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Helmet life expectancy

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi all!



Someone recently told me that if a bike helmet is worn on a regular basis, it starts to lose its impact protection. The deterioration begins when sweat and the elements (eg. rain) begin to be absorbed by the protective layers of the helmet. Because of this, a bike helmet should be replaced every year (if it is used on a regular basis). Can anyone tell me if this is true. I find it hard to justify spending $100+ on a helmet if I am just going to have to replace it in 12 months.

Are there certain materials in a helmet that are more likely to break down due to sweat and rain?



Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks and happy riding!
post #2 of 10

Re: Helmet life expectancy

Bell recommends every three years. The Bicycle Helmet institue suggests 5 yrs. Of course, any crashed or damaged helmet needs immediate replacement.
post #3 of 10

Re: Helmet life expectancy

I've always been told every 2 years it should be replaced basically because the foam inner portion hardens up and is more brittle.
post #4 of 10

Re: Helmet life expectancy

I find that those stick on cloth covered pads are the first to go. I usually get about 11/2 years out of a helmet. There is no need to pay $100. You can find Inmold construction helmets on sale for about $40 at Nasbar, Performance Bike etc. They provide the same level of protection as the $100+ dollar ones. A word of caution which I learned the hard way here in Tucson AZ. Never leave a helmet sitting in direct summer sun for an extended period of time. This will distort the shell and cause the little foam beads to "deflate" and screw it up.
post #5 of 10

Re: Helmet life expectancy

I have always heard every five years or the first time it protects you head, whichever comes first.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Re: Helmet life expectancy

I should also mention that the helmets are in use by our riding team that rides approximately 10 hours a week (2 hours a day) for 24 weeks. We live in central Canada so our riding season is basically from about May to October (the very brave riders cycle during the winter in the snow).

I did some research and found that American and Canadian standards do not allow helmet manufacturers to make helmets that degrade due to sweat, rain and ultraviolet light. Yes, the protection inside a helmet does get brittle over time but it appears to be a myth that sweat and UV light will degrade a helmet, especially not within a year and with the limited amount of riding we do.

Sounds like I answered my own question. lol!

Anyone else heard about UV light and sweat breaking down a helmet?
post #7 of 10

Re: Helmet life expectancy

The internal lining sections can be replaced on quality helmets(so that takes care of that).
My Giro Eclipse is still fine after 3 years of constant use so if it holds up for another 2 years I'll be happy . I have a Pnuemo too but don't use it.
Helmet makers/sellers who recommend 1 or 2 sound like they just want to sell more product
post #8 of 10

Re: Helmet life expectancy

STASH have come up with the novel idea of a Folding crash helmet. You can check it out at http://bikesthatfold.com/content/view/25/

DRK
post #9 of 10

Re: Helmet life expectancy

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadDawg789
Anyone else heard about UV light and sweat breaking down a helmet?
Basicly all plastic materials are affected by UV light. Look at plastic trim on cars as an example. There is a lot of research going on in the plastic industry to minimize this effect e.g. by using various additives. Nobody has been able to completely rule out the effect.

It's therefore safe to assume that this is applicable to bicycle helmets as well:
UV will eventually make the helmet deteriorate to a degree when it will become unsafe to use. The question is how long it takes, but it will happen. If Bell says three years, they probably mean it for a helmet that gets a lot of exposure to the sun. Use it as a benchmark looking at your own cycling habits and then use your judgement. I would rather replace mine a year too early than too late...
post #10 of 10

Re: Helmet life expectancy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelderek
Basicly all plastic materials are affected by UV light. Look at plastic trim on cars as an example. There is a lot of research going on in the plastic industry to minimize this effect e.g. by using various additives. Nobody has been able to completely rule out the effect.

It's therefore safe to assume that this is applicable to bicycle helmets as well:
UV will eventually make the helmet deteriorate to a degree when it will become unsafe to use. The question is how long it takes, but it will happen. If Bell says three years, they probably mean it for a helmet that gets a lot of exposure to the sun. Use it as a benchmark looking at your own cycling habits and then use your judgement. I would rather replace mine a year too early than too late...



Ok, here are some basic rules for helmets.

1. Helmets get broken down by UV light. If you're going to keep it in the car or in the sun, it will break down faster. It will particularly break down cheaper helmets quicker that use lesser grade epoxies to bond the shells to the foam.

2. Helmets get broken down by heat. If they are in the car baking, they will die quicker.

3. Helmets get effected from crashes. If you go down on something hard and you see "ANY" dents, etc to your helmet, time to replace it. Same theory that applies to armored vehicles.. if you see a change in shape on a plate, replace it. Deals with the transfer of kinetic energy

Bell states 3 yrs and this is the result of aggregate testing. If you are keeping you helmet covered inside 90% of the time and you clean it with lemond pledge on the outside and shampoo on the inside you can probably pull 5 yrs easily.

However....... Divide a $150 by a day for each year of 3 yrs and i comes to something like 13 to 14 cents per day to have the helmet whether you ride it or not. I'd say good insurance and if it keeps me alive. I am going to buy a new one every 3 yrs.
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