Despite what you may think, motorcycle helmets are only meant to take one hit. Unlike football helmets, which have padding that can handle multiple blows, bike helmets have a liner made of EPS (expanded polystyrene) or similar types of materials —designed to crush and break as it absorbs the energy of the crash.
One and done
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, you should always replace your helmet if it was involved in a crash. However, in some cases, a helmet manufacturer may be able to repair your helmet if the damage is not too severe. Since structural damage is not readily visible, even if you just drop your helmet, take it in for a thorough inspection.
I’ve never been in a crash. Is my helmet still safe?
Even if you’ve been fortunate enough to have never been in a motorcycle accident, you should replace your helmet every few years because its protective qualities can deteriorate with time and wear. Other reasons to replace your helmet:
- The chin strap may fray or loosen at its attaching points
- The shell could be chipped or damaged
- Helmets keep improving. Newer helmets are stronger, lighter
How do I know how old my helmet is?
Chances are, it’s time for a new one if you can’t remember when you got your current helmet, but check for a manufacturing date on the chinstrap or other permanent labeling. New helmets must have the month and date of production stamped on them. If your helmet doesn’t have a date, it’s either not DOT approved or really old. Either way, it’s time for a new lid.
“What You Should Know About Motorcycle Helmets” by The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, April 2013.