If you ride a motorcycle and have a question about whether or not your helmet is safe to use, you should read this article. This article will answer all your questions regarding helmet expiration, helmet shelf life, how long a helmet lasts, when to replace your helmet, and more.
Generally, motorcycle helmets have a shelf life of about 5 years before they start to degrade and lose their effectiveness. After that point, you’ll want to get a new one.
Do motorcycle helmets expire? Although most manufacturers don’t indicate any expiration date on motorcycle helmets, they recommend you to have a replacement after 5 years of use.
Many helmet manufacturers claim that a helmet can protect you even after an impact, but only if it’s newer than 5 years. This gives the helmet a longer lifespan, often up to 7 years.
Motorcycle Helmets – When Do They Expire?
Motorcycle helmets don’t typically have stamped expiration dates. However, some signs can tip you off. In most cases, it is a 5-year period from when you purchased it.
The recommended replacement date for a regularly used helmet should be 3 years at most. If your motorcycle helmet is still in good condition and has not been damaged, it may still be safe to use. If the helmet is damaged, however, and especially if there are signs of corrosion or rust on the inside of the helmet that could affect its performance, then this would suggest that it’s time for a replacement.
How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last?
The answer usually depends on many different factors. The quality and materials used in the construction of your helmet will make a difference, as will how much care and maintenance you give it. The most important factor is whether or not your helmet has been in a crash.
General Rule of Thumb – 5 Years
A good quality helmet should last at least 5 years before needing replacement, but with proper care, it can last even longer than that. However, if you have had an accident where your head hit something hard enough for the impact to crack or deform the shell of your helmet, replacing it is absolutely necessary to ensure safety during future use.
But Is It Really 5 Years?
There are others who don’t believe that motorcycle helmets should be replaced every 5 years. They may think it’s a waste of money, or perhaps they don’t think it will make any difference.
Another argument here is that retailers and manufacturers want people to buy helmets regularly so they can boost their sales. Thus, the 5-year norm is widely endorsed.
This argument indeed has merit for two reasons:
1. No Solid Evidence
At least no solid evidence exists that helmets degrade or slow down after 5 years, be it experimental or empirical. Since there’s no hard evidence to substantiate the 5-year replacement rule, it’s irrelevant to follow it.
2. Absence of Expiration Labels
The second is that there’s no expiration date, label, or tag on the helmet. It’s actually a big deal. How can you believe a rule of thumb you heard from a friend or found on the internet if the manufacturer doesn’t put it in writing?
As a result, some people feel that motorcycle helmets do not have an expiration date and that the replacement thing is a sham because of these legitimate concerns.
Should You Still Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet?
Let’s take a closer look at helmet components to help us better understand why it has to be replaced. Here are the 3 components of a motorcycle helmet:
1. The Outer Shell
The outer shell is usually made from polycarbonate plastic or fiberglass and protects your head in case of an accident. It can also be used to reinforce the helmet’s structure by adding extra strength where it’s needed most. Some helmets have an aerodynamic design that helps them cut through wind resistance more efficiently and reduce drag on long rides (like motocross racing).
The outer shell should be immediately replaced if it is scratched or cracked in any way — even if there isn’t visible damage under regular lighting conditions.
2. The Inner Shell
Inner shells are made from a material called expanded polystyrene (EPS), which absorbs impact better than other plastics do when hit at high velocities like those seen during an accident on a motorcycle or ATV. This makes them especially important for protecting against head injuries sustained while riding motorized vehicles.
Most liners are made from foam or vinyl. Some manufacturers also use honeycomb material or other lightweight materials to keep the helmet lighter without sacrificing protection or comfort.
3. Cloth or Fabric Liner
These are what make the difference between wearing a helmet that feels like an uncomfortable torture device and one that fits like a second skin. Comfort pads are removable, so you can wash them regularly. They help keep your head fresh and feeling good over time.
If these components degrade over time, you’ll know whether or not you should replace your helmet periodically.
Condition of Your Helmet
Always inspect any new helmet before using it for the first time. When you’re inspecting your helmet, look for any damage. If the helmet has been in an accident and it’s not too badly damaged, it’s best to replace the whole thing. The same goes if there are cracks or holes in the shell of the helmet.
When a helmet is involved in an accident, even when it doesn’t seem like much damage was done, hidden damage may compromise its effectiveness in an emergency.
When Should You Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet?
When you’re thinking about buying a replacement helmet, the first thing you should consider is: “Have you hit your head?” If so, it’s time to replace your helmet.
Accidental Helmet Drop
The next question is: “Have you dropped it?” Dropping a helmet can cause damage such as cracks in the visor or even breakage of the shell. The same goes if you drop it on a hard surface like concrete, which is one of our favorite things to do!
In these cases, it’s probably time for a new helmet.
If not yet convinced, try this more advanced test:
- Your helmet should be replaced after any impact that causes squeaking noises when moving around with the chin strap on — it may just be that all those years of vibrations have worn through some plastic parts inside.
3 Simple Rules to Keep in Mind
Ultimately, to ensure that your head is as safe as it can be, follow these 3 rules:
- If you’re not sure about the condition of your helmet, replace it.
- If you have any doubts about the condition of your helmet, replace it.
- If you have any questions about your helmet’s condition, replace it.
In addition to the obvious risk of injury, your helmet can be damaged by environmental exposure. The sun’s UV rays can damage the helmet’s shell and padding, causing it to lose its protective qualities. The same goes for prolonged exposure to heat or cold, including sub-zero temperatures. Excessive moisture or chemicals like gasoline or oil can cause damage as well.
Also, your helmet could be damaged by exhaust fumes if you’re a motorcyclist who rides in cities where there are lots of idling automobiles and motorcycles on the road — or even if you live near a busy freeway exit.
How Can You Tell If a Helmet Is Still Good?
First, check the date of manufacture. You’ll find this information printed on the inside of your helmet near the chin strap or on a label attached to the inside. If it’s a newer helmet, then there’s no need to worry about replacing it yet.
If you have an older helmet that was made before 2000 and hasn’t been in an accident since then, then you should replace it anyway because it may not provide adequate protection from head injuries anymore (helmets are designed with a shelf life).
Another way to tell if your helmet needs replacing is by looking for any damage; for example, cracks or dents can indicate impact damage.
Dirt and Wear
Dirt and wear also suggest that your helmet has been used for some time – though this isn’t necessarily bad news! A worn-out appearance doesn’t mean that your old lid isn’t doing its job anymore.
However, if the inner lining feels wet or damp when touched with bare hands, then you should probably get it inspected by a professional before riding again. Moisture buildup could indicate damage underneath.
Conclusion – Motorcycle Helmets: Do They Expire?
I hope this article has answered any questions you may have had about how long motorcycle helmets last and when it’s time to replace them with new ones.
Just remember, if you’re in an accident or otherwise notice damage on your helmet before 5 years have passed, get a replacement as soon as possible. Keeping your head safe is the most important thing when it comes to motorcycling!
Motorcycle helmets don’t last forever — they need to be replaced from time to time. So, when should you replace yours?