11 years – new helmet time?

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  • 11 years – new helmet time?
  • Premier Icon stevied

    Giro recommend every 3 years due to plastic/foam degradation. I think, after 11 years, you’ve had your money’s worth 🙂

    Yes, you may have a point there 🙂

    Premier Icon jairaj

    Yep I would change it. Normally manufacturers recommend changing every 3-5 years as they degrade when exposed to UV.

    I also change mine if I’ve had a few falls on it. Even if you can’t see a dent, it may be compromised and may not work correctly when you need it too.


    as they degrade when exposed to UV.

    so if used exclusively in the UK you can get at least 20+years out of a helmet?

    For the pedants….yes I know UV doesnt mean direct sunlight

    EDIT: Also – any links to the science of this UV degrading plastic/polystyrene? or do we just take it as true?

    think you ought to buy a lottery ticket as well at the same time – you’ve been very lucky 😉

    Been through a few sets of pads but the old Giro Havoc still looks ok.


    from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (http://www.helmets.org/replace.htm)

    “Most manufacturers now recommend that helmets be replaced after five years, but some of that may be just marketing. (Bell now recommends every three years, which seems to us too short. They base it partially on updating your helmet technology, but they have not been improving their helmets that much over three year periods, and we consider some of their helmets since the late 1990’s to be a step backwards, so we would take that with a grain of salt.) Deterioration depends on usage, care, and abuse. But if you ride thousands of miles every year, five years may be a realistic estimate of helmet life. And helmets have actually been improving enough over time to make it a reasonable bet that you can find a better one than you did five years ago. It may fit better, look better, and in some cases may even be more protective. For an alternate view that agrees with the manufacturers, check out the helmet FAQ of the Snell Foundation. Snell knows a lot about helmets and their views on this subject should not be dismissed lightly, even though we disagree with them.

    Occasionally somebody spreads rumors that sweat and ultraviolet (UV) exposure will cause your helmet to degrade. Sweat will not do that. The standards do not permit manufacturers to make a helmet that degrades from sweat, and the EPS, EPP or EPU foam is remarkably unaffected by salt water. Your helmet will get a terminal case of grunge before it dies of sweat. Sunlight can affect the strength of the shell material, though. Since helmets spend a lot of time in the sun, manufacturers usually put UV inhibitors in the plastic for their shells that control UV degradation. If your helmet is fading or showing small cracks around the vents, the UV inhibitors may be failing, so you probably should replace it. Chances are it has seen an awful lot of sun to have that happen. Otherwise, try another brand next time and let us know what brand faded on you.

    At least one shop told a customer that the EPS in his three year old helmet was now “dried out.” Other sales people refer to “outgassing” and say that the foam loses gas and impact performance is affected. Still others claim that helmets lose a percentage of their effectiveness each year, with the percentage growing with age. All of that is nothing but marketing hype to sell a replacement helmet before you need it.

    There is some loss of aromatics in the first hours and days after molding, and helmet designers take account of that for standards testing. But after that the foam stabilizes and does not change for many years, unless the EPS is placed in an oven for some period of time and baked. The interior of your car, for example, will not do that, based on helmets we have seen and at least one lab crash test of a helmet always kept in a car in Virginia over many summers. Helmet shells can be affected by car heat, but not the foam. The Snell Memorial Foundation has tested motorcycle helmets held in storage for more than 20 years and found that they still meet the original standard. EPS is a long-lived material little affected by normal environmental factors. Unless you mistreat it we would not expect it to “dry out” enough to alter its performance for many years.

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