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Should I Replace My Helmet?

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Should I Replace My Helmet?

Old 07-25-21, 07:19 PM
  #1  
Robius
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Should I Replace My Helmet?

I read some different opinions about when to replace a helmet so I wanted to ask. I had a crash last week with a motorbike and I don't really remember If I hit my head directly or not because I was fainted.

Helmet looks ok with some small scratches. There are no dents or other visible damage.

Thanks

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Old 07-25-21, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Robius View Post
I read some different opinions about when to replace a helmet so I wanted to ask. I had a crash last week with a motorbike and I don't really remember If I hit my head directly or not because I was fainted.

Helmet looks ok with some small scratches. There are no dents or other visible damage.

Thanks

If you hit your head hard enough to go unconscious, you should absolutely replace that helmet. I would replace it after a crash where my head hits the pavement regardless...
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Old 07-25-21, 07:33 PM
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"fainted"?

As indicated by the marks on the helmet, you hit your head. Possibly hard.
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Old 07-25-21, 07:41 PM
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Bmach
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Great reason for a new one.
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Old 07-25-21, 07:43 PM
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Those deep scratches look like the head hit the pavement and slid.

You may be able to feel for hollow spots in the foam, or look for cracks in foam. Perhaps remove the pads if they come out.

But, as others have said, the helmet did it's job. You're alive... Go ahead and replace.
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Old 07-25-21, 10:44 PM
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Glad you are ok. Get a new helmet.
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Old 07-25-21, 11:05 PM
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Yes.
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Old 07-25-21, 11:40 PM
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Helmet did it's job. Get a new one.

In 2018 I was hit by a car. I don't remember my head hitting the pavement. This stuff happens so quickly we rarely have time to react the way we think we will. I wasn't unconscious but had the wind knocked out of me, so all I remember was gasping for breath and trying to get up.

When I did get up I realized my right arm was dangling weirdly -- the shoulder was dislocated and broken. I had enough presence of mind to use my phone to snap a few photos of the scene, including the driver, etc., in case my memory failed later. I know from working in health care, and being a longtime fan of boxing, sometimes the effects of concussions are delayed. My memory was fine. I distinctly remember the cop who worked the scene (distinct Massachusetts accent, unusual in Texas) and held up the driver's insurance papers so I could photograph it. I'm right handed but somewhat ambidextrous and was able to handle the phone lefty to snap pix and text the friends I was planning to meet that evening.

A friend stored my bike, helmet, etc., for me, while I was in the ER. I wasn't able to ride for about three months. When I did retrieve the bike and helmet I noticed a small dent on the right side, where I'd fallen, and the outer plastic shell had separated from the softer inner EPS foam. That surprised me because I didn't realize my head had struck the road. I mostly remembered the impact on my shoulder and side, knocking the wind out of me.

So I replaced the helmet. Now I have three, so there's always a spare.

BTW, a year later, during a large group ride in summer 2019, I witnessed and video recorded a horrific crash directly in front of me. We were coasting pretty fast downhill, easily 20+ mph without pedaling, and some folks racing to the bottom. A guy ahead and slightly to me left had his hands on the tops, not the hoods or drops for stability. And he was cruising along a seam in the concrete paving, which was even there... but those seams can become uneven in places as the substructure soil shifts. His casual approach worried me a bit, so I kept my distance and was off to the side. Sure enough, he nicked the ledge on the seam where it was uneven, flopped heavily to his right side, smacking his head hard, then slid another 10 feet headfirst into a curb.

His helmet was wrecked and while he wasn't completely unconscious he quickly went into shock and began repeating the same questions and comments. That was the worst damage I've seen to a cycling helmet. But he had no scalp injury, bleeding or open head wound. I heard later he had no skull fracture and was discharged later than night. But that's still a serious impact with potential for longterm consequences.

That disabused me of the notion that cycling crashes are single impact events, which most helmet makers test for with single point impact testing directly to the top of the helmet. Helmets should be tested on complete dummy bodies built to fall comparably to the human body, and to account for an initial side, front or rear impact, followed by a top impact from sliding into a fixed object such as a curb, fence, vehicle, etc.

After witnessing that, I got a POC helmet that fits a bit lower around the skull, covering more of the head around the temples, just over the ears, and the rear/occipital region. It's a bit bulkier and heavier than my other helmets, but seems designed for better protection against multiple impacts. Hopefully.
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Old 07-26-21, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
That disabused me of the notion that cycling crashes are single impact events, which most helmet makers test for with single point impact testing directly to the top of the helmet. Helmets should be tested on complete dummy bodies built to fall comparably to the human body, and to account for an initial side, front or rear impact, followed by a top impact from sliding into a fixed object such as a curb, fence, vehicle, etc.
Likely one should look at double impact. Say hitting a vehicle grill, then hitting the ground. But, the first impact may be the hardest.

What has worried me the most, and I haven't gotten a clear explanation is helmets + accessories. A couple of manufacturers build accessory mounts right into the helmets, but it is not clear if the helmets are tested with the accessories installed.

I have a helmet with built in lights on order (which I think is a good idea), but again, did they test the worst case scenario of an impact right into the light?
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Old 07-26-21, 11:42 AM
  #10  
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I like to err on the side of caution when it comes to replacing protective gear, especially helmets.

In the long run, a helmet is cheap, and in my opinion, my head is worth a lot more to me than what any helmet costs.
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Old 07-26-21, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Robius View Post
I read some different opinions about when to replace a helmet so I wanted to ask. I had a crash last week with a motorbike and I don't really remember If I hit my head directly or not because I was fainted.

Helmet looks ok with some small scratches. There are no dents or other visible damage.

Thanks

Being knocked unconscious is not the same as fainting.

I banged my head hard enough in a crash to get a mild concussion (and didn't know it at the time of the crash) with the foggy head feeling lasting a week and I didn't replace my helmet since the damage was so minor and was almost not noticeable. Every crash is different.

Last edited by Riveting; 07-26-21 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 07-26-21, 12:24 PM
  #12  
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I buy a new helmet every couple of years regardless, so yeah... I'd definitely replace it after a crash like that.
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Old 07-26-21, 12:40 PM
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It sounds like you hit hard enough to get a concussion. Given that, yes, you should replace the helmet. Many helmet manufacturers offer a discount for crash replacements. It can't hurt to ask.
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Old 07-26-21, 04:05 PM
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If you follow most helmet manufacturer's advice, then you should replace your helmet after any impact. That definitely looks like an impact to me!

Helmet did it's job, time for a new lid.
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Old 07-26-21, 04:23 PM
  #15  
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I've lived through "the biggie". I was wearing what was at the time the best helmet made. Still suffered a 5 day coma and years of recovery. I started riding again 4 months later, riding the old helmet. The manufacturer sent me a replacement a couple of months later when I contacted them.

I don't say that is what others should do. But at the same time, that damaged helmet is far more protection than going without and the odds are good that the next crash will be on a different part of the helmet where it is still fully intact. So, my advice is to have your eye open for a helmet that you really want to wear; that serves you as well or better than what you have. Meanwhile wear that one. Let the scratches be a reminder that you still need to find the replacement. Once you have that new one in hand. set aside the old one but keep it so you never get caught short and have to ride bareheaded.
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Old 07-26-21, 04:45 PM
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Re: fainting. I did a crash a few years back where my rear tire came off after a blowout when I was going ~20 MPH. I got pitched over the bars, probably from the light handhold I had; before the tire came off I was riding on the rim - just like riding on ice. I was fighting not to slide down the road camber and into the curb. THe light handhold, old ice riding skills. SO I got tossed, Landed head and shoulder first. Remember feeling my helmet grind along the road and flesh on my shoulder and elsewhere being eaten. Then everything went blank. Until I stopped moving, Then I was instantly "all there". Looked back to see where the car was that I knew was behind me. It was right where it should have been. L lost no time.

I got up and walked around the park I had been passing assessing damage to my body. I knew very quickly that I had a broken collarbone and ribs, but no concussion. No headache and I was fully aware of everything around me. Another cyclist who'd been behind me and watched it all approached, asked me how I was then started asking me questions to assess head injury. answering them was easy and he was also satisfied that there was no concussion.

My take on what happened was simply that my brain decided I really didn't need to witness what was happening to my body. (A lot more bruising and abrasion happened to my other side while I was out. Most road rash I have ever suffered. I've thanked my brain for that "time out" many times!)
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Old 07-26-21, 05:18 PM
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Yes, replace that helmet, and assuming that you do not have another helmet, refrain from riding until you do.
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Old 07-26-21, 05:38 PM
  #18  
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Replace it. No question. Itís taken some sort of impact and you donít know how much it is now compromised. Check the crash replacement policy of the manufacturer. You might get a decent discount on a new one.
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Old 07-26-21, 08:20 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Re: fainting. I did a crash a few years back where my rear tire came off after a blowout when I was going ~20 MPH. I got pitched over the bars, probably from the light handhold I had; before the tire came off I was riding on the rim - just like riding on ice. I was fighting not to slide down the road camber and into the curb. THe light handhold, old ice riding skills. SO I got tossed, Landed head and shoulder first. Remember feeling my helmet grind along the road and flesh on my shoulder and elsewhere being eaten. Then everything went blank. Until I stopped moving, Then I was instantly "all there". Looked back to see where the car was that I knew was behind me. It was right where it should have been. L lost no time.

I got up and walked around the park I had been passing assessing damage to my body. I knew very quickly that I had a broken collarbone and ribs, but no concussion. No headache and I was fully aware of everything around me. Another cyclist who'd been behind me and watched it all approached, asked me how I was then started asking me questions to assess head injury. answering them was easy and he was also satisfied that there was no concussion.

My take on what happened was simply that my brain decided I really didn't need to witness what was happening to my body. (A lot more bruising and abrasion happened to my other side while I was out. Most road rash I have ever suffered. I've thanked my brain for that "time out" many times!)
I was once in a nasty car accident -- our small car was stationary, and was rear-ended at high speed by a much heavier car, which propelled us forward into the next vehicle. There were a few moments of "lost time" -- not unconsciousness, but just no memory. My neighbor, who has a BS in Physics, claimed to have done the calculations and determined that, for the moment our car was in motion, we were pulling about 15 g-forces -- which is enough to cause momentary unconsciousness. So I've always wondered if that is why we don't remember those few moments, or if it was because we were getting slammed in the face by airbags.
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Old 07-26-21, 08:35 PM
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4 years ago I crashed when taking a turn too quickly on damp pavement and hit my head. I was wearing a 2 week old $275 helmet and the shell was cracked.

When asked if i was upset that a new helmet was damaged, I said it did it's job and kept me out of the ER. Giro gave me a a crash replacement discount and the LBS added to it, so a new replacement was half the price I originally paid.
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Old 07-26-21, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Likely one should look at double impact. Say hitting a vehicle grill, then hitting the ground. But, the first impact may be the hardest.

What has worried me the most, and I haven't gotten a clear explanation is helmets + accessories. A couple of manufacturers build accessory mounts right into the helmets, but it is not clear if the helmets are tested with the accessories installed.

I have a helmet with built in lights on order (which I think is a good idea), but again, did they test the worst case scenario of an impact right into the light?
Yeah, valid concern. I wondered about that as well.

For example, a friend who seems to have a knack for shoulder injuries suffered a broken clavicle, worsened in part by the Bluetooth speaker she was wearing on her shoulder. Freak injury, but still possible if not probable.

I've Googled around for comments from helmet manufacturers on mounting cameras, lights, etc., on helmets, and haven't found any definitive statement from manufacturers, other than a generic blanket statement in the warranty about "modifying" helmets.

My hunch is that top-mounting accessories is probably the least risky. Between my own bike crashes, watching many other bike crashes, and working in health care taking care of patients with head injuries, the vast majority of head injuries were due to impacts to the sides, front and back of the head, seldom to the top. The double impact I described above was one of those exceptions, with the top impact being secondary to the initial side impact.

So while I'll mount small blinkies to the back and front of my helmets -- toward the top whenever possible -- and cameras to the tops, I avoid mounting anything on the sides, or low on the back/occipital region, or in line with the forehead.

That includes my Drift Ghost X video cameras. Those were made primarily for the motorcycle/scooter market, with simple but effective mounts intended to affix to one side or the other of the helmet, using heavy duty 3M tape. That's fine with motorcycle helmets, which are generally solid, smooth surfaces without vents. But besides being difficult to mount to vented bicycle helmets, I'd still hesitate to mount a camera or anything to the sides. In addition to making a lightweight bicycle helmet unbalanced, I wonder whether side mounting a camera might increase the risk of a neck injury, in addition to possibly weakening the EPS foam upon impact.
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Old 07-26-21, 10:46 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I've Googled around for comments from helmet manufacturers on mounting cameras, lights, etc., on helmets, and haven't found any definitive statement from manufacturers, other than a generic blanket statement in the warranty about "modifying" helmets.
Trek/Bontrager puts a "Blendr" accessory mount on some of their helmets Including the Bontrager Circuit MIPS Cycling Helmet



Top and Rear mount accessories including GoPro.

So, a Trek addon, not a "mod".

I don't believe they did the testing with the Blendr installed.
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Old 07-26-21, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Yeah, valid concern. I wondered about that as well.

For example, a friend who seems to have a knack for shoulder injuries suffered a broken clavicle, worsened in part by the Bluetooth speaker she was wearing on her shoulder. Freak injury, but still possible if not probable.

I've Googled around for comments from helmet manufacturers on mounting cameras, lights, etc., on helmets, and haven't found any definitive statement from manufacturers, other than a generic blanket statement in the warranty about "modifying" helmets.

My hunch is that top-mounting accessories is probably the least risky. Between my own bike crashes, watching many other bike crashes, and working in health care taking care of patients with head injuries, the vast majority of head injuries were due to impacts to the sides, front and back of the head, seldom to the top. The double impact I described above was one of those exceptions, with the top impact being secondary to the initial side impact.

So while I'll mount small blinkies to the back and front of my helmets -- toward the top whenever possible -- and cameras to the tops, I avoid mounting anything on the sides, or low on the back/occipital region, or in line with the forehead.

That includes my Drift Ghost X video cameras. Those were made primarily for the motorcycle/scooter market, with simple but effective mounts intended to affix to one side or the other of the helmet, using heavy duty 3M tape. That's fine with motorcycle helmets, which are generally solid, smooth surfaces without vents. But besides being difficult to mount to vented bicycle helmets, I'd still hesitate to mount a camera or anything to the sides. In addition to making a lightweight bicycle helmet unbalanced, I wonder whether side mounting a camera might increase the risk of a neck injury, in addition to possibly weakening the EPS foam upon impact.
I would not put anything (other than maybe a sticker or decal) on my helmet. Helmets are designed and tested against impact against a more or less flat surface and not against something smaller that could potentially penetrate the helmet or focus the force of the impact. There has been a lot of debate regarding helmet-mounted cameras and accessories since Michael Schumacher's skiing accident, and I have not seen any definitive studies showing that it is safe. Of course, there are mounting positions that are less likely to be the point of impact, but the issue is, what if the impact is at the mounting point?

Last edited by SoSmellyAir; 07-26-21 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 07-27-21, 06:33 PM
  #24  
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I believe the recommendation is to replace a helmet every 3 years.
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Old 07-27-21, 06:51 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Bmach View Post
Great reason for a new one.
Polycarbonate can begin to micro crack from a hard impact
gm
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