The protective shock-absorbing materials are the main reason for a helmet’s expiration. Motorcycle helmets come with a five to seven years expiration date. That is because the materials inside the helmet start degrading with time. As a result, the helmet’s protection starts to wear off.
Helmet’s Materials Is the Main Reason
To understand the reason behind helmet expiration, we have to first know about the general materials of the helmet. Then we can understand how it is affected over time in the helmet and figure out why the helmets expire.
The Outer Shell
So, in general terms, a helmet is made of two parts. The outer shell and the inside comfort liner. The outer shell is made with a hard substance like kevlar, polycarbonate, etc. This serves the rider as a rigid body that will protect the head.
Since this is a rigid and strong material it won’t be damaged easily unless it falls on the ground or the rider faces any accident. Thus many people look at this outer shell and think the helmet looks fine even after the expiration period. So they continue to use it. But this can be dangerous.
Inside Materials Matter
The expiry date is not for the outer shell of the helmet. Rather it is for the inside part. The inside of a helmet is made from EPS foam. This foam serves a few purposes.
Firstly, it makes the helmet more comfortable to wear. Secondly, it helps with cushioning. The second one is especially necessary. Without any cushioning, crushing with a helmet is almost the same as crushing without a helmet.
The cushion absorbs most of the impact on a hit. This makes sure that the crushing impact does not hit the brain as much thus protecting the brain. But the problem is these foams don’t last forever. They will eventually wear out and lose their shape.
The resin, glue, and the foam itself lose their integrity as you use the helmet more and more. While it may look like it’s fine even after five years from the outside, you also have to consider the inside materials. So because of this expired substance inside the helmet, the motorcycle helmet expires.
Motorcycle Helmet Life Span
The life span of a helmet doesn’t only depend on expire date. It also depends on how much do you use the helmet and how much has it been through. Some manufacturer says a helmet can be used for as long as seven years. But according to the users and Snell, it is better to change after five years.
It Depends On the Usage
That doesn’t mean all helmets can be used for five years. If you are using your helmet every day then it may last as little as two or three years. It is very dependent on how you use it.
Contact With Body
According to Snell, hair oil, body fluid, cosmetics, and any kind of normal wear and tear affect the helmet’s liner material. Then it speeds up the degradation process of the materials of the helmet.
Should You Change it After 5 Years?
So depending on the usage, a helmet’s life span can be anywhere between two to five years. After five years, even if it looks okay from the outside it is better to change it since you won’t know how the inner material for the helmet is at this point.
When to Replace A Helmet?
Knowing when to replace a helmet is important as its protective layer gets wear downed with use and time. As we have previously discussed, if you use the helmet more then you will need to replace it sooner than later.
Helmets are made to absorb one impact. So after one impact, you have to always change the helmet. You should make sure to keep it in a safe place where it doesn’t fall off. Falling can also hurt the helmet’s inside materials causing it to replace sooner than later.
If your helmet doesn’t get into any impact then keep an eye out for any black substance coming out of the helmet. This thing is a result of the degradation of interior material. So, if there is anything other than ordinary dust and trivial debris coming from inside of the helmet then it is time to change it.
Heat and moist conditions can also hurt the helmet. Heat and wet conditions will loosen the resin glue and foam’s shape from the inside. As a result, it will become looser than usual when wearing. That is your cue that you need to change the helmet.
How to Prolong A Helmet’s Life Span?
There are a few things you can do to make sure your helmet lasts longer. But there is always an expiry date that will be labeled on the helmet. It is better to change the helmet after that no matter how it looks from the outside.
Usage Can’t be Changed
In most cases, you can use a helmet for up to five years. But if you are using it every day then you may need to change it before that. Aside from usage, if you do a few things to make sure the helmet remains better for longer.
Placement is Important
Always keep your helmet in a safe place. A safe place here is a dry and cool place where it doesn’t have any chance to fall from any height. Also, try to keep it out of any child’s hand. Since falling from any height can harm the helmet from both inside and outside.
Clean Helmet Lasts Longer
Other than that, try to keep the helmet clean. If you are using it for a long time then remember to air dry the inside before putting it away. That way the foam and inner material will last longer than usual prolonging the life span of your helmet.
Q: Can I buy an expired helmet?
Ans: If it is expired but never used then you can buy and use it. It may have a bit less protection than usual but it is still usable for a few years. But buying a used expired helmet is generally not a good idea.
Q: How long does an unused motorcycle helmet last?
Ans: A motorcycle helmet lasts from 3 to 5 years.
Q: Should I change my helmet if it took a hit?
Ans: Yes, you always have to change the helmet if it took a hit. Helmets are made for one impact. So after a hit, they will lose most of their protectiveness.
Q. Can I sell used motorcycle helmets?
Ans: Yes, you can.
There are many reasons a motorcycle helmet can expire. Once expired, you can change the comfort liner to use it for longer but it is generally better to just get a new one. As for after an impact, whether the helmet is one day old or five years, you have to change it.