Every product that we see around and use regularly is likely to give up someday. The food items we buy from the supermarket have clear labels with expiry dates on them.
Even our cars and bikes and our laptops do not last forever. Human beings are also gifted a certain lifetime.
But have you ever wondered the same thing about helmets? It is not heard or talked about that much about the expiry duration of a helmet. People don’t have much idea of the lifespan of the helmets.
For starters, there are no fixed bars for the expiration of the helmets. But relevant foundations and institutions have been studying and publishing guidelines regarding the replacement of helmets.
One such organization is the Snell Foundation that has been involved in experiments and trials for assessing the safety standards of bike gears.
They came up with the five-year standard as usable time for a helmet under proper care.
Normally, the expiry date of a helmet is 3-5 years. The continuous use plus the minor knockouts wear out the helmet. It is foolish to think of having your kid the same helmet for years even if the size works out and the helmet looks okay superficially.
Whether expensive or cheap, each helmet has an expiry date. The durability of any equipment is completely based on the materials used to build them.
Having an insight into the details regarding the materials used in various helmets can help better understand the durability of the helmets.
Structure of the Helmet
In general, cycle helmets are composed of two layers (shell and foam) bound together.
The first part of coming in contact during a crash is the outer case. The shell is thin plastic but is very hard and strong to keep the helmet in place. The outer shell is co-molded with the inner layer.
Some helmets might also have hard plastic layers to improve the protection. But it adds to the weight of the helmet,, making it heavy and large. The shells are usually composed of either fiberglass (lightweight) or polycarbonate (hard plastic).
Beneath the shell lies the inner layer of foam. The foam serves as the main element in reducing the impact exerted upon the head during an accident. This,, in turn makes the foam the chief element of a helmet.
The absorbing nature of the foam is the sole purpose of using them in helmets. The foam, by reducing the impact force, optimizes safety in such instances. To maximize efficiency, form is molded into the outer shell.
Mostly the foam is composed of expanded polystyrene (EPS), sometimes also called Styrofoam.
The strap that lies around the chin when the kids wear a helmet is the clip. It can be adjusted to fit the helmet properly around the head.
And it is necessary to make sure that the clip is properly tightened during your kid’s ride.
If the clip is loose or not properly locked, the clip could come off, and the helmet could detach from the head. Locking the clip properly is one necessary thing that should be taught to the kids.
Father securing the clip of his kid’s helmet
MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System)
Much investment and research takes place every day to ensure a safe ride for today’s generation.
A company named MIPS AB was formed in 2001 with the sole purpose of inventing safe helmets for brain protection.
They combine technological and medical expertise to boost brain protection with the help of helmets.
After years of study and trials, they came up with the MIPS helmets that can safeguard vital brain parts during accidents.
The rotational movement is chiefly responsible for the strains exerted upon the brain resulting in injuries.
Henceforth, the company came up with this technology with the core concept of placing a sliding plane in between the two layers, which will let the shell slide as per the rotational movement of the head and ultimately lessen the strain.
The technology imitates the brain’s self-protection system.
In the market, helmets with MIPS and without MIPS are available. Undeniably, the one with the feature of MIPS is costlier, but it won’t disappoint for the price paid.
The MIPS helmet is distinguished by the MIPS logo on the helmet or a thin yellow layer within the pads. Getting your kid a MIPS helmet would be a wise decision.
MIPS (yellow layer to allow sliding) in Helmet
The MIPS logo distinguishes the MIPS helmetfeatures also exist that impact the strength of a helmet. Ventilation holes for air circulation, along with the shaping of the helmet for aerodynamic efficiency, are other features of the helmet.
Although a helmet seems like a normal device, a lot of research and science is behind the design and technology of that small helmet. All this effort to ensure that helmet is not only attractive and comfortable but also a certified safety device that will be able to save the kid from minor incidents and knocks.
Alternation in any of these aspects like tearing of the foamattractive and comfortable and not working of the MIPS, and so on is a good sign to get a new helmet for your kid.
When to Replace the Helmet of your Kids?
Officially there is no particular expiry date for a helmet. The lifespan of the helmet depends upon its use and environmental factors.
However, all bike experts and helmet manufacturers agree on the replacement of a helmet every five years.
The replacement is essential because of the reasons like:
- The materials used in the construction of the helmet degrades over time.
- Over time, manufacturers are constantly researching and developing advanced helmets that are more likely to be safer and improved than previous batches.
Don’t completely base your replacement decision on the common expiry date. Not all helmets will last five years.
And not all helmets need to be changed in exactly five years. An inspection can be carried out considering few things to determine the date to get a new helmet for your kid.
Does the Helmet Still Pass the Safety Standards?
All helmets are certified by authentic bodies before they reach the market. Factors like coverage quality, management of impact energy, and comfortability define the standards of a helmet.
If the helmet of your kid fails to meet any of these criteria, then it is a good time to get a new one.
Immediate change after an incident
You can buy branded helmets advertised as having the best quality materials available in the market your kid’s helmet However, it is strongly recommended to replace the helmet after an incident.
Depending on the magnitude of the crash, the absorbability of the foam might be compromised to the extent where it might not work to its fullest potential.
Read the article Can I Use a Bike Helmet after a Crash? for more information on this topic.
Investment on the helmet of your kid is never a loss until and unless your kid never has to go through any incidents during his/her riding days.
Replacement of helmet with the transition of kids from one level bike to another
The growth of children is unscalable. The development of their bodyyour kid’s helmetdrastic. The same helmet might not fit your kid for the next year or so on.
It is not a good practice to let your kids ride with a helmet that does not cover the head of your kid properly. That’s why you should change the helmet whenever your kid outgrows it in terms of size and comfort.
The time frame to change helmets can be tracked in another simple way. Whenever your kid progresses from one level bike to another, you should examine the necessity of replacing the helmet.
Suppose a 2-3-year-old kid has been riding a balance bike for about a year. You were always there to hold the kid during falls. The kid could endure the phase with a normal helmet.
Ultimately when the kid is ready to ride a two-wheeler bike or tricycle independently, the risks are increased. There should be no debate on getting an advanced helmet for your kid at this stage.
If you can get a new bike for your kiddo, you should not hesitate to go for a new helmet. Importantly it can be inspiring for the kid too.
Normal change after a certain time
The kid may ride safely for a long time and may not face any crashes. And utmost care can be given to keep the helmet durable.
Still, the materials do not last forever. The foam loses its absorption quality, and the shell weakens.
A fresh helmet always surpasses a helmet that is well kept for years. The helmets should be inspected frequently and at most, they should be replaced after the use of 3-5 years depending on the frequency of use of helmets.
For instance, your kid can wear a helmet if it fits for five years and if the kid does not ride much, and the helmet is not used that much.
But for a kid who has done enough riding, helmets can be replaced within 3 years.
How do Helmets Degrade?
According to the data from an MEA forensic study in 2015, it was found that the foam can retain its performance even after ages. The difference in the performance of the old foam and the new one was minimal.
But the shell is the one that gets easily affected by the UV light rays that makes it brittle and weak.
The shell holds the foam in place but if the shell strength is lowered, it can break and the foam can get out of position which will not work in the favor of your little rider.
Apart from UV rays, other chemical and natural factors also affect the helmet. This includes extreme heat, and pressures, paints, water, helmets hitting on hard surfaces, and so on. The expiration of a helmet depends on its care, usage, and abuse.
You can consider certain things to lengthen the lifespan of your helmet, which can even go beyond five years.
Tips to Enhance the Durability of the Helmet
When used and kept with care, any object can sustain itself for a long time. The same rule applies to helmets.
- Avoid the typical mistake of letting your child carry the helmet attached to the backpack. The helmet can drop leading to the weakening of the shell.
- Keeping helmets safe from extreme heat and temperature. The components are fused with glue which is easily affected by extreme heat.
- Water is another factor that can disrupt the balance of the foam. Store the helmet in a cool and dry place.
- Children are fascinated by colorful arts and paints. But you should not forget that the paints contain solvents and chemicals that can seriously deteriorate the shell and glue thereby dealing irreparable damage to the helmet.
- Mounting of go-pro cameras is also not a good idea as it is attached to the shell.
- Washing or cleaning helmets is inevitable. The most common way is to softly clean the helmet with mild soap and water. You should then rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry. Prolonged submersion of the helmet in water affects the insulation feature of the foam. Stay alert not to wet helmets for a long time.
Everything aside, never attempt to repair a helmet after an incident. Even the manufacturers, in their guidelines, precisely address that each helmet is built to withstand one major crash.
Other Aspects to Consider Besides Helmet Durability
Although the helmet still has 1-2 good years before its expiry, other aspects can demand the replacement of helmets.
Size and Choice of your Kid
All done with safety certifications, and you find the best fit for your kid as well. But your kid does not show any readiness to wear the helmet. Small things easily demotivate kids.
Your kid wants a black color helmet, and you get them a yellow one. It is certainly not desirable for your kid. Make sure to choose the right color and design to make your kid want it and wear it for a long time.
It is another key element in a helmet that is obtained with the right size. It is mandatory in terms of the safety of the kid as well. Helmets built with lightweight materials are the right choice for your kid.
How to Select Durable Helmets?
Getting a branded helmet is certainly the best option if you do not want to worry about replacing the helmet within 1-2 years. It is certainly confusing to select one among numerous companies out there.
The helmet with the same features may go for different prices based on the companies. It is not necessarily true for a cheaper helmet to be vulnerable for your kid.
Of course, well-established companies offer the top most quality helmets for their price. It is okay if you want to go for less expensive helmets. But don’t go too low on that also. After all, it’s for your child.
Try to make a purchase that fits your spending amount and a helmet qualified enough for your kid’s safety.
Here are some of the best picks from parents and bike guides, valuing both the price and expiry of the helmets.
|Helmet||Prices as on Amazon and website (in US dollars)|
|Giro Scamp||39.95 -60.00|
|Woom kids’ helmet||69.00|
|Giro Dime MIPS||64.95|
|Lazer Gekko||49.99 (59.99 with MIPS)|
|Nutcase Baby Nutty||60.00|
You can be updated about the features and prices of these helmets from Amazon or the manufacturer’s website.
Visit my article, Best Kids Bike Helemets for choosing one that best suits for your kid.
To sum up, firstly examine the quality of helmets while buying. Spend considering how long your kid is going to wear the helmet. Don’t go for extremely cheap helmets.
Examine the several features of the helmets at certain intervals to inspect their integrity. Try to keep helmets safe, and don’t overuse the helmet beyond 4-5 years.