Use your head

Look inside your helmet for a label with the manufacture date to find out how old it is.


Q: My helmet is at least a few years old, and I am wondering when I should replace it. It looks like new and has not been involved in any crashes, but do helmets have a lifespan?

Brad Torbec

Sacramento, CA

A: Yes, helmets do have a lifespan, but that number varies depending on whom you ask. According to the CPSC, bicycle helmets last from 5 to 10 years. Most helmet manufacturers say five, with many like Giro saying three to five years. Over time, the helmet’s foam breaks down and weakens. This is accelerated by sweat, sunscreen and sun exposure. You can typically find a date-of-manufacture label inside the helmet. If you cannot find it or it is long gone, we would suggest erring on the side of safety and replacing it. Another good reason to replace a three- to five-year-old helmet is that safety technology advances at a rapid rate. Most helmets made five years ago are not as safe as ones made today based on new features alone. And, as always, be sure to replace your helmet after a crash since they only protect your head for one impact. Most helmet makers offer an inspection service if you are not sure about the severity of the impact, but we simply would not take the risk. We replace ours any time the helmet hits the ground, regardless of impact severity. You can buy a new helmet but not a new head.

“Ask MBA” peeve of the month:

When your shoelace comes loose and wraps around your pedal spindle while you’re in the middle of a steep climb.

Have a question for the MBA crew? You can send your brain busters to [email protected].

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