Are you aware that your motorcycle helmet has an expiry date? No, well neither are a lot of motorcyclists, but motorcycle helmets do in fact expire. Now that you know that your helmet has an expiry date, I imagine the next question you have is, “how do I check if my motorcycle helmet has expired?” We can help you out with that one.
How Do I Know If My Motorcycle Helmet has Expired?
Degrading expanded foam layer
Your helmet looks exactly the same as it did when you bought it several years ago, not a scratch on it, so why on earth would you replace it? The reason motorcycle helmets expire isn’t really anything to do with the outer shell, it’s because of the layer beneath it, the expanded polystyrene layer.
It’s the expanded polystyrene layer that’s going to take the impact if you’re in an accident. Over time this layer degrades, due, in part, to the swear, makeup, heat, and other things that build up over time. These factors can affect the integrity of the helmet, causing the foam layer to degrade, When the density of that layer decreases, so too does the effectiveness of the helmet.
Helmet in an accident or dropped
When your helmet absorbs the impact during an accident, it’s the expanded polystyrene layer that’s doing mist to the work. It absorbs the impact, and as a result, small fissures appear. Once this happens, the helmets are due for retirement.
The same goes for helmets that are dropped. If you accidentally drop your helmet, the expanded foam layer still absorbs the impact which can result in fissures similar to those that occur in an accident appearing. Generally, any drop of 3-4 feet and up, and it’s time for a new helmet.
But it looks fine, I hear you say, and in many instances, this is the case, but it’s the damage you can’t see that’s the issue. You only get the one head, so honestly, it’s not worth risking it.
The expiration date
There’s no hard and fast rule regarding the expiration date. Most experts put it around the five to seven-year mark, but there are some variations and the brand of your helmet can is a big part of it.
Here’s a breakdown of the expiration dates for each brand:
- Bell: 3-4 years
- Alpinestars: 5 years
- HJC: 3-5 years
- AGV: 7 years
- Schuberth: 5-7 years
- Shoei: 5 years
- Fox: 5 years
- Arai: 7 years
- Bell: 3 years
- Fly: 5 years
- Klim: 5 years
How do I find the date of the manufacturer?
That’s all well and good, but you can’t remember when you got the helmet, so is there any way of determining how old it is? Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to find out when your helmet was manufactured.
If you look at the straps around your ear, you’ll see the date of the manufacturer. Once you know this it’s a case of checking the manufacturer’s guidelines and determining the expiration. Tempting as it is not to replace it when it looks like there’s nothing wrong, it’s just not worth the risk. Your head is too important so don’t risk it.
Conclusion: Michael’s wrap-up and summary
As you have seen from this article different helmet manufacturers state a different length of years for the expiration date of their helmets, and this is based more on what they are marketing department dictates been on any factual reality.
All modern motorcycle helmets are manufactured in only two basic ways they are either a composite shell with an expanded polystyrene liner or they are a thermoplastic shell with an expanded polystyrene liner.
No helmet manufacturer produces the raw materials used for the protection of their helmets all of these chemical materials and components are produced by large multinational companies. it’s illogical to think that the way one helmet company assembles its helmet from these materials leads to longer helmet life than other companies using the same materials.
The comfort padding of a helmet will usually be the first thing that deteriorates and is most noticeable visually. of all the helmet components the degradation of the comfort padding has the most minimal effect on safety.
The major factor in determining when a helmet has lost a significant amount of the helmet protective qualities is the use and environment that this helmet has been subjected to. And of course, the most important thing would be if the helmet was ever in an accident or suffered any impact or was exposed to any chemicals or extreme heat or cold as all of these things could cause permanent physical damage to the shell and liner.
If your helmet has been taken good care of and has not been damaged by any of the factors listed above, you should be able to assume five years is a reasonable lifespan. It is always better to air on the side of safety so if you have any questions about your helmet’s ability to protect you it is time to upgrade and buy a new one! you can’t have too many helmets! To check out more blog articles about motorcycle helmets please take a look at the AGV Sports Group blog https://agvsport.com/blog
About the author: Michael Parrotte was the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, and a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, Sparx Helmets. In addition, he is the founder and owner of AGV Sports Group.