Anything that is bought, owned or made can eventually reach a stage where they are no longer usable or safe to continue. There is an old saying “Nothing lasts forever”.
With all the things to keep in mind, it comes with questions, do motorcycle helmets expire? How can we find the expiration date of the helmet?
When we talk about or think about a helmet, it does not appear in a biodegradable category. However, they are, as a helmet can lose its effectiveness and durability with time, and there are numerous reasons for it to occur.
A motorcycle helmet’s lifespan depends upon a variety of reasons, like, where it is stored? When is the right time to replace your helmet? Has it been through any significant minor or major impact? Which comfort liner is in it? What material is it made from? And many more to determine the lifespan of the helmet.
However, many manufacturers claim to hold a life span of seven years. However, it also depends on the responses to the above questions. Most of the durability and longevity depend upon the construction of the helmet.
How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last?
Motorcycle helmets don’t actually have any best before or use by date on them. However, they do have manufacturer date stickers on them, as required by the DOT FMVSS-218 standards.
Most helmet manufacturers do not say to replace your helmet any time soon. Everything has a lifespan, so, a motorcycle helmet can also expire or say can not be user-friendly for a period of time.
Most helmet manufacturers say that a good quality helmet can be used for five to seven years. However, this long period of time also depends upon lots of reasons, like how is the rider using it? How many times did it go through impacts? What material is it made of? And these kinds of questions can go on.
In actuality, the durability and longevity of a motorcycle helmet mainly depend upon the construction of the helmet. Replacing helmets is really important after five to seven years because these things also tend to perish.
Helmets or hard helmets or bicycle helmets can not last forever, and the fact that their sole purpose is protection then it is important to pay attention to them. The quality of the helmet depends upon the care put into it.
If the helmet went through major impacts then, it should last no less than 3 to 4 years after the helmet’s production date or manufacture date. Some people say they last years, some say 10, and some also make it down to 2 years.
Helmet degradation started, on the date, it was manufactured. The date of manufacturing should be marked on the additional sticker which is inside of the helmet. However, the date of the issue may not be the same as the date of manufacturing.
It’s a general thumb rule to change the helmet every 5 years. No matter how the helmet looks, helmet experts advise replacing your helmet, every 5 years of use, 3 years for heavy use, and 7 years for no use or lesser use.
Reasons To Replace Motorcycle Helmets
Over the decades, the production of helmets has evolved, starting from metal, to kevlar, to fiberglass, and polycarbonate. Each substance is used and adapted to increase the protection and quality, and also ensure the safety of the riders.
However, the materials are changing over the years, recent standards of the combinations of two segments comfort liners or inner liners, and an outer shell or hard shell. There are lots of reasons to replace your helmets.
Construction of the Helmet
The construction of the helmet has a great role in the riding. What materials is it made of? Can it absorb the body fluids without making the ride uncomfortable? There are so many different questions about this.
Comfort liner or Eps Liner
The comfort liner plays a major role in the helmet since it should be comfortable on the head of the rider for a better and more comfortable ride. If they start to lose then it is a sign to replace your helmet any time soon.
Comfort liners are made from eps form and have eps liners, so, it is the major reason for the expiration of the helmet. The form provides a comfortable and soft ride for long-term use. The interiors also provide shock absorbent helmet paddings for decreasing the impact on the rider. Eps liner and comfort liners are also replaceable.
Degradation of the expanded polystyrene form liner (Eps liners) is a very common myth, and no one even tries to see the efficacy of the claim. Degradation in the eps liner or comfort means lacking the absorption of the body fluids and becomes hard to absorb the impact.
Outer Shell or Hard Sell
The outer shell of the helmet is the most durable and resilient part of the motorcycle helmet. It is made up of polycarbonate or a mixture of fiberglass and kevlar. Polycarbonate can be degraded due to photo-oxidative degradation, which is caused by prolonged UV exposure.
The shell is designed to be lightweight and to prevent the penetration of hash collisions. Therefore, the outer shell protects the head from obstacles and comfort liners to protect it from abrasive collisions.
Chin straps or Retention Straps
Chin straps can fray or could be any other reason, and we never want them to snap while the ride, it will be very dangerous for the rider. Not just by fraying it can happen also it could happen due to any other small function in the chin strap. They are replaceable as well.
Age of the helmet
How old is your helmet? As we mentioned above in the article, if the helmet is older than 5 years then it needs to be replaced or get checked by an expert. Even after 5 years if the helmet looks perfect it still could be risky to use.
As it gets minor shocks, exposed to weather, dirt, UV rays, and many more things that we may not think have an effect on the integrity of the helmet. All these elements basically affect or loosen the resins and glues that hold it together.
There is no research about the replacement of the helmet after 5 years. Even though 5 years is the recommended time span still it could be more or less.
If you’re looking to buy a helmet for your child then check out these motorcycle helmets for kids.
If the helmet has been used every single day, it has been exposed to constant wear and tears. It is not compulsory but consistent usage can weaken the integrity of the helmet. As the miles stack up, we need to do either a maintenance test of the helmet or buy a new one.
Have you been in any accidents?
This fact is obvious, but it still needed to be mentioned. If experience any kind of accident then it’s time to get a new helmet. After that, it needed to be thoroughly checked and x-rayed for any damage.
Just to save a few bucks, wearing a damaged helmet is not an ideal thing to do. Wearing a broken helmet will not serve any protection.
Helmet safety checks
Getting a safety check is really an important reason for replacing your helmet. Try to check the helmet every day or every month to see the eps liners still stacked up to the outer shell, to check the retention strap that it is not fraying or detaching from the helmet, or the clip system is working fine.
There are a few movable parts of the helmet like a visor, and flip-up chin bar, check that they are not loose and working properly.
Check the outer shell for chips or cracks, if there are any cracks then the helmet should be replaced immediately because that one crack could be the weak spot of the helmet and can cause severe damage to the head.
Treat the helmet, like your life depends upon it, and it is truly a rider’s life that does depend upon the safety gears he/she wears. The helmet should have its own place where it should be kept properly so that it stays intact wherever it is put.
A new helmet can be a bit expensive so try to keep the helmet safe and sound, so it can do its work properly. As your helmet is your best buddy, one day you might want it to save your life. So keep it sound and safe.
Heat and Water
Keeping the helmet in the sunlight or in high temperatures is not healthy for the helmet. It could be led to the crack or melting in the lining, due to excessive use of UV rays or heat. If this happened this could break apart during an accident and it won’t secure your head during the impact.
The outer shell can become brittle when it is left out in rain or underwater, without being covered with a cloth or a casing. Since it secures from seeping inside layers of the helmet. It can damage the probability when put back together.
It can weaken the protective gear from the high or even the slow shockwaves created at the time of impact during an accident. Visors of the helmet should not have any scratches, if any then they need to be replaced or replace your helmet.
How do identify the degradation in the helmet?
Everything has its life whether it is a living or a non-living thing. The same goes with the helmet, its parts can be damaged or weakened for a time being. When the helmet’s color is fading then it is a sign to change or replace your helmet.
Shell degradation depends upon different factors or aspects like, the local area sustainability, UV rays exposure, how often it is being used, how it is being stored and the list can go on. So try to take all the possible precautions so that the life of the helmet can be extended.
How Often Should You Replace A Motorcycle Helmet?
A helmet should be replaced after 3 to 5 years under heavy usage, and after 7 years under irregular usage. Under the thumb rule, it should be replaced after every 5 years because with time the helmet degrades its properties.
Even if the rider has never been in an accident, even after he/she should replace the helmet at a point in time. This is due to the natural tear and wear of the material of the helmet (comfort liner and outer shell).
Replace your helmet even after it went through a minor impact, though, it will compromise its protective properties. It should be replaced before the next ride.
No matter if the helmet is being used, we need to make sure that it can properly protect the head and brain. There are lots of factors regarding when and how often motorcycle helmets should be replaced, as most helmet manufacturers have disclosed the life span of the helmet.
Any time the rider has been in an accident then replace your helmet immediately. Even after a minor accident, or go through an inspection of the helmet, it could have any kind of damage or deformations that may cause the helmet to lose its guarding properties.
Even after the helmet looks fine after the impact, however, there are chances of having internal damage that cannot be seen with naked eyes. Therefore, we suggest for the safety purpose replacing or buying a new helmet.
Even if there is no such hard impact on the helmet, it can become unsuitable for use after a number of years. Body fluids can harm the stability of the comfort liner, chin strap, eps liner, eps form, and so on. Few scratches looking at things on the helmet can jeopardize the safety of the rider.
If the helmet is older than 3 years then the rider should get it inspected to maximize the safety of the helmet and brain. However, over time the helmet manufacturers created great helmets for safety purposes with the help of modern technologies.
They have created amazing helmet paddings, great comfort liners, eps form, expanded polystyrene (eps liner), thermoplastic polymer, and special coatings on the outer shell.
All these things have been modified over a period of time, for the better safety of the head or brain. Proper sizing plays a major role in motorcycle helmets. The size has to be perfect for the head of the rider to fit on.
If feeling uncomfortable then try to check the size or the comfort lining of the helmet. They perform an important role in it. If the rider is confused about the size of the helmet then they can be asked by an expert or from the shopkeeper they are getting their helmet from.
The one thing we can do is make sure that there is no sense in taking risks with one’s life, therefore, it’s better to take precautions before taking cautions.
Q. When is it not necessary to replace your helmet?
Motorcycle helmets are built to be robust and tough because they have to protect a major part of the human body. Daily use can get dew bumps and knocks in everyday use. This can compromise the effect at the time of the serious accident.
However, there are certain events during a normal ride or use of the helmet which does not need to be overly concerned about.
Q. Can you wear a helmet after a crash?
Well, the answer is a big ‘NO’, even after a small impact can harm the quality of the helmet. Having a damaged helmet is not the ideal option. We need to get it checked or replace it immediately before the next ride.
Q. Should I replace my helmet if I dropped it?
Few manufacturers will inspect the flaw, either repair it or suggest a replacement of the helmet. Try to find the flaws when the helmet is in the warranty period so you can enjoy the service.
If it is dropped then it should be examined first before the next ride. Find a sign of any damage on the helmet, then replace it immediately.
Q. Should I change the old helmet to an advanced one?
For the time being, manufacturers are changing their technologies and also the needs of their consumers. It could be very intimidating while buy a helmet. However, a new helmet is always better than the last one.
Brands try to create better safety helmets for the rider, as they want them to feel safe and comfortable while on the ride. Even if the helmet looks good in condition, the new one can be better because it has better and more advanced technology.
Risk for a helmet manufacturer coming and throwing rocks (lies), a major helmet brand can perform or could do more in refurbishment or replacing the helmet or if the parts are replaceable. Rather than, just replacing the helmet on the recommendation of every 3 years or 5 years or 7 years.
As there are so many arguments about when it should be replaced or when it should not be replaced. Many parts of the helmet can last more than the other parts, until and unless they get an extreme force.
In summon, helmets don’t have an exact expiration date. However, it is advisable to change or replace the helmet because of the above reasons we mentioned. If the helmet cannot protect your head from the accident then for what reason it is even doing. That’s all the helmet was meant to do.