Do Bike Helmets Expire? [A Complete Rider’s Safety Guide]

Bike Helmets

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Bike helmets typically don’t have strict expiration dates. However, they will deteriorate over time. The general recommendation is to replace a bicycle helmet every 5 years, even if it appears to be in good shape.

First things first; a vintage bike helmet does not exist!

Put differently, older bike helmets should only serve as collectibles (if you like those kinds of things) but not to be worn.

Why’s that?

Bike helmets aren’t designed to age “gracefully.” If anything, they lose their ability to absorb impact over time.

But when exactly do bike helmets expire? How can you tell it’s time to replace your lid? Heck, how do you know if the helmet you’re buying can still protect your noggin?

Well, I suggest you keep reading because this guide serves up answers to these and more!

Do Bike Helmets Expire?

Expire Helmets

In the strict sense of the word, you are less likely to find any “Use by” or “Best Before” date stamped anywhere on your bike helmet.

That’s another way of saying a typical bike helmet doesn’t have an expiration date printed on it.

However, bike helmets can expire. The different components of the protective gear deteriorate over time and this can make it incapable of doing what it is designed to do.

An expired helmet isn’t necessarily broken or bad.

But when it has outlived its shelf life, the safety gear will lose its capacity to perform optimally. If you think your bike helmet is no longer in its best shape, the best thing to do is to replace it.

Thinking of using an expired bike helmet? You may as well go cycling without one!

Do Unused Bike Helmets Get Outdated?

Unused Bike Helmets

Expired milk tastes bad and may even smell awful. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with helmets.

That’s because these items can look good on the surface, even if they have long gone beyond their shelf life.

Unused bike helmets can easily get outdated! Indeed, external factors can negatively affect the interior of the hard-hat.  But even if no one has ever worn the protective gear, it can become obsolete.

Whether you are buying a “brand new” helmet that’s never been used, it is important to check for some kind of date stamp.

More: Best Bike Helmet For Large Head

Do Helmets Really Expire?

Helmets are made with several materials that begin to lose their protective capability after about 5 years.

Nothing lasts forever – not even the best bicycle helmets can protect your head for more than a few years.

That’s because as sweat, sunscreen, hair oils, and other cosmetic products come in contact with the protective gear over a long period, it will start to show signs of wear and tear.

How Long is a Bike Helmet Good For?

Generally, helmet manufacturers recommend getting a new helmet every three to five years from the manufacture date.

You can find the date of manufacture inside the helmet or somewhere on the body. Usually, the date is in the YY/MM/DD format. 

More: Best Bike Helmet For Round Head

How Do You Tell If a Helmet is Expired?

Bike helmets can become obsolete, and it doesn’t matter whether the product still looks great or if you handled it well.

You can tell that your helmet has expired if you’ve been using it for about 5 years. Also, the product becomes obsolete after 7 years from the year of manufacture.

If you can’t find the manufacturer’s guidance, the Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests replacing the lid every 5 to 10 years.

More: Best Bike Helmet For Ponytails And Long Hair

Reasons You Should Replace Your Helmet

There are a couple of reasons you should replace your helmet. But in reality, you only need one!

I strongly suggest you get a new good-quality lid if any of the following conditions is true:

1. Old Bike Helmet

1. Old Bike Helmet

Okay, let’s get something straight here.

Old doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve used the helmet for several years. You may have bought the lid only the day before, yet it is no longer useful.

Here’s why.

The helmet may have been sitting on the shelf for ages before you purchased it. This is exactly why you should always check the lid for a date stamp when you go shopping for a bike helmet.

That being said, if you’ve been using your helmet for up to five years, then it is time to start looking for a replacement.

More: Best Bike Helmet For Seniors On the Market

2. Deteriorating Components

Keep an eye out for signs of deterioration in the foam and inner lining.

The insides of an expired helmet will most likely start to flake off. You’ll notice the flakes on your hair or shoulders after wearing the lid.

That’s your cue to change your older helmets!

3. Safety Features Start to Fail

You should replace your helmet if the locks are corroded and stop working as they should.

You might also want to consider getting a new bike helmet if the straps are no longer working properly.

But if you can find a strap replacement, go for it.

More: Best Bike Helmet For Electric Bike

4. You’ve Been In A Crash

There’s really no need to mention how effective bike helmets are in protecting your cranium in a crash.

Here’s what all of these means (in case you’ve not figured it out yet).

Consider your helmet expired if it takes an impact from a crash. It is officially unusable, even if you only had it for one day!

Why’s that?

These things are intentionally designed to fracture if they take an impact in an accident. That’s the best way to spare your noggin.

Unlike other factors that gradually degrade the helmet’s material over time, the impact from a crash can instantly and severely compromise the lid’s structural integrity.

In other words, the helmet can no longer provide the level of protection it was originally designed to offer.

A structurally compromised helmet has no business being anywhere on your head.

Replace it!

How Long Do Giro Helmets Last?

Like all other bicycle helmet manufacturers, Giro helmets don’t last forever. While the brand makes some great hard-hats, it recommends getting a replacement after every 3 to 5 years.

The exact lifespan of a Giro helmet will depend on handling and usage. With proper care, the product can remain in good condition and provide excellent protective capability longer than the recommended replacement period.

However, if the helmet is impacted, you should replace it regardless of the length of use and manufacturer.

Should You Replace a Helmet if You Drop It?

Replace a Helmet

Impacts can compromise the structural integrity of a helmet.

But you don’t want to go shopping for a new bike helmet every single time you accidentally drop the lid.

Not every fall can damage a helmet. The protective headgear has to fall from a significant height for it to become unusable to the point of getting a new one.

Here’s something to keep in mind, though.

If you drop your helmet, make sure to have it checked. Damages may not be visible, so don’t simply inspect the product and assume that everything is still okay.

Is Buying a Used or Expired Helmet Right?

The last thing you want to do is to spend your money on an expired or used helmet. Don’t do this; it is simply not worth it!

It is never a good idea to buy a used or expired helmet. This is because the headgear is essentially a disposable item, no matter how cut-throat the price tag is.

The outer shell of the used product may still look great, especially if it hasn’t fallen or taken any serious impact.

However, the inner components could already become weak and incapable of protecting your head.

More: What Is The Best Bike Helmet For Bald Head?

Conclusion

So, do bike helmets expire? Yes, bicycle helmets can expire after about 3 to 7 years, depending on the manufacturer and who is using it.

If you don’t use your lid very frequently, you should start thinking of getting a new one after about 5 years of using the current one.

Helmet safety is integral for bicycle riding. Bicycle helmets expire within three years and you can tell from the obvious signs of wear and tear. Snell Memorial Foundation sets the guidelines and shares the expiration data for helmets. The helmet shell must follow certain safety standards on an intended level for more protection. The hard shell have foam underneath designed with an EPS foam liner, chin straps and a high life span. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the helmets to practice safety on a regular basis.

However, bicycle helmets can expire prematurely and become unusable if they take an impact in a crash or fall from a great height.