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Safety equipment is an integral part of driving and transportation. To make driving safer, we use seatbelts, airbags and other safety equipment. This is especially true for motorcycle helmets. According to the CDC motorcycle helmets lower the risk of death and reduce head injuries by 37% and 69% respectively.
So why does the motorcycle helmet expire? Over time, the outer shell of polycarbonate/fiberglass becomes less durable and brittle because of a change in the molecular structure. This molecular degradation decreases how safe a motorcycle helmet is over time, so they should be replaced based on the manufacturer’s specification.
While motorcycle helmets are intended to protect you in an accident, they can also be damaged by regular use. Helmets last a certain amount of time. “expire” These items will require replacement.
Anatomy of a Motorcycle Helmet
Understanding the structure of a helmet will allow you to better understand how they wear. Helmets are simple to construct, but they are purpose-driven. Helmet technology is constantly evolving.
The shell, which is the outer part of the helmet, is usually made from thermoplastics, fiberglass or composite material and/or carbon fibre. High-end helmets are made of carbon fiber and kevlar, which is extremely durable but also comes at a high price.
Any type of helmet is safe provided it meets the DOT standards. Snell ratings are also available for helmets. While it isn’t a legal requirement, it can be used to indicate a high-quality helmet.
The helmet structure has a layer that absorbs the impact of a collision. This layer is made out of polystyrene. There are different compositions available for impact absorption. This layer absorbs the kinetic energie and can cause the material to crack or break in the event of an accident.. This constitutes replacement as the helmet’s ability to take on another hit is critically reduced.
The helmet’s interior cushions are made from synthetic fiber and are designed for comfort against your head. They have moisture control functions to keep you cool. While this layer isn’t the first line of defense against a crash, if it wears out it can make for an uncomfortable ride. Also, loose fitting helmets are not safe.
Additional wear and tear can also be caused by adhesives, finishes, or other treatments in the helmet. All layers of the helmet can be damaged over the life of the helmet. A helmet can be thought of as a consumable that needs to be replaced regularly.
When should I replace my helmet?
Although it can be difficult to determine when your helmet needs to be replaced, there are some easy guidelines. To keep your helmet fresh, you should replace it every 3 to 5 years. Manufacturers might have guidelines that are specific to their products. Refer to any paperwork that comes with the helmet.
The helmet will have a date stamp that is visible, but discreetly placed. This date can be used as a baseline for calculating replacement intervals. If you’re unsure, you can take it into a store to get some expert advice.
There are times when your helmet may need to be replaced beyond normal wear and tear. Sometimes, your helmet may need to be replaced more frequently than you are used to. It mostly involves fitment concerns and concerns about the helmet’s integrity.
Perhaps your helmet was a gift from your parents when you were young and has since been outgrown. Perhaps it just doesn’t fit like it used to for whatever reason. It is just as important for safety to have a helmet that fits properly as the material it is made of. You should ensure that the cushioning is snug and that the chin strap adjusts. If it’s too small or too loose, it’s time for an update.
Sometimes your helmet may accidentally fall to the ground. It can be confusing to decide if that is replacement. A typical drop from the handlebars of your car while it is parked won’t necessarily warrant a replacement. If something like this happens, consider it’s age and overall condition to make a judgement call. The bottom line is this: if you’re concerned, replacing it will give you the greatest peace of mind.
Is it OK to Buy a Used or Expired Helmet
Unscheduled replacements of helmets can put a strain on your finances. A new, good helmet will cost anywhere from $100 to $400+ depending on the features, which can be hard to fork over when you haven’t been saving up.
It is possible to consider buying an older helmet or reusing an existing helmet. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t do this.
- You can never fully trust that it’s good. Although the Craigslist advertisement may seem compelling, there is no way to verify that the helmet is intact. It is a dangerous gamble with your safety.
- Similar to the above, it is sometimes difficult to determine your age.. It may have a date stamp but it’s impossible to know what kind of use it’s had since that date. Even if it looks shiny and new, you can’t fully trust it.
- It may never fit perfectly. Though it might be the right size, the previous owner’s specific head shape has imprinted in the cushions, which means it might not ever fit you the same way it fit them.
- Don’t overlook the hygiene factor. Oils from the skin and hair of the previous owner could have accidentally been deposited in the cushions. Additionally, the cushions may have been contaminated with dirt, hair, sweat, or bugs. Not worth it.
So, while the price may seem steep, it is worth your while–and dignity–to spring for a brand new helmet as needed. In the event of an accident, a used helmet can pose too many risks that will directly impact your wallet.
What to Look for in a Helmet
It can be easy to get caught up in the style of helmet, but this shouldn’t be the basis for choosing one to wear. If you’re in the market for a new helmet, here are some things to consider:
- Safety first The safety that a helmet offers is paramount. Your new helmet should be approved by the DOT and Snell-rated. To get the best helmet, choose a trusted brand from an established retailer.
- Fitment. Safety goes hand-in-hand with this. It is dangerous to wear a loose helmet, as I have said before. To get the best fit, measure your head and try on several helmets. A couple litmus tests for fitment are 1) if your cheeks kind of look like a squirrel’s and 2) moving the chin bar should move your face, not just the helmet.
- Types. The three types of helmet are full face, ¾ and ½. The full-face design has the best protection and features a built-in guard for the chin. The ¾ is missing the chin guard but comes down and covers the cheeks and ears. The ½ offers the least coverage, but tends to be less expensive. These covers a variety of styles, including street riding, dirt riding, and everything in-between.
- Comfort. If you’re going to be doing a lot of riding, the least of your worries should be how comfortable your helmet is. A helmet that’s both breathable and blocks the wind should be chosen based on your individual needs. A visor can help block the sun and wind. If you wear a bandana or balaclava, make sure it doesn’t interfere with the fitment of the helmet.
Features. The technology of helmets is always evolving. There are many useful features. There are helmets that have built-in bluetooth speakers so you can listen to your favorite music. Some helmets include two-way radios that allow you to communicate with your riding companions. There are many different colors and graphics available to suit your preferences.
There’s certainly a lot to consider when it comes to helmets. Remember that your helmet is the most important safety feature you have when riding. This article will help you keep your helmet in top condition.