Yes, your helmet does have a lifespan, and a fairly short one at that. The industry standard states that the lifespan of a motorcycle helmet is five years. That is as long as you have not cut its life short by an accident or impact to it. If that happens you should definitely not use it, time to trash it!
It may be hard to think about replacing your comfortable helmet that you have grown to love, but consider some of these facts:
- Helmet shells made of polycarbonate or fiberglass breakdown over time.
- Wear to the inner liner from normal use.
- Past DOT expiration date.
Find the date
First locate the manufacturer’s date. Where to find the manufacturer date? Usually you can find it on a sticker underneath a section of the comfort liner. Note: when buying a new helmet be sure to check the manufacturer’s date before you purchase it.
Some say that the breakdown doesn’t start to occur until the consumer begins to wear and expose the helmet to outside elements. Others state that a helmet that is worn regularly will deteriorate faster than one that is only used a few times a month. To be on the safe side, though, best to replace your motorcycle helmet periodically.
Snell Memorial Foundation
One organization that sets standards is the Snell Memorial Foundation. It is a nonprofit organization created to provide a high quality standard of safety for helmets. Founded in 1957, the foundation is named after William “Pete” Snell, a popular sports car racer who died in 1956. He died of head injuries he received when the racing helmet he wore failed to protect his head. A group of friends, scientists, physicians, and others joined together to create a group that would promote research and education as well as test and develop standards to improve the effectiveness of helmets. Snell Standards are updated about every five years. Updates are based on new scientific research and improved, available manufacturing technologies. As such, and in addition to other factors such as typical use and wear & tear, Snell recommends that helmets be replaced approximately every five years to ensure good safety.
Other helpful information
If you have about 7 minutes here is a nice video from NHTSA on choosing a motorcycle helmet.
To help take the pain out of the purchase of a new helmet, consider that each year the industry makes improvements to the materials and methods of production. Plus the graphics and details of your new helmet will be the latest style.
Remember the motorcycle helmet is the most important piece of safety gear that you have. Another important accessory for your ride is a Crampbuster. Snap it on, adjust it to your sweet spot, and it will eliminate the need to twist and grip your throttle. This handy little device will help you enjoy your ride without hand pain or cramping.
Spring is here, so get out there and enjoy your ride!