How Many Years Does a Motorcycle Helmet Last?

Rider holding a helmet with his motorcycle blurred on the background, How Many Years Does a Motorcycle Helmet Last?You probably know the routine of checking the expiration date on the yogurt that has been sitting in your fridge, but did you know that you should do the same for your motorcycle helmet? We know that safety is your top priority while riding your motorcycle, which is why we have researched this topic thoroughly to give you the most critical information in one post.

The consensus among popular helmet manufacturers, including Shoei and Arai, is that you should replace your helmet about three to five years after purchase or seven years after the date of manufacturing. The more you utilize your helmet, the sooner you should think of replacing it.

Keeping up with helmet replacements is a lot to monitor on its own, but it isn't the only safety precaution you should be taking as a motorcycle rider. We have compiled all advice on helmet safety in this post to help you be safer on the road.

How Long Does a Motorcycle Helmet Last?

When you replace your helmet also depends on the care you put into your helmet and what type of condition it was in when you bought it. If you purchased a used helmet, it's best to replace it within three years rather than five.

EPS Lining Deterioration

Over time, humidity and temperature will wear down the linings inside of the helmet. These include the expanded polystyrene (EPS) and comfort linings. In the event of an accident, the EPS lining will absorb the impact of the crash to protect your head. Every year, the linings inside of your helmet harden and deteriorate, decreasing their effectiveness up to four to five percent. By the time a helmet is five years old, the effectiveness of its EPS lining could have gone down by twenty-five percent. If you were to get into an accident, your head would absorb more of the impact from the crash, which could lead to severe complications.

This deterioration happens naturally but occurs more quickly when a helmet is used frequently. Deterioration is also accelerated if your hair is often greasy, or if you use hair-styling products. Luckily, some manufacturers have painted EPS liners on their helmets, which allow you to see when it is damaged. The helmets are painted black so that when cracks appear, they show up as white spots on the helmet. When these cracks begin to appear, it's best to assume that the EPS lining has been damaged, and the helmet should be disposed of.

UV Rays

If you ride your motorcycle more frequently than the average person, the sun's UV rays may damage your helmet. While riding, you expose your helmet to the sun's UV rays, which, over time, have the potential to damage your helmet. The more that you are on your motorcycle, the quicker this process will happen.

The average biker is estimated to put between two-thousand to three-thousand miles on their motorcycle every year. If you find yourself accruing more miles than that estimate, you should consider replacing your helmet sooner because you have been exposing it to more sunlight. Even if you don't see any cracks in the EPS lining, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting yourself on your motorcycle.

Replacing your helmet sooner rather than later is always better if you're unsure of when you bought it or unaware of any damages it might have. When in doubt, we recommend being prudent and replacing your helmet to ensure your safety.

Should You Replace Your Helmet After a Crash?

Helmet and motorcycle on road, the concept of road accidents

If you are in an accident and you strike your head, it is recommended that you replace your helmet. Your helmet likely absorbed at least some of the impact from the crash, which can damage the helmet and make it less effective. To be safe, it is recommended that you replace your helmet after an accident.

Is It Illegal To Sell a Used Motorcycle Helmet?

For you to sell a helmet second-hand, it must be in good condition, work perfectly, and not have expired. If the materials inside of the helmet are visibly worn, it is illegal for you to sell it. You should not, under any circumstances, sell a damaged helmet and market it as road-ready. Just as you should not wear a helmet that is damaged or worn, neither should anyone else.

Does Dropping a Helmet Ruin It?

While the helmet might look tough and well-built, you should still handle it as a fragile piece of equipment. This implies that you shouldn't drop your helmet onto hard surfaces because of the possible damages that can occur. Depending on the height from which your helmet falls, you might want to consider replacing it. If it falls only one or two feet—like from the seat of your bike to the ground below—you're probably safe to keep using it, as long as there are no visible cracks.

If your helmet falls from a greater height or while you're riding, you should consider replacing it. Even if there's still no visible damage in these cases, there might be hairline fractures that aren't visible that can lower the effectiveness of your helmet's protection.

What Should You Do With Old Motorcycle Helmets?

Black helmet on motorcycle seat

One of the best ways to dispose of old helmets is to contact your local emergency services department. They might be interested in using the helmets for training to teach first responders how to remove a helmet from a potentially-injured accident victim.

If your local department doesn't need used helmets, you can always check with your local recycling center to see if they accept helmets. If they say "no," don't be surprised! The different chemicals and materials that are used in manufacturing safe helmets are not easily processed, and many recycling centers don't have the equipment to process them. If you can drop it off, don't be surprised if you're asked to disassemble the helmet before recycling. This usually means that you have to pull out the padding and foam before you drop off the helmet and that you should throw out the excess materials that cannot be recycled.

If you have no other options, you can always throw the helmet out in your regular trash. Make sure to bag it and cut off the chin strap. Cutting off the chin strap prevents other people from taking it out of your trash and attempting to use it.

Most Important of All—Happy Riding!

While all of this information can seem overwhelming and daunting, the most important part is that you have fun riding. The extra security of a well cared for helmet should assure you that you're as safe as possible while on the road.

For more information on motorcycle helmets, check out these other posts on!

Flip-Up (Modular Helmets vs. Full Face Helmets

10 Types of Motorcycle Helmets

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