Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 06-27-07, 10:09 AM   #1
balto charlie
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
balto charlie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Baltimore/DC
Bikes:
Posts: 2,480
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
When to retire a helmet

First you may ask why in the commuting forum? Because we are the cheapest bikers here and this is part of the question. I was recently told by a local LBS that helmets should be replaced every 3-5 years as the styrofoam dries out. (dryrot???). He also said that if you commute everyday that you should replace it yearly(or every 6 months) because of all the banging around it receives. I am going into my 7th year of commuting w/ 2 helmets. 1 is 5-6yo and the other is 2yo. I just ordered new pads for both. So I ask you commuters, do you replace this often? I know my younger one ain't going nowhere but am thinking about pitching the older one. But I am cheap so they both will probably stick around. Later charlie
balto charlie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 10:25 AM   #2
jeff-o
Recumbent Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Bikes: Rebel Cycles Trike, Trek 7500FX
Posts: 2,991
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
If you haven't been in an accident with a helmet, it's be just fine after 7 years. But, it may be that more modern helmets have been tested to stricter standards...
jeff-o is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 10:34 AM   #3
KingTermite 
On my TARDIScycle!
 
KingTermite's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Eastside Seattlite Termite Mound
Bikes: Trek 520, Trek Navigator 300, Peugeot Versailles PE10DE
Posts: 3,924
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I would say give it a feel test on the helmet padding. Does it feel dry-rotted? Does it crumble under your firm thumb? Does it appear to be splitting anywhere? If so, then dump it, otherwise, I'd keep using it.

I just started commuting, so I haven't used mine "daily" for years, but I've only had my current helmet 2 years (maybe less) and I thought I saw some splitting in the padding the other day. It might be time for a new helmet for me too.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
- it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.
KingTermite is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 10:35 AM   #4
labrat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Sioux Falls
Bikes: Bianchi Road bike, Nashbar Ultegra triple cyclocross, Raleigh full XT hybrid, lugged steel Schwinn, Full rigid Diamondback MTB
Posts: 220
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
You have to remember that the material that provides the protection in a helmet is expanded polystyrene (AKA styrofoam). If you have ever played with an old styrofoam cup you have experienced just how brittle and nasty the stuff gets with age. Considering the cost of a new helmet vs the value of your head, every three to five years sounds about right.

Scott
labrat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 10:37 AM   #5
Allen
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 4,749
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
After a couple of years my helmet is usually grungy enough that I just want a new one, but I would expect they could go for longer. I recommend that one replace their helmet after any crash; I think prudence trumps cost when it comes to protecting gray matter.
Allen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 10:48 AM   #6
karasek
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Omaha, NE
Bikes: Surly Big Dummy
Posts: 21
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Giro recommends replacement three years from "purchase". Although I have noticed the helmets I have owned have a date stamp, which I assume is the production date. I guess the helmet doesn't start aging until the cash is set down. I try and buy a newer helmet, less than a year from production then follow the manufacturers guideline. I know that motorcycle helmets are commonly recommended to be replaced at five years.
karasek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 10:49 AM   #7
ItsJustMe
Seņior Member
 
ItsJustMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Michigan
Bikes: Windsor Fens, Giant Seek 0 (2014, Alfine 8 + discs)
Posts: 13,356
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 198 Post(s)
Here's an informational page:
http://www.helmets.org/guide.htm
From that page:
Replace any helmet if you crash. Impact crushes some of the foam, although the damage may not be visible. Helmets work so well that you need to examine them for marks or dents to know if you hit. Most manufacturers recommend replacement after five years. We think that depends on usage, and most helmets given reasonable care are good for longer than that. But if your helmet is from the 70's, it's time to replace it. Replace the buckle if it cracks or a piece breaks off. No one requires you to replace your helmet, so give it some individual thought.
I agree with this assessment. My helmet never gets dropped, and it's properly sized so I'm not warping it when I put it on my head or anything, so it's probably good for a long time.

What would be interesting would be to set up the same safety tests that they use for initial testing of the design, and put some 5 year old helmets through it. I'd be willing to bet money that those helmets work every bit as well as they did when new, if they haven't taken a crash impact. Sure it's a destructive test, but on a helmet I was going to retire anyway I'd do it.
__________________
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
ItsJustMe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 10:50 AM   #8
Mr. Underbridge
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Reston, VA
Bikes: 2003 Giant OCR2
Posts: 2,369
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by balto charlie
He also said that if you commute everyday that you should replace it yearly(or every 6 months) because of all the banging around it receives.
What banging? I try to stay on my bike while commuting, thanks!
Mr. Underbridge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 11:00 AM   #9
tcs
Palmer
 
tcs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Parts unknown
Bikes:
Posts: 4,735
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 29 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by balto charlie
I was recently told by a local LBS that helmets should be replaced every 3-5 years as the styrofoam dries out.
If that is true, I would expect for the retailer to provide a date of manufacture and to regularly mark the price down as the helmet "ages" while sitting in warehouse or shop inventory.

Like karasek said, funny how helmet deterioration only starts after the retail sale.

TCS
tcs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 11:01 AM   #10
whatsmyname
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 684
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by balto charlie
He also said that if you commute everyday that you should replace it yearly(or every 6 months) because of all the banging around it receives.
Unreal. How did s/he have the nerve to say that with a straight face?
whatsmyname is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 11:03 AM   #11
xequar
Fan of the Crave Case!
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Garden City, MI
Bikes: K2 Zed 3.0 (MTB), Maruishi Roadace commuter beast
Posts: 17
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Part of the three-year recommendation has to do with the fact that sweat and UV radiation both have degratative properties (sweat is corrosive and UV radiation ages the material more quickly). I don't know about you, but I sweat like crazy when I ride, so after this season, I will be replacing my now three-year old helmet. Trust me, once you've crashed hard enough to nearly kill you WITH a helmet, you don't want to gamble on your safety.
xequar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 11:04 AM   #12
DataJunkie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 14,280
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Don't you know that most cyclists hang their helmets from the handlebar?
DataJunkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 11:10 AM   #13
lil brown bat
Senior Member
 
lil brown bat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Boston (sort of)
Bikes: 1 road, 1 Urban Assault Vehicle
Posts: 3,878
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
When I asked my lbs dude the same question, he said every 6-7 years as a rule of thumb, barring physical damage. He then took a look at my 6-year-old helmet and said, "Nah, that's fine." I'm thinking maybe he was telling me a straighter story than the OP's lbs dude.
lil brown bat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 11:36 AM   #14
ItsJustMe
Seņior Member
 
ItsJustMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Michigan
Bikes: Windsor Fens, Giant Seek 0 (2014, Alfine 8 + discs)
Posts: 13,356
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 198 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by DataJunkie
Don't you know that most cyclists hang their helmets from the handlebar?
I certainly do, when not riding. I'm not sure where this "banging around" comes from. I put my helmet on, I ride, I take it off, I hang it on my handlebar. It never gets dropped or anything.
__________________
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
ItsJustMe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 11:57 AM   #15
meldex
JAFC
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Hammond, IN
Bikes:
Posts: 84
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Just looked at the tag in my helmet, Aug 2007 ....The plastic shell is a little cracked. I think I'm going to replace it this week.
meldex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 11:59 AM   #16
KingTermite 
On my TARDIScycle!
 
KingTermite's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Eastside Seattlite Termite Mound
Bikes: Trek 520, Trek Navigator 300, Peugeot Versailles PE10DE
Posts: 3,924
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by meldex
Just looked at the tag in my helmet, Aug 2007 ....The plastic shell is a little cracked. I think I'm going to replace it this week.
Good Idea.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeecake View Post
- it's pretty well established that Hitler was an *******.
KingTermite is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 12:09 PM   #17
Flimflam
Raving looney
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Bikes: 70s Leader Precision w/Shimano 600 (road), IRO Rob Roy (Fixed)
Posts: 2,482
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by DataJunkie
Don't you know that most cyclists hang their helmets from the handlebar?
Hahaha, I've seen a bunch of people riding like that - I wonder if they plan to dip their head into it upon an accident...

I replaced a helmet last year due to some damage received while my bike was taken from my back yard and later recovered (the helmet was locked into the u-lock, too).

I can see the foam being degraded by sweat/UV - that I buy... Unless it's been in an accident, I'd be wary of this 6-month talk. I've only had my current helmet for about 10 months but I sweat like a hog, I'm not even close to considering replacing it.

The way mine is going, the straps are going to go before the foam - sweat seems to be making the tell-tale salt-markings on them, I'm concerned they'll rot through eventually.
Flimflam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 12:54 PM   #18
acroy
Senior Member
 
acroy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Dallas Suburbpopolis
Bikes:
Posts: 1,480
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by balto charlie
So I ask you commuters, do you replace this often?
I figure that if and when the time comes for my helmet to protect my noggin, I want it to work as well as it can.

So I go ahead and replace it every 18 mo or so.

I do NOT "bang it around", in fact I take good care of it. The styro can only compress once - and then it's done. Some folks beat em up: throw them in the back of the truck, toss them around - I try to take good care of it.

I stick with the 18mo interval because the price of last year's models isn't bad, and by then, my pads are going south, the straps are often a bit frayed, I've sweated hundreds of gallons of salt water onto it, and it gets baked in the salty solution in the garage in the summer

cheers
acroy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 01:01 PM   #19
xequar
Fan of the Crave Case!
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Garden City, MI
Bikes: K2 Zed 3.0 (MTB), Maruishi Roadace commuter beast
Posts: 17
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Great images, especially the stock photo of the doctor with the family member!

But seriously, it's better to be safe than sorry. My head had a run-in with the support structure for a bridge a few years ago. I don't know how, since I lost about 30 minutes of memory and suffered a level 3 concussion (severe head trauma with loss of consciousness and at least 15 minutes of memory loss), and I was wearing a brand new (two months old) Bell helmet at the time. The helmet was destroyed beyond recognition, of course, and if I hadn't been wearing it, it would have been my head destroyed beyond recognition. Moral of the story-BEST $100 I EVER SPENT IN MY LIFE!! If the thing's five or seven years old, thank it for the memories, put it to pasture, and pony up the cash for a new helmet. My interval is three seasons, then replace (unless I crash it sooner, then I replace immediately).
xequar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 01:08 PM   #20
idcruiserman
Mmmmm potatoes
 
idcruiserman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Idaho
Bikes:
Posts: 1,921
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I replace mine when I can't stand the stink anymore, or the plastic adjustment piece cracks. My helmet is about due.
idcruiserman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 01:45 PM   #21
bibliogrrl
Junior Member
 
bibliogrrl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Chicago
Bikes: Trek Bellville WSD, Momentum Street
Posts: 24
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think I'll get a new one at the end of the summer.

I got mine in 02, BUT - it spent a good part (ok most of the time with the exception of about 10 rides until Feb of this year) in storage until I got a bike and really started RIDING.

The helmet was in perfect, out of the box shape, too.

Now it looks used. I'd love to get a new one now, but since I keep working on my bike, it will wait. The foam isn't dry or crumbly at all, the pads are in good shape... so I'll wait until the end of the summer for a new swanky lid.
bibliogrrl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 02:00 PM   #22
CliftonGK1
Senior Member
 
CliftonGK1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Columbus, OH
Bikes: '08 Surly Cross-Check, 2011 Redline Conquest Pro, 2012 Spesh FSR Comp EVO, 2015 Trek Domane 6.2 disc
Posts: 11,380
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge
What banging? I try to stay on my bike while commuting, thanks!
Every day when I get to work, I drop kick mine from the front door into my cubicle.



*points to the cheap seats*
"This one's goin' downtown!"
__________________
"I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
- Mandi M.
CliftonGK1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 02:10 PM   #23
I-Like-To-Bike
Been Around Awhile
 
I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Burlington Iowa
Bikes: Vaterland and Ragazzi
Posts: 24,098
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsmyname
Unreal. How did s/he have the nerve to say that with a straight face?
Easy: $$$$ on the mind.
I-Like-To-Bike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 02:28 PM   #24
adrien
Senior Member
 
adrien's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Alexandria, VA
Bikes: Firefly custom Road, Ira Ryan custom road bike, Ira Ryan custom fixed gear
Posts: 1,204
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
once a year. I have very caustic sweat (like it eats through plastic steering wheels...i had a car where i had to replace the wheel 3 times!), and it aint worth it.

The guys at my lbs said every 1-3 depending on how much you use it (combination of sweat and UV).
adrien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-07, 02:31 PM   #25
chevy42083
steel lover
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Houston
Bikes: Bianchi Alloro, Miyata 710, Fuji Espree Fixie convert
Posts: 1,317
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
What they probably meant by a commuter helmet getting knocked around was that it gets use daily, versus a helmet that just gets used twice a week. You'd be looking at 2.5 times as much use, which means that many more times it gets moved around... just how gentle you are with it, the lbs can't really say.

Mine is OLD, almost 10 years probably. I'll be replacing it mainly cause the fabric covered foam straps are deteriorating. The helmet itself still looks perfect... not a scratch, chip, dent.... I treat it like a fragile commodity.
chevy42083 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:48 AM.