A new helmet will last three to five years, depending on use. After that, the interior cushioning and structure will start to break down under attack from the sweat and oils from your scalp. Meanwhile, sunlight and heat cycles can begin to degrade the strength of the outer shell, reducing its protective performance.
If you buy a used helmet you won’t know if it has been dropped. When a helmet has fallen onto a hard surface from any real height, even out of your hand, the impact can compromise the integrity of the shell. You can’t tell by looking at it. The tough truth about helmets is they are designed to work once, then be thrown away. Avoid buying a used helmet; always replace a dropped one.
How to keep your lid in top condition
- Never sit on your helmet, put it under pressure or distort the shell.
- If you drop it, or it makes ground contact in a crash, bin it and buy a new one.
- Don’t shove your gloves inside. The sweat, road dirt and leather compounds attack the inner cushioning and liner.
- Never paint your crash helmet. The volatile compounds in some paints can attack the outer shell – polycarbonate is especially vulnerable. If you want a custom job, give it to a professional who will use the right paint formula.
- Clean the outer shell with a soft micro-fibre cloth and car shampoo. Never apply anything abrasive and avoid dishwashing liquid, which contains saline and rots metal, eg the fastening. Also avoid anything corrosive such as bleach or cleaning compounds.
- Clean the visor frequently with a soft, wet sponge or micro-fibre cloth. You can use dishwashing liquid to clean the visor but try not to spill it over the rest of the lid. It’s best to take it off anyway, to clean both sides.
- To remove baked-on flies on your lid or visor, apply a clean, soaking-wet cotton cloth or towel. Leave it for an hour or two before cleaning it.
- Dry your washed visor with a clean micro-fibre towel. Avoid scratching.
- Once a month, take out all removable parts of the cushioned liner and hand wash in cold water. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry naturally out of direct sunlight.
- Replace any parts of the cushioned liner that have compressed or have worn through the plush nylon covering.
- Check the neck strap for fraying once a week. At the first sign, get a new helmet.
- Check the D-rings for any roughness or cracks. Helmets with seat-belt type fasteners have been off the market for some time now, so if you have one it’s time to consider a replacement.
- Never put stickers on your lid. Some thermoplastic or polycarbonate motorcycle helmets can be damaged by the glue.
Transporting your helmet
Never ride with your arm shoved through the aperture or fastened strap of a spare helmet. It affects your control, and can cause severe injury in an accident. The same goes for carrying one in a normal rucksack. Also, don’t ride with it strapped to the helmet hook. You’ll likely damage the helmet and your bike. Use the hook only when parked.
The only ways to carry a helmet are:
- In a purpose-designed backpack – with back protector
- A big tankbag or tailpack
- Inside a locked topbox or pannier
Prevent damage by wrapping your lid with soft cloth or bubble wrap.
Storing your helmet
Store helmets collar side down on a shelf or use a helmet bag. Don’t use a mannequin head, it will compress the interior padding. Never hang them by the chin strap. Don’t store your helmet near fuel, cleaning fluids or excessive heat as these can damage materials used in the construction.
Posted on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 in News