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Quality dirt bike helmets do not come cheap, which is why any rider would naturally want to use them as much as possible. At the same time, however, you should ensure you are sufficiently protected when out riding.
Manufacturers generally suggest keeping the helmet for 3 to 5 years, or if it sustains damage after a crash. The helmet can be kept for seven years after production date.
In this article, I will detail the reasons which may necessitate replacing your helmet and how to know if its time to get a new one.
Do Helmets Expire?
Most manufacturers recommend keeping dirt bikes helmets for five years at most. The helmet’s materials like resin and glues, lose their effectiveness and also compromise on the quality of the lining.
Different brands have their own guidelines when it comes to the lifespan of their helmets. O’Neal, for example, does not provide a specific expiry date since the materials they use in making their models bear no risk of disintegrating.
The only issue is that replacement components would be challenging to find after five years. Fox, on the hand, give five years as the expiry date of their products.
Most manufacturers place a sticker under the helmet’s line indicating the manufacture date so that you can calculate how long you will keep it. Five years seems to be the most suggested expiry date, so its best to observe this period.
Should You Buy Another Helmet after a Crash?
The answer to this query is quite complicated. Some manufacturers advise riders to replace their helmets after a significant crash, regardless of whether it exhibits any sign of damage.
Other brands suggest that a helmet will be fine although you will need to evaluate if the polystyrene has bends or soft spots.
Dirt bike helmets are generally designed to protect against one crash. The foam that absorbs the impact is fashioned to crush under pressure, and the material does not rebound.
An adventure like dirt biking involves a lot of falling. It is dangerous to go an assuming that the helmet is fine just because you cannot sport any exterior damage.
After a fall, you should thoroughly examine the helmet. Take off its inner liner to start and examine the polystyrene for any cracks, bulges, or compressed areas.
If you notice any of these, the helmet should be replaced. You can employ the use of a measuring tape to determine the foam thickness on various sides of the helmet and detect any compressed areas.
The helmet’s outer shell slightly distributes the shock across the polystyrene foam and maintains the helmet in one piece during an accident.
Examine the shell for any cracks or dings, and if there is any, there is some level of damage in the interior as well. If the helmet looks faded, it is likely that the plastic has grown brittle and may not offer much protection.
Sometimes the damage is not as noticeable, and you end up re-using it after a crash. Internal damage can be deadly, and it will reduce the protective abilities of the helmet.
Manufacturers typically advise riders to replace their helmets after an accident, regardless of how far or near the model is from its expiry date.
Replacing a Helmet after a Drop
Dropping a helmet does not come close to an accident. During a crash, the bike is traveling at high speeds, and a rider will often be thrown clear of the bike at startling speeds and force.
This situation is why a dirt bike accident can lead to significant damage.
Dropping your helmet will hardly cause any damage because it is sturdy, and it is built to withstand a major impact. Some degradation may occur with frequent drops, but not enough to necessitate an entirely new model.
Is it Time to Replace a Helmet?
If you are unsure if its time to get a new helmet, you can follow the guide below:
Like mentioned at the start of the article, the general lifespan is five years. Your helmet will have weakened over the course of the years. It may look like it is in perfect condition, but you should consider that it has weakened over time.
A dirt bike helmet is continually exposed to different weather conditions, UV rays, dirt, and mud. These elements compromise on the quality of your gear.
The 5-year expiration guides the recommendations of most manufacturers. It could be less than these depending on various factors.
The need for helmet replacement will also be determined by how frequently it is in use. If you ride every other day, your gear will be more prone to wear and tear. Consistent use is a major contributor to the degradation of a helmet.
A new helmet fits snugly, and even if you shake your head, it stays in place. To determine the firmness of your gear, shake your head side-to-side. Does it slide around with your movements, or does it remain firm?
If it is loose, its padding is compacted, and replacement is necessary. Traumatic brain injury in dirt bike accidents has been linked to loose helmets, which is why you should avoid having a lose one.
Interior and Exterior Deterioration
The shell is the immediate point of contact in a crash, and it needs to be strong and durable. Any cracks on it will expose your head to damage in the event of an accident. In most case, it is not the external shell that is compromised first.
The foam and lining in the interior part of the helmet are the first to be compromised. You will know its time for change once the inside materials of the helmet begin to flake and fall onto your hair and shoulder. Your helmet will not be capable of absorbing impact at this point.
Lock or Strap Failure
Strap locks commonly get corroded because of dirt and weather. The chin strap is quite important for securely your helmet on your head. You can either replace the strap or buy another helmet.
Keep Your Helmet in Good Condition
A well-maintained helmet will prolong its lifespan and protect your investment. Here are some guidelines to maintain your dirt bike helmet:
Clean it frequently
Vents let it dirt and dust while sweat and oils latch on to the interior of a dirt bike helmet. The foam padding, as well as the cheek pads, are best washed in a gentle warm cycle.
Heavy washing has the potential to degrade the fabric while high spin cycles can deform the foam padding. Do not utilize your home dryer as it can misshape the foam.
Clean both the helmet’s interior and exterior. You can use a damp towel for the interior and a cleaner that does not need rinsing to kill bacteria and mildew.
Warm water supplemented by gentle detergent is enough to get the mud and scuffs attached to the shell of the helmet
You can air dry the helmet or use a room fan. A helmet that is not properly dried will emit a bad odor, which is quite uncomfortable when riding.
Your helmet should be kept indoors when it comes to storage.
There are multiple storage means you can use. A padded helmet bag is suitable if you use the helmet often. It won’t need much space, and it is also portable. You can simply hang it in the closet and carry it if need be.
A storage rack and helmet hooks let your helmet dry out when not in use. This method is especially ideal for riders with multiple helmets. A rack will also display your helmet.
Do not use nails as they will damage your gear. Invest in a good quality hanger to protect your helmet’s interior.
You can also opt for a helmet bay or shelf. These alternatives have adequate space even to include other gear like gloves. You can either fit a wall-shelf or buy a free-standing one.
Your helmets will also dry out when sitting on the shelves.
A helmet storage cabinet protects your helmet from dust and potential accidents. A cabinet is more organized and will look neater. You can opt for a locker and include other dirt bike gear.
You can even use mannequins for a more entertaining look. The mannequin head needs to be smaller than the helmet so that it can fit loosely.
A helmet is sturdy and fragile at the same time. Refrain from hanging it on the helmet’s side mirror as it will damage the helmet’s interior.
Do not put anything in the helmet as sharp edges will lead to wear and tear. Hold the helmet firmly when navigating through crowded areas. Swinging it will lead to the helmet hitting obstacles.
A dirt bike helmet is a pricey investment, and you will want to keep using for as long as it is capable of protecting you.
Five years is the general standard placed by manufacturers when it comes to helmet-use. You may need to replace your model before this time in the case of a major crash, or if it has deteriorated in quality. Examine the exterior and interior to determined if the helmet has weakened in any way.
Another situation which may necessitate helmet-replacement is the absence of replacement parts. Manufacturers update designs after several years, and you may not find replacement components for your helmet after a while. With proper care, your helmet will last you a long time.
My daughter really likes to watch dirt bikes on TV and has asked us to take her out on a motorcycle trip. I don’t know very much about dirt bikes so we will need to get her some lessons so that she can learn how to do things properly. My wife will be glad to hear that a lot of the gear that she needs tend to last at least 5 years or so before they should be replaced.