Do Helmets Have a Shelf Life? | ANSWERS

Q: I own two Shoei RF-1000 helmets that I bought in March of 2008. One of them matched my bike, so I wore it exclusively. Now, almost five years later, its worn in enough to be a loose fit. The other helmet, which Ive never worn, has been stored in its bag inside a helmet carrier in a climate-controlled room. Ive heard you should change helmets after five years. Should I replace my unused lid and buy a new one, or can I save money and feel safe with what I have?
Reggie Cook
Buford, GA

A: According to Shoei, its helmets should be replaced five years after the purchase date, or seven years after the production date. The production date is on a sticker inside the helmet under the padding near the ear. The date is shown in the YY/MM/DD format, so for example yours would say 08/XX/XX if it was made in the same year you bought it.

Even a new, unworn helmet should be replaced on this schedule, because the EPS linerthe part of the helmet between the outer shell and the inner comfort linerchanges over time. The older the EPS is the less able it is to absorb impact and protect you in a crash. Shoeis seven-year limit from the date of production takes into account the EPSs useful life, regardless of whether the helmet has been worn. An old enough helmet, even though its never been taken out of the box, might not protect you as well as it did when the helmet was new.

Shoei's replacement recommendations are best-case approximations. You should replace your helmet regardless of its age if you drop it or if the liner separates from the outer shell, starts to break up, or has been exposed to solvent or enough heat to melt it. Of course, if you crash and your helmet sustains an impact, no matter how slight, retire it to a shelf in the garage.