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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a few six year old helmets that I like. A friend told me they are no longer safe because the foam core deteriorates with time. Is that true? All comments welcome. If it matters, one of the helmets is a Shoei and the others Scorpion. Thanks in advance.

EDIT: Stored in a garage only.
 

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That just means they're not covered by warranty anymore. A lot depends on how the helmet is stored. If it wasn't abused and it was stored in your house all that time it'll be just about as good as it was new. If it was left in a garage where temp goes from 30 degrees to like 100 degrees from winter to summer, a whole bunch of times, then yeah the foam is probably not as good anymore and wouldn't do a very good job at absorbing energy.
 

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how much you sweat in them
how much you actually use it (not just length of years owned)
UV rays
ozone (like exhaust fumes, and really any chemical fumes)
extreme heat and extreme cold
and yes..........the quality of the materials used in production
all come into play, but all the helmet manufacturers suggest 5 years is the outer limit.... but I do find it very arbitrary given so many variables......
personally I have never worn any helmet more than 2 seasons, sure I have bought plenty of brand new 2,3 even 4 year old helmets on closeout..... knowing I won't wear it but 1-2 years
 

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You only have the one brain....... what's it worth to you?

I typically wear a helmet until it has too many scratches in the visor, and the interior starts to fall apart..... 5 years seems like a reasonable life expectancy; I may go a bit longer than that. The risk is mine to assess as I see fit.
 

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I emailed Snell, they said 5 years from first use if not dropped, damaged.

The factors already given effect the liner sweat, UV ETC.

Reason I sent mail, it was stated 5 years from manufactured date. That made buying a closeout 3 years old a bad deal.

That being said, my helmet is about to hit 5 years and I'm not looking forward to spending the cash. But my head is worth it.
 

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I emailed Snell, they said 5 years from first use if not dropped, damaged.

The factors already given effect the liner sweat, UV ETC.

Reason I sent mail, it was stated 5 years from manufactured date. That made buying a closeout 3 years old a bad deal.

That being said, my helmet is about to hit 5 years and I'm not looking forward to spending the cash. But my head is worth it.
I'm not the biggest fan of Snell; the amount of time they spent praising themselves for decades with their own standard has jaundiced them in my opinion.

I'd be curious to see what the DOT has to say, as well as the senior mfg..... shoei, aria, bell...:O
 

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Most helmets will lead a healthy life up to the age of 5 years of use. A crash, hefty drop and exposure to the elements will harm the overall health your helmet and lead to a premature expiration.
 

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I'm not the biggest fan of Snell; the amount of time they spent praising themselves for decades with their own standard has jaundiced them in my opinion.

I'd be curious to see what the DOT has to say, as well as the senior mfg..... shoei, aria, bell...:O
Well it was a PITA but found
https://www.nhtsa.gov/about-nhtsa/contact-us
Since they are involved with the DOT testing sent them the same basic question we are asking here.

IMO dealing with the manufactures doesn't change the testing standards used by the labs. I would prefer to use the guide lines they are subjecting the companies to follow.
Since DOT is the other main testing lab, lets see what they say.

I'm not holding by breath for a quick or clear answer. They are a government agency and anything other than legalize will shock me, I will be completely floored if we get a simple concise answer.
 

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Well it was a PITA but found
https://www.nhtsa.gov/about-nhtsa/contact-us
Since they are involved with the DOT testing sent them the same basic question we are asking here.

IMO dealing with the manufactures doesn't change the testing standards used by the labs. I would prefer to use the guide lines they are subjecting the companies to follow.
Since DOT is the other main testing lab, lets see what they say.

I'm not holding by breath for a quick or clear answer. They are a government agency and anything other than legalize will shock me, I will be completely floored if we get a simple concise answer.
Yeah companies are always biased towards their own products and are less likely to give you a straight honest answer than a 3rd party entity would, such as the people testing ALL brands....such as Snell.

Whether they praised themselves or not, Snell is absolutely more strict than DOT. A helmet that passes Snell is certainly better than one that can only pass DOT, but not Snell or ECE.
 
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5 years minimum unless you crash it I would say.. 7 years if you don't ride a lot. Don't think I could keep a helmet that long anyways ahahaha.

Also, DOT doesn't actually do independent testing like SNELL does.
 

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8 or 10 years ago I ran across a helmet test, some cheap helmets did well and some expensive helmets didn't. Seems like the SNELL test had a two impacts in the same spot test. Good if you are in a car and banging your helmet against the roll bar in the same spot but not as useful in a motorcycle crash where it is rare to have a couple impact in the same place. Result is a helmet that is "stiffer" than necessary for motorcycles and results in a higher G load on the brain. For this reason I have always bought helmets that were DOT or European tested but never a SNELL rating. Most years I ride on the street a lot with the resulting sweet and road grime accumulating in the helmet. Even if it looks good I always retire after 4 years.

It's my head and having spent a year getting over a concussion from a 10MPH scooter crash with a cheap rental helmet that was worthless, I'm even more particular about my helmets.
 

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8 or 10 years ago I ran across a helmet test, some cheap helmets did well and some expensive helmets didn't. Seems like the SNELL test had a two impacts in the same spot test. Good if you are in a car and banging your helmet against the roll bar in the same spot but not as useful in a motorcycle crash where it is rare to have a couple impact in the same place. Result is a helmet that is "stiffer" than necessary for motorcycles and results in a higher G load on the brain. For this reason I have always bought helmets that were DOT or European tested but never a SNELL rating. Most years I ride on the street a lot with the resulting sweet and road grime accumulating in the helmet. Even if it looks good I always retire after 4 years.
You are right about almost everything. Cheap and expensive helmets that are sold are really built to meet the same standards and there aren't any actual industry tests that will check the differences between different helmets. The only thing you get with a more expensive helmet are almost always down to four points:

1. Lighter weight/material (carbon fiber)
2. Quieter
3. More ventilation
4. Name brand


I have the famous independent study done about 12 years ago where the cheapest helmet was actually the safest helmet based on G forces transferred to the head. It was the Z1R helmet which ran for under $100. That helmet out-tested AVGs, Sharks, Schuberth S-1, Arai and Icons. In fact, the Arai Tracker GT had the 3rd worst rating in terms of felt G force out of 16 helmets total.

And yes, the harder the helmet, the more energy is transferred to your head and that was the issue of that groundbreaking aforementioned study and was the cause for the changes to the SNELL 2010 standards. Talk to a physics scientist and they will confirm that you have to have this perfect medium and there is a thing such as too stiff/hard and too soft and SNELL still forces helmets to be on the harder side.

Here's part of that article:

"The stiffest helmets in the Big Drop test, the Arai Tracker GTs, hit our hypothetical head with an average of 243 peak Gs. The softest helmets, the Z1R ZRP-1s, bonked the noggin with an average of 176 peak Gs. This is a classic comparison of a stiff, fiberglass, Snell-rated helmet, the Arai, against a softer, polycarbonate-shell, DOT-only helmet, the Z1R. OK. So let's agree that we want to subject our heads to the minimum possible G force. Should we pick an impressive, expensive fiberglass/Kevlar/unobtanium-fiber helmet–or one of those less-expensive plastic-shelled helmets?

Conventional helmet-biz wisdom says fiberglass construction is somehow better at absorbing energy than plastic–something about the energy of the crash being used up in delaminating the shell. And that a stiffer shell lets a designer use softer foam inside–which might absorb energy better.

Our results showed the exact opposite–that plastic-shelled helmets actually performed better than fiberglass. In our big 3-meter hit–the high-energy kind of bash one might expect would show the supposed weaknesses of a plastic shell–the plastic helmets transferred an average of 20 fewer Gs compared with their fiberglass brothers, which were presumably designed by the same engineers to meet the same standards, and built in the same factories by the same people."


The only part of your post that is incorrect is about the DOT testing. The positive that SNELL has over DOT is the fact that to be SNELL certified, helmets are actually tested by the SNELL foundation which is a third party while DOT-certified helmets allow each individual helmet manufacturer to do their own in house testing in their R&D factories and then the manufacturer then slaps the DOT sticker on their own helmet. They are subject to random testing but it may happen but once every few years and only on select models. For example, HJC could make 5 different helmets this year and only two models may get tested.

About how long a motorcycle helmet is good for? Again, as most have already discussed, it depends on climate and how long it has been used. For example, many helmets that are sold on the market, unless you get the newest model, can be as much as 3-4 years old. Manufacturers used to state that helmets are only good for 5 years once you start wearing it assuming the new helmet has been held in an environment that has constant temperature, pressure, and humidity. Realistically, they are likely safe for upwards of 10 years but I'm one to err on the side of caution so any helmet after 5 years, it's out the door.

Also, this whole "once you drop a helmet about waist high or higher it's no longer good" is absolute garbage. Independent studies (I used to have these somewhere) proved that dropping helmet alone without anything in it causes no structural damage and once again, any physicist can attest to this being true as well. Now if you throw a helmet down with force or throw it against a wall, that's a different story. Of course helmet manufactuers don't make money if you don't replace helmets so since about 2010, there's been this unfounded paradigm shift, led by manufacturers, that once a helmet is dropped, it's structure integrity MAY BE COMPROMISED AND IT'S BEST TO BE REPLACED bullshit. Don't buy into it. Dropping it a few times from waist high to 6ft is not going to cause any structure damage as the energy from the drop is minimal and it gets dispersed onto itself, thus causing a self reaction which basically means the helmet is not damaged.
 

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Crap, I can't find the article!!! Read Fast Take Chances - CityBike Magazine Back Issues

Citybike magazine tested this out a while back. They did a SNELL type test on a huge variety of helmets, all donated, and some were a couple decades old. There was almost no correlation between the age and how well the helmet stood up. It was interesting to read to say the least.
 

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I have followed helmet safety and research as close as an "outsider" can starting in 2002. I have not seen a study on old motorcycle helmets but there was a study done on bicycle helmets which are shit compared to motorcycle helmets and are not built to the same rigorous standards that motorcycle helmets are built to (be it SHARP, DOT, SNELL, ECE etc).

What the research conducted on bicycle helmets concluded was that a 20 year old helmet, if the foam was still in-tact (ie still glued onto the hard plastic outer shell), was every bit as safe as a brand new helmet. The study which was completed and published in 2014 was based on helmets manufactured and used from 1992 until 2012. The average peak head acceleration (G) for the 1992 helmet vs the 2002 helmet vs the 2012 helmet saw no significant difference and again, the conclusion was the the foam was not significantly affected by age.

Here's the only disclaimer:

"We also tested only helmets without visible damage or significant wear and tear, and therefore our results do not mean that any old helmet will provide the same protection as a new helmet. Nevertheless, our results show that the impact properties of bicycle helmet foam are not significantly affected by age."

It does make one question but I do know I value my head too much to risk it especially since studies have not been done on motorcycle helmets therefore I will continue switching helmets, at a maximum, every 5-7 years regardless.
 
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So.. here is the DOT or NHTSA's answer to the inquiry.


To whom it may concern:
I am presently on a motorcycle track day forum. We don't race as in a timed event. Safety and education, and some fun is our goal's. We have a 5 year limit on helmet life. The question is. Does the date of the 5 years start the DAY the helmet was manufactured OR the DAY the helmet was first used.
I will add a provision that the helmet was properly stored in a warehouse, store and not damaged in anyway. Reason this is a concern, the higher end helmets can coast one thousand up to two thousand dollars. So we are talking 200 to 400 dollars a year for replacement. Buying a closeout helmet that is 3 years old for half off is not really a deal nor is buying a brand new per say helmet if it is a year old.
I can NOT find any definitive guide lines on this can you please clarify
Thank you in advance..
Sincerely Mark Bowers.

Dear Mr. Bowers: I am responding to your inquiry regarding helmet life that you sent the NHTSA hotline.
NHTSA does not require an expiration date (or helmet life) on motorcycle helmets. Helmet manufacturers set their own expiration date or helmet life. It is likely that a helmet life of 5 years is an industry practice. Reasons for setting an expiration date or helmet life could be
1. Possible deterioration of the shell, foam, and other parts of the helmet due to aging, environmental effects, and use, and
2. Possible loss/breakage of parts
I believe the life of a helmet is determined from the day of manufacture. However, you may want to confirm with the manufacturer.
I hope this information is helpful.
Shashi Kuppa
So Snell says starts from date helmet opened.
DOT says talk with the manufacture.

Bell Helmets
Q:How Often Should a Helmet Be Replaced?

A:Bell has a general recommendation of replacing your helmet every three (3) years. If you are unsure of the condition of your helmet, or whether it should be replaced, call us at 800-456-2355 or e-mail us at [email protected] for information on a free inspection.

Shoei Helmets
A: According to Shoei, its helmets should be replaced five years after the purchase date, or seven years after the production date. The production date is on a sticker inside the helmet under the padding near the ear. The date is shown in the YY/MM/DD format, so for example yours would say 08/XX/XX if it was made in the same year you bought it.
Arai
Arai provides a 5-year warranty on the Signet-Q, which should effectively cover the life of the helmet
 
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