Motorcycle helmet manufacturers usually specify when a helmet reaches the end of its service life. Even the most durable models cease to offer protection at a certain point. However, there are no published studies on how long a helmet might remain protective after impact damage. Helmets should be discarded when they are badly damaged, or certain conditions arise. Keep reading to get information on when to replace motorcycle helmets!
1. Helmet Age and Use
As a consensus of helmet manufacturers, if you have been using your helmet for more than 5 years, chances are that it has reached the end of its service life. Over time, helmets begin to crack when exposed to sunlight, heat or when dropped. The truth is, this happens not because of age but due to continuous use.
These cracks can compromise the integrity of your helmet and allow penetration when struck by a rock or debris. But yes, if you can maintain it as suggested by the manufacturer and store it in a clean, cool, dry and dark place, the 5-year rule is not applicable. This way, you can even enjoy a helmet for over a decade.
2. Helmet Weight
The average motorcycle helmet weighs about 3 pounds when new, but some riders report an increase in weight as they age.
This could be due to damage that weakens the shell’s structure or possibly due to humidity from riding in the rain that causes inner liner material to absorb moisture when dry.
When this happens, you will need to replace your helmet for safety reasons.
3. Strap Comfort and Fraying When Worn Over Time
Straps can deteriorate and fray when exposed to sweat during rides, especially when tucked into riding suit zippers when riding on warm days. With age, stitching can also break, which can compromise helmet security when in use.
4. Visor Fogging
The visor not only protects you from flying rocks, insects or debris but also keeps rain out of your eyes.
If you are not happy with the performance of your visor when riding in the rain, a helmet replacement may be necessary to keep you safe when riding.
5. Becoming Loose
Helmets fit very snug when they are new. But over time and use, that might be loose. If you feel like this happened, shake your head wearing the helmet side-to-side and check if it’s stuck to your head or slide around.
If you find your helmet is becoming a bit looser when you wear it, the padding inside may have packed down. Helmets are designed to help when you have a crash, but packed-down pad or loosened helmet – the regulation is for you to replace them.
6. After Accident
It’s so apparent and needless to say that helmets should be changed in the event of an accident. You may want to check the helmet once again before changing in case of minor accidents. If you feel, do an X-ray to see how much or little damage caused.
However, in a major accident, change your helmet first without thinking. Helmets damaged in accidents are no longer able to provide you safety. It is not wise to risk your life for a few hundred dollars.
An Additional Tip
Your kid, being a new rider, might not tell you if he had accidents where his helmet might have been damaged poorly or significantly. He will go to the next rides with his already damaged helmets, putting a real threat to his body and life. You should be cautious about it and discuss it with him in a friendly manner, which will keep you informed about what is happening.
Helmets reduce head injury when a rider falls or when involved in collisions. Helmet replacement should therefore be regarded as an essential safety investment. You may trade-off comfort for style, but never compromise your safety with anything else.