The helmet is the most important piece of motorcycle safety gear. It’s not hard to find a bike owner with a “the helmet saved my life” story. Wearing a helmet is not enough though, you need to make sure it’s in perfect condition. Helmets can get damaged, and have an expiration date. In these cases, they don’t protect the head. So, when to replace a motorcycle helmet? I’ll be answering all your questions about helmet replacement.
Motorcycle helmets are replaced in cases of damage to the exterior or the interior foam. Old age is also a reason to replace the helmet, with an average life of 5 years. Replace a motorcycle after a bad accident or after 3-5 years.
There must be a reason for your visit. I guess you dropped the helmet from a height or noticed something strange after an accident. Keep on reading to check if you’re seeing signs that you need a replacement.
Signs Of Damage
When it comes to durability, motorcycle helmets perform really well. After all, they are designed with a single purpose, to protect your head. And that’s something that helmet manufacturers do not take lightly. So, the usual drop shouldn’t damage the shell. Most shells get damaged from a really bad accident or a really bad drop.
You should always take care of your gear and keep it safe. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to be worried if you drop it from a counter, or it slips from your hand. You should try to minimize events like these, just know, it happens to everybody.
Believe me, if your helmet’s shell is damaged, you’ll know why that is. If you’re coming here because you damaged the helmet, I bet the impact was that bad it set an impression on you. Let’s see what are the signs that your helmet is badly damaged.
The thing that is most likely to get damaged is the shell, the helmet exterior. The shell is usually made from some hard material like thermoplastic, carbon, fiberglass. These industry-standard helmet materials will protect your head for sure but will get damaged while doing so.
Since the shell is the part that protects you from direct impact, that’s the first thing you should be checking after an accident or a drop. Look for cracks and deformations, even minor ones can be serious.
Any heavy damage should be obvious, there will be a huge crack or a big scratch. Minor cracks should be harder to find, but you will spot them for sure. Use your fingers for guidance.
If you had an accident, even if it’s not that serious, carefully examine the shell. It may have some cracks and scratches if you hit your head while falling.
The Foam Lining
In addition to the shell, there’s a foam layer that also protects from the impact shock. This foam layer is located on the inside of the helmet. Without this layer, the shell wouldn’t be able to save you from injury. The dense foam absorbs the shock wave created from the impact.
While your shell may be looking okay, the foam may be damaged. That’s why you should check the foam for deformation after an accident or a dropping event. Check the density of the entire layer. If some part feels flattened or different from the rest, the foam may be deformed.
It’s important to note that degrading foam padding is not effective in protecting you. Riders that used helmets with bad padding still suffered head injuries.
Wear & Tear
The more you wear your helmet, the more it deteriorates over time. Fortunately, the exterior is not that susceptible to wear, although bugs and grime may ruin the protective coating. The interior is the part that’s prone to constant wear.
The helmet padding and the lining are made from materials that don’t mix well with moisture. And what do you do, when you are riding? You’re sweating. The sweat is affecting the interior, making it flaky. Any hair product you are using is also attributing to helmet degradation.
Of course, not every helmet deteriorates at the same rate. Quality helmets can resist wear for a longer period of time but eventually, they go bad too. Keep in mind though, regular washing and maintenance increase helmet life expectancy.
So, a flaky and degraded foam, comfort padding, and liner, all signs of wear. If you notice this with your helmet it may be time for a change.
[Related Article: How To Wash And Care For Your Motorcycle Helmet]
This sign includes both damage and wear but it’s such an obvious sign that it needs a separate section. The thing is, the helmet may become loose and it won’t fit tightly on your head. This can happen because of damage caused to the padding or just degradation over time.
It really doesn’t matter whether you damaged the helmet or it just reached its dying point, a loose helmet should be replaced. If your helmet doesn’t fit you as tight as it used to, you need a helmet replacement.
And, the last sign on our list, old age. Assuming that you took proper care of your helmet and you didn’t get into any accidents, you’ll have to change it once it reached its shelf life. Some differ between shelf life and service life but all in all, a helmet lasts up to 5 years.
The general rule of thumb is to change your motorcycle helmet every 5 years. I recommend following this rule, you don’t want a faulty safety helmet. The five-year rule is enough to know when your helmet is too old. But there are other signs that will tell you the same answer.
An aging helmet will show all the signs we talked about so far. The foam will be deformed, the padding will start to flake, the helmet will be loose, the locks and straps won’t work, etc. Not to mention, the normal wear the helmet experiences in those 5 years.
Let’s say you have an untouched helmet, is it still old after five years? The five-year rule still applies here. Although the shell may be just fine, the foam will be flaky and deformed. The entire helmet is in a weakened condition.
Tips On Buying A New Motorcycle Helmet
Once you’ve realized that you are going to need a new helmet, you may need some help with buying a new one. I’m not here to tell you what to buy, just to help you with the process. I know that not everyone has a great understanding of helmets.
I recommend either going for quality-built helmets from premium helmet manufacturers or just an average helmet. What I don’t recommend though, is buying the cheapest product available.
As we already mentioned, helmets are a crucial piece of safety gear that protects you from head injuries and brain damage. So, it makes sense to do a little research before buying.
- Shoei, AGV, and Arai are some of the top-tier brands with superior helmet technology.
- Don’t buy a low-cost helmet if it’s not certified or it’s not up to standard.
- Each brand has a variation of the 5-year policy, check to make sure.
- Comfort is important too.
- Make sure to size your helmet before buying.
- Regularly wash your helmet to prevent wear.
Related Questions And Other FAQs
Is An Expensive Bike Helmet Worth It
It depends on your riding habits. If you’re riding quite a lot and on highways, an expensive helmet is worth it. The comfort features and the ventilation will do a lot for you. If you’re riding mainly in the city and not regularly, an expensive helmet isn’t worth it.
How Much Does A Good Motorcycle Helmet Cost
Bike helmets come in a variety of prices. The price can range from 25$ to 500$. The average helmet costs 70$-200$. Good helmets range from 250$-500$.
Does Dropping A Helmet Ruin It
Dropping a helmet shouldn’t damage the shell but it’s still possible for it to get damaged. It depends on the height where it was dropped and the surface on which it fell.
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