VIDEO: Protect Your Melon

Modern bicycles helmets have become ubiquitous in cycling, and for good reason. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a serious head injury by nearly 70% and for this reason some states require minors to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.

While helmets are common place for cyclists, it’s not always clear when riders should get a new helmet. Here are a few guidelines to help you know when to replace your helmet.
Did you crash it or drop it?
Bicycle helmets are designed to absorb much of the energy in a crash so it isn’t translated to your head, but once it is impacted, it no longer offers the same protection. Keep in mind that even a minor crash can compromise a helmet and the thin shell can hide dents and impacts so always replace your helmet after a crash where you hit your head.

As a general guideline, look for cracks or abrasions on the shell and inspect it for any fading or compromised integrity that might indicate it will not hold together during an impact. Press carefully over the shell to see if there is any movement.

There will be no movement in some helmets and a little in others, so what you want to look for is any area where there is a variation in movement compared to the rest of the helmet. An area of greater movement indicates damage. Check for wear and tear on the straps, buckles, clips and fasteners. If you find any flaws then replace your helmet.

Most riders know to replace a helmet after a crash where you hit your head but did you know that dropping it on a hard surface or rough handling during travel can damage it? If you’ve ever dropped your helmet, accidentally smacked it on a wall or your car, or scuffed it up while traveling then it probably needs replacing.

Is your helmet more than 5 years old?
The Snell Foundation recommends that you replace your helmet every five years. The glues, resins and other materials used in helmet production can affect liner materials. Plus hair oils, body fluids and cosmetics, as well as normal “wear and tear” all contribute to helmet degradation.

Replacing your helmet at least every 5 years helps rule out nostalgic, soft shell, and other helmets that don’t meet current standards.