Have you ever been wearing a helmet, especially one that you have had for quite a while, and through to yourself, “How long is this thing good for?” I cannot tell you how many times I have asked myself that question while riding through some questionable areas throughout the U.S.
You honestly never know what’s going to happen while you are out there and riding can be a scary experience, especially riding in unfamiliar places. This is why it’s vital to be aware of a motorcycle helmet lifespan. It could mean the difference between a mild headache or something worse in the event of an accident.
How Long Does A Motorcycle Helmet Last?
Here we have the main question at hand-how long does a motorcycle helmet last? Well, it all depends on a variety of factors such as the type of helmet, what it is made of, if it has been in an accident and so much more. Let’s take a closer look at these factors, shall we?
When Should You Replace Your Helmet?
Based on the consensus by both the Snell Foundation and most helmet manufacturers, the recommended time in which a helmet should be replaced is generally 5 years. The reason for this is because over time, the materials inside and outside of your helmet can deteriorate, even when not in use.
So what happens if you drop your helmet right out of the box? Does it need to be replaced? No, you don’t need to replace a dropped helmet, especially if it was just a few feet off of the ground. If you drop it off of the Empire State Building, then I would say yes.
Why Would You Need To Replace A Helmet?
If you helmet has never been dropped or in an accident, then why would you need to replace it? It should be fine as long as you keep it safe, right? Wrong. Your helmet can deteriorate over time without you even knowing it, especially if you wear it frequently.
The shell of your helmet is the main form of protection between your head and the pavement. I have ridden with a few buddies before who were sideswiped by a car that wasn’t paying attention and they went down, hard. Their helmets were scuffed up, but their heads were okay.
The shell is usually made from some form of polycarbonate or fiberglass, sometimes with Kevlar or carbon fiber to make the helmet lighter. Over time, this may lose effectiveness due to scuffs, accidents, weather wear and other environmental factors.
This is the stuff that is in the middle of the helmet and what really protects your dome. EPS, or expanded polystyrene foam, makes the liner that is compiled of many pieces. Although the shell decided the shape of the helmet, the EPS liner cannot be completely solid or rigid and/or solid.
The EPS isn’t meant to hold permanent shape, especially during an accident or vigorous use and they will degrade over time, naturally. The polystyrene is also used to make containers or packaging and is known to biodegrade. So what do you think this is going to do inside of your helmet? It is going to biodegrade, making the helmet less effective in the case of an accident.
Extending The Life Of Your Helmet
Although the Snell Foundation recommended replacing your helmet every 5 years, some manufacturers recommend every 3-5 years. If you cannot afford to replace it every 3 years, here is how you can extend the life of your helmet.
Handle With Care
I use to be notorious for dropping my helmet while carrying it to and from the bike. My buddies use to tell me all of the time that I should invest in a carrying bag for my helmet, and eventually I did. This makes it much easier for me to carry around my helmet and keep it protected when not in use.
Store It Properly
After a long day of riding in the hot sun, especially in the Southern and Western U.S., I tend to pull off a sweat filled helmet, disgusting, I know. Storing it while it is moist can cause early deterioration of your helmet.
You are going to want to store it out in the open until it is dry. You can then place it back in the storage bag or somewhere out in a well ventilated area where it will be safe.
Keeping It Clean
I like to clean my helmet thoroughly every 6 months or so. They are very easy to wash and most pieces pop in and out of place with minimal effort. You aren’t going to want to use household cleaners. Kitchen cleaner may be fine and dandy for removing grease from your counters, but may be too harsh for your helmet.
You are going to want to use something that is made specifically for motorcycle helmets such as Motul Helmet Cleaner or Helmet Fresh Helmet Cleaner. These are safe for your helmet and won’t cause any further deterioration.
Replace Scratched Visors
If you have a full face helmet, you probably ride with a visor. This visor is what you look out of while you are riding and if it becomes scratched, dirty or chipped, it could cause voids in your vision. The best thing to do if this happens is to replace the visor to avoid accidents due to poor vision, especially at night. If it’s just a little dirty, a mild soap and water is acceptable to wash it with.
Many manufacturers, such as Shoei, will be happy to take your helmet back and give it a thorough inspection. They will make sure that is passes and if it doesn’t, they are going to recommend a new helmet. So, for your safety, it may be worth digging up that paperwork that you threw in a kitchen drawer somewhere.
To sum all of this information up, your helmet should be replaced every 3-5 years. While most recommend every 5 years, it is still important to keep your helmet clean and well taken care of. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to comment. We love to hear from our readers!
In order to ensure the longevity of your helmet and get it close to that 5-year mark, follow these simple steps:
- Look for a good quality helmet
- Clean it every 6 months or so
- Invest in a carrying case or storage bag