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Helmet lifespan?

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' at netrider.net.au started by duncan_bayne, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. #1 duncan_bayne, Sep 17, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
    Hi Folks,

    For the first time in my life, I've gone five years without a crash! (And I don't mean just since I started riding motorcycles ... one of my earliest memories was overcooking a corner on my tricycle and stuffing it through a cactus plant.)

    This has got me to thinking of helmet lifespan. I've a nice Shark helmet that I picked up back in late 2007, but I'm concerned that it may need replacing.

    For those folks here who aren't regular crashers, how often do you replace your helmet? What's the recommended schedule?

  2. I recently replaced my helmet after I'd owned/used it for three years, but it was manufactured in early 2009. It was over four years old when I changed over to the new helmet.

    I believe the recommendation is to replace between four and five years from manufacture, regardless of use.
  3. Sounds like it's time to replace mine ... might have to go shopping with my first pay from my new job. I need a new road suit as well - my current cordura jacket predates my helmet and is about as waterproof as tissue paper these days.

  4. Congratulations!! Celebrate by buying a new helmet.
  5. Cactus plant ? Ouch ! I did something similar at about age 4 , 2 wheeling the tricycle thru the side gate and ending up in the rose bushes - can still see one of the scars 44yrs later . The cheaper plastic lids from memory they recommend changing around 2yr mark , while tri-composite are 5 , or maximum 8 if helmet not used day in day out . Only going on what ive read in the magazines over the years .

  6. Thus guaranteeing a crash within the next week or two :D.
  7. I would change between 3-5 years, 5 max.
  8. I guess it's one of those things that you would rather be safe than sorry about, and when you are talking about a helmet it's definitely not worth the risk. What helmet where you thinking of getting anyway?
  9. Most reviews I've read over the years strongly suggest replacing helmets every 5 years or when they become 'loose' which ever happens first.
  10. Some deteriorate faster than others. The sacrificial foam inside will start to crumble, the padding will lose it's "sponginess" and will not "bounce back" when you squeeze it.

    One Arai helmet I bought in '93 lasted better part of 10 years before showing any sign of deterioration. But a Shark helmet I bought in about 2008 - replaced it last year as it went downhill VERY quickly, almost overnight.

    But my wife's current Shark Vision R helmet looks great after 18 months use, while my ~1 year old Shoei XR1100 is starting to show deterioration already. Admittedly it gets used every day, but even so...

    Honestly, depends entirely on the lid, the conditions it is exposed to, the care of handling....a range of factors.
  11. Mine wear out in about 3 years, but as most people will notice I have a rough head.
  12. I was explaining to my 11 year old son why I needed to get a new helmet (material deterioration etc) and he came back with a better analogy than I could think of... "Oh, so it's like when playdough dries out?"... yes, it is!!
    So, Why should you buy a new helmet after 3-5 years? Put an inch think layer of playdough on a bench, come back in 5 years, slam your fist down on it... broken hand!!
    Also, Why should you buy a new helmet after you drop it? Put an inch think layer of playdough on a bench and slam your fist down on it, no pain.. now, hit it again... ouch... and again, broken hand!
    I know there are a bunch of technical reasons why the poly-styro-carbo-chemicular-synthetic-patented-blah-foam will break down over time and lose it's effectiveness over time and after impact, but the playdough analogy works for me.... wisdom, from the mouth of a child!
    • Like Like x 2
  13. My BMW System 6 has a recommendation in the instruction manual for replacement after 6 years.

    Maybe the manufacturers of other helmets have something similar hidden away in the fine print?
  14. Probably due a replacement myself.
    Only owned the 1 helmet so far (been riding ~6 years now), and some people still walk up to my desk and think it's a new helmet.
    Sponge inside still bounces back well and the helmet itself is in good condition, even though I wear it pretty much every day in most conditions.
    Only a cheapish RJays helmet too :)
  15. From what I've read and seen 5 years is the norm for replacing a helmet.
  16. Yep everything I've read says 5 years or if you drop it on a hard surface and it bounces - I'm not sure about the latter one - but it makes a certain amount of sense to me
  17. Mine is about 6 years old and I am looking for a new one. It is getting looser, which only really started a few months ago. So five years would probably have been better than 6. Mine is a cheap RJays unit, but it did fit better than others when I first tried them on. Time for lid shopping.
  18. I replace every 5yrs, but annoyingly that length of time is enough for the manufacturer to "refresh" their range, meaning a bunch of flash new helmets that don't fit like the one you've known and loved for the past 5yrs. I still miss my Shark RSI.
  19. I'm coming up on 2yrs, and mine is due for replacement. The pleather on the bottom is coming off, the chin strap is frayed at the end (not a safety issue) I've replaced the visor once and the foam is a little worse for wear. I do ride 5-6 days a week and circa 15k a year. Helmet has been left on bike in weather for a lot of that almost 30k, which would explain the deterioration.

    Shark s900 for those that are interested. It is comfy with good features but is a loud helmet.
  20. From the Snell foundation: -

    Why should you replace your helmet every five years?
    The five-year replacement recommendation is based on a consensus by both helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation. Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal "wear and tear" all contribute to helmet degradation. Petroleum based products present in cleaners, paints, fuels and other commonly encountered materials may also degrade materials used in many helmets possibly degrading performance. Additionally, experience indicates there will be a noticeable improvement in the protective characteristic of helmets over a five-year period due to advances in materials, designs, production methods and the standards. Thus, the recommendation for five-year helmet replacement is a judgment call stemming from a prudent safety philosophy.

    "I dropped my helmet! Do I have to go buy a new one?"
    Generally the answer is probably not. Helmets are one-use items, but are quite durable otherwise, at least the ones we certify. Frequent dropping or spiking a helmet on the ground, or other hard surfaces may eventually degrade the helmet's performance. Similarly if the helmet falls to the ground at highway speeds unoccupied, the owner must be aware that some degradation may have occurred. In general, the real damage comes when the helmet contacts an object with a head inside. The Foundation recommends that if you are participating in an activity that requires that you wear a helmet, you avoid hitting stuff with your head. It can be difficult to readily determine if a helmet has been damaged, and the protective capabilities compromised without a thorough inspection by a trained professional. Some manufacturers may provide this service or direct you to these others that can perform these inspections. The Foundation recommends that if you suspect your helmet may be compromised, then replace it. If the helmet has been involved in an impact while in use, replace it. ​

    I'm not an expert but I think those are good reason. These are basically long chain polymers which are know to degrade over time with oxygen exposure. I didn't think of the helmet technology but it makes sense. There's a piece in the latest AMCN about AGV reconstructing any Moto GP crash where the rider is wearing their helmet. That knowledge goes into the headline helmet then trickles down to the lower models.

    The dropped helmet answer is more interesting. I thought dropping a helmet onto concrete would stuff it but apparently not.