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The thread on Arai helmets got me thinking about the question of helmet replacment in general.

I bought an Arai Signet GT when my Shoei RF-700 became very loose fitting. I also noticed that advances in helmet technology had produced new helmets which were much lighter than the RF-700, which I believe is about mid '90's technology.

I am curious how often others replace their helmets and for what reasons. Is there any truth to belief that sunlight causes the energy absorbing foam layer inside the helmet to deteriorate over time? I would think the painted surface of the helmet would prevent this.
 

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I've been wearing KBC lids for 4 years now. I tend to cycle them out every year to year and a half. I ride pretty much year round. I look at it a cheap insurance.
However I was at cycle gear last weekend and the sales associate was talking me into a new Arai, he stated that this would be a lid for 3-4 years, that I could just replace the liner. Which I thought was kind of interesting.
 

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I got a new Arai in '01 after the guy in the Civic bounced my head off the pavement in New London, CT. Old helmet was an Arai too. Then in '03 after things kept falling off my Arai, I bought a Vemar based on an eval by the folks at Helmet Harbor. Tight fitting at first, it molds to your face. Also rated as loud but since I wear ear plugs a non-issue. Lightest helmet on the market at the time (except for Vemar's CF helmet, by 2 oz.). Cost me approx. $340. Then, Vemar stopped being imported from Italy (I think) and the graphics versions were going for $165, so I bought another this winter. Love them.

bruce19
 

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Your perspiration also degrades the lining AFAIK...

I replace them when they start to get worn or when I crash in it, i.e. not very often.

It's time for me to start shopping actually.
 

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Most of the helmet manufacturers recommend every 5 years, but to me thats like taking directions to grandmas house from the wolf.

My RX7RR3 has a 98 date code stamp on it, and I suppose I shoud think about a new lid, but I'm in no hurry. I don't feel unsafe in the least.
 

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all plastic things will degrade over time. ultraviolet rays being a big cause even with inhibitors in the mix. they will get brittle and break rather than flex. time varies of course and the newer synthetics are much better than the polyester resins we used to make kayaks out of in days past. helmets were made out of the same stuff. drop an old one and big chips will fly. racing sanctioning folks always require a helmet to be no older than some date that they come up with. usully the latest snell requirements. I found the testing done by one of the mags to be very interesting. the cheapest helmet tested had the best impact absorbtion for impacts that could be expected in some 90+ percent of the typical accidents motorcyclists have. I think my next helmet for the street will be one of them. Z1R was the brand.
 

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Helmets of recent manufacture are made to last longer than ten years ago. So IMHO a helmet is probably good for five years, assuming lots of use.

Which brings to mind an important aspect of helmet replacement not mentioned so far, replacement depends on how much you use it. A helmet will last for decades from it's manufacture date [as indicated on the code] if it sits on a shelf, unused. One will last longer if used on short weekend rides in cool weather.

The concern about replacing a helmet is that while it may look great on the outside, the interior components may wear or "breakdown" over time when used, parts such as the polystyrene liner [aka Styrofoam] and retention system [chin strap and foam pieces].

In other words, while a helmet looks cool on you, if it is old and tired on the inside, it will not do much to protect you in a crash. This is because over time parts can chemically breakdown, especially from sweat and other elements.

Personally, I think that people should not be allowed to sell used, worn out helmets. They should go into a recycle bin. Otherwise, we are putting noobs in danger when they buy a great looking helmet, but that's shot on the inside.

I have three helmets that need to be put out to pasture. I am cutting off the chin straps and tearing out the liners, then tossing the helmets into our recycle trash can [cutting and tearing out the parts prevents someone from retrieving the helmets from the trash and assures I will not see them on eBay or at the Goodwill thrift store].
 

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RotoRooterGuy said:
I have three helmets that need to be put out to pasture. I am cutting off the chin straps and tearing out the liners, then tossing the helmets into our recycle trash can [cutting and tearing out the parts prevents someone from retrieving the helmets from the trash and assures I will not see them on eBay or at the Goodwill thrift store].

Sound advice from the rootman
 

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Sweat and sunlight/UV are just two of the culprits. It is my understanding that polystyrene is also affected by ozone and a number of other common chemicals and fumes found around the garage. Gasoline fumes are supposed to be really bad. Ever leave your helmet resting on your gas tank while standing around the gas station with your buddies? Any fumes venting from your tank are theoretically breaking down the protective abilities of your helmet. Got a water heater in your garage next to the workbench where you leave your helmet? And so on... The protective part of a helmet is very similar to a styrofoam beer cooler. Ever seen the way a piece of styrofoam trash that has been sitting on the side of the road simply crumbles if you try to pick it up or squeeze it? Same principle.

I personally think 5-6 years is a pretty good rule of thumb for the life of a quality lid. Probably a bit more if you are really good about keeping it indoors in a nice cool and dry closet and maybe not leaving it soaked in sweat every day (year round commuters, that isn't you). Removing/washing or replacing liners is also a good way to extend comfortable life, especially for a helmet that has been stored in a way to maximize inner and outer shell life. And to preach on the quality thing again, a good quality helmet has a liner which does not deteriorate (what some people call breaking in) quite as much over time. It will form to some of the sharper points on your head and face fairly quickly, but won't get near a loose all over, near as quickly as a low end helmet. I hear from many people with a year or two old KBC or HJC who complain that it just doesn't fit right anymore and buy something new. Whereas I hear from Arai people in four or five years, they replace liners or cheekpads, and wear it for another couple years before often buying another Arai.
 

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I buy one every year since I like to collect replica helmets and cycle through them during the seasons. One I will use exclusively until it's time for retirement, which is about 3 years of constant use. Then it gets stored away and put up on the shelf.
 
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