Replacing ageing helmets

The Wirecutter (a reputable site which aggregates reviews about various stuff and makes money using affiliate links to their reccomended items) has posted opinion about helmet replacement. Their conclusion is that as long as it has no visible damage, has not been crashed and can be firmly fixed to your head, it is safe to use even if it is 10 years old.

The foam degrading is the last thing to worry about. Straps and retention system will most likely fail sooner.

Any more opinions on this?


Innnnnteresting. I’ve always heard you should replace your helmet every three years because of “foam degradation.” But I also trust Wirecutter on pretty much any matter they cover, so I’m going to have to dig into that a bit more.

Thanks for sharing, this could potentially save me some coin, haha.

I found some similar info when I thought I “needed” to replace my helmet not too long ago. Crashing or visible degradation of foam aside, it’s likely still safe. I have though washed straps and replace pads and retention buckle system for only a few $ compared to hundreds.

Having worked in a bike shop, we had manufacturers recommend replacing helmets every 2-3 years. That said, they are supposed to not “age” until 5-8 years after the manufacture date.

However, if you crash in a helmet and hit your head, throw your helmet away and cut the straps. The helmet has done its job and cannot be expected to protect anyone in a second impact. Also, if your helmet doesn’t meet certain updated safety standards, or have MIPS or another slip plane system, it would be a good idea to replace it.

You might also want to replace your helmet for a different size, a lighter or more comfortable one, or even a more visible helmet. I’ve had more concussions than I can remember (get it?), and have bought about 2-3 helmets/year (but that’s MTB/road/full face/snowsports). The money spent on a good helmet is worth it to me to protect my brain.


Its a marketing myth. Check out biomechanical.asmedigitalcollection and search "Age does not affect Material properties of Expanded Polystyrene liners in bicycle helmets.
Basically ASME who developed and assess the original tests - the standards body - tested old, used helmets that were in use and found their performance was not impinged by age.

Aesthetically old helmets could do you real harm though!

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Truth! After about 3-4 years I just need something new, old helmet goes to backup status.

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Age may not affect material properties of EPS, but uv light, sweat, oil, sunscreen, etc do. If you wear your helmet and sweat a lot, I think replacing every 2-3 years is just common sense. It’s your head and a new helmet really isn’t a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.

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I thought exactly the same, however the ASME assessment ran with helmets that had been used by real cyclists for up to 20 years. The result was that there was no material performance change.
So sadly change is not essential, I’ve not told my wife that though! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

The link

Yeah, avoiding the fashion police is an important factor.

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My helmets start breaking down with sweat and sunscreen use (yep, bald…). So I replace them every few seasons… or when I crash (also every few seasons) :slight_smile:

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If you are not sure and it’s about safety, better be on the safe side.

I just changed my helmet after 5 years, just for better feeling.