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  1. #1
    Senior Member CanadianBiker32's Avatar
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    When should one Replace a helmet?

    When should one replace their helmet. Now i know you should get a new one right after a crash, that involves heading your head and helmet gets a bit broken.
    I am asking on the lifespan of a helmet?
    If without any crashes when should one replace a helmet?
    Or lifetime of a helmet

  2. #2
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Check with the manufacturer but I have seen it at every 4 years or so. This will of course depend on usage too. If you don't ride very often and the helmet is inside the house away from UV rays then you probably don't need to replace it that often.

    The low budget helmets work for me just fine. $30 or $40 every 4 years or so is not going to break me and no big deal if I replace a helmet that might still have some life in it.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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    When it rattles, or no longer fits your head, or you have ventilation where you never had it before; last option, when you want something newer/lighter/more stylish/better ventilated.

    "Lifespan" has been largely debunked. Styrofoam last for centuries in a landfill, and UV affects the plastic shell, not the styro -- and nowadays, even the shell is less affected, as they are being treated to be UV-resistant.

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've heard anywhere from about 1 and 5 years.

    But if you have a helmet to match each bicycle, you're probably set for a long time.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Replace when it becomes stylistically passe....though if you hold onto it long enough, there's a decent chance it will come back into vogue.

  7. #7
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    When it rattles, or no longer fits your head, or you have ventilation where you never had it before; last option, when you want something newer/lighter/more stylish/better ventilated.

    "Lifespan" has been largely debunked. Styrofoam last for centuries in a landfill, and UV affects the plastic shell, not the styro -- and nowadays, even the shell is less affected, as they are being treated to be UV-resistant.
    An absolutely ridiculous premise. Just because the material lasts for centuries does not mean the structural integrity of the helmet is still intact past it's life span. I am not saying the short lifespan is not exaggerated, just that you can't base that life span on the fact that the material still exists after long periods of time.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  8. #8
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Check with the manufacturer but I have seen it at every 4 years or so. This will of course depend on usage too. If you don't ride very often and the helmet is inside the house away from UV rays then you probably don't need to replace it that often.

    The low budget helmets work for me just fine. $30 or $40 every 4 years or so is not going to break me and no big deal if I replace a helmet that might still have some life in it.
    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    Both good answers!

    To this I will add......."If in doubt,throw it out!"
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  9. #9
    Senior Member BikinPotter's Avatar
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    I've always believed that my sweat can damage the styro over time. I usually replace mine every 3-4 years, or immediately after a bad crash. Haven't had one of those for a while, fortunately.

  10. #10
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    Hi,

    Basically there is no good reason to change a helmet every few years.
    Though most do, as the itch for something new needs to be scratched.

    rgds, sreten.

  11. #11
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post

    "Lifespan" has been largely debunked. Styrofoam last for centuries in a landfill, and UV affects the plastic shell, not the styro -- and nowadays, even the shell is less affected, as they are being treated to be UV-resistant.
    You have to understand what a landfill is...and isn't...to understand the above statement. A modern landfill is a dry, dark, sealed, almost sterile environment where decompostion of any kind to any material is very, very slow. Anything going into a landfill will probably last centuries. Even plant and animanl material is going to end up desicated and preserved. There is just no mechanism for decompostion.

    Helmets, as well as other materials made from polystryene, are going to weather, age and lose strength when exposed to UV. Even treated polystryene is going to degrade over time. There are other chemicals that we use daily that will also degrade the styrene and make it less effective in doing what it is supposed to do, which is crush on impact and decelerate the brain more slowly.

    johnny99's link says that MET, an Italian helmet maker, did research on aging and came to an 8 year lifespan. That seems reasonable, although my helmets don't seem to last that long. They get biffed before then get that old.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    ... will also degrade the styrene and make it less effective in doing what it is supposed to do, which is crush on impact and decelerate the brain more slowly...
    Actually, if it's softer, it will decelerate the brain more slowly until the limit of of compression is reached. Some argue that current helmets are too hard and as such less protective in the majority of crashes which don't reach the current design limit.

    Of course, there's no way of knowing of a used helmet is softer, or more brittle, or too soft as modes and speed of degradation are highly variable and dependent on conditions.
    Last edited by Looigi; 09-04-13 at 09:55 AM.

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Of course, there's no way of knowing of a used helmet is softer, or more brittle, or too soft as modes and speed of degradation are highly variable and dependent on conditions.
    Bingo. There is also no (easy) way of knowing which way the degradation is going to go. About the only way of knowing is to strap a head form with an accelerometer into the helmet and drop it on an anvil. But then the helmet needs replaced and the test equipment is a wee bit more expensive then a new helmet
    Last edited by cyccommute; 09-04-13 at 02:14 PM.
    Stuart Black
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    Topical thread! I just picked up a Bontrager Solstice helmet last night at the LBS to replace my circa late '80s Giro Hammerhead. The pads on the Hammerhead were toast to the extent that it no longer fit well, and it turns out that even webersports.com doesn't have replacement pads anymore.

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  15. #15
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Very timely, indeed. I have a 10-year-old Giro helmet I inherited from a friend back in 2005. He'd used it for 2 years prior to that, but other than that, it was sitting in my home quietly until 6 weeks ago. Now that I ride pretty vigorously, I use the helmet every day. Should I replace it now despite its inactivity? It's never been crashed or dropped very hard, as far as I know.
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    Cycclommute,
    I don't know what kind of landfills you have where you come from that don't decay and as you put it are dry and sterile.
    We have landfills here in South Florida that stink like all hell depending on the wind. (methane?) And with the rainy season and all that heat they are not sterile and dry. Yes they are capped and vented for a reason.

  17. #17
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobn View Post
    Cycclommute,
    I don't know what kind of landfills you have where you come from that don't decay and as you put it are dry and sterile.
    We have landfills here in South Florida that stink like all hell depending on the wind. (methane?) And with the rainy season and all that heat they are not sterile and dry. Yes they are capped and vented for a reason.
    Modern landfills are made to keep anything in them out of the ground water. They are sited and built to be dry and not easily overtopped by water that may get trapped in them. They may smell a little on the initial filling but once sealed, they don't smell and very little decomposition of the material inside occurs.
    Stuart Black
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  18. #18
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    I would throw in that petrochemical vapors will degrade many rubbers and plastics, specifically EPS. If your helmet lives in your garage the presence of gasoline vapor, even the tiny amount escaping from your car, may affect the shock absorbing capacity of your helmet.

    There are lots of good, well thought out reasons to keep your helmet because it is probably OK. But I replace mine (bike and motorcycle) when I get sick of looking at it. At that point all kinds of rationalizations come into play to allow me to buy a new one.

    One year sparrows built a nest in a helmet hung in the garage. So I bought a new one. Made perfect sense.

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