A helmet may be a legal and practical necessity when enjoying even a brief joyride on a motorcycle, but that does not mean that you should keep using the same helmet after you’ve had the misfortune of an accident while riding.
Reasons Why You Should Replace Your Helmet
While aesthetic preferences are a given, there are only two sensible reasons why any biker should trade out their helmet for something new.
- The helmet was used in an accident. This means any accident, even if you don’t feel it got too beat up.
- The helmet is older than five years.
Put into the most simplest of terms, you can think of a motorcycle helmet a lot like the average chicken egg. Both items are engineered to protect the things they surround, be they a chicken embryo or the head of a human. While both items are also designed to take a beating, imagine trying to get further use out of either one once it has suffered at least one major crack from some accident or heavy impact; all of that aptitude for protection went out the window the moment the accident disrupted the item’s structural integrity.
The comparison of a motorcyclist’s helmet to an egg extends to both items only being useful for so long. While a chicken egg’s shell can last until either a chick can peck its way free or an unfertilized egg starts rotting from the inside, the materials that go into a proper motorcycle helmet are only viable for about five years; the protective elements of a helmet that has lingered around for any further than half a decade are extremely likely to have degraded to a point that its effectiveness is compromised.
Check Your Helmet
If you have had a helmet for a few years, it may be a good idea to look over it before you set off on a ride. Start this maintenance check by feeling around the collections of padding that protect the top of your skull and your cheeks. If you notice that the foam feels different or less comfortable, this is a sign that the protective foam has begun to degrade.
Styrofoam is another component to modern bike helmets and it can also degrade with time. The degradation of protective foam is an obvious thing to check. The basic design of a helmet is made of Styrofoam and this material is known to degrade over time, becoming brittle and tearing away. You will know if your helmet’s structure is compromised if you feel around it and notice parts that feel gritty, like powdered sugar. Even if you do not notice disintegration of the larger components of your helmet, those parts may have undergone a lengthy transformation into a near-useless fluid-like component that is bereft of proper cushioning or cranial protection.
One of the more obvious signs that your helmet needs replacing is if you notice visible degradation of the leather straps. While they are mostly just for presentation, chances are good that if your straps have started to rot, then so have other, more important parts like the padding or Styrofoam construction.
A helmet is an investment whose costs should be averaged out over five years. If you think a given helmet is too pricey, compare that cost to an exorbitant medical procedure from wearing a compromised helmet during an accident. If you have been unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision or other accident, you will want to hire a qualified motorcycle accident lawyer like Wattel & York fighting on your side.