You would be forgiven for thinking that a cycling helmet is a lifetime investment if you are never involved with a crash.
However, the reality is that a lot of technology and thought goes into their design, and depending on the use, they do have a shelf life.
So when do helmets expire? It is recommended to replace your helmet every 3 – 5 years. Although this may seem like overkill, you need to bear in mind the purpose of a cycling helmet.
You wear a bike helmet so that should the worst happen and you crash, resulting in your head hitting the ground or any hard surface at high speeds, it protects your head and brain from serious injury.
Why do helmets have an expiration date?
Let’s not get into the efficacy of bike helmets for saving lives in serious accidents.
Still, you can appreciate that you should look to upgrade if the helmet’s composition has been compromised.
Think about what your helmet goes through every time you ride. Even with the foam pads for added comfort, your body’s oil and sweat will seep into the helmet’s foam. Over time this compromises the intended level of protection.
In addition to the general degradation of the materials within the helmet, it is also a good idea to make the most of the latest technology like a MIPS helmet, (this Smith helmet is the one I would get) especially of something intended to save your life and prevent injury.
With new research and improved testing facilities, there are always fresh and exciting features introduced that you may be missing out on.
What if you crash on your bike?
If you crash, resulting in your helmet being subject to an impact, you should consider it expired. Most cycling helmets rely on foam to absorb the force of any impact. As soon as it has been compressed, it does not regain its former structural integrity.
Just like a car, you have to replace the parts that just saved you from injury, and in a bikes case that comes down to the helmet as well. Unlike a wheel, a helmet can’t be trued.
Each manufacturer seems to have set its own life span for their helmet.
There is no way to know exactly how accurate they. However, be vigilant, and if you have been involved in a crash, can see signs of degradation, or have had your helmet for more than 5 years, you should consider an upgrade.