If you’re an experienced biker, you know helmets are your most important pieces of motorcycle protective riding gearWhat you may not know is that your head protection does expire. The majority of fatal impacts that happen during a collision are to the head. Motorcycle helmets can only protect you if their construction materials are still in good shape. Understanding how and when they deteriorate can save your life during a crash.
Does Your Helmet Have an Expiration Date?
While it may not have a specific date like a carton of milk, your helmet does expire. All head protection manufactured after 1974 has a production date stamped on it. Assuming normal use and wear, you want to replace your helmet after about three to five years.
Both the shell and the liner deteriorate over time. The expanded polystyrene foam used to make motorcycle helmets really isn’t that different from the material used in disposable cups. It’s excellent for dissipating force, but it isn’t especially tough. Eventually it does degrade, making it less effective at protecting you.
When you ride, your shell is exposed to heat, cold, precipitation, and debris. It’s made to resist sunlight, but UV rays break it down over time. Over time, the combination of these elements render your helmet unsafe even if you’ve never been in an accident.
Should You Replace Your Helmet More Often?
Three to five years should be considered the maximum lifetime of your helmet, there are reasons to replace it sooner. The most obvious one is if you’re involved in a crash. Any impact to your head protection is a sign you should purchase a new one. Marks or holes in the shell create weak spots on your helmet. Even if the outer shell appears fine, don’t forget that the EPS liner absorbs impacts. Damage to the EPS may be invisible but it makes the liner less effective.
If your helmet even falls from a significant height, you should consider replacing it. In general, a newer helmet is safer than an older one. The newer one not only has less deterioration, it often incorporates the latest advanced materials or design elements for better safety. If it works with your budget, consider a shorter helmet replacement schedule.
What Can You Do To Make Your Helmet Last Longer?
UV rays cause the most deterioration in your helmet. If you’re not wearing it, keep it in a cool, dark place. This can be difficult when on the go, but storage devices or covered parking garages can help.
Moisture can also be hard on your helmet, so do your best to keep it dry. Beyond weather, that means protecting it from your own sweat. Try to find helmets with comfort linings that can be removed to dry by themselves.
Head protection is one part of safety equipment where you should never skimp. If your helmet is showing signs of wear or is more than five years old, it’s time to replace it. Save money and get a great-looking model by finding a online store with a high-quality motorcycle helmet sale.