When to replace a helmet?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by dogmantra, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. dogmantra

    dogmantra the White Shadow

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    I'm curious how often and under what conditions y'all replace your brain bucket? I'm not talking about replaceing due to crash damage but when it's "worn out."

    I have ben using a Caberg Gara for a while now. Somewhat off/on but I've sported it for a few multi-day trips as well as daily wear over the last few years. It doesn't feel sloppy loose but I have noticed that it's getting damn loud.

    What are your criteria for getting a new lid?

    What do you do with your old helmets?
    #1
  2. jd2577

    jd2577 The Boy Ruger

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    I've often wondered the same thing. After 7 or 8 years I decided to replace my HJC with a Scorpion for no other reason than concern for the HJC's structural integrity. I have heard that a good rule of thumb is to replace them every 3 to 5 years depending on how much they get worn. Supposedly exposure to sunlight has some effect on the strength of the foam. Not sure I completely believe that since the foam is not directly exposed to the sunlight. And at the price of some helmets, it can get pretty expensive replacing every few years. But I guess that is still better than the alternative. Maybe we should inquire about a Mythbusters episode on this one.
    #2
  3. ph0rk

    ph0rk Doesn't Care

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    I tend to replace about once a year, but I'm rough on them, sweat a fair bit (through a helmet liner), and the inner pads are usually worn out by this time.

    I keep telling myself to just replace the pads and visor+pinlock, but for my last helmet this totaled out to nearly $150 (Arai rx-q), so I went with a new lid instead (the shell has seen hard times, too, vents were all stuck in various states of open or closed).

    I'm trying something new with a beater commuting helmet and a nicer touring helmet, we'll see how that goes. Most of my superficial helmet damage happens when I'm tired touring rather than commuting, so it will be interesting to see which lid looks crappiest after a year.
    #3
  4. bbonds_007

    bbonds_007 Adventurer

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    My first helmet was an HJC that was on closeout. I was not aware at the time it was already 6 years old from its manufacture date. After a year of use, I started to become aware of helmets "expiring". I checked the foam on the inside, it was as hard as a rock. I went ahead and bought a new Shoei, the foam inside was nice and squishy (for absorbing impact).

    So now I pretty much believe in the 5ish year limit for helmets from the manufacture date. I use/collect my old helmets as decoration. I think it would be unethical to sell them at this point.
    #4
  5. dogmantra

    dogmantra the White Shadow

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    I did a bit of remembering this morning while I was running around pretending to be a butterfly at my 2-year-old's dance class. That's when I do my best mind-wandering these days...

    I guess I got this lid back in July of 2008. I didn't realize it was that long ago. Granted it has sat on a shelf in the garage for a year or so when I was between bikes, but still. After I bought this lid and took it on the trip to Mexico I came back and immediately bought two more as they were on closeout for $50 or something. The two new helmets just sat in their boxes tucked away in a closet. A while back I gave one away to a coworker who was wearing a 1970's Evel Knievel style helmet when he had a wreck. The other new one was lent to a buddy for his girlfriend to use.

    The lid I gave to the coworker is long gone but the one I lent to the girlfriend I've just got that back so I'll likely be making the change over today.

    Not sure if I should have the kid come out and play taps on his trumpet while I bury this one in the yard or what.
    #5
  6. DaCaton

    DaCaton Reckless

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    According to a few motorcycle magazines and other places on the web, 5 years is the time to replace with normal wear. I'm a newb, so could be wrong.

    Always replace if you have a wreck.
    #6
  7. k-moe

    k-moe Long timer

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    5 years is the most common manufacturer's reccomendation for useful life. Materials degrade over time, and since there is no way of re-certifying a used helmet it's best to be on the conservative side. A helmet is there for one reason, and it better do it's job correctly.
    #7
  8. trc.rhubarb

    trc.rhubarb ZoomSplat!

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    Mine tell me when it's time... no really, they stand up, pull out a knife and dare me to put them on my head :lol3
    When I can't get the funk out anymore and the helmet fits sloppy, it's time to go.
    Generally about 3-4 years for me. I'm currently rotating 3 helmets and this is helping them by allowing them to dry out between uses since I ride daily.

    I cut the straps before throwing them away. Not sure why, I just do.
    #8
  9. squish

    squish Out of the office.

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    I run on the 4 year plan,
    Left over from my old company that provided our helmets for us since we rode bikes on the job once in a while.

    Normally by that time or around 50k mile they are starting to get a little funky and rough anyway.

    For the last 15 years I've bought the same brand and the same basic model and color.
    I gave one to my brother who needed a helmet and didn't have enough money and was replacing a 15 year old lid.
    The rest of get their straps cut off. I keep the d rings and cannibalize the face shield hardware and the vents if the new helmet is the same model as the old helmet.

    And then I just I pitch it, I'll keep the face shield if it's in good shape or give it to someone using the same lid if my new helmet has a different face shield.

    I've made it a point not to get sentimental about my helmets so I wouldn't have a bunch hanging around.
    I do keep the one I was wearing in my big crash and I was able to get some pretty cool signatures on it over the years.
    #9
  10. XtreemLEE

    XtreemLEE insignificant being...

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    I replace mine every three to four years mostly cause I like new things. I sell the old ones for parts on Ebay.
    #10
  11. chippertheripper

    chippertheripper motorcycle junkie

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    This.
    Most racing orgs allow a helmet to be 5yrs old, from build date.
    After that, it's shelf time.
    Although, I've crashed and NOT hit my head at all, post off inspection is key.
    Any significant impact, any white spider lines showing through the painted black foam, she's done.
    #11
  12. stefang

    stefang Adventurer

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    I do about 5 years. Materials degrading and new technology, venting, etc.

    Uh, the old ones are actually all sitting in a closet :hide No, I have no excuse or explanation.
    #12
  13. cldiver

    cldiver Been here awhile

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    I just replaced mine, it was around 3 yrs old. I ride alot so it got a lot of use. It felt loose and was uncomfortable, (no point jokes), The padding had just flattened out.
    #13
  14. eldog

    eldog Adventurer

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    I've heard that EMS and firefighting units can take your old helmets as they can use them in extraction and accident training.

    Worth looking into in your area as they may learn more cutting the D-rings before we cut them.

    Have you ever seen a five year or older Styrofoam coffee cup? Crumbles in your hand.

    I'm a firm believer that the most expensive helmet is still cheaper than the cheapest brain surgery.
    #14
  15. Unca Fud

    Unca Fud nrpetersen

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    I do a full ATGATT review before replacing a helmet. They are both important, but I'd rather go thru an accident with full ATGATT and an old helmet than not be ATGATT.
    #15
  16. SnowMule

    SnowMule [angry moth noises]

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    I wish I could go 5 years without crashing. :bluduh

    shit, i'd be happy with one year at this point...
    #16
    CMD3Stars likes this.
  17. ubermick

    ubermick Been here awhile

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    Spot of thread necromancy, but...

    So was riding some dirt last weekend, and had an off. Maybe 15mph, front washed out going over a hump (which the younger and more energetic lads would catch air on) and went down on my arm/chest. As I rolled, the helmet caught some ground as well. Here's the back of it...

    [​IMG]

    Mostly looks like scratches, although some are deep. I can't forensically analyze the fall and remember 100% if my head impacted though, or if it simply got scuffed.

    This replacement territory, or just cosmetic damage? Obviously no desire to ride with a defective helmet, and if in doubt I'd replace it, but rather not bin off a $700 bucket that's barely a year old.
    #17
  18. Florida Lime

    Florida Lime Long timer

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    I'd say that's not bad enough to consider replacing the helmet, but it's your head not mine. :D
    #18
  19. JR356

    JR356 Long timer

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    Get under the soft liner and feel the foam in that area,does it feel like the rest of the foam,is it compressed,cracked,flexible,separated from the shell in any way?
    If so,get a new lid,$700 will hardly get you in the emergency room door these days.

    JR356
    #19
  20. RoundTrip

    RoundTrip Unintentional deerslayer

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    Put it back on and ride it. What could possibly go wrong?
    #20