View Full Version : How often do you replace your helmet?

08-09-2008, 08:23 AM
How often do you replace your helmet if it has never been in an accident and never been dropped? Supposedly, the foam can deteriorate and lose its protective qualities just from age. I know some people are wearing ancient helmets but I'm not looking for longevity records. I really want to know what is the maximum number of years one can realistically expect a helmet to be able to offer protection. (And I hope this doesn't turn into a helmet pro/con debate.)

08-09-2008, 09:46 AM
With motorcycle helmets, it's five years. I would imagine that foam used in bicycle helmets would have the same (or similar) qualities with regard to shelf life. That's pure speculation on my part, but it sounds reasonable:) On the plus side, I'm just glad that my bicycle helmet doesn't cost the $350 or so that my motorcycle one does, which is due for replacement.

Chilly Willy
08-09-2008, 11:34 AM
It's time when you see signs of oxidation (or impact damage, of course) in the shell or the foam, such as cracking, peeling, chipping, crumbling, discoloration- which can be accelerated by sunlight, sweat, salt water, sunscreen, and pollution.

Cracks in (usually EPS) foam are usually fairly small and hard to see, but always mean it's time to get a new helmet.

Also, if the straps have stretched or if you can't adjust it to fit your head properly any more for some other reason, replace it.

08-09-2008, 02:40 PM
I've got an ancient Bell VI Pro bike helmet. I don't wear it anymore, but in its day, it had a lot of use, with many, many miles over a lot of years. If there's any deterioration in this helmet's foam after all that use, it may not be visible to the naked eye. Via bonny 790's link to helmets.org, that site has a relevant comment about my old helmet: "The Bell V-1 Pro was designed to today's standards, but the foam is very stiff, and if you are over 65 you probably should replace that too." Helmets.org/when should I replace my helmet page

I'd still use it today if weren't for the fact that the new Bell Solar I got last year ($30 retail/$20 sale) is more comfortable, fits better, is lighter, looks different-possibly better on a subjective level.

One difference between the VI Pro and the Solar, is the thickness of the external plastic shell. The VI Pro's is 2 mm of hard carbonate plastic or some such thing. Didn't measure the Solar's, but you can flex it with a thumbnail, leaving a very superficial indentation that disappears right away. Wandering around tonight at Target, I noticed a lot of youth helmets with the Scwinn brand also have the thick, hard plastic shell. That might offer better protection against certain kinds of objects than the lighter shell type does. Still, it's the foam and its deceleration capability that is of key importance where velocity reduction is concerned; slowing down the speed at which your brain slams against your skull in an impact.

08-09-2008, 03:42 PM
Try this on for size...



08-09-2008, 03:44 PM
when to replace a helmet (http://www.helmets.org/replace.htm)

eta: oops...cross-posted with the poster above. sorry about that!

08-09-2008, 06:42 PM
Very informative posts and links. Thanks!