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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 12-05-19, 07:19 AM
  #26  
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according to helmet makers, YES, you should replace them even sooner!
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Old 12-05-19, 07:25 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by mrt2you View Post
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.
people don't ride outside 24 hours a day for a month like your test

rather than doing that, do the same test, but only expose the Styrofoam an hour or two a day, and don't forget rest days, or other days you may not ride, so no exposure at all on several days

then on the days you don't expose it to the sun, take it inside like you would your helmet
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Old 12-05-19, 07:57 AM
  #28  
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And use better quality styrofoam. Cheap 7-11 cooler styrofoam is not the same as used in helmets.
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Old 12-05-19, 08:06 AM
  #29  
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I don't think you should buy a new helmet if its < 7 years old.
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Old 12-05-19, 08:08 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
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?
Today, I feel just as safe wearing the 14 year old helmet as I would using a new one from the "latest" technology. IMO, most so called advances/upgrades in this type of equipment is about timing and marketing. It is all about getting into the pockets of consumers to snatch more money, more money and more money.
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Old 12-05-19, 08:45 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
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.
Case in point: You ride like 10-12K miles a year and (IIRC) in the desert.

Based on mileage alone, three years for me would be a like a year and a half for you or a decade for a casual rider. Use is obviously a factor as well. A helmet that is carefully stored before and after a ride is going to fare better than one (like mine) that gets attached to a bag and crashed around into stuff while walking into work or grocery shopping

Personally...my own foam helmets, if not crashed, tend to kind of break down/squish inward to the point where they do not fit my head as well somewhere around 20,000 miles of outdoor use. I strongly suspect that I might get a bit more time out of a helmet with Koroyd, but I crashed my first one ~11K.
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Old 12-05-19, 09:06 AM
  #32  
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Yeah, I do tend to put a decent amount of mile on 'em pretty quickly (the helmet under the bag is barely a year old and north of 10k miles) but my helmets have it pretty cushy when not in use.



Out of shot to the left, my cracked-all-the-way-through Smith Overtake, which I really, really liked. It did it's job, and was flat out just too expensive to replace. The Kask I'm wearing now was around $100 cheaper.
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Old 12-05-19, 09:18 AM
  #33  
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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
First, most everything lasts for a very long time in a landfill because, when properly designed, a landfill should be a very dry environment. You don't want a lot of water to flow into a landfill and carry a lot of bad stuff out. A good landfill should be a bit like an Egyptian tomb. Everything put into it should be there a thousand years from now in mummy form.

On the other hand, materials that are under water don't last "thousands of years" unless they are buried and kept away from the water. Water serves as a highway for biological entities to get to food sources and they will take advantage of that. Think ocean shipwrecks. Why do we never see bodies? Because they got eaten.

Finally, polystyrene doesn't last for "thousands of years" unless it is protected from sun and oxygen (like underground in a dry tomb). Out in the sun, polystyrene will break down rather quickly. The material absorbs UV radiation rather well and, along with oxygen, can form radicals in the polymer that can rupture bonds and make the styrene brittle. That can occur on the surface or it could occur deeper. You have no way of knowing where the damage occurs nor the effect of the damage. As will most materials, the damage will be highest at corners...of which helmets have many.

And, because most people don't know what conditions their helmet has been in...which are vast a varied...it would be prudent to change helmet rather frequently. Three years may too short an interval but 5 may be too long. For example, riding as I do in Colorado, my helmets experience an higher UV flux than someone riding at sea level. My area is also more prone to ozone due to the altitude and greater UV flux. Going 5 years might be risky. I seldom have a problem because I'll probably crash sometime within that 5 years span and have to replace the helmet anyway.

But, bottom line, yes, it is a good idea to replace your helmet now and then.
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Old 12-05-19, 09:20 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Yeah, I do tend to put a decent amount of mile on 'em pretty quickly (the helmet under the bag is barely a year old and north of 10k miles) but my helmets have it pretty cushy when not in use.



Out of shot to the left, my cracked-all-the-way-through Smith Overtake, which I really, really liked. It did it's job, and was flat out just too expensive to replace. The Kask I'm wearing now was around $100 cheaper.
Funny. I pictured an older person with a more conservative shade of lipstick.
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Old 12-05-19, 09:23 AM
  #35  
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We have a whole range of looks, including moustache, if that's what you're into.

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Old 12-05-19, 09:24 AM
  #36  
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I want to know why there are records on the ceiling.
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Old 12-05-19, 10:12 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Going 5 years might be risky.
So you disagree with the findings of the MEA peer-reviewed study?
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Old 12-05-19, 10:17 AM
  #38  
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For rock climbing helmets it used to be suggested to replace every 3-7 years depending on the amount of time spent outside. Supposedly, materials used in helmets begin to breakdown as soon as they are done being manufactured. However, a lot of testing was done a few years ago and the results were to basically go with your intuition on when to retire it. I plan to replace my helmets about every 10 years whether it's for bikes, climbing or motorcycles. My head is is worth at least that.
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Old 12-05-19, 10:59 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
So you disagree with the findings of the MEA peer-reviewed study?
It would be nice if you would include the reference (J Biomech Eng. Apr 2016, 138(4): 041005). And, while interesting, there are a few problems. First, they only tested 63 samples out of 1500 helmets collected. I can understand the selection process but they did winnow the sample set down significantly. They also address some concerns

Despite these findings, we recognize that other helmet components, i.e., straps, buckles, shell, etc., also affect a helmet's overall performance and we did not test these components to assess how age affects their performance.
Those factors could also have an effect on the helmet's performance with age.

I do find the paper intriguing and find their results interesting but I would stick by previous recommendations if for no other reason that there have been large changes in materials over the course of nearly 30 years. I do find Figure 6 to be interesting in that there is a spike in the performance around 2003 and a slight upward trend in later years. It would also be nice to see if there is a correlation between density and year of manufacturing. Figure 6 hints that may be the case but it would be nice to see a chart of age vs density.

Perhaps helmets don't need replaced at the frequency that is suggested but replacing them as technology of helmet design and manufacturing is still warranted. As I said above, my are replaced frequently do to their doing what they are designed to do.
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Old 12-05-19, 11:15 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by RandomlyWest View Post
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
I only wear a helmet to shut people up.

my old one does that just fine......
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Old 12-05-19, 02:56 PM
  #41  
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I'm kind of with cyccommute : I'm pretty comfortable with buying new helmets (I always have two: one for commuting, one for training) after a crash or 4-5 years, whichever comes first. I've got plenty of money, but only one brain...And if I'm gonna sacrifice brain cells, it'll be with alcohol.

A new helmet is nice, and my most recent new lid has some tech upgrades: MIPS, and a Specialized system called ANGI that will send my wife a text message if I crash -- so that she can immediately start creating an eHarmony profile, I presume.

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Old 12-05-19, 08:12 PM
  #42  
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I don’t have the time to look it up, but I read a study that compared a bunch of helmets ranging from new to pretty old, and they did not find a meaningful performance difference in lab tests. Whatever the details, it convinced me that it was silly to replace a helmet solely bases on age.

I think they just want people buying more helmets.
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Old 12-06-19, 05:58 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
It would be nice if you would include the reference (J Biomech Eng. Apr 2016, 138(4): 041005). And, while interesting, there are a few problems. First, they only tested 63 samples out of 1500 helmets collected. I can understand the selection process but they did winnow the sample set down significantly. They also address some concerns



Those factors could also have an effect on the helmet's performance with age.

I do find the paper intriguing and find their results interesting but I would stick by previous recommendations if for no other reason that there have been large changes in materials over the course of nearly 30 years. I do find Figure 6 to be interesting in that there is a spike in the performance around 2003 and a slight upward trend in later years. It would also be nice to see if there is a correlation between density and year of manufacturing. Figure 6 hints that may be the case but it would be nice to see a chart of age vs density.

Perhaps helmets don't need replaced at the frequency that is suggested but replacing them as technology of helmet design and manufacturing is still warranted. As I said above, my are replaced frequently do to their doing what they are designed to do.
Buckles are, in essence moving parts, and subject to wear over time. On a long ride, I'll take off and put on my helmet several times. I think I'd see strap wear, but I can see how the clipping mechanism could weaken with fatigue in ways that would be hard to discern.
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Old 12-06-19, 02:17 PM
  #44  
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The MEA Forensics Analysys "Age has a Minimal Effect on the Impact Performance of Field-Used Bicycle Helmets" solicited ~1,500 donated helmets and selected 770 for testing. So approximately 50% reject rate.

90% of the discarded helmets were discarded because they could not find the manufacturing date, 10% because of any signs of compression of the EPS or cracking, <1% lacked certification.

They performed a small subset of the CPSC tests (flat anvil only, no preconditioning) with each helmet subjected to ~3m/s low severity and approximately ~6.2m/s high severity. Particularly bizarre is bothering to test the "low severity" against the flat anvil, since CPSC specifically calls out hemispherical and anvil tests for those. They also substantially departed from CSPC test protocol by looping a velcro strap around a surrogate chin, justifying this as they only wanted to test the EPS, not the aging of the retention mechanism.

12% of the helmets (about 1 out of 8) tested were old but UNUSED.

Manufacturing date was exclusive stand in for effective age of the helmet. No attempt was made to categorize use of the helmet. (Not even with a used-car like condition classification of very good, good, fair, poor.)

Out of the 770 helmets tested, four failed the CPSC subset, two late 1980s Vetta, one 1991 Troxel, and a 2009 Nutcase. Another dozen almost failed.

While the sample size is relatively large, the method is flawed. In particular, a helmet stored for ages but unused should exhibit little age. Condition classification could have added some information. Given that about 1 out of 8 helmets were "unused" of varying ages, it could have been interesting to match them with equivalent "used" helmets. They didn't. Also for relatively new helmets they could have tested brand new unused equivalent helmets to match them with their "used" helmets. They didn't.

But even accepting the flawed method, the number of fails or close fails of a SUBSET of the CPSC tests in such a sample size ought to be of concern, and one four year-old helmet failing and one four year-old helmet coming close to failing could be the "scientific basis" for 3-5 year replacement recommendations. It at least merits more study. (And certainly is not (Nut)case closed.)


(The earlier core sample study was flawed on multiple dimensions, from extremely small sample size to preparation method to test method.)

-mr. bill

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Old 12-06-19, 04:34 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
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.
There is also Trek/Bontrager Wave Cell.

Plus helmet mounted lights.

I also find that the pads wear out every year or two, and are not necessarily easy to source. Perhaps by design. I avoid any pads with an open design.

Anyway, I'd be apt to upgrade due to wear, or new technology, but not on a set schedule.
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Old 12-07-19, 02:39 AM
  #46  
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well, I put the MIPS to the test today. Amazing!!!

however... I now get to buy a new helmet.
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Old 12-07-19, 04:33 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
well, I put the MIPS to the test today. Amazing!!!

however... I now get to buy a new helmet.

Glad you're okay!
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Old 12-07-19, 04:47 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Glad you're okay!
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.
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Old 12-07-19, 09:51 AM
  #49  
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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.
Glad you aren't in the ICU. You aren't in the ICU, are you?
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Old 12-07-19, 12:38 PM
  #50  
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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.

I got myself hit by a car a couple weeks ago. I consider "mostly ok" to be pretty lucky in my case even as I swear with pain every time I sneeze or tie my shoes.

My theory is never to spend more than $50 on a helmet. That way I'm not tempted to try to keep it a bit longer than I should and there's plenty of safe and comfortable helmets at that price point. Sounds like you found one.

Like someone else mentioned, I find the padding loses its comfort long before I'd be worried about UV damage.

Hope you have a speedy recovery.
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