Fact vs. Fiction- the Helmet Replacement Paradigm

The Helmet Replacement Paradigm, what is fact and what is fiction? AMERiders wants to weed out some of those for you today and help you answer the question “Do I need to replace a motorcycle helmet that has never been in an accident every 3-5 years?”

What do the manufacturers say?

Helmet Replacement

Most of us have probably heard or read that motorcycle helmet a manufacturer recommends helmet replacement every five years, some every three years. Some of us probably assumed that was to help them sell more helmets. Would you be surprised to find that the Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends every three years, because they don’t sell or promote helmet brands? So with the questions flying around, we decided to do some digging for you on the old internet.

What did we find?

Helmet Replacement
HJC Buzzsaw MC-7 Full Face Motorcycle Helmet

About everywhere we found people asking near to the same questions. None have opinions Luckily, the facts are basically this, Every helmet manufacturer helmet replacement at least every five years, others every three years.  All associations, safety groups, and everyone we could find from Snell to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation all have the same recommendations.

Why should you replace your helmet every five years?

“The five-year replacement recommendation is based on a consensus by both helmet manufacturers and the Snell Foundation. Glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Hair oils, body fluids, and cosmetics, as well as normal “wear and tear” all contribute to helmet degradation. Petroleum based products present in cleaners, paints, fuels and other commonly encountered materials may also degrade materials used in many helmets possibly degrading performance.

helmet replacement
Helmet after crash

Additionally, experience indicates there will be a  noticeable improvement in the protective characteristic of helmets over a  five-year period due to advances in materials, designs, production methods and the standards. Thus, the recommendation for five-year helmet replacement is a  judgment call stemming from a prudent safety philosophy.”

There are no definitive studies that show a helmet is magically no longer useful after three or five years. We thought that Shoei Helmets had the most honest answer, but even they still recommend replacing a helmet 5 years after retail purchase.  We don’t think you will ever get anyone on the record saying helmets are good for any longer than that;  it just opens them up to too much liability in the event of a lawsuit.

Helmet Replacement 

This is what Shoei Says on the matter.

“Ultimately, the useful service life of a safety helmet is dependent on the intensity and frequency of its use. Helmet replacement is recommended even  if only one of the under-mentioned points applies:

  1. The helmet was subjected to an impact.
  2. The comfort padding or the retention system has become loose due to heavy use or display signs of deterioration.
  3. The synthetic foam padding displays signs of heavy use and the helmet feels too loose. Test: with the retention system fastened, the helmet turns to the side when you gently shake your head.
  4. There are indentations in the EPS liner and/or white scratches can be seen on surfaces with black paint.
  5. Even if none of these is applied, we, SHOEI, recommend replacement in 5 years after its first purchased.”

What does this all mean?

DOT Full Face Skull Pile Motorcycle Helmet

Assuming you want to replace your helmet as recommended,  when does that replacement clock start ticking?  Helmets now have a manufactured date inside them, but it is unlikely you would buy it the same day it was manufactured.  If you got it for Christmas and then waited 6 more months to wear it for the first time, what happens then?

It can be a good thing to start the clock from when the helmet is first used and take into account how often it is first used. Or you can go with common sense. Heat, chemicals, sunlight, incidental drops or bangs, all add up over time.

Motorcycle Helmets are important
Ladies Blossom Helmet MC5

Common sense also dictates that helmet technology improves over time.  We typically are going to replace our regularly used helmets every 3-5 years.  Some of our favorites we may keep longer if not worn regularly, but once something gets into the 6-year plus category, we are going to replace it.

The question you should really ask yourself when deciding whether or not to replace your helmet is this: if this helmet fits properly,  would I trust it in the event of an accident on the head of the person I love most?

If not, it goes up on the wall in your garage like an old license plate to be admired, but not used.

~And as always….

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Helmet Replacement







Let AMERiders give you information on the Helmet Replacement Paradigm and what is fact or fiction.

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