Motorcycle helmets are by far the most important pieces of safety equipment a motorcyclist can have. They protect you from severe head trauma in the event of an accident and help to prevent death or serious injury. But what if I told you that the helmet you use for your motorcycle is actually compromised, even if it looked as good as the day you bought it? Would you change it? Most don’t.
In this article, we will be looking into when to replace the helmet for the motorcycle and the age of question, do motorcycle helmets expire?
Helmet manufacturers recommend that you replace your helmet 3 to 5 years from the ‘date of manufacture’, even if there are no signs of damage or wear. Helmet degradation happens over time and helmet production companies ask riders to change them every 5 years. Five year helmet replacement is necessary because the outer shell, helmet padding, and other liner materials are affected. Replacing helmets is the ideal option if riders notice that the existing helmets possibly degrading performance. Degrading helmets affect liner materials and other commonly encountered materials. You cannot compromise the protective characteristic of the comfort liner, inner liner, chin strap, and other components.
So does that mean that a helmet sitting in a showroom for 3 years and never worn only has a maximum of 2 years left? Pretty much! Let’s explain.
Is the 5-year thumb rule a marketing gimmick?
Some people believe that the 5-year thumb rule is a marketing gimmick created by helmet manufacturers to get you to buy a new helmet more often. But this rule is actually based on scientific evidence.
The foam in a motorcycle helmet can deteriorate over time, leading to a loss of protection in the event of an accident. The straps and other organic components can also wear out over time.
It is for these reasons that helmet manufacturers recommend you replace your helmet every 3 to 5 years.
While some people may argue that this is simply a way to get you to spend more money, the truth is that it is for your safety that you should replace your helmet every three years even if there is nothing wrong with it.
How to Perform a Helmet Safety Checks
While the expiration date is important, it’s not the only thing you need to consider when it comes to the safety of your helmet. If your helmet has sustained any damage whatsoever it is important to perform a helmet safety check to make sure it’s good to keep using.
Here are some tips on how to perform a helmet safety check:
Visor: Make sure there are no cracks or scratches in the visor and that it seals properly against the helmet.
Shell: Inspect the shell for any dents or cracks.
Foam: Check that the foam is in good condition and has not been compressed.
Straps: Make sure the straps are in good condition and have no fraying.
If you find any damage to your helmet, do not use it and replace it immediately. Don’t risk your life over a $200 helmet.
Should you replace a helmet if you drop it?
If you drop your helmet from more than 2 feet off the ground you should replace your helmet. Even if there is no damage that you can see, the helmet could be compromised and it’s not safe to use.
This is because a helmet can be compromised if it is dropped from a sufficient height. Cracks and dents in the shell of a helmet can weaken it, even if you cannot see them with your naked eye.
After dropping a helmet there is no way to know how much weaker it has become, so unless you can get a professional opinion that it is still safe, replace your helmet.
Do not risk using a helmet that has been dropped unless you know it is safe to do so.
Is buying a used helmet right?
Never buy a used motorcycle helmet. There is no way to know how many times it has been dropped or what type of damage it has sustained.
Even if you trust the person you bought your used helmet from, their standards for checking safety may not be as strict as yours; they may have missed any number of subtle cracks in the shell. This could lead to your helmet being unsafe in the event of an accident.
It is simply not worth the risk to buy a used motorcycle helmet. Stick to buying helmets that are brand new!
A helmet that costs a few hundred dollars is a small price to pay if it saves your life.
Should I replace my helmet after a crash?
Even if your helmet is not visibly damaged or you don’t even think your head hit the ground you should replace it after a crash. The impact of the accident may have compromised the integrity of the foam inside or made it more prone to damage in future accidents.
There’s no way to find out how much weaker your helmet has become until an accident happens, so always err on the side of caution and get a new one.
The bottom line is that you should replace your motorcycle helmet every three to five years, or sooner if it has been damaged. It’s not worth risking your life over a cheap helmet. Get a new one and make sure it’s the right fit for you!
Do unused motorcycle helmets expire?
Even unused helmets for motorcycles expire. Most manufacturers say 7 years from the production date or 5 years of use, however, some even say 5 years from production date!
The reason the helmets for motorcycles are not used is that they are made with materials that can deteriorate over time. The foam in the helmet is especially prone to this and it’s the absolute most important part of your helmet!
Read your helmet’s manual for more information on when it should be replaced. If you can’t find instructions, many motorcycle dealers will be happy to inspect it for free and tell you the exact expiry date. Helmets are an investment that is worth spending money on! Even if they have a shelf life.