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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 12-04-19, 11:13 AM
  #1  
RandomlyWest
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Should You Buy a New Helmet Every 3-4 Years?

I just read an article that states:

"Conventional wisdom and manufacturers’ guidelines state one should get a new helmet every three to four years, even if you have not had an accident or dropped your helmet."

Do you think this is
a) a good rule to observe
b) something the bicycle industry puts out there to boost helmet sales
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Old 12-04-19, 11:28 AM
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79pmooney
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That's like telling people they should drink X glasses of water a day. The construction workers in 100 degree heat will end up in the ER and Joe Blow who does nothing in an air conditioned building will be flushing valuable electrolytes from his system.

What has that helmet seen? A lot of miles? A few drop? Ozone? Sat in the sun? Spent 10 years in a cool, dark closet?
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Old 12-04-19, 11:43 AM
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I had a fella at the LBS tell me the helmet age 'rule'. I pointed out that the helmet I was holding had been manufactured eight months prior and requested a prorated price. He further explained that helmets age differently before and after they're sold.

I might have been born at night, but it wasn't last night.
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Old 12-04-19, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
I had a fella at the LBS tell me the helmet age 'rule'. I pointed out that the helmet I was holding had been manufactured eight months prior and requested a prorated price. He further explained that helmets age differently before and after they're sold.

I might have been born at night, but it wasn't last night.
That's funny!
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Old 12-04-19, 11:46 AM
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Ever wonder why the styrofoam that lasts thousands of years in the landfill (or wetlands) breaks down in a few years in a bike helmet?

Helmet age testing:
https://helmets.org/helmetlineraging.htm
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Old 12-04-19, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
Ever wonder why the styrofoam that lasts thousands of years in the landfill (or wetlands) breaks down in a few years in a bike helmet?

Helmet age testing:
https://helmets.org/helmetlineraging.htm

That link is definitive--a 3-4 year rule is absurd.
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Old 12-04-19, 01:23 PM
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Definitely a sales boost. Or maybe they meant decades instead of years? (but don't think I'd have a helmet around for 30 years!)
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Old 12-04-19, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
don't think I'd have a helmet around for 30 years!)
My Bell Biker just turned 40. I dug it out and wore it on a tweed ride (admittedly the first time it's been out of the closet in years).

Note: Modern helmets are far lighter, have better ventilation, are more comfortable and can offer better protection.
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Old 12-04-19, 05:07 PM
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And actual safety improvements seem to come only very occasionally… And they are difficult to prove empirically, at that. See for example the MIPS technology.
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Old 12-04-19, 07:27 PM
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Poor man’s MIPS


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Old 12-04-19, 07:37 PM
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I had a Giro helmet that was probably 10 years old and had not been crashed and the foam started cracking all over like it was drying out. I am sure the foam does break down with age but I also think the "best before date" is likely artificially early both for increased sales, and for liability issues by the manufacturer.
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Old 12-04-19, 07:39 PM
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No you don't have to replace your helmet every 3-4 years. I am still using a helmet which I purchased back in 2007, that's almost 13 years....
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Old 12-04-19, 08:01 PM
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I am one that never bought into that idea. As stated above, why would styrofoam and plastic break down that quickly on a helmet when it takes forever in a landfill. I have a Giro, still in use, that is at least 15 years old. Other than a few scrapes and some fading, it is still in great shape.
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Old 12-04-19, 08:05 PM
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I tell my wife you're supposed to change your helmet every year...
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Old 12-04-19, 08:09 PM
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I crashed 8 years ago, and destroyed a 12 year old helmet in the process. As far as I'm concerned, it saved my life. Yes, I was out cold for over 5 minutes, and have some memory loss. But I'm alive... People on here certainly were split on this topic back then...
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Old 12-04-19, 08:30 PM
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I'll be sure to update with any findings if I get a helmet to last 3-4 years. I've only been riding for five years and I'm on my third helmet.
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Old 12-04-19, 08:37 PM
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I'd go with b
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Old 12-04-19, 10:41 PM
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It's marketing.
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Old 12-04-19, 11:46 PM
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3-4? Nope. That's a little too often. Every 10 years? Yeah, I could be in agreement with that.
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Old 12-05-19, 03:52 AM
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I’ve found the head retention thing on my Giro helmets breaks first.
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Old 12-05-19, 06:09 AM
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Just like anything used for safety - inspect it once in a while. If you see cracks, delamination, breakdown in the structure, throw it out. If it's only funky helmet pads, just replace them. And wash that helmet once in a while with mild detergent. I have 10yr old helmets in near perfect condition which I don't hesitate to wear.

The only cardinal rule I follow is if I find damage to a helmet or have crashed and the helmet took a hit - I destroy it before tossing it in the trash.
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Old 12-05-19, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by delbiker1 View Post
I am one that never bought into that idea. As stated above, why would styrofoam and plastic break down that quickly on a helmet when it takes forever in a landfill. .

because the UV rays help break down the plastic and stryofoam. there are no UV rays buried in a landfill.
do a test for yourself. take a piece of old styrofoam cooler. cover 1/2 of it so the sunlight can't hit it. them leave it out in the sun for a month or so. you will easily see damage in the exposed area over the non exposed area.

i don't replace my helmet every 3-4 years. i give my helmet a good visual inspection every month or so. once i see the plastic starting to crack, dry out i replace the helmet.i usually have to do this about the 6th or 7th year.
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Old 12-05-19, 06:22 AM
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Then again.. was MIPS really around 4 years ago? Ie. spending about the same money, if you were to buy a new helmet today, would it likely be markedly safer than the one you bought 4 years ago?
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Old 12-05-19, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
I pointed out that the helmet I was holding had been manufactured eight months prior and requested a prorated price.
I’m going to remember that tactic.
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Old 12-05-19, 07:05 AM
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If you eat a healthy, non-processed, locally sourced, GMO-free diet, you should never have to replace your helmet.
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