but in any case each crash is affecting the helmet structure. When we take a closer inspection and we do a good flex test on that helmet you’re going to see that the helmet is cracked. If you have a helmet you need to inspect for these cracks. The easiest way to inspect for them is to grab the helmet and just give it a good push and you’ll see all the cracks open up. That’s the easiest way to test for cracks.
Cracks and dents on exterior
You should scan your helmet’s outer shell every now and then. If you see any dents on the exterior shell, it means that this helmet is not reliable anymore. If the shell is pressed in and you see any pop out, then the EPS foam underneath is compressed. Furthermore, if you see cracks on the sides of the shell, then it’s clear that you should go out and invest in another wonderful helmet.
If you dropped your helmet
If you ever dropped your helmet on a hard surface, you will probably be thinking that whether you should replace it or not. The damage may be minor but your helmet may not be able to go under an impact again. It does not feels good to throw away a helmet that seems to be in a good condition, but you should not take any risk by wearing a helmet you dropped once.
Exposure to sun
It is recommended by the government testing body of US that a bike helmet should be replaced after every five to ten years. But most of the helmet companies recommend to replace it after three years. This is an important thing to remember that three years after the helmet has been exposed to regular sunlight, it will break down like any other Styrofoam. The EPS foam will become hard and liable to break easily.
Weather affects the lifespan of a helmet. If there is too much sunshine and the temperature is hot, it is affecting the helmet because it is reducing a lot of mechanical properties. Summertime is basically killing the property of a helmet to protect us. The plastic shell on the helmet is sensitive to the UV rays in sunlight. Some makers add UV inhibitors to the shell for this reason. If the colour of the shell grows faint you should replace it because it may be the sign that the UV inhibitors are not working now.
Fit of the helmet
Helmet can perform its duty only if it adjusts properly on your head. That means if you experience a sudden movement while riding, it is not displaced. If it does not fits on your head correctly, it is not going to protect you in case of an impact. Check the buckles, chin straps, fasteners and clips of your helmet. If the buckle system is not working anymore, or the fit mechanism has worn out, buy a new one immediately.
Find out: How to wear a bike helmet properly.
Old is not gold in this case
Helmets manufactured in 1970’s and early 80’s do not meet today’s safety standards. The foam of those helmets was not a Styrofoam. They were either made of spongy soft foams (70’s Pro-tec, Skidlid) or were not having foam at all (Brancale). Helmets at that time were having hard shells, and these shells were good but the foams were not that much reliable. So if you are still having a helmet from 70’s or early 80’s, replace it. You can use the old one on your wall as an antique show piece, but don’t wear it.
Check the sticker inside
You should definitely check the sticker of your helmet. If it is from Snell, ASTM or CPSC, then you can trust your helmet. These helmets are quite protective and fully meets the modern safety standards. And if your helmet is not having any of these stickers, then it is not dependable.
How can you take care of your helmet?
The question arises how to take a good care of your helmet? There are few things that you should follow to increase the bike helmet lifespan:
- Do not store your helmet in hot places or the place where there is direct sunlight. Place it in a dry, cool and dark place.
- Wash the helmet often using mild soap and cold water.
- Keep it away from solvents and chemicals, because these are not good for your helmet’s structure.
What should you do with the helmet you want to replace
If your helmet is not working anymore, what are you going to do with it? You should not take it to the donation pile or sell it at a garage sale. You should cut the straps out and cut the retainer or break it down. So that it is not a useful helmet anymore. You don’t want anyone to pick this out of the garbage and thinking it safe. So make sure it is garbage.
All the bike helmets out there are not same, but if you are a consistent rider, you should definitely replace your helmet after some years. If you dropped the helmet and probably the outer shell is damaged, it may not be in its original state. So why should you take a risk? It’s all about your safety. I hope this article will be helpful for you.