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Like everything else in life, motorcycle helmets have an expiration date attached to them.
The length of time you’ll be able to get out of a motorcycle helmet is around five years.
A few factors that cause a motorcycle to wear down are how it’s built, how it’s maintained, and how much it’s used.
Do Motorcycle Helmets Really Expire?
Many motorcycle helmet manufacturers will advise you to replace a helmet when the five-year mark begins to creep up. But where does the five-year recommendation even come from? Motorcycle helmets aren’t cheap, and people will do whatever they can to extend their life as much as possible.
The materials used to manufacture the motorcycle helmets will begin to wear out over time. When you put a helmet on, the oils in your hair, your body fluids, and cosmetics will contribute to this wear and tear that occurs in your motorcycle helmet.
How Do I Know When My Helmet Expires?
All manufactured motorcycle helmets are required to have a DOT sticker located on them. These stickers prove that the helmet complies with all of the applicable standards used to meet the safety requirements.
The manufacture date should also be listed on your helmet shell. Helmet manufacturers will say that you should replace the helmet within five years of that date. Using this benchmark makes it easy to predict the time at which you should be replacing your helmet.
Factors Affecting Motorcycle Helmet’s Lifespan
Many factors can affect when you should replace a motorcycle helmet.
Over time, chin straps on a motorcycle helmet can start to fray and loosen up, which is a serious indicator that you should be replacing your helmet as soon as you can. No one wants to be driving on the highway at high speeds wearing a helmet with loose chin straps.
If you aren’t using your motorcycle on the road or want to save money, you can also purchase replacement chin straps.
In addition to the chin straps, the comfort liner will loosen up over time. This is another indicator that you should replace your motorcycle helmet. Over time, the oil from your hair, sweat, and cosmetics can reduce the quality of your helmet. If nothing else is wrong with your helmet, and you can find a new comfort liner that works, as well.
Shell of the Helmet
Motorcycle helmets use materials such as ABS, thermoplastic polymers, and polycarbonate. Over time, the shell of your helmet will degrade due to the UV rays from the sun. Helmet manufacturers add a stabilizer when manufacturing the helmet to protect them from the sun, but it doesn’t last for an indefinite period.
UV rays can weaken the integrity of your helmet over time. An indicator that UV rays have weakened your helmet is if the color is beginning to fade.
When To Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet
You’ll always want to routinely check your motorcycle helmet for wear and tear every couple of months.
- Check if the EPS liner is still intact
- Ensure the retention straps aren’t fraying apart
- Ensure the clip system is still fully functional
- Ensure the visor is fully functional
- Inspect the outer shell for cracks and other defects
If you notice discrepancies after inspecting your helmet, highly consider replacing it, especially if it’s starting to creep up to that five-year mark where most helmet manufacturers recommend replacement.
Don't risk your life just because you want to save money by having to replace your helmet. If you notice a crack on your helmet or if the helmet has been in a previous crash, replace it immediately.
The helmets with an EPS foam liner are only good for one crash because the foam squishes in and can’t be adjusted back into its original shape afterward, meaning that it won’t be able to absorb any further impact.
What to Do With Your Old Motorcycle Helmet
Many people are puzzled about what to do with their old motorcycle helmet after a crash or after it expires. You can’t really recycle it, and you don’t want to be selling it to another person. Research has found that over 40% of motorcyclists are still using their expired helmets.
Use It as a Planter
Some people like to get creative with their motorcycle helmets and turn them into a makeshift pot to place plants in. Others take it a step further and turn it into a hanging basket to place in their gardens.
To turn it into a planter, all you have to do is drill a couple of holes into the top of the helmet to give water the chance to drain out of it. After that, add some soil and then plant flowers or shrubs in it.
Give It To Emergency Services
Call your local emergency services agency and see if they accept donations for used motorcycle helmets. Emergency services run training sessions, and a motorcycle helmet would be a wise addition to their course material.
Trade The Helmet In
Sometimes motorcycle retailers will give discounts on new helmets if you bring your old one in. Not every helmet dealer will do this, so it’s best to call beforehand to ensure you’re not wasting your time.
Give It To Your Kid Or Relative’s Kid
Children enjoy playing dress-up all of the time, and a motorcycle helmet makes a good addition to any children’s costume arsenal.
While you may have an attachment to your motorcycle helmet, its purpose is to protect your life in case an accident occurs. Because of that, you want it to do its job every time, and replacing it when you should be is the best way to do that.
People Also Ask
If you still have some questions about motorcycle helmets, here are some of the most common things that people wonder about.
Does Dropping a Motorcycle Helmet Ruin it?
A motorcycle helmet can withstand a severe amount of force. If you’re simply dropping a helmet from a meter high, there’s a good chance it won’t ruin it. If you’re dropping it out of a plane, then the chances increase dramatically.
Do You Need to Replace a Motorcycle Helmet After a Crash?
Always replace a motorcycle helmet after a crash. The EPS liner in them squishes in when force is applied. Because it won’t be able to squish back out after, you should replace it.
Can You Sell Old Motorcycle Helmets?
You should never sell an old motorcycle helmet after it expires. They have a five-year expiration date for a reason, and that should be adhered to for best safety practices. If your helmet is expired, consider one of our tips for what to do with an old helmet and get a new helmet.