do bike helmets expire

Do Bike Helmets Expire and How to Tell When Its Time to Change?

Do bike helmets expire – Bike helmets are one of the most important pieces of equipment that every cyclist should use. They are incredibly important for safety and will save your life, regardless of the type of cycling you do.

Whether you’re mountain biking down a steep technical trail or speeding along a road, bike helmets are the only thing standing between you and a potentially life-threatening or life-changing head injury.

Bike helmets have also come a long way in recent years, and the design and appearance of modern helmets have gone a long way to improving cyclist uptake and increasing the number of people taking protection seriously.

However, there is one important detail about bike helmets that a lot of people, even experienced cyclists, are unaware of, and that is the typically recommended lifespan of a bike helmet.

That’s right, expiry dates aren’t just for milk, cheese, and vegetables, but for bike helmets too, as the protection your helmet provides can wane over time and with a lot of use.

But how long do helmets last?

It’s an important question because modern helmets use a lot of new technology and are quite expensive.

A flagship helmet from a good brand with MIPs and Koroyd technology that offer the maximum protection you can get on two wheels can come in at around 150 to 200 dollars, meaning you don’t want to be replacing these helmets unnecessarily or too early, and losing a lot of money and value in doing so.

So let’s take a look at the recommendation courtesy of Snell, the world’s leading bike helmet testing organisation.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you click on them, at no additional cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.

Related Articles:

Do Bike Helmets Expire?

Not in the traditional sense, no. But as bike helmets age they will naturally lose some of their effectiveness, and this can lead to serious drops in safety that will mean a replacement is the most prudent step to keep yourself safe while cycling.

While there is no official expiry date for bike helmets, there are recommendations in place which are provided by the Snell Memorial Foundation, which suggest that helmets should be replaced at least every 5 years to ensure you’re adequately protected when cycling.

For those who don’t know, the Snell Foundation has been testing and setting the safety standard for protective cycling gear for decades, and they set very high standards for protection to ensure that cyclists and consumers are getting the best products and protection possible.

In addition to having a limited useful life, bike helmets also need to be closely monitored for damage and potential faults that can make them a risk to your health and unreliable right when it counts, make sure to check your helmet carefully before your next ride.

Lightweight Microshell Design Bicycle Helmet for your personal safety on riding adventures

do bike helmets expire lightweight bicycle helmet

How Often Should You Replace Your Bike Helmet?

do bike helmets expire couple shopping for bicycle helmet

As mentioned above the Snell Foundation recommends that helmets are replaced every 5 years at a minimum, to ensure you’re receiving the best protection possible.

However if your helmet has seen very little use and has been sealed or in a stable condition for slightly longer than that, it may still be usable even if it’s over 5 years old.

The key is to look at the helmet closely and ensure that there is no structural damage or warping in the material, however, even after checking for this, an old helmet won’t offer the same level of protection as a newer helmet.

What If I Crash With My Helmet?

Crashing or having a bike accident can be really traumatic and scary, however even if you do walk away unscathed, you’re likely going to have to deal with replacing some of your kit, your bike helmet in particular.

If you have an accident that involves you hitting your head or helmet on the ground or other objects, it’s really important that you replace your helmet as a matter of urgency, as reusing a helmet that has been through a crash will almost certainly risk serious injury, as a compromised helmet will offer little to no protection due to the degradation of its integrity from the prior accident it experienced.

Be visible for other road users by using this Visibility Reflective Cycling Vest

do bike helmets expire cycling vest

Do I Legally Need To Replace My Bike Helmet?

This depends on where you are and your specific circumstances. While some bike competitions and parks may require you to use a quality helmet, legally speaking very few places enforce wearing a bike helmet legally, and there is no enforcement for replacing a broken helmet.

This means that it’s up to you to take on the responsibility of taking care of yourself and giving yourself the best protection possible from the serious injuries that can occur when cycling, whether it be on the road or elsewhere.

How To Make Your Helmet Last?

The main thing you need to do to retain the integrity of your bike helmet is to protect the helmet from impacts, regardless of its size or force. Keep your helmet protected when not in use, and don’t drop it or bump it as this will affect its performance when it really matters!

It’s also really important to keep your helmet clean and free of dirt, as well as strong cleaning chemicals as these can damage the materials and compromise the helmet as much as dropping it on the floor.

Use warm water and a mild soap or detergent to clean the pads and interior, but avoid stronger cleaning chemicals if possible.

Store your bicycle helmet and items in this Bicycle Rack Rear Carrier Bag

do bike helmets expire bicycle rack rear carrier bag

Final Thoughts

While bike helmets won’t grow mouldy (not unless it’s been really, really neglected anyway) and don’t expire in the same way as food and other products, bike helmets do have a limit on their effective lifespan.

It’s important to pay attention to the Snell Memorial Foundation’s recommendations for bike helmets and other protective gear as well as the recommendations of your brand and model to ensure you get the best protection possible for as long as possible.

Do Bike Helmets Expire and How to Tell When Its Time to Change?