Your helmet is a pretty important accessory when it comes to riding a motorcycle. A decent helmet may not be cheap, but it’s an investment that could save your life or prevent a serious head injury. But does your new helmet have a shelf life? Is it something you should replace after a certain time period?
How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last?
The Five-Year Rule
Once you start digging around the research looking for an answer, you’re bound to come across the five-year rule, which, as the name indicates, has you replacing your helmet every five years. The rule is based on a consensus between the Snell Foundation and the helmet manufacturers.
Helmets are prone to deterioration due to the linear materials in the helmet degrading over time. This is due to a range of factors, such as the glues, resins, and other materials used in the helmet, body, hair oils, and other environmental factors.
What Influences the Five-Year Rule?
The five-year rule is a good guide, but it isn’t written in stone. There are three main factors that influence the longevity of a helmet:
- Amount of use: the number of hours or miles it has been worn.
- Maintenance: whether it has been looked after. Storing your helmet properly when you are not using it and keeping it clean and tidy also add to the life of a helmet.
- Initial quality: materials and workmanship matter. A quality helmet will easily last five years, although cheaper helmets may need to be replaced more frequently.
The five-year rule is not the definitive answer as to how long a helmet lasts. Irrespective of whether your helmet is old or new, it is important that you regularly check it to ensure its integrity remains intact.
Five years is considered by some the perfect time to replace your helmet. The technology associated with helmets is advancing at a rapid pace, with new materials and designs providing better protection to riders.
Although these improvements are made in small increments over a long period, it means over a three to five year period, the technological changes add up and become easily noticed.
A regular helmet check will help you to ensure your helmet remains fit for the purpose. There are several things that you should consider when carrying out a helmet check, including:
- Check EPS liner is firmly attached to the out shell
- Ensure retention straps are attached and not fraying or worn
- Make sure your clip system is easily secured
- Check outer shell for chips and cracks. While chips can often be repaired, a crack usually means it’s time for a new helmet.
- Ensure the moving parts on the helmet are moving freely
- Check the clip system is working as it should be
After an Accident
Irrespective of whether your helmet looks damaged, if you are involved in an accident and hit your head, it’s best practice to replace your helmet. This is because the foam in the helmet has been depressed and won’t return to its original shape.
If you continue to use the helmet and had the misfortune of another accident, the foam in the helmet will be unable to absorb the impact.
The five-year rule is a good general guide. But, the importance of regular checks for deterioration should not be underestimated, as not all helmets are created equally.
About the author: Michael Parrotte was the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, and a consultant for KBC Helmets, V emar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, Sparx Helmets. In addition, he is the founder and owner of AGV Sports Group.