Pretty sure you always see bike riders with their helmets on because they want to protect themselves from head injuries like skull fracture and concussion. Have you ever wondered if these helmets have expiry dates like other products or they can be used for as long as eternity itself? Do bike helmets expire?
I once came across a group of bike riders and as we had our conversation, that question triggered me and I had to ask but even the bike riders themselves were shocked and could not give a certain answer because they do not care if the helmet has an expiry date or not. We all use a good but we have never tried verifying the expiry date of some of these goods we always use and for example bike helmets. With this doubt in the air I decided to bring out this research to prove if bike helmets expire or not.
According to the research carried out, bike helmets do not have an expiry date but it is advised that they should be replaced after every 5 years or in case of a fatal accident, the bike helmet should be replaced with immediate effect.
Did you know why helmets are very important to the bike riders? Well let us do a quick review on bike helmets and their importance to bike riders. Bike helmets are of great importance because they aid in the reduction of head and brain injuries during an accident. Ever heard of a concussion?
Well to you who do not know what a concussion is, a concussion or also known as Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) is a brain injury that is being provoked by a violent blow or shaking to the head and body. Bike helmets are very important in this case because they help prevent concussions to a certain degree by absorbing the shock during a collision or impact.
A lot of people have come across such accidents and they know it is not a matter to joke on. When you buy your helmet make sure it fits you correctly before you purchase it.
Such minor things that are ignored can lead to serious issues that may last longer than expected for example disability from a skull fracture. Will you want to be disabled because of carelessness? Not sure anybody will want to be in that situation.
POSSIBLE RED FLAGS YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR BIKE HELMET
When a helmet begins to reach expiration, there are possible red flags that alert you that they need to be replaced. Some of these red flags could be;
- ultraviolet rays from the sun make the hard outer shell of your helmet to easily crack and with this crack, the inner foam made out of polystyrene still lasts longer but the outer shell due to a lot of exposure to the sun and the ultraviolent rays is very prone to cracking and should be changed.
- When the helmet straps and fasteners start getting weak, it is a sign that it is time to change your bike helmet. A lot of sweat as you ride your bike is one of the causes for weakening your helmet straps and linings. Yes you heard correctly sweat too can slowly damage a helmet. You know sweat is very salty and acidic in nature with its features, munch on the strength of your helmet. Fasteners and straps are very important for your helmet to fit well, so when they start getting weak consider replacing your helmet.
- Another red flag is when the bike rider crashes. With that, the helmet needs replacement even if visible cracks are not showing on the outer shell of the helmet because some cracks are invisible. The helmet carries all the pain you were to get during your accident so using it again for the second time might not be really advisable to you for the next time you have another crash, the helmet might not protected you the way it did during your first crash.
- And when the outer shell of your bike helmet painting starts fading it is a sign you should consider replacing it
Bike helmets are designed with unique materials that are used to bring out the hard structure of the helmet and they enable the helmet protect the wearer. Bike helmets are made of Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS) and it is similar to these picnic coolers we used back in the days.
This foam in the inner linings of the helmet is what absorbs the shock inside the helmet during an accident that involves collision. When it receives that shock it can be deformed (cannot go back to its old shape), which simply means you need to change your helmet for better protection of your head.
Another material that is used in designing the helmet is the Expanded Polypropylene Foam (EPP) and it can take multiple impacts and rebounds after effect and it is thicker and more expensive than the Expanded Polystyrene Foam.
Next on the list is the Shell and on inexpensive helmets they are usually stamped PET plastic and this material is the same for water bottles. The shell gives the helmet a very smooth appearance. Shells of expensive helmets consist of high quality plastic or Polycarbonate plastic and they are known to resist a lot of heat.
Bike helmets are also made up of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) which is used for majority of helmets with hard shell especially if the shell is strong and can resist a lot. We also have the Aramid or known as Kevlar and they are used as bullet proof vests and they are used to seal the biking helmets and it strengthens the helmet in specific locations for enough durability and a long term protection.
Another material helmet shells is the Carbon Fiber that is a very strong and light weight material and it is used to make the bike helmets durable.
These bike helmets are seen as just helmets for protection but they have different parts such as; the shell which gives shape to your helmet, the fit system which are series of straps and fasteners that holds the helmet firm around your head, the EPS liner which is mostly inside the helmet and it is designed to use its cushions to absorb certain type of impacts from your head, we also have the chin strap that holds your helmet tight and firm on your head, the strap divider which allows the chin strap to fit correctly around your ears.
We also have the buckle which attaches the helmet’s straps perfectly beneath your chin. These parts described are just a few of the different many parts of a helmet
HELMET HANDLING AND HELMET STORAGE
Okay now we have come across long valuable information about the different materials of the bike helmets and the parts of a bike helmet. We will discuss briefly on the type of paint to use in painting your bike helmet and on how to clean your helmet after a day’s ride.
But have you ever wondered which type of paint is suitable for the bike helmets? Like we cannot use the paint we use on buildings for these helmets No! No! No!
Now let’s discuss the of painting the bike helmets but do not and I repeat do not try it out if you do not have the right requirements or if you do not know how to paint your helmet. If you do not know then better you give a professional to handle that for you. The genre of paint you want to use will now depend on the material on which the helmet is made from.
Some of these paints could have substances that with substantial time cause the helmet to crack without even a long period of use and it affects the safety of the helmet. Using the wrong type of paint can get its solvents to eat up the polycarbonate and bring in little cracks on the helmet with due time.
Now there are some steps that can be followed to verify if the paint is suitable for your bike helmet. Do not bother this guide will discuss the type of paint suitable for your bike helmet.
To start with, you need to crosscheck the brand and model number of your bike helmet and you also need to make sure that the paint you have chosen is compatible with the material that was used to design the helmet .
Most of these helmets have their model number for a reason because it also comes with a list of substances that should not come in contact with the helmet. So you go through the ingredients of the paint to ensure that the listed substances not to be used on the helmet are not in the paint.
Water-based Acrylic paint is best advised to be used for your helmet painting. They are very safe compared to other paints due to the fact that they do not contain the type of substances that can destroy the shell of the helmet.
Though said, it is always advisable to double check to be sure its content free towards the dangerous substances that could harm the helmet. Be sure your helmet has legalization for painting. Some bike helmets are not authorized for painting so you use it as you purchase from the manufacturer. Do not add any color on it.
Now that we are done with the painting DOs and DON’Ts of our bike helmets why don’t we see how to keep our helmets clean? To wash your bike helmet, you need water, and a mild soap. You need to wash your helmet gently using the water and soap and you can make use of either a sink or a bath tub and gently wash till clean
After cleaning your helmet with clean water, air dry them and do not use a hair dryer. Store in a cool dry place out of sunlight so that your helmet can last longer than expected. The same procedure is used for your straps and pads but be soft on the straps and gently scrub them till clean.
How Long Do Bike Helmets Last?
Well, bike helmets if taken proper care of can last longer than expected but manufacturers have given a good length of time that should require you changing your helmet. To change your helmet you need like 3-5 years at most before you consider changing your helmet except in case of an impact.
Using it longer than expected is exposing yourself to danger and the strength of the helmet could get weak with time which requires that you change your helmet after 3-5 years max. Then, if you happen to get involved in a crash the 3 or 5 years period, you need to change your helmet because the shock the helmet has received will not leave it in the same shape as before.
The next time you get into another crash it might not protect you effectively as it did the last time you crashed during an accident.
Bell Helmet Expiration Date
Bell racing helmets have the general recommendation to be replaced after every 3 years. The model name and the date of manufacture are stamped onto the strap ring.
Also the shield and date of manufacture are stamped on the side of the shield. The US government testing body, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is a federal regulatory agency that creates safety standards for bike helmets and other equipment that requires safety use.
It is always necessary that your helmet meet the standards set by the commission. The CPSC recommends that cycling helmets be replaced about every 5 to 10 years.
Many helmets could have their different expiry dates. That is some could last for up to 5 years while some cannot and require change after every 3 years for example the bell helmet is a good sample for that. It is supposed to be changed every 3 years.
When to replace bike helmet after crash
Have you crash your helmet during an impact? Some people are not aware that their helmet needs replacement whenever they hit it during a collision in an accident.
The foam in the inner part of the helmet is for a one time use. It no longer protects your head to the maximum after a hit even if it still looks and there are no visible cracks on its shell.
When you note that there are cracks, marks, or crushes and damage to the foam liners and straps or fasteners of your helmet, you have to replace it before you go out for the next ride. Reputable brands like One K advise that after every accident involving an impact you have to replace your bike helmet.
The US government testing body, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) which is a federal regulatory agency that creates safety standards for bike helmets and other sporting equipment that requires safety use.
It is always necessary that your helmet meet the standards set by the commission. They recommend that cycling helmets be replaced about every 5 to 10 years.
Do unused bike helmets expire?
Does a bike helmet expire if it is kept in the original box in which it was bought unused for 5 to 10 year? Do unused bike helmets expire?
Yes it good to change your helmet every 5years whether it is being used or not. This because the foam material tends to harden making the helmet to lose its crushing property. This dangerous because in case of an impact, it is this crushing property that increase the time of impact, thereby reducing the force. So your helmet will become less protective with age whether it is used or unused.
An unused helmet can be used for a while if it was kept well. If it was kept well then you can use it for the period time as recommended by the CPSC but make sure to change it at the recommended date following the manufacturers date. If the unused helmet was not preserved well, I am afraid you will need to change it before any crash occurs and your head cannot be protected by your helmet
Do bike helmets deteriorate with age?
You might be wondering if bike helmet can deteriorate with age even if they are kept safe in the original box in which they were purchased. The short and simple answer is yes they do as you keep using them. They deteriorate after long time even if you keep them well unused. This is because the foam material becomes harden with age making the helmet to lose an important safety property which is the crushing ability of the foam material during an impact. When this property is lost, your helmet is no longer protective and in case of a collision or impact, the force developed will be too large.
So it is advisable to change your head gear every 3 to 5 years depending on the date stamped on it by the manufacture
Do helmets have a shelf life?
Yes they do have a shelf life which is 3-5 years at most of use and take the advice of not extending the time of use beyond 5 years, but rather consider changing your helmet within that period. The manufacturing date is stamped on the side of the shield at times
Is it okay to use an old helmet?
Use an old helmet? Well, your protective head gear is a safety device that is meant to be changed after it is crashed. When the foam underlining the hard shell is compressed once in crash for instant, it loses its crushing property and the helmet can no longer perform its protective function.
After crash invisible cracks may develop on the outer hard shell, it is recommended you change your bike helmet after each crash
It is not okay to use an old helmet especially if it was used by somebody else because you do not know the exact history of the helmet. The outer shell could look okay but the foam beneath has been compressed
Should I replace my bike helmet after a crash?
The question should I replace my bike helmet after a crash might look simple but you need to have the vital information concerning your helmet usage. We are talking about safety here.
Yes you should replace your protective head gear after every crash. This is because you do not know what that helmet went through when you crashed it. The helmet replaces your head in the crash and absorbs all the shock waves that could have gone to your head.
Many may have other questions bothering their mind but we hope this write up or guide has gone a long way to clarify most of your doubts on the expiration and use of bike helmets
We hope the guide on the question “Do Bike helmets expire” has been helpful to you as you seek to protect your head during riding either for sports, exercise or for leisure. You may also like to know How to Clean a Bike Helmet.