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How regularly to replace a bike helmet

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 MikeR 05 Sep 2021

How regularly do you replace your bike helmet, assuming it's been treated well and never had an impact?

A quick Google recommends around every five years, although some sites suggesting it is likely to still be fine many years longer than this, again assuming well looked after and no drops or knocks.

In reply to MikeR:

Never at all? I rode a bike from the age of 3 to 30 without ever wearing a helmet. No harm done. Since then another 25 years mostly wearing one. I presume  any whack to the head will be cushioned by any sort of plastic and foam head casing. So a helmet will probably help if you fall and hit your head as long as its not face first. 

I would be more concerned with a car/truck running into the back of me. I'm not sure a helmet is going to help much then. 

Don't most people change helmets because of fashion and having too much disposable income burning a hole in their pockets? I certainly wouldn't change it. 

In reply to MikeR:

There was a discussion on this quite recently on here. I recently bought a new helmet as my everyday (commuting/road biking) helmet was maybe 6 years old so it seemed about time to replace it although it was still in good nick. But someone shared some research done within some sort of controlled engineering situation that suggested if helmets haven't been bashed by you landing on them or similar (!) they aren't any weaker even when over a decade old.

 ChrisJD 05 Sep 2021
In reply to MikeR:

If my helmets last long enough, then I'd probably change every 3 to 4 years. ... but they rarely last 3-4 years though, lol.

 Marek 05 Sep 2021
In reply to Heartinthe highlands:

> I would be more concerned with a car/truck running into the back of me. I'm not sure a helmet is going to help much then. 

It might not help with thr impact from the car, but eventually you usually end up hitting the ground hard (at least in my experience) and that's when the helmet earns its keep.

 Yanis Nayu 05 Sep 2021
In reply to MikeR:

Never. 

In reply to MikeR:

I replaced mine after a decade but mainly because I fancied a... purple helmet... not because there was anything physically wrong with it.

 Kalna_kaza 05 Sep 2021
In reply to Heartinthe highlands:

Each their own. I am what I would call a Sunday cyclist, nothing serious but enjoy stretching the legs.

Earlier this year I hit a freak patch of ice which I didn't see because of strong sunlight and shadows. In the crash that followed my bike was fine but my face needed 20+ stitches. If I hadn't worn a helmet the doctors said I would have been looking at a drug induced coma rather than cuts and a very sore nose.

Every 5 years seems excessive, I would replace  at a similar interval to my climbing helmet, assuming no accidents that is!

 spenser 05 Sep 2021
In reply to MikeR:

My last helmet but one was written off in a crash (3 cracks), last one all of the foam padding was falling out and made it uncomfortable (lasted about 2 years).

A former colleague used to wear one where all of the casing had become brittle and fractured due to UV exposure. I seriously contemplated binning it and leaving 15 quid taped to his bike. He was a very senior engineer who worked on lots of safety related systems, I couldn't understand how he didn't pick up that the helmet was worn out way beyond belief! 

 Webster 05 Sep 2021
In reply to MikeR:

if you are just talking about a generic commuting/A to B helmet then it only needs to work once, and even then, if it breaks, it has probably still done its job. Therefore never. Replace it if it is damaged, or if it sustains a major impact even if there is no sign of damage, but otherwise there is absolutely no need to replace it. (if you are road/DH racing then thats a different story)

Manufacturers telling you to replace x or y piece of kit every 2/3/5 years are purely doing that to get you to buy more shit! Because they know that people want to buy quality kit, but buying quality kit means no repeat purchase, which is bad for bussiness. so they trick you into thinking that you need to replace your perfectly good piece of kit so that they get your return custom!

 fire_munki 05 Sep 2021
In reply to MikeR:

When it needs it!

Which would be when:

  • I've crashed which bikes luckily pretty rarely but having had a concussion post-crash I value them
  • When it's been dropped from an excessive height onto something very solid
  • When it's faded a lot. UV damage is what makes older helmets (and rope/draws) less safe
  • Finally when the pads disintegrate to the point of discomfort and can't get spare pads. I've had to throw out helmets cos the pads have died and are no longer available which from an eco point of view is my least favourite reason. Luckily my current Met helmets all use the same brow pad so that's easy to replace.
 MikeR 05 Sep 2021
In reply to MikeR:

Thanks all. Sounds like a bit of a mixture, but most erring towards only after a crash/other sign of damage/over exposure to UV.

I recently worked out that mine is about 13 years old. I hadn't really considered replacing it as the plastic shell isn't faded (it's had a few longish periods of inactivity), but with a birthday coming up the wife had suggested it.

 Basemetal 05 Sep 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> But someone shared some research done within some sort of controlled engineering situation that suggested if helmets haven't been bashed by you landing on them or similar (!) they aren't any weaker even when over a decade old.

Here you go...

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

In reply to Basemetal:

> Here you go...

I have significant concerns about the motivations and quality of advice from that site.

In reply to Shani:

> I have significant concerns about the motivations and quality of advice from that site.

Why? They are pretty clear where they are coming from and the background of their research here https://www.helmets.org/index.htm#who

Are you a sock-puppet of "Big Helmet"?

In reply to TobyA:

> Why? They are pretty clear where they are coming from and the background of their research here https://www.helmets.org/index.htm#who

Their strapline is a bit weird, ""Consumer funded, volunteer staff"

But their research & advice seems counter to that of more formal cycling publications. I understand that research on mandatory helmets in Australia and New Zealand saw a huge increase in accidents (40% or so), along with reduced participation. 

> Are you a sock-puppet of "Big Helmet"?

🤣

In reply to Shani:

> I understand that research on mandatory helmets in Australia and New Zealand saw a huge increase in accidents (40% or so), along with reduced participation. 

Could this be "half remembered facts"? Without checking I thought it was just Australia that mandated helmet wearing (it sort of is in Finland actually, but there's no punishment for breaking the law - just weird!) not NZ? And I remember it led to a drop off in kms ridden, but I don't remember mandating wearing them increased accidents?

The old school US helmet website does say that they accept helmets can help in safety for cyclists but it is behind things like road design and education for all road users - that's sounds a really moderate position to me.

In reply to TobyA:

> Could this be "half remembered facts"?

Highly likely!

I think this article captures things.

https://road.cc/content/news/268605-wearing-cycle-helmet-may-increase-risk-injury-says-new-research

 wbo2 06 Sep 2021
In reply to Shani:  I don't think it captures things at all as it uses lots of words like might , and may.  So not distinct answers.  There's also a lot of correlation rather than causation in the stats.  If the people wearing helmets are doing 10x the mileage and some are pushing it on mountain bikes, yes, helmets will correlate with crashes

A friend and I coincidentally discussed something similar recently (after a bouldering fall..), . Both of us had taken bicycle falls on ice on the road  where you are cycling along happily and the next second you are sideways on the ground. Snow on wood bridges is good for this too.  A helmet is very nice to have in these unpredictable accidents where your level of skill and experience are pretty well zero'ed out

 wbo2 06 Sep 2021
In reply to wbo2:

FWIW I'd be unhappy using a really old helmet as they tended to be quite uncomfortable. 5 years sounds a bit short, I'd sort of examine the phyiscal state and not use one that looks dodgy.  As stated, they're a one use item if you have big crashes, and I don't know if there's a difference between 1,5 and 20 year old foam for that.

In reply to wbo2:

>   I don't think it captures things at all as it uses lots of words like might , and may.  So not distinct answers.  There's also a lot of correlation rather than causation in the stats.  If the people wearing helmets are doing 10x the mileage and some are pushing it on mountain bikes, yes, helmets will correlate with crashes

> A friend and I coincidentally discussed something similar recently (after a bouldering fall..), . Both of us had taken bicycle falls on ice on the road  where you are cycling along happily and the next second you are sideways on the ground. Snow on wood bridges is good for this too.  A helmet is very nice to have in these unpredictable accidents where your level of skill and experience are pretty well zero'ed out

It certainly captures the issue that you can't just say wearing helmets makes cycling safer. I agree with you about the heavily qualified terminology; it speaks to the oversimplified claim that cycling with a helmet is safer.

 ChrisJD 06 Sep 2021
In reply to Shani:

Large Cohort-1 of mixed helmet and non-helmet wearing cyclists: gives overall accident rate of X

.... change law requiring helmet wearing

... leads to fall in participation

Smaller Cohort-2 of helmet wearing cyclists: gives overall higher accident rate of Y

Without seeing the data, as the Cohorts have changed you can't simply conclude that wearing a helmet leads to 'more' injuries. The injury rate of a Cohort-3 subset (always wore a helmet anyway) within the earlier larger Cohort-1 is likely to have stayed the same, and was probably at a higher rate as they undertake inherently 'riskier' riding than the 'casual' riders who stopped when helmets became compulsory.

Cycling demographics also have also changed, and more MTB use has increased injury, so it will also depend on the historical dataset used for Cohort-1 that they are comparing with the data for Cohort-2. 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321016664_Mountain_Biking_Injuries

The amount of new MTB riders who get hurt as they progress quickly is pretty high amongst the people I know who've enter the sport.

Pro/Experienced Level riders also appear to injury lower body more, as they have learnt not to crash on their head and avoid OTBs: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6543986/

Post edited at 12:11
In reply to ChrisJD:

Absolutely agree about your cohort point.

Regarding MTB'ing, this is why drivers wear a helmet in a rally but not on their daily commute. I've often chosen not to wear a helmet when cycling on the streets. If i go off road, I do.

That pro-level paper is very interesting.👍

Post edited at 12:42

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