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Helmets - do they really die of old age?(8 posts)

Helmets - do they really die of old age?dzrider
Jan 23, 2002 3:19 PM
I've read several posts citing the short life expectancy of helmets. I have two, an Aria helmet I got in 1989 or so and a Giro I bought a few years back that has the date 01/93 on a decal inside it. Should I replace them or fear for my life? If helmets die of old age, does buying close-outs make no sense because they are closer to death? I came up in an era when "Helmet Laws Suck" was a movement, and I thought I was being so good!
no, keep 'emSnell
Jan 23, 2002 3:32 PM
every peloton needs a guy wearing a cooler for kicks
Jan 23, 2002 3:36 PM
Not as young as they'd like you to believe, but they do degrade. I'd say replace a helmet every 10 years if you've never crashed in it. My mom recently bought her first helmet in about 12 and we stepped (not stomped, not jumped) on it and it shattered (not like helemts are supposed to do, it fell apart).
Jan 23, 2002 3:37 PM
You have to be nuts to wear a helmet that old. What does it have, three vents?

The polystyrene in helmets supposedly breaks down in the sun, and most of us ride in the sun quite a bit. I don't know how long they are supposed to last, but it doesn't matter. I replace mine maybe every three years just because they get so grungy.

Definitely buy helmets on closeout if you can. I always do. That is, closeout on last year's models. The prices they want for helmets are ridiculous, and sometimes the markdowns are 50%.
YupKerry Irons
Jan 23, 2002 5:42 PM
But they don't age sitting in the box in the warehouse. They age due to sunlight and sweat and general wear and tear. A modern hard shell doesn't really age that much in the sun, but the old exposed foam ones really did. Age is mostly a case of time in the saddle, as you aren't doing much to it if not in use. So how many years is not so important as how many miles. My experience is that 30-50K miles usually has resulted in glue, pad, strap, clip, etc. failure. On the other end, I would agree that a 10 year old helmet (still in the box) is likely to be poorly ventilated and otherwise not worth using. Some things, like glue, do dry out just sitting, but that is going to be very helmet dependent.
Yes, and those who wear old ones often don't, unfortunatelyElefantino
Jan 23, 2002 8:55 PM
Most current helmets do indeed have plastic caps, but in many cases the plastic is only on top. The foam that protects the base of your brain and stem area is exposed (and usually painted black). These areas are liable to age more quickly with repeated exposure and be more brittle upon impact.

A helmet that protects you competently can be had for under $30. Spread over a three-year life span, that's less than three cents a day for protection of your brain.

Trust me. I have a Specialized Sub Zero cracked from the front left corner all the way back along the vent line.

It saved my life.

Do you tire of this question?Crankist
Jan 24, 2002 6:20 AM
When is that happy, back-on-the-bike day?
every 5-10 years - Bike Helmet Safety InstitutePdxMark
Jan 24, 2002 10:25 AM

When should I replace my helmet?
You must replace the helmet after any crash where your head hit. The foam part is made for one time use, and after crushing once it is no longer as protective as it was, even if it still looks intact. Plastic shells can hide the foam damage. A few helmets made of EPP foam do recover. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer for an inspection. If your helmet is more than 10 years old or has a cloth cover, we recommend that you replace it. Many manufacturers recommend replacement every five years, but some of that is just marketing. Deterioration depends on usage, care, and abuse. If you ride thousands of miles every year, five years may be right.