Both cycleaberta site owners have purchased new helmets this season. Elizabeth replaced hers when she realized her helmet was 9 years old ….purchased in 2012…and questioned ‘was this older helmet going to protect her head in the event of a crash?’ The helmet was in almost perfect condition, met current, approved helmet safety standards (ie. had a CSA, Snell, or ASTM sticker) and had never met with impact…not even a drop on the floor from hand height. So was replacing this helmet necessary?
After some research we learned that a helmets condition is not solely based on its age but is a function of the condition of the outer shell. Things to watch for are degradation of the outer shell of any kind but the most common is break down which occurs from being exposed to UV rays. If you commute every day, year round, the outer shell may become compromised much sooner than it will for the weekend warrior. Of course, if you have had any impact with your helmet or the outer shell shows signs of impact, even if you cannot recall dropping your helmet, those are signals to replace the helmet right away.
According to my Health Alberta the current recommendations are to replace your helmet every five years or after a crash.
There can be lots of other reasons to replace a helmet and improper fit would fall in that category. If your helmet is not comfortable it is worth it to check out some newer styles and fits available. Technology advances may be another reason to consider a new helmet, for example, many new helmets now have ‘MIPS® Brain Protection System which reduces rotational forces caused by angled impacts to the head’ according to the SMITH helmet website. As well..there is always vanity…like ‘my helmet no longer matches my cycling kit!’.
So in conclusion, replacing the 2012 helmet was a good decision. But the best decision is to wear a helmet…period. We have never seen any road cyclist without helmets but have seen many recreational cyclists around Calgary without helmets. So kudos for keeping up good helmet wearing habits, even when you are out running errands on your commuter bike.
Here is a great resource to help guide with fitting of your helmet.