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I have often seen it suggested that you replace your helmet every 5 years. I've seen it said that if you have a get off you should replace your helmet then. That one I can understand. There maybe damage to the helmet, from the crash, that can't be seen by the eye.

What causes a helmet to loose its integrity after 5 years. The only possible thing I've been able to come up with is damage from the Sun being caused by UV rays. I don't know that I'm correct, but its the only reason I can think of.

Its coming up on the 5 year mark for my current helmet and I don't see a thing wrong with it. Do I really need to replace it? (I also have sitting on the shelf, right next to the current helmet, the previous helmet which also seems to be in fine shape which I replaced at 5 years.)
 
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The glue and foam on interior get compromised with age. Several good articles on it that makes sense about the break down of foam.

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Seeing that a helmet is only designed to protect your head in a tip over situation, I have never understood why old foam is an issue. I do replace my unused helmets or at least have options of which to wear. Of the two helmet I did use, the first was the VMAX crash, that helmet served far better than tip over smack though it was done when I was complete with the crash. The helmet i used during the fawn meeting seemed to be good as it only glanced off the grass when I used it. I kept it for a little while longer and never felt anything amiss when wearing it. I did retire it after another two year but it is still looking usable.

I have also heard only spend what you think your head is worth, therefore an $800 helmet becomes more desirable. Yet the $80 helmet may be built in the same manner at the same facility, just with a different label yet the same safety rating.

I have also heard that the five-year swap is built in marketing to ensure we keep buying more helmets. It's not bad to buy another lid if you can.
 

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Personally I would not replace a helmet unless I could see something wrong with it. Or smell something wrong with it, which is much more likely. Especially for the Brylcreem Boys. But I don't want to get started on the hair products using crowd.
 

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Here's a decent article about helmet age. I hadn't really thought about this until you posted but generally, my personal funk makes me replace my helmet a little more often than 5 years anyway.


I like that Shoei shared key indicators that it may be time to replace your helmet. From the article above:

“Ultimately, the useful service life of a safety helmet is dependent on the intensity and frequency of its use [emphasis added]. Helmet replacement is recommended even if only one of the under-mentioned points applies:
  • The helmet was subjected to an impact.
  • The comfort padding or the retention system has become loose due to heavy use or display signs of deterioration.
  • The synthetic foam padding displays signs of heavy use and the helmet feels too loose. Test: with the retention system fastened, the helmet turns to the side when you gently shake your head.
  • There are indentations in the EPS liner and/or white scratches can be seen on surfaces with black paint
Even if none of these is applied, we, SHOEI, recommend replacement in 5 years after its first purchased at retail.”
 

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... Even if none of these is applied, we, SHOEI, recommend replacement in 5 years after its first purchased at retail.”
See, this right here is the trust issue I have with the Manufacturers recommending replacement after 5-years. If age is a factor, it should be a factor from the date of manufacture, not purchase. If use is a factor, then a helmet should be good after five years if one has multiple helmets they use. For example, I have a winter helmet and a summer helmet. Let's assume 6-months usage for each helmet, that would give me 10 years... IF usage is the factor. However, if age is the factor, I don't want to buy a helmet from a retailer that has been sitting in the box for seven years, I don't care how much they reduce the price.

Sounds like they just want to sell more helmets, when they state it they way Shoei has.

Daniel
 

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In the article, I think it said Arai has a 7 year warranty and 5 year warranty that starts on the date of purchase, not to exceed the 7 year warranty. This gives the helmet an additional 2 years of sitting on the shelf before material breakdown becomes a factor.

I work in the medical device industry and we see material breakdown as soon as 3 months after date of manufacture based on what it is and what chemicals are being used. Most of our materials that are not cardboard or steel have an expiration date of 1 or 2 years. From time to time, I do see materials that have been sitting for longer and it becomes quite obvious how the material has failed and is no longer acceptable for use. Based on this experience alone, I would say there absolutely is something to the reality that the materials used in helmet construction do breakdown.
 

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“Ultimately, the useful service life of a safety helmet is dependent on the intensity and frequency of its use [emphasis added].
Even if none of these is applied, we, SHOEI, recommend replacement in 5 years after its first purchased at retail.”

See, this right here is the trust issue I have with the Manufacturers recommending replacement after 5-years. If age is a factor, it should be a factor from the date of manufacture, not purchase. If use is a factor, then a helmet should be good after five years if one has multiple helmets they use. IF usage is the factor. However, if age is the factor, I don't want to buy a helmet from a retailer that has been sitting in the box for seven years, I don't care how much they reduce the price.

Sounds like they just want to sell more helmets, when they state it they way Shoei has.

Daniel

what in the world is "intensity" in wearing a helmet?

i agree that there is probably some marketing involved in coming up with the 5-year guideline to urge people to replace helmets. although, as previously noted, the materials do break down so there is no way a helmet is going to be as reliable at several years old versus new. as far as this is concerned, i would think if the glue seems to hold up to a normal stress test of pulling on the straps, and there are no signs of the straps coming loose anywhere, then i'm comfortable pushing that 5-year guideline indefinitely.

as for the date of purchase vs. manufacture, the factory doesn't know how long a helmet will be sitting before it is purchased, and there is probably no way for the buyer to know the precise manufacture date. and since a helmet is not going to wear down nearly as much on a shelf vs. being used, i think this is what makes the '5 year from purchase date' a more useful guide.
 

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This is an interesting discussion of the pros and cons; yet are there any manufactures of helmets that actually stamp or label the date of manufacture on the inside of the helmet?
 

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I just replaced my helmet after 3 years because it was becoming a little loose with wear. It was hell getting the camera mount off of the old helmet.
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A couple weeks ago, my neighbor's son was hospitalized after he crashed. His head is busted up. Mom says "his helmet popped off" in the wreck.

I've never met the son, so I don't have any insight into the validity of Mom's story. He lives in SC. Maybe he wasn't wearing a helmet, but doesn't want to confess that to Mom. Maybe he didn't have it strapped well. Maybe the wreck was so violent that it really did rip the helmet off. Maybe the straps were weakened due to age.

I dunno.

We all know vendors want to sell more stuff.
We also know that stuff, all kinds of stuff, weakens with age. On a helmet, that could include straps, buckles, snaps, plastic, padding etc. Not so much the parts that make the shell, but lots of the parts that keep the shell connected to your head.

Key is to replace the helmet BEFORE stuff degrades. 5 years is probably aggressive, but it's pretty easy to remember.

Side note: I'm also a pretty serious bicyclist. Bike helmets are fixed with CPSC certification stickers inside that include the date of manufacture. Most vendors suggest the same 5 year replacement rule, but some as low as 3 years!
 

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Just saw this post and had to put my two cents in:
Let me start by saying that a few years ago, I was one of "those guys" that didn't wear a helmet at all. Living in both Florida and Texas, neither of which require helmets, I was just one of those people. May have something to do with the fact that most of my adult life I have worn hard hats and steel toe boots to work and I just don't want to be protected out of the enjoyment of riding. (I still won't wear boots when riding). Having said that, I have in the last few years grown up and started wearing my helmet anytime I am riding the bike. What I have learned is that your helmet will last a long long time if properly cared for. You do maintenance on your bike, do maintenance on your helmet. In my case, I periodically check the foam and padding to make sure they are properly secured in the shell. I change both my face shield and my sun visor about every two years. I always check the chin straps thoroughly concentrating on the points of connection to the helmet and the buckles/D-Rings. I clean my helmets after every use and I keep a coat of Carnuba containing auto wax on the shell. This will help to protect the shell from the UV rays when riding on the hot Texas days. Most important, when I am not using the helmet(s) they are stored in the felt bags provided by the manufacturer in a closet in my house where they are in a climate controlled environment when not being used. I believe that the recommended 5 years is a sales booster and completely irrelevant if you take care of your helmets just like you do your bike.
 
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