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Let me say this:
A bike helmet is the most important accessory that you can buy for your two-wheeler. From lowering facial injuries to protecting your head from damages in the event of an impact, a helmet can be the difference between going home safe and sustaining unexpected injuries.
Made of materials that provide sufficient cushioning and head protection, bike helmets are assumed to be the most durable piece of accessories yet. However, these aren’t like bike frames that can “last for a coon’s age”. They simply don’t last forever.
So the question is this:
How long exactly are bike helmets likely to last?
Put in another way, when exactly do bike helmets expire?
When is the right time to replace a bike helmet?
According to Consumer Product Safety Commission, a helmet can last between 5 and 10 years depending on frequency of use and the level of maintenance.
Some experts have different views. They suggest that helmets have no age limits, and therefore they can last for a lifetime. However, this statement is not absolute.
Think of it like this:
The foam in the helmet wears out with time. In fact, environmental elements like salty sweat, the sun, and heat causes the foam to degrade. Then there’s the potential of a knock during cycling, which can cause the shell or liner to crack or loosen up. These factors make it impossible for helmets to last for a lifetime, and therefore seasonal replacement is necessary.
From my personal point of view, it makes a lot of sense to replace your helmet every 3 years if you use it often. And if you’ve crushed the helmet a couple of times in the last 6 months, you should consider replacing it with a new one.
Some cyclists don’t ride their bikes often, which is to say that their helmets may have an age limit above 10 years. Let’s say you ride your bike only 8 times a month. That’s a different timespan compared to someone who cycle every day. As such, your helmet may last longer than usual if you store it properly.
What to Do if You Have an Old Bike Helmet
If you haven’t replaced your helmet in the last 5 or 10 years, this may be the right time to consider an upgrade. And don’t just go for any helmet; invest in a high quality build that will provide the comfort and the protection you need to ride your bike on different roads and in different conditions.
I recommend choosing a helmet that includes tons of safety features without compromising on material build and weight.
For example, many new bike helmets now include concussion migration and MIPS technologies to provide as much face and head protection as possible. Some include cradles in the rear to manage rough and bumpy roads, while others have fitting systems that easily encircle your head.
To be clear, special features aren’t the only cream of the crop here. There are additional factors to consider when choosing a helmet, which you can read here.
How is a Bike Helmet Able to Last Long?
There’s only one explanation as to why bike helmets last long.
Before release to the market, manufacturers put them helmet to the test to make sure they’re up to the standard. At the very least, they put the helmets through extreme conditions than you ever will on the trails. And if a model passes the test, then it’s good for the masses.
There’s even the Snell Memorial Foundation at work. The people behind this foundation take safety seriously. After testing a number of helmets for comfort, durability, and longevity, they concluded that the longest time you can use the headgear is 5 years.
However, Snell’s stand isn’t conclusive nearly as much. If you think about it, a helmet doesn’t remain in its initial state after a bike crash. So while you should normally replace yours every 5 years, you should get a new one in the event of a crash.
It’s important to understand that helmets may have defects not necessarily linked to a bike crash. Let’s say the helmet falls from a raised position to a very hard floor, for example. It may develop cracks or defects in the process. In just a case, you should consider replacing it with a new model.
How Much Do New Bike Helmets Cost?
The cost of a bike helmet varies from brand to brand, the materials used for design, the number of air vents the model has, and the array of features included. Some are expensive, and some are relatively cheap.
If you’re looking for the best model, and cost isn’t an issue for you, then you should go for any helmet that promises the most relevant safety features. Just make sure it’s made of the best materials and it’s as lightweight as possible.
Don’t feel left out if you’re on a budget. Because in an effort to make cycling as fun and safe as possible, many manufacturers now make helmets readily available. That means you can get a very high quality helmet for cheap, which can perform well like the premium models.
I need to make one thing very clear:
Your bike helmet may not exactly show signs of aging after five years. But that’s a long time to fail to notice the worn out foam. The best you can do at this point is to replace the gear. With many brand now making their models available for cheap, a helmet should be readily available.
Some manufacturers now mention the lifespan of their helmets, with the least duration being 3 years and the maximum being 8 years. Therefore, it’s best to check the expiry date indicated by the manufacturer before buying the helmet.
Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find the expiry period. Instead, just replace the helmet every 3 or 5 years if you use it regularly, or every 10 years if you’re a seasonal cyclists.