Why a 5 year life span for helmets? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 5:23 pm
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Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

I've seen mention of this many times, including coming from a manufacturer,

But, I've never seen a reason, or details of what happens to end a helmet's protection around 5 years?

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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 5:40 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

I have wondered the same thing. I bet I know why the manufacturers suggest this, $$$$. To buy a $250 helmet and only wear it a few years seems wastefull.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 5:40 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

There are many variables, but let me venture a few reasons why every 5 years.

1. Material degredation, especially the inner padding and foam liner. Depending upon use and where the helmet is stored this can be a safety concern in under 5 years or longer. 5 years is a good rule of thumb.

2. One other reason I can think of is the advancement of helmet technology makes most helmets safer today than 5 years ago.

That's about all I can think of right now. Perhaps others may add to this list.

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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 5:45 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraLT
There are many variables, but let me venture a few reasons why every 5 years.

1. Material degredation, especially the inner padding and foam liner. Depending upon use and where the helmet is stored this can be a safety concern in under 5 years or longer. 5 years is a good rule of thumb.

2. One other reason I can think of is the advancement of helmet technology makes most helmets safer today than 5 years ago.

That's about all I can think of right now. Perhaps others may add to this list.

Ultra LT
Yes material degradation is the major reason, both the liner and shell.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 5:59 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Material degredation....
I guess it depends on how much Pastrami you eat....

The EPS they use in modern helmets is designed to degrade much more quickly than helmets made ten years ago... This is designed in to sell more helmets...
Once again corporate greed factors into the equation...And yes it does degrade...


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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 7:06 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BecketMa
I've seen mention of this many times, including coming from a manufacturer,

But, I've never seen a reason, or details of what happens to end a helmet's protection around 5 years?

Best from Tucson
Bob
After 5 years, a big bug or rock will have your name on it and hit your helmet right in the forehead and your helmet will shatter into a million pieces.....
I swear to god this is true .
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 8:29 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

I'm not buying the built in shelf life of a helmet. If so, they would have a manufacturing date and or expiration date to protect them from liability. A helmet may sit on a dealers shelf for 2 years and then be sold for it's 5 year use life. The shell of most helmets is made of what, fiberglass. I don't see that breaking down, lots of 30+ year old fiberglass boats out there. The interior is expanded polystyrene (styrofoam). Wouldn't it be great for our landfills if this stuff actually did break down. If you drop your helmet, get a crack in the shell, it mechanically stops working, or the liner stinks to high heaven, then yes replace it. But I seriously question the 5 year life limit of a helmet.
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 9:07 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travman
I'm not buying the built in shelf life of a helmet. If so, they would have a manufacturing date and or expiration date to protect them from liability. A helmet may sit on a dealers shelf for 2 years and then be sold for it's 5 year use life. The shell of most helmets is made of what, fiberglass. I don't see that breaking down, lots of 30+ year old fiberglass boats out there. The interior is expanded polystyrene (styrofoam). Wouldn't it be great for our landfills if this stuff actually did break down. If you drop your helmet, get a crack in the shell, it mechanically stops working, or the liner stinks to high heaven, then yes replace it. But I seriously question the 5 year life limit of a helmet.

I agree! 5 years allows manufacturers to keep their inventory moving. I'm not saying that material degradation is not taking place. It is! But, is the integrity of the helmet compromised after 5 years? Perhaps 5 years should be considered a "half-life". After 5 yeas, there is 50% life left in the helmet, after another 5 years, 25%, etc... and after 2 half-lives I can see that the helmet may no longer meet industrial standards for protection, provided that degradation was not accelerated by abuse. But, the manufacturers should show us the data!! Don't just say "replace your helmet every 5 years". Where is the data to support the claim?
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 9:27 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

I want to guess it's because of the sun and ultraviolet light. Besides, just sniff a five year old helmet!
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 9:28 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDiver
Besides, just sniff a five year old helmet!

BINGO! We have a winner!!
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Old Jan 11th, 2011, 9:37 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

I remember that HJC website was mentioning that glues used in their helmets, last 3-5 years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BecketMa
I've seen mention of this many times, including coming from a manufacturer,

But, I've never seen a reason, or details of what happens to end a helmet's protection around 5 years?

Best from Tucson
Bob
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 1:49 am
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Did some googling around and found these sources - nothing "scientific," just general guidelines.

http://www.araiamericas.com/support....t/warranty.asp

"Like most major helmet manufacturers, Arai subscribes to the Snell Memorial Foundation benchmark of five years as the suggested usable lifespan of a motorcycle helmet. Why? Think of a helmet in terms of your body. No matter how good it may look, or how well you take care of it, age still takes its toll. Even with minimal use, a helmet is affected by things like the acids and oils in sweat, haircare products, pollution, exposure to UV rays, etc. At about the five-year mark, helmet interiors begin to show wear and/or deterioration, which should serve as an alert to its overall condition. The helmet's fit may begin to feel a little "loose", not as snug as it once did. This unseen aging and deterioration of the EPS liner and fiberglass shell can affect the helmet's ability to perform in an impact as it was originally designed. If a helmet suffers an impact and any doubt exists as to its further ability to protect, it should either be returned to the manufacturer for competent inspection or discarded and replaced.

These are the reasons to replace your helmet after five years. Of course, if your helmet becomes less than snug in fit, or damaged, it should be replaced before the five year mark. And when you do, you may want to remember that Arai was the first company willing to warranty its helmets for the full Snell-recommended usable lifespan."


http://www.smf.org/standards/m/2010/m2010_final.htm (just above section A "Construction):

"Some helmets are made of materials which deteriorate with age and therefore have a limited life span. At the present time, the Foundation recommends that motorcycle helmets be replaced after five (5) years, or less if the manufacturer so recommends"
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 6:44 am
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

I dunno 'bout you fellas, but since I ride in Florida and the heat is brutal most of the year, by the time I wash my helmet liner a bunch of times in 5 years, it's just worn out. And if it isn't removable, well....yuk!

I never got more than 5 good years from a helmet.
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 8:13 am
Lynn_Keen Lynn_Keen is offline
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travman
............... If so, they would have a manufacturing date and or expiration date to protect them from liability. A helmet may sit on a dealers shelf for 2 years and then be sold for it's 5 year use life...................... .
Hey Travman, I believe that if you look around under the comfort liner in any helmet that is DOT approved you will find a tag/label with the date of manufacture stamped on it. Whenever I purchase a new helmet I always check for that info just to be sure that I'm not getting something that has been in inventory for a long time.
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 8:36 am
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottly
I dunno 'bout you fellas, but since I ride in Florida and the heat is brutal most of the year, by the time I wash my helmet liner a bunch of times in 5 years, it's just worn out. And if it isn't removable, well....yuk!

I never got more than 5 good years from a helmet.
I always wear a Slicks helmet liner when I ride.
It keeps your helmet like new inside and makes putting your helmet on easy on the ears.
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 9:05 am
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kk610lt
I always wear a Slicks helmet liner when I ride.
It keeps your helmet like new inside and makes putting your helmet on easy on the ears.
I'm not sure if I can do that. I wear a xxxL, and if I wait too long to cut my hair, it don't fit anymore.
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 9:25 am
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn_Keen
Hey Travman, I believe that if you look around under the comfort liner in any helmet that is DOT approved you will find a tag/label with the date of manufacture stamped on it. Whenever I purchase a new helmet I always check for that info just to be sure that I'm not getting something that has been in inventory for a long time.
Glad you mentioned this fact, it is an important consideration.
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Last edited by Gizmo1137; Jan 12th, 2011 at 9:26 am. Reason: Grammar
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 11:26 am
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travman
I'm not buying the built in shelf life of a helmet. If so, they would have a manufacturing date and or expiration date to protect them from liability. A helmet may sit on a dealers shelf for 2 years and then be sold for it's 5 year use life. The shell of most helmets is made of what, fiberglass. I don't see that breaking down, lots of 30+ year old fiberglass boats out there. The interior is expanded polystyrene (styrofoam). Wouldn't it be great for our landfills if this stuff actually did break down. If you drop your helmet, get a crack in the shell, it mechanically stops working, or the liner stinks to high heaven, then yes replace it. But I seriously question the 5 year life limit of a helmet.

They do have a build date. Look under the liner on the inside of the shell. Every helmet I have has a date on it.

I don't worry about the five year thing. I've never had a helmet last more than two years.

It is curious that EPS will last 1000 years in a landfill but only 5 years in a helmet
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 4:35 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

I'm skeptical that a helmet no longer offers protection after 5 years.

I imagine that recommending a 5 year life span not only increase sales but also reduces liability issues. None of those benefit users.

From my point of view is a helmet offers “100%” protection when first bought, the question is what is the % after 5 years? If it is 98% the quaetion become “Is the extra %” worth the purchase price of the new helmet? If there are improvements in the new helmet other than safety, for me, it then becomes a matter of judging if the lower wind noise is worth the purchase price?

So far, the only information I've seen for Schuberth, is improvements that aren't safety related. The exception to that is the statement about a helmet's fit having excess room around the uses head.

Best from Tucson
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 9:31 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Given a finite budget, the money that would be spent for a new helmet every 5 years would be better spent on other/more riding gear such as leathers. boots, gloves, etc. I accept that a new helmet will probably give the best possible protection, but an older helmet will still give a very substantial amount its original protection too.

It is the lack of a helmet that to me is unthinkable, yet is so accepted.
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 10:03 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

Look ..................styles change.........granted there is always the question of material degradation.......but when it comes down to the nut cuttin', if your wearing a 5 year old helmet, you probably look like a dork...............I change mine out every two or three years but they always end up being full coverage, and black..............that way, I always look like a dork................
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Old Jan 12th, 2011, 10:46 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

OK, as several have pointed out, I stand corrected about the helmet having a manufacturing date. I will have to check mine out.

So with a lack of and scientific data about the 5 yr helmet life, how about Snell or some other testing body do a side by side test of a new and normally worn 5 yr old helmet. Seems simple enough.
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Old Jan 13th, 2011, 10:28 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

My wife and I have full face HJC's and I bought a full set of the cheek pads and comfort liners for each. I just rotate them through and wash them. They were only about $35 per set. A helmet liner on your head also makes a huge difference on the head temperatures and the amount of junk going to the to the comfort liners in the helmet.

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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 7:04 am
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

A few comments:

HELMET LIFETIME:
I bought a 9 year old helmet to Shoe's US headquarters near my home for inspection. At the time they told me that they will pass helmets that are older than five years provided that other issues are not present. I wish I could remember the exact lifetime - 8 or 9 years, I think. Beyond that lifetime, they won't pass the helmet no matter what, but it is longer than 5 years. My 9 year old helmet had significant compression spots in the EPS liner anyway, so the exact acceptable lifetime didn't come into play.

(Best guess: I used the built-in Honda helmet lock, which hung the helmet above the muffler and probably too close to it. Heat rising from the muffler softened and eventually compressed the liner.)

WASHING THE PADS:
If you have removable pads, wash them reasonably often. According to Shoei and Arai people that I have met, your perspiration, natural skin oils, unnoticed residues from shampoos, conditioners, colognes, and other personal care products do cumulative damage to the energy absorbing liners in your helmet.

RINSE YOUR HAIR VERY WELL
When I shower, I take extra care to thoroughly rinse the shampoo from my hair, and then rinse some more. In addition to giving life to my helment, it has also helped me avoid "itchy scalp" on very long rides.

HELMET LINER
There are many fine helmet liners on the market, but LDComfort released their own version last June, after testing prototypes in the last Iron Butt Rally and on other very long distance rides. They aren't pretty, but they are popular with many long distance riders I know. I have one and like it.

http://ldcomfort.com/store/store/pro...-featured.html
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Old Jan 14th, 2011, 8:19 pm
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Re: Why a 5 year life span for helmets?

IIRC, Shoei puts 7 years as their suggested life assuming no abuse or usage that otherwise shortens it.
Unless you ride very little, a helmet will show its wear by that time and better newer models will be available meeting the current safety standards. Recent standards have improved usefully in several areas so I won't be mourning my next purchase. At any given instant I typically have about a half dozen helmets for various car uses and me/passenger on bike and some do get pretty ripe with enough track time, even with balaclavas. The sweat through in high heat and humidity is unavoidable and like many, I sometimes douse the balaclava for some evap cooling.
Bike gear is an important part of riding - get the best for your purpose, keep it in good shape, and don't expect it to last a lifetime. The only really old piece of riding gear I use is my GoreTex rain suit- 20+ years old and still works perfectly Helmets, gloves, jackets, boots, pants don't last anywhere near that long.
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