Helmet - how often to change?

by Steveal   June 2, 2013  

Hi folks,

Just been around to my bro's and he has a new Boardman helmet. I have to say it fitted me perfectly and is much more comfortable than my current giro indicator. He is younger and probably faster than me so I didn't feel I could make off with it Big Grin So it got me thinking... How often are you supposed to change them (helmets, not brothers) ? I'm not sure if I want to be encouraged into spending more money on kit... I usually don't need any encouragement!

Cheers.

26 user comments

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Any time it gets a significant knock, change it. Other than that, every few years maybe? Varies depending on how much riding you do I suppose, but I think UV can weaken plastics.
If it's a bit sweaty and horrible, you can usually buy new pads for it.

posted by bashthebox [590 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 18:23

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I'm with bashthebox. I'd replace it after a notable impact OR if it was so old and looking very dated....like my 1992 Spesh lid which I finally replace in 2007!

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posted by Tinternet_tim [74 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 19:20

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I have 5, yes 5 Met Stradivarius in different colours to go with my different kits that I have picked up off ebay, and to provide a bit of rotation. I have never bashed one, touch wood. I don't get that they might be effected by UV as they live indoors for 99.99% of the time and it is never that sunny around here.

Despite the design being about 10 years old it is still better looking than most helmets today. The right helmet in the right size can be very cool. Make sure it fits and the front is right above your eyebrows so you can put your head down and look mean. If you wear a bucket on the back of your head; you might as well not bother.

Between the S and the LOW

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posted by bikeboy76 [1153 posts]
2nd June 2013 - 19:51

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UV degradation of plastics is real and it does not need to be sunny for it to happen, you can still tan on a cloudy day. All hard hats on building sites have a date of manufacture on them and, depending on who you work for, the general rule is five years from manufacture, three years of use or one impact/drop; that said one of my friends has to change his every year/impact as company policy. Personally I change mine by those rules but it is your head so you can decide.

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posted by cidermart [454 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 10:26

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I've never heard this. News to me that you should change it every couple of years. Sounds like a manufacturer ploy to sell more..

I understand if you've had an impact but UV degradation of the plastic? Really?

The top is covered by a thick plastic coating so I don't think there's much sun contact with the polystyrene directly , is there?

posted by 700c [535 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 11:14

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The plastic coating ensures the poly lining stays together and cushions your impact, no? If it becomes UV damaged, that plastic covering will be very brittle, meaning your helmet could split open on impact, I imagine. Your noggin is probably worth a hundred quid every few years, just to be on the safe side.

posted by bashthebox [590 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 11:49

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you should change your helmet after an accident or every 2-3 years, it annoys me when i see people with helmets that are 5+ years old.

also worth mentioning bell and giro do a replacement scheme if you have had an accident (you need your receipt of purchase)

posted by Lost faith in t... [119 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 13:48

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I have a Giro.. So when it comes time to replace I'll smash it up a bit and get a free one? Excellent!

If there was convincing proof of polystyrene in helmets becoming brittle or weaker over time due to the sun, then of course I'd replace regularly..

then again it's a poor material our design if it is not tolerant of the sun!

Not too much of an issue in this country tho! Wink

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posted by 700c [535 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 14:36

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I reckon after a big crash but age should be ok. I'm still wearing a '98 MET RoadRunner and it does the job although i have had a comment on it looking "old".

posted by Liam Barr [18 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 16:50

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You don't really know if it's doing the job until you bang your head though, do you? At which point, if it's damaged, you'll suddenly find out in a rather catastrophic way.

posted by bashthebox [590 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 17:15

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Not sure where the polystyrene degrading came from I was on about the plastic outer shell which will degrade.

Bashthebox well said.

As I said it's your head you decide.

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posted by cidermart [454 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 19:48

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Thanks folks. Our place also have same policy re hard hats for site I found out. Obviously different type of kit but no doubt similar materials and principles for both I guess. I always had a sneaky feeling the bike industry can be a bit emperor's new clothes, but I'm going with the above wisdom and will start to look out for bargains over the course of the year. Cheers.

posted by Steveal [24 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 20:47

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Lost faith in the brand wrote:
it annoys me when i see people with helmets that are 5+ years old.

Well then you must be annoyed often. I regularly see people wearing all kinds of helmets including old geezers with old naked polyester pots maybe with a lycra swimming cap over it. And whats more I even see people wearing NO HELMET! gasp.

It really is your choice and a carefully stored helmet won't just fall to pieces or stop looking cool because someone wants you to buy another one. This is why I have multiple kit in rotation to make sure nothing gets too worn out. Having said all that I quite fancy adding one of those new round Giro helmets to my collection; it might make me feel more aero.

Between the S and the LOW

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posted by bikeboy76 [1153 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 21:37

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cidermart wrote:
Not sure where the polystyrene degrading came from I was on about the plastic outer shell which will degrade.

Bashthebox well said.

As I said it's your head you decide.

There was mention of plastic being damaged by UV. Polystyrene (technically a plastic) is what provides impact protection, the failure of which would be catastrophic. The outer shell, exposed to UV, provides no impact protection, the failure of which is not really an issue.

In any case, you'd see when the outer shell was starting to crack or similar.

Interesting that posters on here are wearing helmets that are 15 years old, with no signs of sun damage..

posted by 700c [535 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 21:39

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700c wrote:

Interesting that posters on here are wearing helmets that are 15 years
old, with no signs of sun damage..

Until it comes to it being used and then it's a bit late.

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posted by cidermart [454 posts]
3rd June 2013 - 22:42

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cidermart wrote:
700c wrote:

Interesting that posters on here are wearing helmets that are 15 years
old, with no signs of sun damage..

Until it comes to it being used and then it's a bit late.

Well yes, I suppose.. And personally 15 years seems quite a long time without replacing..

Problem is, it's all speculation and guess work. You could apply the same logic to carbon frames and wheels as well. Personally I can't afford kit replacement every 3 years on the off chance it had been made fragile by sun exposure..

I don't buy into this particular concept as I do feel it's a bit of a scare story but of course each to his own..

posted by 700c [535 posts]
4th June 2013 - 14:14

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Hmmm...just been trying to change mine. Have been trying very hard to buy a Giro Atmos in matte black and white, but keep getting sent ones that really shouldn't have made it out of the factory.
Would seem that, in an effort to improve margins, Giro has sacked the Quality Control department...still, there are other manufacturers that still seem to be able to turn out a decently finished product Thinking

posted by Al'76 [126 posts]
4th June 2013 - 22:42

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If a helmet is noticeably more comfortable than your current one then I'd just do it. Might as well enjoy wearing it, and the Boardman helmets aren't particularly expensive.

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posted by Simon E [1871 posts]
5th June 2013 - 12:38

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I think Met recommend 5 years, assuming no big hits. I'm a bit torn on this one- on the one hand the manufacturers would obviously prefer us to buy new helmets fairly frequently rather than keep them for 15 years, but on the other hand it's a fact that plastics degrade over time in the sun and I can easily believe that could have an effect on how a helmet might perform come crunch time. Even in this country my favourite red jersey is several shades lighter on the back than it is on the front after a few years so it's not hard for me to believe my helmet's suffered a bit too.

posted by Chuck [350 posts]
5th June 2013 - 12:48

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maybe its just the irony that gets to me - im a cyclist who is worried about safety so ill wear a helmet...... thats 10 years old.

bit pointless, similarly it also annoys me people who put high vis vests, loads of lights on there bikes because of cycling safety yet cycle with headphones in and or no helmet. (dont get me started on the ones who go through red lights) - these are the ones that we should give helmets that are 10 years old.......

various things bug me but there life Smile
and as previously mentioned, there head there helmet there choice.

posted by Lost faith in t... [119 posts]
5th June 2013 - 12:54

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'A helmet that's 10 years old is pointless'..

Er.. Nope, don't get that one.

It will offer more protection than no helmet, and there is no evidence that it will offer less, or limited protection than a brand new one.

It's all scare mongering and speculation until there's some actual proof, to be quite honest.

posted by 700c [535 posts]
5th June 2013 - 14:31

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700c wrote:
'A helmet that's 10 years old is pointless'..

Er.. Nope, don't get that one.

It will offer more protection than no helmet, and there is no evidence that it will offer less, or limited protection than a brand new one.

It's all scare mongering and speculation until there's some actual proof, to be quite honest.

Agreed.

May i also add that i tried an S3 on yesterday as i was looking at the Spech amnesty thing and i found that my '98 Met was for more comfortable, thicker and it seems stronger. I had a little knock the other week with my lid on and it took all impact well and theres not damage at all. I wont be swapping soon..

posted by Liam Barr [18 posts]
5th June 2013 - 15:03

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anyone else have problems with the chin strap on their helmet? I have a Lazer Helium and my chin strap *always* comes loose. Forever have to tighten it. Thinking of buying a new one having only bought this recently.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
5th June 2013 - 15:39

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its pointless in a safety term if that is what you are using to protect your head as it will now be failing the set standards for helmets. so in that aspect it is pointless. you could argue you would be better wearing a kitchen roll wrapped round your head (which would be better than nothing) but STILL pointless.

http://www.smf.org/helmetfaq#aWhyReplace

interesting reading from a company who test helmets off all kinds (including push bikes and motor bikes)

id also like to point out some companies who say the lifetime expectancy of a helmet is 3-5 years is because they store the helmet and retest it to the same standards. Unfortunately they fail and this is where there limited lifetime is determined.

so yes there is evidence it will offer less protection that a brand new one........

posted by Lost faith in t... [119 posts]
5th June 2013 - 17:51

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  • Did you crash it? Replace immediately.
  • Did you drop it hard enough to crack the foam? Replace.
  • Is it from the 1970's? Replace.
  • Is the outside just foam or cloth instead of plastic? Replace.
  • Does it lack a CPSC, ASTM or Snell sticker inside? Replace.
  • Can you not adjust it to fit correctly? Replace!!
  • The above is a summary of http://www.helmets.org/replace.htm which has lots of info.

    Loads of impartial advice on that site for those who can be bothered to read and learn instead of making lazy assumptions.

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    posted by Simon E [1871 posts]
    5th June 2013 - 18:12

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    Simon E wrote:
  • Did you crash it? Replace immediately.
  • Did you drop it hard enough to crack the foam? Replace.
  • Is it from the 1970's? Replace.
  • Is the outside just foam or cloth instead of plastic? Replace.
  • Does it lack a CPSC, ASTM or Snell sticker inside? Replace.
  • Can you not adjust it to fit correctly? Replace!!
  • The above is a summary of http://www.helmets.org/replace.htm which has lots of info.

    Loads of impartial advice on that site for those who can be bothered to read and learn instead of making lazy assumptions.

    That all sounds very reasonable. Helpful advice I'd say. Thank you!

    posted by 700c [535 posts]
    5th June 2013 - 20:04

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