This is a question often asked, with lots of different answers. To some people, your helmet should be replaced after a big crash, to others, when it is wrecked, or even when it starts to fall apart. The fact is that every time you crash and hit your head your helmet has done its job, so it depends how many times it can do that job again. To best check that it will do the same job next time it is very important that you check the type and condition of the helmet. Unfortunately, most people only check the outside of the helmet and if it looks alright with no big cracks then it’s good to go. This is a false confidence that could end badly in the future.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a full face or open trail helmet, the important stuff is inside. Obviously the outside shell is important, but the really important stuff that will help show the full extent of the impact is the material inside. This inside material is quite light and is made of two main types: Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Expanded Polyproplyene (EEP). EPS is what most helmets use and it is great for single impacts, but it will compact and change shape in an impact and so it won’t do the same job next time as the impact resistance will have been used up. You can’t see that it is no longer any good unless it has cracks in it, but it might just be compressed and look the same to the eye. If you had a really bad crash then it is throw away time, even if it was a $600 carbon helmet, it is done for. If it was a minor crash then it might still be good for another, but you can’t really tell for sure.
The other type, EEP, is specially made to take multiple impacts because it is more elastic and will return to its original shape after a few hours. Even still, it will need to be replaced after an extreme crash, but for most small offs it will be fine. Not a lot of helmets use this as it is a little more expensive to produce and shape.
When you have that crash, if you don’t really feel any headaches or pain in the head, most people think the crash can’t have been that bad. That is also a false confidence as this probably means the helmet really did its job and protected your brain, but to do this the helmet will have absorbed that full impact. It really is a hard decision to throw away a $600 carbon helmet, and is usually the reason so many people keep using damaged helmets.
As a guide for how long should you keep a helmet that is in good condition, without any falls, most helmet manufacturers suggest that three years is the time frame for a replacement, with five years being the maximum before needing a replacement, because lots of environment contaminants, such as hair products, sun cream or insect repellents, give off chemicals that can affect the helmet. Also, just being knocked about in the boot or back seat of the car or dropped off the handlebars can damage the liner a little bit at a time. Over a year or two, this can be like having a decent crash, but people don’t think of this at the time.
We spend so much money on bike parts, like carbon wheels for example, but many people don’t buy good quality helmets that could save their life. It might be worth going to have a really good look at your helmet and thinking about how you treat it, how many times have you fallen off, how old it is, and what it is made of. Maybe it is new helmet day.
By Sam Luff – Pushys Sponsored Athlete
If you think you might need a new lid, check out the range of helmets available at Pushys.com now!
Categories: Riding Tips