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I wish cycling helmets were as durable as bike frames. But they’re not. They wear and tear after a few months of use.
And when they eventually give in, it wouldn’t make much sense to keep using them. In fact, the best thing to do would be to replace them.
But the question isn’t whether it’s a good idea to replace your helmet. You already know you should. The most important question to ask now is this:
How often should I replace my bike helmet?
So in this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the helmet, from why they wear out to the right time to replace them.
Why Do Bike Helmets Wear Out?
Helmets will wear and tear after a few months of use. So it’s important to replace yours the moment you notice that they’re giving in.
Look at the inner foam that provides the shield inside your helmet. If it has shrunk, it means that the helmet will no longer protect your head well.
In another instance, you might look at the foam and not see any cracks, which might lead you to assume that the helmet is still in good condition and safe to use.
However, it is possible that as it was absorbing the shock that came with the impact, it cracked in a way that isn’t visible.
Moreover, the use of chemical cleaners also contributes to promoting wear and tear because some of these chemicals may weaken the shell of the helmet.
Using paint or adding unnecessary stickers could also cause similar effects because some of those solvents are harmful to the integrity of the plastic shell. Again, storing a helmet in a hot environment could also damage it.
Why It’s Important to Replace Your Bike Helmet
The Snell Motorcycle Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that deals with research and development in safety standards for helmets, recommends that you should replace your helmet every five years.
Another not-for-profit organization called Helmets.org cites that the inner liner of helmets that were not involved in an accident does not easily wear out. A drop in the quality of this foam poses a risk of shocks not being absorbed therefore affecting your brain.
You should regularly check your helmet for any cracks on the shell or on the inner foam. The presence of even one tiny crack implies that the helmet cannot provide the safety it should.
Even without a crash, too much exposure to sunlight, sweat, or heat could wear out the inner foam. So it is important to check the helmet’s condition to see if it’s still in good standing.
Also, replacing the helmet provides you with an opportunity to purchase a new one that could come with new safety features.
Even if you just had a small fall, it is very advisable that you don’t take any chances, and consider changing the helmet since sometimes damage on the inner foam might not necessarily show.
The helmet straps, as well as the fit system too, need to be checked regularly. If the buckle loses its effectiveness, it might end up putting you at risk as you ride.
Failure of the fit system means that your helmet will not have the snug needed to assure the rider of safety in the event of an accident.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
Check if there are cracks around the vents and in the EPS foam. If the EPS foam and the helmet shell have space in between them, then it is time to upgrade your helmet.
Watch out for any color fading on the helmet shell. The color fading could signal that the plastic has become brittle and therefore unable to withstand an impact should an accident happen.
If you press the shell and feel that the cover is too loose, this could imply that it’s already weak. A dent in the inner section of the helmet could also indicate possible damage.
The buckles might have either of the two ends broken and therefore require an immediate replacement. A blade that is not strong can hold together the buckle, but it will immediately get loose if a forceful crash happens.
A simple test like failing to fit as you wear the helmet would also signify that it’s time to get a new one. Moreover, if you want to change the mode of cycling, like perhaps the terrain or weather condition, you need to change the current helmet and go for one that fits the new circumstances.
What to Do if You Want to Replace Your Helmet
If you wish to replace your current helmet, do not give it to a friend as a gift. You are replacing it because it has lost its core purpose, which is to protect your head in the event of a crash.
Avoid throwing it in the trash so that no one picks and use it, or sells to an unknowing buyer. And besides, it’s not even eco-friendly to trash helmets since they are made of non-biodegradable plastic.
So it is advisable to find ways of reusing them. You can also become creative with the old helmet by converting it into perhaps a nice vase for your flowers in the balcony or a container to put in things.
If you happen to have a helmet that is not as old yet but you no longer feel the attraction to it, you could consider donating it to an organization that specializes in cycling training.
This could also include helmets once worn by you or your child when they were young and have now outgrown.
Please note that going ahead and donating old helmets with worn-out inner foam or cracked shell only puts the learners in danger of getting head injuries. So don’t do this.
You could also visit a bike shop and ask if they would consider exchanging your old helmet with a new one at a discount, or if they usually collect bike waste voluntarily.
Also, look for companies that recycle plastic waste in general. They can also do the job of recycling for you.