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Old 04-22-02, 08:24 AM   #1
Spire
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Do helmets degrade over time?

I was at my LBS and the guy told me that overtime helmets start to loose their ability to absorb energy in the even of an accident. My helmet is 4 years old and was not very expensive to start off with, but has not been involved in a major accident.

Right now the main motivation to replace it is that it is ugly . However, would I be better off from a safety standpoint to go out and buy a $40US new helmet?

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Old 04-22-02, 08:31 AM   #2
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The people who make and sell helmets all say that helmets degrade over time and lose their ability to protect your head. Of course, they have a vested financial interest in saying that. I believe that exposure to sun and heat probably do break down the composition of your helmet. Does that mean you are not protected when you wear it? Probably not. You may just not be as fully protected.

Replace your helmet. Replace it because it is ugly and old and probably smells bad. After four years, it has served you well and doesn't owe you anything more.
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Old 04-22-02, 08:33 AM   #3
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My helmet doesn't smell bad... (or at least I don't think so ). You're right though my dear old helmet has served me well!

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Old 04-22-02, 08:39 AM   #4
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Big discussion on this on USENET a couple of years back. You might search Google.com.

Anyway, the conclusion, inculding posts by folks who seemed to know about materials, is that this is mostly a ploy to sell you another helmet, given that the helmet has not been physically damaged due to a crach, etc.
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Old 04-22-02, 08:47 AM   #5
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DF, do you recall which group it was in?
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Old 04-22-02, 08:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by DnvrFox
... this is mostly a ploy to sell you another helmet, given that the helmet has not been physically damaged due to a crach, etc.
I agree with the "mostly," DF. Styrofoam is a very stable materal (including in landfills!), but after 8 to 10 years of regular use, I do plan to replace my old Bell Image because of cracks and crumbliing. For most people the industry-advocated 5-year replacement schedule is marketing hype. (However, my 13-year-old son can destroy a helmet in less than two years, even without "crash-testing" it.)
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Old 04-22-02, 09:28 AM   #7
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I'm no expert but I've read and heard that the UV rays cause the styrofoam and shell to deteriorate.

My head is worth more than $40 so I replace mine every 3-4 years.

Look at the Hot Deals forum. I posted a Limar helmet special last week.
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Old 04-22-02, 10:50 AM   #8
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"Hot Deals" forum? Do you have an address?
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Old 04-22-02, 10:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Spire
"Hot Deals" forum? Do you have an address?
Go to the main page of http://www.bikeforums.net. Hot Deals is towards the bottom by "General Discussion."
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Old 04-22-02, 04:35 PM   #10
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Originally posted by Spire
DF, do you recall which group it was in?
Most likely rec.bicycles.misc, less likely rec.bicycles.rides.
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Old 04-22-02, 07:41 PM   #11
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3 to 4 Years?????
Sheesh, I've beenusing mine now for 14 years. With no problems.


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Old 04-22-02, 08:01 PM   #12
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Use your own common sense. If upon a careful inspection there are visible signs of deterioration then there is no cost-savings reason to justify putting your priceless skull at possible risk. My old helmet started to delaminate from its shell - I know the shell is decoration but I figured a bond breakdown probably didn't speak well of the condition of the foam either. Maybe it's three years, maybe ten, between replacements - hopefully the rider can assess helmet condition and descriminate appropriately.
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Old 04-22-02, 10:15 PM   #13
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I think its best to replace a helmet every 2-3 years.
salt from sweat and the sun will break down the helmet with
little signs of wear and a small impact will shatter it like glass.
replace the helmet if you notice small cracks in the plastic outer shell. its not worth taking a risk with your head.
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Old 04-23-02, 05:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by ahuman
I think its best to replace a helmet every 2-3 years.
salt from sweat and the sun will break down the helmet with
little signs of wear and a small impact will shatter it like glass.
replace the helmet if you notice small cracks in the plastic outer shell. its not worth taking a risk with your head.
Where is your source of info for this statement, or are you simply stating your opinion?
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Old 04-23-02, 08:21 AM   #15
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Well will an ugly helmet deter you from wearing it?

Anyway, the straight scoop. Snell foundation recommends every 5 years or so, here's the quote from their FAQ section
http://www.smf.org/faqs.html

"Why replace helmet every five years?
The five year replacement recommendation is a consensus position from both the helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation. Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials, and general liner deterioration as a function of hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, and normal "wear and tear" all contribute to helmet degradation. Additionally, experience indicates there will be a noticeable improvement in the protective characteristic of helmets over a five year period due to advances in materials, design and the standards. Thus, the recommendation for five year helmet replacement is a judgment call stemming from prudent safety philosophy. "

However if you go to helmets.org, they will give you a more flowery answer. They believe a helmet will last up to a decade, the phrase (my personal deciding phrase) is "up to", which means if you take good care of it and you are lucky. That certainly exempts me. So a about every 5 years.

If you wish to talk to someone, Bell Sports gives the advice of 3 years, but will tell you that helmets can often last up to 10 years. They mentioned paint and hairspray but acknowledge that salt will not breakdown the foam and the plastic cover is UV tolerant.
Anyway the number is (800) 456-2355, M-F, 8-5, Central Time.


Hope this is close to the answer you wanted.
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Old 04-23-02, 11:22 PM   #16
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If salt did break down styro-foam (which it doesn't) why do they make "boogie boards" out of the stuff, and other floation devices?

CHEERS.

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