How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last? – And Signs For Replacement

How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last

Whenever we think about something as sturdy as helmets, we usually don’t think that they would have a lifespan, but they do, and that to a short one. One immediately thinks that how long do motorcycle helmets last then?

Well, there is a general rule of thumb that helmets should be replaced after three (3) to five (5) years of usage after their manufacturing if you go crash-free during this duration. If you were to be in a crash, then it is recommended to immediately replace your helmet with a new one.

But fortunately, if you were to go crash-free, then you must ponder on the fact that why this rule of 3 to 5 years even exists in the first place and why should I change my helmet if it has not been damaged during this duration, and what would happen if I don’t change my helmet after 5 years. Let’s dig into the details to answer the question how long do motorcycle helmets last?


Why Three To Five Years?

Firstly let’s take a more attentive look at the “five-year” rule first, according to the Snells Memorial Foundation, which is a non-profit organization based out of the United States of America, they perform detailed research into the safety of helmets. From Snell’s website,

“The five-year replacement recommendation is based on a consensus by both helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation. Glues, resins, and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Hair oils, body fluids, and cosmetics, as well as normal “wear and tear” all contribute to helmet degradation.

Petroleum-based products present in cleaners, paints, fuels, and other commonly encountered materials may also degrade materials used in many helmets possibly degrading performance.

Additionally, experience indicates there will be a noticeable improvement in the protective characteristic of helmets over five years due to advances in materials, designs, production methods, and standards. Thus, the recommendation for five-year helmet replacement is a judgment call stemming from a prudent safety philosophy.”

Adhering to this explanation provided by Snell Memorial Foundation, there are multiple components of a helmet that succumb to weathering and wear and tear over time, which actually cannot be witnessed by the naked eye and will surely cause the deterioration of the integral structure of the helmet.

So in turn these facts lead to the need for the replacement of the helmet. The other fact is that it is very pertinent to know about the manufacturing date of the helmet for the three to five years rule to bear any fruits.

Although finding that out is quite simple actually, you can check the manufacturer date on your helmet’s sticker. Normally it can be found under the comfort liner segment within the helmet.

When Should You Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet?

As we have already established the fact that why it is important to change or replace your helmet after three to five years of usage, this statement is also backed by most helmet manufacturing companies and safety organizations.

However, there are certainly other factors one must take into account when looking to change their helmet or finding reasons to do so. We shall discuss several factors other than the time limit, as to when you witness those factors, you should definitely consider replacing your helmet but first of all, let’s de myth some myths about helmets.

1. Do you need to replace your helmet if you drop it?

People tend to exaggerate and misunderstand this, talking about 1 single drop unless your helmet falls from a very tall elevation, let’s say a couple of floors, you don’t need to replace your helmet after a single drop. what else you can do is to remove the scratches.

Many motorbike helmet sellers and retailers may tend to insinuate or suggest replacing your helmet after a single drop but unless the drop was from a significant height, you do not need to replace it. Although after a drop you should for sure check your helmet for damages, just in case the helmet has been cracked or dented.

Most helmets today are made in such a way that they meet modern safety requirements. They are sturdy enough to easily withstand everyday or unintentional wear and tear especially if you buy one from a reliable or reputable retailer/seller.

But this does not mean that you should throw your helmet around carelessly as just like everything else motorbike helmets should also be handled with care and attention. This also brings us to our next topic.

2. How to maintain and take care of your helmet

As we know that good quality helmets today do not come cheap at all, especially if it is a branded one or comes from a reputable seller. So, one must maintain and take care well care of it. Here are some tips:

  • While cleaning your motorbike helmet, treat it as a fragile item and clean it as carefully as possible.
  • When cleaning always use proper tools to do so, such as microfiber cloth or microfiber rags.
  • Also, remember to make sure the use a soft toothbrush for scrubbing purposes.
  • Do not scrub your helmet with a rough cloth with excessive force as it can leave scratch marks and de-color your helmet.
  • Keeping your inner side of the helmet clean of the natural oil that hair excretes, hair products such as hair oil, or hair gel, so that the inner polycarbonate of the helmet does not get damaged before time.
  • Use baby shampoo or special shampoos made for cleaning of helmets as cleaning product alongside the use of warm water with it and for the exterior of helmet use Windex.
  • Avoid using stickers on your helmet, the reason being that some thermoplastic or polycarbonate helmet surfaces can be potentially damaged by glue or adhesive of such kind.
  • To get rid of bugs in your visor, use a wet towel or tissue to clean the bugs away softly.

Signs You Need To Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet

Now that we are done with the myths and maintenance process, let’s proceed to the facts which may pertain to you replacing your motorcycle helmet.

1. Your helmet starts becoming loose on you

Remember that fresh new helmet feel of yours? The way your helmet would hug your head firmly. After a few years of usage if you would want to determine the looseness of your helmet, check whenever you wear your helmet if your head hits around the corners of your helmet once you shake your head.

If your head does bump around the corners of the helmet, it is apparent that your helmet has loosened up over time and that now is the right time to change your helmet with a brand new one. Because a loosened-up helmet is the last thing you would want in the case of an accident.

2. The interior of your helmet starts decaying

As we all know that the outer surface of any object is most prone to natural and elemental decay, but in the case of helmets, it is the other way around. Most helmets tend to deteriorate from the inside first as compared to their outer surface.

In most common cases what happens initially is that you would find flakes of the inner lining of your helmet in your hair or on your shoulder, this is indicative of the fact that your good old helmet now needs changing.

But flakes are not the primary concern here, this also indicates that the integrity and steadiness of your helmet have been compromised and it went be able to absorb shock properly in the case of an accident. This can happen due to several reasons, mainly being over-exposure to water, sweat, or hair oil, or hair gel.

So as mentioned earlier, always maintain and clean your helmet with care if you wish to prolong the age of your helmet. But if you still witness such attributes in your helmet, then it is time to replace it with a new one.

3. The exterior of your helmet starts decaying

Due to excessive use of your helmet, it experiences extreme exposure to natural elements daily. So due to that, the outer shell of the helmet can become extremely brittle, due to which it can develop cracks which are a clear sign of safety failure in a helmet.

4. Broken or compromised visor

When on the road, there are multiple minor that can happen. To protect the most fragile part of a human’s head, the eyes, and a visor is installed on a helmet, the core purpose of which is to protect the eyes of the rider from dust, small particles, and other objects.

Other than that as the visor covers the eyes of the rider it is very important to keep it clean for a clean and better view of the. So if this visor gets damaged or cracked due to any reason, it is of utmost urgency to either change the visor and if you do not find a replacement, changing the entire helmet would a better option.

5. Strap or lock failure

To keep the Hemet lock tight on your head, a chin strap is a must. For that, the chin strap is an integral part of the helmet and in case of its breakage, it is again better to either replace it and in the case of unavailability of it changing it would be the way to go.

The above signs determine the replacement of the helmet and indirectly they practically answer the question How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last.

Final verdict:

To sum it up, a responsible biker does always wear their helmet when riding, hence taking good care of it is a must. If by good fortunate one does not experience any mishap or accident, a motorbike helmet should be changed within 3 to 5 years depending on its condition.

In the case of an accident, the helmet must immediately be replaced. People often go for cheaper options when it comes to helmets, but no amount of money is worth risking your life.

“How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last” the answer can vary depending on the quality of the product, usage, and condition in which the helmet is been used.

Now I have explained everything there is to know about the replacement and maintenance of your helmet. So maintain it well, stay safe and drive away. I hope this article has cleared your mind regarding the question “How long do motorcycle helmets last”

Good luck.

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