How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last? Unveiling the Ultimate Guide

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Your helmet is a pretty important accessory when it comes to riding a motorcycle, so you probably want to know how long do motorcycle helmets last.

A quality helmet will easily last five years, although cheaper helmets may need to be replaced more frequently. The Snell Memorial Foundation, in their SNELL helmet standard, advises replacing helmets within 5 years of purchase or first use, or 7 years from the manufacturing date. But different helmet manufacturers may recommend replacement between 2 to 5 years.

While a good helmet might come with a substantial price tag, it's an investment that could potentially save your life or prevent serious head injuries. But does your new helmet have a shelf life? Is there a specific time frame after which it should be replaced?

Helmet ModelCategorySafety CertificationCheck & Shop Now
AGV K3Best OverallDOT, ECE, SHARPRevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
Shoei X-15Best Road RacingDOT, ECE, SNELL, SHARP, FIMRevZilla | CycleGear | J&P Cycles
Arai XD-4Best AdventureDOT, ECE, SNELL, SHARP, FIMRevZilla | CycleGear | Amazon
Scorpion EXO-R420Best Urban CommuterDOT, ECE, SNELLRevZilla | CycleGear | Amazon
Bell MX-9 Adventure MipsBest Dual-SportDOT, ECERevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon
Sedici Strada IIBest Sport/Tour/CityDOT, ECE, SNELLRevZilla | CycleGear | J&P Cycles
HJC i90Best Budget FriendlyDOT, ECE, SHARPRevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon

How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last? The Five-Year Rule

Once you start researching, you're likely to encounter the five-year rule, which, as the name suggests, recommends replacing your helmet every five years. This rule regarding the lifespan of motorcycle helmets is a consensus between the Snell Foundation and helmet manufacturers.

Helmets are susceptible to deterioration because the linear materials in the helmet degrade over time. This degradation is influenced by various factors, including the glues, resins, and other materials used in the helmet, as well as body oils, hair products, and environmental conditions.

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What Influences the Five-Year Rule?

The five-year rule is a helpful guideline, but it's not set in stone. The longevity of a helmet depends on three main factors:

  • Amount of Use: Consider the number of hours or miles the helmet has been worn.
  • Maintenance: Proper care, including storing the helmet correctly when not in use and keeping it clean, significantly extends its lifespan.
  • Initial Quality: The materials and workmanship of the helmet are crucial factors in determining its durability. Carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar, and polycarbonates have varying lifespans.

The five-year rule isn't the definitive answer regarding a helmet's lifespan. Whether your helmet is old or new, it's essential to regularly check it to ensure its integrity remains intact.

The AGV Pista GP R Carbon Valentino Rossi Helmet, one of the best helmets ever made

The motorcycle helmets I recommend provide a perfect balance of affordability and unwavering quality, ensuring the utmost value for your investment. These are items I've become well-acquainted with during my more than 50 years of motorcycling experience, where I've led and consulted for reputable companies in over 25 countries, in addition to being an avid rider. They are the very same helmets that have earned my trust and served me exceptionally well during countless adventures.

Do Motorcycle Helmets Expire?

Motorcycle helmets do expire, which is why manufacturers generally recommend replacing them after a certain period, even if the helmet appears to be in good condition.

You can check the manufacturer's guidelines for when to replace your specific helmet. If you can't find a specific expiration date, it's best to go by the five-year rule to stay on the safe side.

Do Motorcycle Helmets Expire When Not in Use?

Motorcycle helmets might expire even when not in use. Any helmets will degrade over time due to various factors; however, the rate of degradation for unused helmets is usually slower compared to regularly used helmets, especially if the unused helmet has been stored properly (in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.)

If you're not sure about the condition of your helmet that has been stored, you can contact the manufacturer for guidance.  It’s best to go ahead and replace it, especially if it's been over 5 years since its manufacture date. 

How to Tell If Your Helmet Is Still Fit for Use?

To determine if your motorcycle helmet is still fit for use, you should do regular helmet checks and inspect for any signs of wear, damage, or degradation.

Helmet Checks

A regular helmet check is essential to ensure your helmet remains fit for its purpose. There are several things you should consider when conducting a helmet check, including:

  • Ensure the EPS liner is firmly attached to the outer shell.
  • Check that the retention straps are attached and not fraying or worn.
  • Make sure the clip system is easily secured.
  • Inspect the outer shell for chips and cracks. While chips can often be repaired, a crack usually indicates it’s time for a new helmet.
  • Ensure that the moving parts on the helmet are moving freely.
  • Check that the clip system is functioning as it should be.

After An Accident

Niki-Lauda-AGV-Helmets-F1-agvsport

Irrespective of whether your helmet appears 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 gets compressed and won't return to its original shape.

Continuing to use the helmet after an accident can render the foam ineffective in absorbing future impacts.

While the five-year rule serves as a good general guideline for determining the lifespan of a motorcycle helmet, the significance of regular checks for deterioration cannot be underestimated. Not all helmets are created equally, making these checks essential for ensuring your helmet's continued effectiveness.

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I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!

Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, and non-profit organizations:

MS/L                                                                             

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About the Author:

Michael Parrotte started his career in the motorcycle industry by importing AGV Helmets into the North American market. He was then appointed the Vice President of AGV Helmets America. In total, he worked with AGV Helmets for 25 years. He has also served as a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets.

In 1985, he founded AGV Sports Group, Inc. with AGV Helmets in Valenza, Italy. For over 38 years now, the company has quietly delivered some of the best protective gear for motorcyclists in the world.

Click Here for Michael’s LinkedIn Profile

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