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Should You Buy a New Helmet Every 3-4 Years?

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Should You Buy a New Helmet Every 3-4 Years?

Old 12-11-19, 06:52 AM
  #76  
indyfabz
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
Just a totally honest question here with no agenda. As a guy who has owned a few CF road bikes over the years, do they have a finite lifespan if not involved in any kind of crash? I really know nothing about CF in bike frames, except that I seem to like to ride them. No bike shop person has ever told me I needed to replace my frame for safety reasons after a given number of miles or years or decades.
Now you've done it.
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Old 12-11-19, 10:57 AM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by RkFast View Post
YES...five years of being in service. Others here are questioning why time on shelf before purchase doesnít count towards that five year figure.

Im not sure why youíre getting argumentative here. If you want to use an old helmet to save a few bucks good for you. I choose to be more risk averse and Iím surprised so many are not in my camp. But thatís ok. IMO, Itís a 150-200 dollar expense every five years or so for the mid to high end helmet I usually buy when my old one starts to get ratty and banged up. Considering the cost of everything else in this sport, I feel itís a really minor layout for some (literal) piece of mind.

I'm being argumentative here because you made the very argumentative point that people who didn't discard a perfectly normal-looking helmet after 5 years were somehow "betting their lives" in a manner you clearly indicated you thought was foolish. You're completely missing the really obvious point--five years of service is basically a meaningless phrase--it tells us nothing about how much wear and tear the helmet has undergone. I'm riding between 6000 and 7000 miles per year, it's highly unlikely that my helmet would make it 5 years before the interior would be worn enough to make it uncomfortable or other normal wear and tear would make its use imprudent. If someone else is riding less than 100 miles a month and not storing their helmet in the sun, there's no reason to assume that 5 years of wear is really going to amount to much more than sitting on a shop shelf would. Also, as I pointed out before, just because something is on a store shelf doesn't mean it's not subject to wear and tear from being tried on, getting knocked off the shelf a few times, sitting where sunlight might hit it or just having stuff stacked and restacked on top of it. .
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Old 12-11-19, 11:15 AM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I'm being argumentative here because you made the very argumentative point that people who didn't discard a perfectly normal-looking helmet after 5 years were somehow "betting their lives" in a manner you clearly indicated you thought was foolish.
Heres the thing.....folks who scoff at this five year guideline are doing so on the basis that the guideline is made up and arbitrary and not based on any kind of research as to whether helmets lose their proterctive characteristics over time. However, they ALSO have no research of their own to prove their stance. So yes...they are assuming ("betting") that their old helmets are still good!

You're completely missing the really obvious point--five years of service is basically a meaningless phrase--it tells us nothing about how much wear and tear the helmet has undergone. I'm riding between 6000 and 7000 miles per year, it's highly unlikely that my helmet would make it 5 years before the interior would be worn enough to make it uncomfortable or other normal wear and tear would make its use imprudent. If someone else is riding less than 100 miles a month and not storing their helmet in the sun, there's no reason to assume that 5 years of wear is really going to amount to much more than sitting on a shop shelf would.
This is a fair point. So maybe standard should be hours or time used or something like that. Wear and tear is wear and tear though. I think we can agree on that. Im not suggesting at all that a lightly used 5 year old helmet has to be tossed out of hand.

Also, as I pointed out before, just because something is on a store shelf doesn't mean it's not subject to wear and tear from being tried on, getting knocked off the shelf a few times, sitting where sunlight might hit it or just having stuff stacked and restacked on top of it. .
Disagree here. Ive been working at an LBS for some time now and we store our stock of helmets in a specific area in their boxes. They do not go through the wear and tear youre describing. There are helmets on display that are used to show and demo. Those do ensure what you describe and we do no resell those.
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Old 12-11-19, 11:22 AM
  #79  
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I think that what most folks are struggling with in this discussion is that there are no objective tests or measurements that the user can do to determine if a helmet has reached the end of its effective life. So, the industry offers its helpful [and self serving] guidelines for degraded helmet effectiveness based on age. But we realize that this isn't a fully rational measure.

In aircraft, we have flight hours and service schedules for almost everything, plus advanced on-the-ground and embedded diagnostic tools. For other types of things (like the rubber in our car tires) we have both tread depth and rubber years of life as guidance. These have been worked out with considerable study, trial and error, (in many cases) government regulation and oversight, as well as ongoing research.

Bike helmets? What's the big deal? Get a new one if your instincts say to. If not, ride what you have...
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Old 12-11-19, 11:26 AM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post

Bike helmets? What's the big deal? Get a new one if your instincts say to. If not, ride what you have...
+1.
/thread
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Old 12-11-19, 11:27 AM
  #81  
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Even for motorcycle helmets, the main reason they recommend replacing them is because most riders like to set their helmets on the gas tank, and gas vapors (even the slight ones coming from a closed tank) does degrade the expanded polystyrene.

If you have a helmet with a plastic shell, and don't leave it around anywhere where it might be exposed to harmful vapors (any gasoline product, paint vapors, acetone), then it's good for probably at least 10-15 years.

I race motorcycles, and the club mandates a helmet less than 5 years old, but my street helmet is approaching 10 years old, and it's fine.
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Old 12-11-19, 02:17 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by RkFast View Post
Heres the thing.....folks who scoff at this five year guideline are doing so on the basis that the guideline is made up and arbitrary and not based on any kind of research as to whether helmets lose their proterctive characteristics over time. However, they ALSO have no research of their own to prove their stance. So yes...they are assuming ("betting") that their old helmets are still good!



This is a fair point. So maybe standard should be hours or time used or something like that. Wear and tear is wear and tear though. I think we can agree on that. Im not suggesting at all that a lightly used 5 year old helmet has to be tossed out of hand.



Disagree here. Ive been working at an LBS for some time now and we store our stock of helmets in a specific area in their boxes. They do not go through the wear and tear youre describing. There are helmets on display that are used to show and demo. Those do ensure what you describe and we do no resell those.


And when I buy a new helmet from a LBS, I'm betting without knowing that they're as scrupulous as yours. Or that the truck the helmets were shipped was properly packed and they didn't bounce around too much, or the QC guy wasn't stoned on the day they were produced, otr that the helmet isn't counterfeit, and so on.

Point is that 3-5 years is just a made-up rule of thumb (show me any research supporting it) and rules of thumb are only useful if you don't have better information. Generally, the user has pretty good information about the helmet's history and its current condition. What's funny is that in my case, the way I use and abuse helmets, 3-5 years is way too long
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Old 12-11-19, 07:41 PM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by Sojodave View Post
I tell my wife you're supposed to change your helmet every year...
...and bike!
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Old 12-11-19, 08:15 PM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post

I race motorcycles, and the club mandates a helmet less than 5 years old, but my street helmet is approaching 10 years old, and it's fine.
So does the SCCA for auto racing.
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Old 12-11-19, 08:51 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by LeftyS7 View Post
So does the SCCA for auto racing.
Yup. But last two Snell certifications, so in 2019 that would be SA2015 and SA2010. There are other standards permitted as well.

-mr. bill

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Old 12-12-19, 05:43 PM
  #86  
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[QUOTE=livedarklions;21241500 You're completely missing the really obvious point--five years of service is basically a meaningless phrase--it tells us nothing about how much wear and tear the helmet has undergone. I'm riding between 6000 and 7000 miles per year, it's highly unlikely that my helmet would make it 5 years before the interior would be worn enough to make it uncomfortable or other normal wear and tear would make its use imprudent. If someone else is riding less than 100 miles a month and not storing their helmet in the sun, there's no reason to assume that 5 years of wear is really going to amount to much more than sitting on a shop shelf would. Also, as I pointed out before, just because something is on a store shelf doesn't mean it's not subject to wear and tear from being tried on, getting knocked off the shelf a few times, sitting where sunlight might hit it or just having stuff stacked and restacked on top of it. .[/QUOTE]

Not to butt in to a perfectly entertaining argument, but he did qualify his original point of view with the following:
"A quick look at my Strava shows I rode about 300 hours this year. Multiply that by 5 years, the replacement age of a helmet, and it’s seen 1500 hours in the direct sun, in the heat, in the cold and rain. Bounced around my bike bag, my trunk, and on my head."
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Old 12-12-19, 11:13 PM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Not to butt in to a perfectly entertaining argument, but he did qualify his original point of view with the following:
"A quick look at my Strava shows I rode about 300 hours this year. Multiply that by 5 years, the replacement age of a helmet, and itís seen 1500 hours in the direct sun, in the heat, in the cold and rain. Bounced around my bike bag, my trunk, and on my head."

Which would have been fine if he hadn't been expressing his blanket disapproval of people who disregarded this 3-5 year "rule".
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Old 12-13-19, 12:03 AM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
mostly okay, thank you.

if UV can screw up tires I bet it can screw up helmets too!

So a Giro Foray list at $85, but can be had for $45. To replace it every three years is a cost of $15 a year. Not very costly for brain security. I love my Synthe a lot more, but the foray has advantages too.
Yea, if it in fact improves brain security. Otherwise, it's just a waste of money and adding to land fills for no reason. I am just very skeptical about any recommendation to replace anything "just because". I am in favor of defensible guidelines for assessing the soundness and serviceability. Me? I look at the plastic outer covering and the styrofoam and decide if they look OK. MOstly for me, it's been straps and plastic "hardware" that have broken and can't be replaced.
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Old 12-13-19, 12:10 AM
  #89  
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
Are the helmets getting damaged, or is there another reason you're getting new helmets so frequently.
Cracked the first one in half by bouncing my head off the ground, and the second one... same thing. I've actually gone through 4, but one is still serviceable and used for wetter/colder days. It just doesn't fit as well as my everyday helmet.
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Old 12-13-19, 04:02 AM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
Yea, if it in fact improves brain security. Otherwise, it's just a waste of money and adding to land fills for no reason. I am just very skeptical about any recommendation to replace anything "just because". I am in favor of defensible guidelines for assessing the soundness and serviceability. Me? I look at the plastic outer covering and the styrofoam and decide if they look OK. MOstly for me, it's been straps and plastic "hardware" that have broken and can't be replaced.
While I have brought up the land fill thing before with helmets.....

I am pretty positive helmets hits very last on a very long list of the daily, weekly, monthly landfill causation habits
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Old 12-13-19, 04:05 AM
  #91  
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questions

when did the 3-5 rule start?

who started the 3-5 rule?

looking for specifics, not just a loose
'bicycle industry in a certain decade' kind of an answer
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Old 12-13-19, 05:19 AM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
questions

when did the 3-5 rule start?

who started the 3-5 rule?

looking for specifics, not just a loose
'bicycle industry in a certain decade' kind of an answer
No idea who started the 3 year thing, probably LBS/bike mag/industry bs. Snell recommends 5 years, and CPSC recommend 5-10 years.
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Old 12-13-19, 05:53 AM
  #93  
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Itís kinda like the show industry telling us to replace running shoes after 400 miles. I have a pair that lasted almost 3000. My helmet sees many hours of use each week. I do wash the sweat out, but until I see issues it will be used.
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Old 12-13-19, 10:49 AM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I'm riding between 6000 and 7000 miles per year, it's highly unlikely that my helmet would make it 5 years before the interior would be worn enough to make it uncomfortable or other normal wear and tear would make its use imprudent.
I ride about the same mileage, and have replaced my last couple helmets at roughly four-year intervals, and the interiors were still in fine shape - pads okay, straps and buckles good, etc. Are you in a very hot area and/or a very heavy sweater?
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Old 12-13-19, 11:20 AM
  #95  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I ride about the same mileage, and have replaced my last couple helmets at roughly four-year intervals, and the interiors were still in fine shape - pads okay, straps and buckles good, etc. Are you in a very hot area and/or a very heavy sweater?
I do a lot of very long rides many in 90 degree + weather, and I do tend to perspire a bit. I don't doubt there are all sorts of personal factors that affect helmet wear, could even be the shapes of our heads, how careful we are when we're plopping them down, etc.

I think we're both getting at the same point--it's the visible wear on the helmet that tells you it's time to replace, not some formula of years owned or hours worn.
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Old 12-13-19, 11:26 AM
  #96  
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
While I have brought up the land fill thing before with helmets.....

I am pretty positive helmets hits very last on a very long list of the daily, weekly, monthly landfill causation habits

A couple decades back, there was a guy who would dig up landfills to quantify what was taking up the most room, and the big three were newspaper, disposable diapers and phone books. I gotta figure two of those went down a bit in importance.
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Old 12-13-19, 11:41 AM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I do a lot of very long rides many in 90 degree + weather, and I do tend to perspire a bit. I don't doubt there are all sorts of personal factors that affect helmet wear, could even be the shapes of our heads, how careful we are when we're plopping them down, etc.

I think we're both getting at the same point--it's the visible wear on the helmet that tells you it's time to replace, not some formula of years owned or hours worn.
Oh, yep. Definitely. I always figured that the recommendation to replace helmets at 2-3 year intervals was mostly about helmet manufacturers' bottom lines.
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Old 12-13-19, 11:51 AM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
If you eat a healthy, non-processed, locally sourced, GMO-free diet, you should never have to replace your helmet.
Heck, you shouldn't even need a helmet!
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Old 12-13-19, 04:18 PM
  #99  
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I'll replace mine when it looks like it needs to be replaced.
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Old 12-13-19, 04:20 PM
  #100  
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ENOUGH for Pete sake, I think we all know what we're going to do!
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