Tuesday Tip: Determing When It’s Time to Replace Your Helmet

Last week Shoei’s Bret Milan showed you how to keep your helmet in great shape, and help extend its life. But we all know that occasionally we meet the dirt in cruel and unusual ways, so this time around he’s going to let us know how to tell when your helmet has made the ultimate sacrifice.

“A lot of times people replace their helmet because the paint’s scratched. Just because the paint’s scratched doesn’t necessarily mean that the helmet’s no good, especially if you have a good quality helmet.”

“If you have an accident the first thing you want to do is inspect the outside of the helmet for any deep gouges. Scratches to the paint job won’t hurt it, but if there’s any fiberglass is visible, then it probably should be sent in for a little more thorough inspection. We offer free inspections on any of our helmets.”

“Besides that, if you see any areas where the paint has been chipped off in large pieces, or stress cracks, that’s a pretty good indication that the helmet has been flexed pretty heavily and shouldn’t be used any longer.”

“The most important area is the polystyrene, because these helmets are designed to absorb one serious impact, and then to be replaced. How you determine that is to pull the helmet liner out and inspect the polystyrene. On the Shoei helmets it’s spray-painted black, so it’s easy to see. If you see white areas, that’s an indication that the polystyrene has been compressed. Once that it’s been compressed, it doesn’t spring back, and it’s no good. You can also feel the difference. If you see an area that looks like it’s been compressed, kind of press down on it. If it feels soft, it means the helmet’s cooked and it’s time for a new one.”

“The biggest rule of thumb is that if you’ve had a really serious accident in a helmet, it’s best to send it back to the manufacturer to have them examine it and determine if anything need to be replaced, or if it’s time to completely replace it. A lot of times people will replace the helmet if they break the mouthguard or visor, and those pieces are cheap and easy to replace.”

“For us, customers can send in their Shoei helmet in along with a letter that has their name, address, phone number, a brief description of what happened to the helmet, and what kind of accident was. That way we know what happened, what to look for, how severe the impact was, and it helps to determine whether the helmet needs to be replaced or not.”

“Surprisingly, people send a lot of helmets to us that we end up sending back and telling them that it looks fine.”