Helmet Replacment after 5 years...WHY?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by jbhawley, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. GoonerYoda

    GoonerYoda Hot Dickens Cider

    Nov 10, 2012
    Wine Country, CA
    currently researching helmets now. Thanks for all the info.
  2. wipfel

    wipfel Been here awhile

    Jul 22, 2011
    Supposedly the foam starts to get brittle, right?
  3. hpsVFR

    hpsVFR Hoosier Daddy

    May 28, 2006
    Denver metro area
    Over time, and with exposure to UV, petroleum vapors, acids (from sweat mostly), and salt, the comfort padding, energy-absorbing liner, shell, and retention system can all suffer degradation.

    AFAICT, the primary reason for recommending helmet replacement on a regular interval is that this is a standard risk management technique for personal protective equipment. Brand new equipment has a known history and the components can be confidently counted on to behave as designed. The older the equipment gets, the less certain one can be about whether (for example) it's suffered damage from too much UV exposure (how many hours in the sun was it exposed to? How many of those hours were of direct exposure of the interior?), petroleum vapors (Did the owner, or previous owner, store the helmet near a gasoline can? Did they routinely set it on their bike's fuel system vent?), or corrosive materials (have the rivets in the retention system started to rust?).

    Most of this potential damage is not visible to the eye (for example, the EPS foam can be damaged in many ways not visible, particularly since it's almost never a solid block, and it's properties rely on it's configuration as well as it's chemistry), and non-destructive testing via other means is:
    a) too expensive for most individuals
    b) requires specific skills, again not held by most individuals
    c) incurs a legal liability on the part of the individual/organization doing the testing

    Recommending helmet replacement on a routine schedule minimizes user risk as part of a comprehensive approach to risk management. Other aspects of that approach are:
    a) regular inspection of the condition of the helmet
    b) careful attention to the storage environment of the helmet, so that exposure to degrading factors is less likely to go unnoticed.
  4. squish

    squish Out of the office.

    Dec 4, 2003
    Where the Ghetto meets the sea.
    My street helmet is replaced every 5 years or less, normally around the 4 year mark.
    My dirt helmet timing was stretched out a little longer.

    Then I watched the effects of someone who had a slow speed mild but head hitting crash off road.
    Knocked em silly.

    This was a well known name brand off road helmet.

    We cut the helmet in half. Mostly just to see what happens to a helmet that from the outside looked totally fine
    While the wearer got a TBI.

    Right on the top of the lid there was an area about 3.5 inches across where the EPS was profoundly compressed.
    And had pulled away from the inner part of the outside.
    The EPS was a touch crumbly, and the comfort foam was decidly less springy.

    The helmet was 10 years old.
    It was a wake up call and I went out and updated my off road and bicycle helmets.
    Sure it could be a big scam, but when it comes to my head, I want every piece of help I can find.
  5. CCRyder

    CCRyder Champ

    Apr 20, 2003
    Longview, Texas
    as a late comer to this topic, thanks to all past posters that have contributed to the discussion. Lots of good points are made from different perspectives. In the end, it is up to each person, each rider to follow his or her own feelings as to how to protect themselves in the "most prudent or statistically sound" manner......
    So why am I dredging this up..... it's old news..... OK, I guess I am bored.:norton
    As a person who totally thinks the "5 year rule" is the biggest crock of horse pucky I ever heard...... I will also be the first to say "knock yourself out" if you want to drop 2, 3, 4, 5, 600 $ on a new lid every 5 years ( or maybe less for you hardcore " I ride every day of the year" types) . It is fine with me if that makes you feel safer.
    Personally, and I am basing this on my personal riding habits, the amount of time I spend actually using a helmet any given year, and my storage and care habits of the helmet when not being used, that it would be an absolute total waste of my money to follow the so called "rule of thumb"...... but then, I waste money every day...... :evil ( Just not to the tune of $500)

    If helmet manufacturer's had any real evidence via testing , etc..... don't you think it would be splattered all over the media to help sell even more helmets? Damn right it would be. In fact, I would venture to say there would be a lobbyist in Washington making sure that our federal government in its wisdom and glory, was regulating the use of and overseeing via legislation that we all were "properly" protecting ourselves.......
    I'm not saying they aren't concerned about your and my safety, ........ I'm sure they are, they had better be, right ? but I'm quite sure they are doing what they do for the money in the end ( don't we all ? ) ....... and heck I really can't blame them.... when all you have to do is insinuate and not really prove something..... well, why not do it ? If its a lie, it is a "white lie" and the only thing it's costing anyone is a little money.... so what ....... :wink:
    1-Sunlight, UV .... breaking down a shell ? say what ? How many helmets are bare on the exterior, no paint, no decal , etc....? How does this UV get to the inside to "break it down" . ? More horse pucky.....
    2-the liners.... well heck yes they can age, start to dry rot, stink , etc.... if you leave it in the heat and humidty 365 days a year, you're damn skippy it will stink, ....break down...etc..... so....learn to take better care of the equipment..... or buy a new liner once in a while.. ....... , is it that hard.?
    3-new construction is better ? So the helmet I had 10 years ago was a piece of crap, and I am just lucky I never needed it to do it's job ? Bull crap...... OK, improvements in, and usage of new materials, reduced weight, better ventilation, etc.... I am not arguing that helmets haven't progressed tremendously even over the past 5 years .... It's nothing short of amazing.... but to say that my 2003 Shoei RF1000 or whatever the hell it is, is no longer any good just because it is 11 years old ? It looks much like the day I bought it..... it has been stored inside my home ( climate controlled ) when not used riding, and I'd trust it today..... even though I have also picked up an Arai XD3 ( used BTW), an HJC off road style helmet which I have no idea the model, and last year, I bought an open face helmet at a Harley dealership ( oh my god, I said the "O" word didn't I, and in the same sentence with the "H" word !!!!? ) with a flip shield, the tinted visor that flips down from inside ..... great ventilation, and it is my favorite helmet out of all of them...... so go figure.
    Hey so everyone ride safe, do what makes you feel OK.... that's what I intend to do..... but right now I am going to sleep..... way too late for posting to a 3 year old thread....anyway.... right?
  6. N-m

    N-m Captain 2 Sexy

    Jan 18, 2011
    Too Far from My Welder and BMW in South TN.
    I have personally witnessed aged linear and high density cross linked polyethylene (LPE & HDXPE) chemical storage tanks break down over time and eventually fail.

    Caveats: UV exposure is on a daily basis, all day long in many cases. Time frames were dramatically longer, with manufacturers often recommending replacement every ten years.

    I have no idea how that material compares with the stuff our helmets are made of. I have no idea the amount of liability associated with severe head trauma resulting in death versus a chemical tank failing, floods a stream with nitrates and kills a bunch of fish but I assure you the difference will be significant.

    I also have no idea how the above helps your discussion but think of it in terms of economics. Purchase a $1,000.00 helmet and use it for only five years. If you can actually afford this helmet you can afford to save $200.00 per year for the life of that helmet to pay for the next one.

    PPE, no matter how expensive, has proven to be cheap insurance in my lifetime. You have to decide for you.
  7. flei

    flei cycletherapist

    Apr 1, 2013
    Western Mass.
    I'm a FF/EMT with 20+ years in the field and have seen some M/C fatalities and TBI's. Neither of these is a good thing!

    I think it is stupid to argue about helmet replacement. JUST DO IT!

    My thinking is this: if you replace your helmet every five years (even if based on "scanty" evidence), and it costs $500 for a new one (of course you can get a DOT/SNELL approved for much less $$), you are paying $100 a year to ride with a decent, clean, possibly state-of-the-art, allegedly safer, helmet. You likely spend more than $100 a year to buy other unnecessary items to wear or for the bike. Why would you NOT be willing to spend that on your head?
  8. ca1ic0cat

    ca1ic0cat Adventurer

    Oct 2, 2011
    I've been going around and around on this the past week after re-reading a MCN article where the writer related that neither the helmet manufacturers or Snell would provide any data regarding the "five year rule" and, in fact, shot down his suggestion that an experiment be done.

    It would seem that anybody who was going to say "do this" might have some data to back it up. But then you get into the variables: storage and treatment of the helmet, the types of cleaners used, the amount of use in a year, etc. etc. And then there's the liability issue. So all that adds up to an unwillingness to make a firm statement regarding things that they can't control and would probably be sued over.

    Then there's the fear factor, or risk management, or whatever. I've got a Shoei Multitec and my wife an HJC. We had older Shoei XSP-II and an RF900. Those had the liners fall apart to the point where they were a nuisance to wear. Tossed them in the trash. But the HJC and Multitec are going strong, apparently. We've decided to keep on going with those. Might be putting money ahead of sense here but two Neotecs would set us back $1200 and we aren't going there right now. Then again Helmet Shop has a deal on Multitecs so $400 might be OK. But then how long have the Multitecs been sitting on the shelf. Too many factors to consider....
  9. mefly2

    mefly2 Long timer

    Jun 28, 2010
    Big Sky Country
    I have owned ski racing helmets (retired many years ago) where the plastic foam interior "powdered" with age. I would speculate that mc helmets would do the same over time ... how much time is the question. However, the 5-year guideline is likely born out of liability concerns from the manufacturer rather than empirical data.
  10. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

    Feb 8, 2008
    Collingwood, Ontario
    There is a date in every Shoei helmet.

    "Where can I find the Production Date of my SHOEI helmet? The Production Date is located on a sticker under the center pad of your helmet. For example: 030919 means September 19th of 2003." Source: http://www.shoei-helmets.com/faq.aspx

    XICAQUE Q' pedo?

    May 11, 2009
    Lacey, WA Ridiculous amount of piss rain
    No used helmets for me. Period. I buy new and replace them when I think they need it. Just because the latest of the latest has come out, I am not going to buy it. If they get smelly to the point that it will make me puke, then it is gone. I would take it to the firing range or smack the crap out of it with a baseball bat to see how "protective" they are.
  12. bwringer

    bwringer Gimpy, Yet Alacritous

    Jan 22, 2008
    If you're such a insane tightass that you're worried about making your helmets last more than five years, you're not riding nearly enough.

    Drop the mouse and go get some miles.
  13. FlowBee

    FlowBee Just me.

    Oct 11, 2004
    I store my helmets away from light, in a cool dry place.

    XICAQUE Q' pedo?

    May 11, 2009
    Lacey, WA Ridiculous amount of piss rain
    I am back :rofl
  15. StuInFH

    StuInFH Been here awhile

    May 18, 2012
    Central CA
    Speaking of the latest, check out the 6D. They only offer an offroad helmet now, but they told me the other day they will have a street helmet out next year.

    At $745 it will be difficult to toss it in five years, but hopefully by then R&D will have been recouped and competition will have driven the price down. I did the math and that is $150 a year for state of the art brain protection. I also did the math on the cost of riding my '08 530 EXC-R over the last few years that I have owned it, calculating the decline in value over the hours used, and it is ~$100 per ride.

    Makes tossing a helmet after five years a no-brainer. ;-)
  16. S/W

    S/W Been here awhile

    Oct 21, 2003
    I would like to replace my "older then 5 years" helmet, but, many helmet manufacturers have stopped making xxxl helmets. Am I supposed to give up riding because I have a big head?? My favorite helmet is a HJC xxxl half helmet. It has a decent fit,yet, not perfect. I would buy another one, if they hadn't stopped making my size. There are a handful of different xxxl models by a few manufacturers, but, I have even had to grind foam out of the xxxl helmets I have bought recently, due to not having a perfectly round head.
  17. triman11427

    triman11427 Mud is my chrome

    Nov 3, 2011
    Melville, NY
    An honest manufacturer: MET

    The Italian company MET says in their 2010 catalog:
    "We are often asked 'For how long is a helmet safe?', or 'how often should I replace my helmet?”' Until now it has been difficult to find any reliable figures to help answer these queries. MET have now developed a series of tests which are conducted on aged helmets to determine a 'best before' date (unless the helmet is involved in an accident. In that case it should be replaced immediately.). The results indicate that, if used properly accordingly to our owner manual, our helmets will still do their job up to eight years after they have been made. Not only is that good news for the customer, it’s great news for the environment!"

    We applaud MET for undertaking an actual testing program on helmet life and for making that statement. We regard it as a triumph of integrity over marketing. MET's helmets are made with industry standard shells and liners, so there is no reason we can see that their recommendation should not be good for many other helmet brands as well. If another manufacturer comes up with a testing program that shows earlier deterioration in the protection from their products we will review this page.

    In sum, we don't find the case for replacing a helmet that meets the ASTM or Snell standards that compelling if the helmet is still in good shape and fits you well.
  18. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Dec 20, 2007
    Delaware Ohio
    Awe shit! Next someone is going to test and find the perfect tire for each purpose and the best oil with exact interval for changes too!

    You're going to kill off all the forums with this kind of shit! :ddog:dizave
  19. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

    Nov 11, 2005
    Gold Coast
    I have and did. I used to work in the lab that tested helmets, one day, just for a laugh we all brought in the old helmets that were never going to be used again and ran them through. Now admitted, most were probably crap new :), but none would pass the current safety tests and by solid margins.

    Mostly, the polystyrene inner had degraded to the point where a bandanna would have been near as useful.

    That's a far step from '5 years', but yes there's a point at which they'll be crap, and being lawsuit averse the manufacturers pick a point that's conservative. I'd be O.K. with a helmet that's a few years old but been in the box, second hand, not so much.

  20. BashOn

    BashOn Bold Misadventurer

    Jul 23, 2014
    Hop, Skip and a Holler from Dallas, Texas
    I make my living with my head (don't we all?), so I'm going with the 5 years of use or 7 years from date of manufacture, whichever comes first.

    Just discovered my current helmet was made nearly 8 (!) years ago :eek1, so it's fortunate that a new Neotech is on the UPS truck for delivery today. The ride home from work will be the last time for the current helmet--it's going straight to the trash can.

    [BTW, if I don't have a proper-fitting, up-to-date helmet for somebody who wants to be a passenger on my bike, they don't ride.]