Wearing an old helmet. Safe?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    Wearing an old helmet. Safe?

    Last weekend I grabbed an old helmet from the garage due to not being able to find my current helmet. The old helmet is well over 10 years old but I figured it's better than nothing. Then it got me thinking, is wearing an old helmet safe? People have told me wearing an old helmet is a bad idea because the integrity of protection deteriorates over time. However, the helmet was in great condition. Never had a crash in it. Thoughts?

  2. #2
    2006 Yeti AS-X
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    The guy at the LBS told me when I bought my helmet that they should be replaced after 5 years. The only thing I am wondering is does the actual time cause the helmet quality to deteriorate or the 5 years of regular use where it is in constant contact with sweat and grime.

  3. #3
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    An old helmet is better than no helmet but not better than a new helmet

    Sure.. the protection level is less than when it was first made but anything is better than nothing IMO.
    ~ it's all good ~

  4. #4
    The Martian
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    Maybe better than nothing, but no not safe, IMO. Even if you can't see the damage the materials deteriorate and loose their crush properties which are key in protecting your head. 5yrs or 1 crash whichever comes first.

  5. #5
    PCC
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZoSoSwiM
    An old helmet is better than no helmet but not better than a new helmet

    Sure.. the protection level is less than when it was first made but anything is better than nothing IMO.
    +1.

  6. #6
    wg
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    I thought it was exposure of the foam and plastic to sun, sweat and grime that did the helmet in over time. I would think sitting in a garage would cause minimal degradation.
    Don't harsh my mello

  7. #7

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    Helmet Safety

    A helmets effectiveness will degrade over time. What occurs is that the adhesive that bonds the hard shell to the softer styrofoam like material degrades. You can see this happening when the hardshell starts delaminating from the foam. Even though you haven't sweated in the helmet or crashed its probable that the adhesive is weakening. The weakening is more caused by cyclical exposure to heat & cold than sweat. The helmet manufacturers advise replacing every 3 years. If you don't use your helmet often and keep it out of the heat I think you're pretty safe at 5 years. I'd seriously consider replacing the 10 year old however. Again, its certainly better than no helmet at all.

  8. #8

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    Yeah, mine was sitting in my closet well kept away from sunlight, smoke or mold. Anyway, I had a safe ride in the old brain bucket. I'll let you know how its integrity hold up when I crash in it.

  9. #9

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    Out of curiosity, does anyone know someone who's helmet failed to protect them due to an old helmet? How about a new helmet?

  10. #10
    The Martian
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matches Malone
    Yeah, mine was sitting in my closet well kept away from sunlight, smoke or mold. Anyway, I had a safe ride in the old brain bucket. I'll let you know how its integrity hold up when I crash in it.

    Or you won't and we'll read about it in the obituaries... It's your BRAIN; do you really want to risk it over a $50 helmet??

  11. #11

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    The chemicals break down slowly. I'm not sure why 5 years is the suggestion for getting a new helmet though. Anyone know what studies came up with 5 years? Also shouldn't it be on a helmet by helmet basis? I would expect that different helmets would degrade over different time periods to a point that their function is no longer very good.

    An old helmet is definitely way better than no helmet, but still not the best. Just buy a new helmet and use the old one as a bucket.

  12. #12
    ~I Ride In Circles ~
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    Well consider how much you sweat.. how often you've dropped it.. how many times you've skimmed low hanging branches and such..After you add up all the "abuse" you've give the helmet I think most people can figure out a rough idea about how "safe" their helmet is. I just purchased a Giro Monza for road riding. I'm amazed at how nicely the helmet fits.. My old GT helmet I've used for mountain biking and road was comfortable but no where near as secure as the new Monza. I'll keep my GT helmet for emergencies but I'm retiring it to the closet. I'll be picking up another helmet for mountain biking some time I'm sure.
    ~ it's all good ~

  13. #13
    Five is right out
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    There's some good info here:

    http://www.helmets.org/replace.htm

    It's worth noting that it says that sweat and UV are not relevant factors.
    Since when did the phrase "invest in" come to mean the same as "buy"?

  14. #14
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    the 5-year suggestion is meant to sell helmets. Sunlight and sweat don't break down the styrofoam.

    the 2 things about old helmets: first, newer helmets have to conform to the more rigorous CPSC standards, and they generally have better fit/retention systems than older models. and second regardless of whether you notice or not, if you've had a helmet for a few years it's probably been knocked around enough that it's at least somewhat compromised.

  15. #15
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    You definitely need a new helmet, the coolness and good look standards have risen significantly in the last couple of years.

    Seriously though, I think it would be a good investment to spend some bucks on a new one. Speaking of which, I just headbutted a tree for the second time the other day and helped a small crack grow larger. It seems I may need to replace mine after only about 3 months of actual riding.

  16. #16
    ~I Ride In Circles ~
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    You're just not safe if you don't look cool!
    ~ it's all good ~

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