Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Helmets Lose Effectiveness?

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Helmets Lose Effectiveness?

Old 06-01-20, 03:49 AM
  #26  
waters60
Senior Member
 
waters60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 377
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 90 Post(s)
Liked 47 Times in 21 Posts
It is interesting that styrofoam, which is notorious for its ability to resist degradation, when used in a helmet goes bad in a few years😳
waters60 is offline  
Likes For waters60:
Old 06-01-20, 11:51 AM
  #27  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,821
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 892 Post(s)
Liked 213 Times in 133 Posts
Originally Posted by greatscott View Post
2 to 3 years is instituted by bike shops so they can make more money, even the 5 year rule could be the same thing. I replace my helmet when one of three things happens first, assuming no crash; one is, something breaks; two is, the padding gets worn out; and the third reason is, as the foam first starts to disintegrate it will leave tiny particles stuck onto your sweating head, that's what UV damage and or bodily oils will do eventually, and that's how you now you got to that starting point and it's time to buy another helmet. All long that will take depends on the person and the quality of the helmet, my helmets last an average of 10 years, and I buy helmets around the $80 range (on sale), I think between $70 and $100 is the sweat spot money wise for a helmet.
I use similar criteria when deciding to replace a helmet, and agree with your thoughts about the price of helmets. The new one on the right was $80, and has MIPS technology.

How long a helmet stays effective and comfortable depends on how much it is used, and how it is treated. The scenario below is pretty typical of how my helmets have been used over the last 15 years.

The helmet on the left meets all of your criteria. It is 5 years old and was the same color when new as the helmet on the right. During that time it was used for long bike tours totalling 9558 miles or 9.5 months. A typical day touring is from 5 to 8 hours on the bike, not including stops. That is a lot of sun. It was also used for over 4,000 additional miles of utility, and recreational riding during that 5-year period.

The adjusting mechanism is starting to wear and needs replacing. It is possible to replace it but it is a hassle. The pads are compressed and are coming lose. It has also been treated pretty rough at times, packed in our airline and train luggage, dropped several times, and one crash on an icy patch where I slid along the road on the ice. I could have justified replacing that helmet last year.

I believe the recommendation to replace every 5 years is conservative for a lightly used helmet, but the manufacturers probably err on the conservative side. I think it more for safety, and legal protection rather that greed.

I've had 3 of the same model Giro helmets as the one on the left. They are excellent helmets, but I wanted to go with the MIPS technology this time

Last edited by Doug64; 06-10-20 at 10:43 PM.
Doug64 is offline  
Likes For Doug64:
Old 06-01-20, 12:00 PM
  #28  
Notso_fastLane
Senior Member
 
Notso_fastLane's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Layton, UT
Posts: 1,371

Bikes: 2011 Bent TW Elegance 2014 Carbon Strada Velomobile

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 398 Post(s)
Liked 377 Times in 227 Posts
I'm sorely tempted to start a gofundme, have anyone retiring a 'good' helmet send it to me, and pay for a couple labs to do all the same testing they do on new helmets as a comparison.

I typically replace my helmets every 5-7 years.Mine are stored inside (at the very least in a garage, and it doesn't get that hot or cold here) and not left in the sun. If I drop it or do something that I know might have damage the EPS inside, I will replace it, but I really don't know that a good modern helmet ages out these days.
I'd like to really know, but I'm going out of pocket for it. :/

No sooner did I post this, than I discovered this post.

So there you go.

Last edited by Notso_fastLane; 06-01-20 at 12:06 PM.
Notso_fastLane is offline  
Old 06-03-20, 01:00 PM
  #29  
Pratt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 190
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 67 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 63 Times in 39 Posts
I'm with Doug, 2-3 crashes, max
Pratt is offline  
Old 06-07-20, 01:51 AM
  #30  
jjafterdark
Banned.
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 95
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 79 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
On a semi-related note, there's a video review comparing a budget and hi end Giro. The hi end helmet cost hundreds of dollars. The budget helmet well under $50. Both CPSC certified. The difference in weight was 3 grams. Make of that what you will.
jjafterdark is offline  
Old 06-07-20, 11:12 AM
  #31  
Leinster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: location location
Posts: 2,605

Bikes: MBK Super Mirage 1991, CAAD10, Yuba Mundo Lux, and a Cannondale Criterium Single Speed

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 183 Post(s)
Liked 103 Times in 79 Posts
Originally Posted by greggh View Post
I generally go about 6 years before I replace my helmet. You can get a good helmet for $100 to $150. That's a lot, sort of. But, pick up a decent pair of fingerless gloves and you'll spend $30 to $45. So compare 3 pairs of gloves to a helmet and then the price of the helmet looks pretty good.
Why would I compare gloves to helmets? Iíve only ever replaced cycling gloves after losing one or both of a pair. I think Iíve bought 4 pairs total in 30 years of cycling.

If you said shorts, I go through those a lot quicker. But then, I canít wear the same pair of shorts for 3 rides on consecutive days.
Leinster is offline  
Old 06-07-20, 08:29 PM
  #32  
powermatt99
Senior Member
 
powermatt99's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 116

Bikes: Felt VR5, '85 Trek 520, '84 Trek 890

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
Liked 16 Times in 8 Posts
If a helmet sits in a box for 10 years, I'd have full confidence its fidelity. A 10-year old helmet, even if never wrecked, has likely been seen its share of bumps and scrapes. My wife, who has ridden with me dozen times or so this year has probably dropped or banged around her helmet about a half-dozen times. I am obsessive with my gear but I know that it sees its share of abuse in luggage, in the back of the vehicle, etc. I'm willing to drop $150 or so every handful of years to protect my head even if I don't need to.
powermatt99 is offline  
Old 06-08-20, 12:44 AM
  #33  
Ross520
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 316
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 172 Post(s)
Liked 169 Times in 97 Posts
Originally Posted by daoswald View Post
Let's look at a different item entirely: Trailer tires.

Have you ever been driving down the Interstate and seen a trailer sitting on the shoulder of the road with one blown out tire? Why are trailers more susceptible to this phenomenon than automobile tires? If you go strictly by the numbers, there are a lot more cars on the road than trailers; you should see cars off to the side with blowouts far more often than trailers. What's the difference?

The difference is that cars tend to wear down their tires long before the rubber has time to age out. Popup campers get used a few times a year at best. The tires are going to age out before their tread is gone. What happens when the tires age out? The sidewalls begin to crack and get brittle. Then one day the owner is heading down the highway at 65 or 70, and pow; they're in a really dangerous situation with a blowout on a thing that only has two tires in the first place.

Ok, now for helmets: Unless you crash, or ride through rain and mud every day, your helmet will look mostly new for years to come. It's like the trailer tire with lots of tread left. But the foam, plastic, and glue are all deteriorating, possibly at different rates, and due to different environmental factors. So over time, that helmet will not behave as it did the day it was purchased. And that could put the rider at greater risk should the worst happen. One document I read asserts that the foam itself deteriorates very, very slowly, but that the resins and glues can be susceptible to environmental factors that even include oils from the rider's body.

This article is excellent: https://off.road.cc/content/feature/...le-helmet-1280

I'm guilty too. I don't love paying $100+ for a new helmet when the old one seems to be working just fine. I don't even like the process of trying to find a new one that I like. Helmets become a bit like gloves, where years of use make us comfortable with the fit. But the truth is it's the right thing to do, to replace based on age. My last helmet I kept for ten years, which was way too long. My current helmet is only a few months old. Let's see if I can force myself to replace it at the 5-year mark.
Those are re-treads you're seeing, and they're exactly what their name implies. Rather than replace the whole tire, many trucking companies will have a tire "repaired" with a new strip of tread. This is far more cost effective than replacing the whole tire. It's a controversial practice, being that they can fail, rocket off the tire, and cause an accident.
​​​​​​
Ross520 is offline  
Old 06-08-20, 08:45 PM
  #34  
50PlusCycling
Senior Member
 
50PlusCycling's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 310
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 140 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 45 Times in 26 Posts
UV degradation is a non-issue, and will have little effect on a bicycle helmet. The main component of bicycle helmets is simple styrofoam, which, as we know, can endure years of sun on a beach before begins to disintegrate. Most helmets already feature treatments to filter out UV effects, Specialized has done so since the 80's. The main cause of deterioration is chemical degradation, as the solvents and such used in the construction evaporate or break down over time, this is accelerated when exposure to sweat, sunscreen, and such.

I recently bought a new, old-stock Briko Twinnter helmet from 1998 or so, and the materials and structure are in perfect order. I wouldn't worry about wearing it today.
50PlusCycling is offline  
Old 06-08-20, 09:18 PM
  #35  
AnthonyG
Senior Member
 
AnthonyG's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Queanbeyan, Australia.
Posts: 3,971
Mentioned: 59 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2360 Post(s)
Liked 142 Times in 103 Posts
To those claiming that UV degradation isn't an issue, can you post some Scientific references please.

UV degradation isn't going to make a helmet fall apart in your hands. Sure, yet lightweight bicycle helmet design is pretty much on the edge of material capabilities from the get go. It won't take all that much degradation before the helmet fails to provide maximum performance is a crash.

Now for the record I'm not saying that you have to change helmets every 2 or 3 years, yet they certainly don't last forever and your risks increase as the helmet ages.
AnthonyG is offline  
Old 06-08-20, 10:09 PM
  #36  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 5,168
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1428 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 436 Times in 268 Posts
Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
To those claiming that UV degradation isn't an issue, can you post some Scientific references please.

UV degradation isn't going to make a helmet fall apart in your hands. Sure, yet lightweight bicycle helmet design is pretty much on the edge of material capabilities from the get go. It won't take all that much degradation before the helmet fails to provide maximum performance is a crash.

Now for the record I'm not saying that you have to change helmets every 2 or 3 years, yet they certainly don't last forever and your risks increase as the helmet ages.

The studies that I linked in post #10 tested helmets up to 20 years old and found no appreciable degradation.

AFAS cutting edge of material capabilities, the cheapest kid's helmets and the most exotic racing ones all conform to the same safety testing,


Cutting edge of material capabilities:


woodcraft is online now  
Likes For woodcraft:
Old 06-09-20, 06:58 PM
  #37  
greatscott
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Indiana
Posts: 532

Bikes: 1984 Fuji Club, Suntour ARX; 2013 Lynskey Peloton, mostly 105 with Ultegra rear derailleur, Enve 2.0 fork; 2020 Masi Giramondo 700c, full Deore with TRP dual piston mech disk brakes

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 283 Post(s)
Liked 53 Times in 49 Posts
Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
I use similar criteria when deciding to replace a helmet, and agree with your thoughts about the price of helmets. The new one on the right was $80, and has MIPS technology.

How long a helmet stays effective and comfortable depends on how much it is used, and how it is treated. The scenario below is pretty typical of how my helmets have been used over the last 15 years.

The helmet on the left meets all of your criteria. It is 5 years old and was the same color when new as the helmet on the right. During that time it was used for long bike tours totalling 9558 miles or 9.5 months. A typical day touring is from 5 to 8 hours on the bike, not including stops. That is a lot of sun. It was also used for over 4,000 additional miles of utility, and recreational riding during that 5-year period.

The adjusting mechanism is starting to wear and needs replacing. It is possible to replace it but it is a hassle. The pads are compressed and are coming lose. It has also been treated pretty rough at times, packed in our airline and train luggage, dropped several times, and one crash on an icy patch where I slid along the road on the ice. I could have justified replacing that helmet last year.

I believe the recommendation to replace every 5 years is conservative for a lightly used helmet, but the manufacturers probably err on the conservative side. I think it more for safety, and legal protection rather that greed.

I've had 3 of the same model Giro helmets as the one on the left. They qre excellent helmets, but I wanted to go with the MIPS technology this time
I did the same thing, I bought a new helmet this year and made sure it had the MIPS technology, so after reading some university (Penn State?) crash studies I decided on the Specialized Chamonix MIPS helmet because it got the highest rating and it was the lowest price of the top helmets...because I'm cheap, but I had to buy two of them because my wife needed one too.
greatscott is offline  
Old 06-10-20, 06:17 PM
  #38  
jjafterdark
Banned.
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 95
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 79 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Here's the video. A 3 gram weight savings will cost you an extra $200!!!

jjafterdark is offline  
Likes For jjafterdark:
Old 06-10-20, 08:25 PM
  #39  
Camilo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,715
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 309 Post(s)
Liked 92 Times in 58 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
I keep mine until the pads are worn out (and starting to rub my skin raw), or the plastic head strap or mounts break. Oh, except for the helmet where the plastic outer shell blew off the foam innards flying down a long hill. May take three years, make take eight.

The shock absorbing foam itself? I've dissected several after replacing them because of an impact. Never saw any degradation. Of course the new MIPS foam may have better rotting properties (from the point of view of the marketers who want them to be replaced more frequently).
Same here. Every helmet I've owned were replaced were for:
1. I simply got rid of two of my original helmets after about 5 years that were styrofoam helmets with fabric covers, one a Bell and the other a Performance brand. remember these? They were the first helmets I ever owned (early 90s?) and I had two beause they were cheap and I kept one at my office for rides from there an the other one at home. They were in fine condition,and I believe were adequately protective, but difficult to fit and strap properly.
2. The next one I left outside and the neighbors dog chewed it up. (it was old and ugly so I didn't care)
3. A helmet I bought about 15 years ago, the retention system (plastic parts) broke and couldn't replace them - this was the second time they broke, I was able to replace it the first time. I was also ale to replace the worn padding. Actually I still have this one and have fixed it with strapping tape and keep it as a spare.
4. The new helmet, after just a couple of months, I ran over kit bag with car and broke the helmet that was inside. I replaced it that day with a new one of the same. That was about 10 years ago.

If and when I become convinced that a MIPS helmet is better in a meaningful way, I might get one. Frankly, understanding that helmets are only designed to protect you from a fall on the bike, not a crash from a motor vehicle, I think people put waay to much stock in this stuff. I won't call conspiracy but it's definitely to the financial benefit of bike stores (see the OP) and helmet companies that people think they are not only absolutely essential but need to be replaced for arbitrary reasons. I wear one because it keeps my wife and all the busy bodies in the cycling world happy, it's comfortable, and does provide some protection when I lower the tail gate of my car onto my head after loading up the bike, which is better than none.

Last edited by Camilo; 06-10-20 at 08:28 PM.
Camilo is offline  
Likes For Camilo:
Old 06-11-20, 03:50 AM
  #40  
waters60
Senior Member
 
waters60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 377
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 90 Post(s)
Liked 47 Times in 21 Posts
Funny how styrofoam lasts forever except in a bike helmet, where it only lasts 2-3 years😳
waters60 is offline  
Likes For waters60:
Old 06-11-20, 07:01 AM
  #41  
Notso_fastLane
Senior Member
 
Notso_fastLane's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Layton, UT
Posts: 1,371

Bikes: 2011 Bent TW Elegance 2014 Carbon Strada Velomobile

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 398 Post(s)
Liked 377 Times in 227 Posts
Originally Posted by waters60 View Post
Funny how styrofoam lasts forever except in a bike helmet, where it only lasts 2-3 years😳
There's a significant difference between 'lasts in the environment' and 'remains an effective energy absorbing material', but thanks for playing.
Notso_fastLane is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 01:13 PM
  #42  
jjafterdark
Banned.
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 95
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 79 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
There's a significant difference between 'lasts in the environment' and 'remains an effective energy absorbing material', but thanks for playing.
And yet you cannot cite a single scientific study proving degradation after 2-3 years, but thanks for putting yourself out of the game.
jjafterdark is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 01:38 PM
  #43  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 42,796

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 194 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7388 Post(s)
Liked 1,002 Times in 631 Posts
An impact crushes the beaded styrofoam, the energy to crush that foam slows down the impact velocity. and is dissipated

the EPS stays crushed, it does nor rebound..
fietsbob is online now  
Old 06-12-20, 01:42 PM
  #44  
Notso_fastLane
Senior Member
 
Notso_fastLane's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Layton, UT
Posts: 1,371

Bikes: 2011 Bent TW Elegance 2014 Carbon Strada Velomobile

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 398 Post(s)
Liked 377 Times in 227 Posts
Originally Posted by jjafterdark View Post
And yet you cannot cite a single scientific study proving degradation after 2-3 years, but thanks for putting yourself out of the game.
Nor did I make that claim. If you were paying attention, you would have noticed that I posted a link to a study that says quite the opposite, so maybe you have me confused with someone else?
Notso_fastLane is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 01:44 PM
  #45  
Notso_fastLane
Senior Member
 
Notso_fastLane's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Layton, UT
Posts: 1,371

Bikes: 2011 Bent TW Elegance 2014 Carbon Strada Velomobile

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 398 Post(s)
Liked 377 Times in 227 Posts
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
An impact crushes the beaded styrofoam, the energy to crush that foam slows down the impact velocity. and is dissipated

the EPS stays crushed, it does nor rebound..
This is true.

Sometimes the plastic outer shell won't show much, if any damage, and the underlying EPS may be damaged. One could take a chance that there is either 1) enough energy absorption left or 2) you won't hit that same area again, but if a helmet is dropped or takes any significant impact, then I would recommend replacement.
Notso_fastLane is offline  
Old 06-12-20, 06:12 PM
  #46  
Happy Feet
Senior Member
 
Happy Feet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Left Coast, Canada
Posts: 4,150
Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1675 Post(s)
Liked 640 Times in 372 Posts
Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
This is true.

Sometimes the plastic outer shell won't show much, if any damage, and the underlying EPS may be damaged. One could take a chance that there is either 1) enough energy absorption left or 2) you won't hit that same area again, but if a helmet is dropped or takes any significant impact, then I would recommend replacement.
Hahaha... you have no idea how many times I drop my helmet. Certainly not going to buy a new one each time.

Someone else said it previously. The helmet just protects your noggin if you fall off your bike. It's not magical space technology. Just some foam between head and pavement.
Happy Feet is offline  
Old 06-13-20, 01:45 AM
  #47  
jjafterdark
Banned.
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 95
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 79 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
if a helmet is dropped or takes any significant impact, then I would recommend replacement.
That's a really dumb idea. You have no scientific basis for this claim.
jjafterdark is offline  
Old 06-13-20, 12:13 PM
  #48  
Kapusta
Cyclochondriac
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,301
Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1412 Post(s)
Liked 569 Times in 359 Posts
Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
......if a helmet is dropped or takes any significant impact, then I would recommend replacement.
Significant impact.... yes. Each time I drop it.... no way.
Kapusta is online now  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.