A dirt bike helmet is one of the most useful things to have on you while taking your bike out. Dirt biking, no matter how fun or thrilling, is ultimately quite the dangerous exercise. Riding bikes of negligible weight at high speeds over dirt tracks does sound fun, but it’s quite dangerous. One of the most common injuries that can occur include a head injury. To protect yourself from them, a dirt bike helmet is required. A dirt bike helmet does not come cheap and is usually treated as a precious commodity by dirt bikers. No matter how expensive they are, dirt bike helmets do have a lifespan and need to be changed after a certain amount of time. The amount of time usually recommended for changing your dirt bike helmet is 3-5 years after use or 7 years since the production of the helmet. However, if you happen to be a part of a crash and sustain damage to your helmet, you should change it immediately.
Let’s have a look at what goes behind the decision of changing your dirt bike helmet.
When do Manufacturers Recommend Replacement?
Different dirt bike helmet manufacturers actually have different replacement time periods for their helmets. Every manufacturer develops their helmets in a different way, making their products different too. Therefore, different manufacturers offer different time periods for helmet replacement.
We asked some famous manufacturers about the time period they recommend for replacement, and here’s the answers we got:
O’Neal don’t particularly offer any time period for helmet replacement. According to them, the material they use to make their helmets has no risk of breaking down or disintegrating. However, after a period of five years replacement parts for their helmets are hard to find. Thus, five years would be the correct period of time to replace your O’Neal helmet.
According to Fly, their helmets should be changed after a period of five years since their production date. The reason for that happens to be the fact that the EPS foam in the helmets starts to harden and becomes unfit for use. Moreover, Fly suggests replacing your dirt bike helmet after a hard crash.
The people at Fox recommend changing their helmets after five years of use. No matter how long they have been in production, you should change them after five years of using them. Fox also recommends replacing their helmets after every hard crash, irrespective of visible damage or lack of it to both the exterior and interior of a helmet.
Bell recommend replacing their helmets after use for three years. Besides those three years, Bell also recommends replacing a helmet after any hard crash.
Troy Lee Designs
Much like Fly, Troy Lee Designs recommend dirt bike helmet replacement three years after the manufacturing date of the helmets. Moreover, much like any other helmet developer, they also suggest replacement after any crash or accident that may have struck the helmet.
These five manufacturers were chosen based on their popularity. If you happen to use helmets not manufactured by these five companies, contact your manufacturer when you can and ask them about how long you are supposed to wait till replacement time.
Do Different Brands Have Different Expiry Dates?
As you might have noticed from the information provided above, different manufacturers indeed have different expiry dates. While some, such as O’Neal’s claim that their helmets do not need to be replaced no matter how long you use them, manufacturers such as Fly do claim to have an expiry date on their helmets.
Some dirt bike helmet manufacturers suggest expiry dates that only begin after the helmet starts being used. Normally sitting around, a helmet retains its components and their qualities. However, once they start getting used, they incur wear and tear that is bound to affect their quality. For example Bell recommends replacement three years after use whereas Fox recommends replacement five years after use. It can be safely concluded that different brands do indeed have different expiry dates for their helmets.
When Not to Replace Your Dirt Bike Helmet?
As mentioned, a dirt bike helmet does not come cheap. It’s a major investment that you would want to keep with you for as long as possible. The word possible happens to define when you should not replace your dirt bike helmet.
There is no need to replace your dirt bike helmet when its allotted life period hasn’t run out. Some manufacturers advise replacement or change a few years after the production of the helmet. Other manufacturers advise that a few years after you start to use the helmet. Either way, the helmet does have an expiry date and you should not replace it before that expiration date comes along, except for a certain situation.
One situation in which nearly all of the manufacturers unanimously advise you to replace your helmet happens to be the case of a crash. Dirt bike helmets are obviously there to protect your from crashes. However, if you do end up having to need them in case of a crash, you can be sure that your helmet will sustain damage. Usually, this damage is visible and can be seen on either the interior or the exterior of the dirt bike helmet. However, a lot of times the damage isn’t even visible to the naked eye. It could have occurred to the foam inside and you might not even notice. Any damage to the padding or the foam puts your head at risk whenever you go out and ride again. Hence, do not end up changing your helmet before the expiration period unless if you happen to get into a crash.
Finally, another situation that may arise happens to be the lack of replacement part for helmets. Manufacturers update their designs every few years and you may not find replacement parts for your old helmet after some time. Therefore, until you run out of parts and can’t find them, there is no real need to replace your dirt bike helmet.
When to Replace Your Helmet
As previously pointed out, different manufacturers happen to have different expiration periods for their products. Some manufacturers suggest that their products need to be replaced after a certain period of time passes since the manufacturing date. Others suggest an expiration period that begins once you start using the helmet. In either case, you should follow the allotted expiration period and replace your helmet once that period of time passes.
On the other hand, almost every single manufacturer suggests changing their products after a crash. A crash on your dirt bike usually puts your helmet into use, and although the helmet will protect you, it will incur damage doing so. The damage that a dirt bike helmet incurs in a crash might not be visible, but it’s something that all manufacturers believe cannot be risked. Hence, replacing your helmet after a crash is a necessity for all dirt bikers.
Another situation that warrants replacement of a helmet is when you run out of spare parts. Helmet designs are constantly being updated and old designs are usually entirely scrapped. Therefore, replace your dirt bike helmets when you’re no longer able to find replacement parts for them.
Why You Must Replace Your Helmet After a Crash
The basic function of a dirt bike helmet is to protect you from head injuries in case an accident occurs. Obviously, an activity as dangerous as dirt biking involves a lot of falling down. You’re bound to fall on your head a few times at least. A head injury, as we all know, is life threatening and poses the greatest danger to a person’s wellbeing.
To keep them from happening a dirt bike helmet is designed to cover the entire head and offer each part uniform protection from damage or shock. In case a crash happens, your helmet absorbs both the damage and the shock from it. Both are bound to damage the helmet. Sometimes the damage is visible on either the exterior or interior of a helmet, and others time it is not.
You might reuse your helmet in the latter case thinking that it’s completely fine. However, even internal damage poses a great risk. Parts of your helmet’s protective foam might be damaged and won’t be able to provide the protection required for a part of your head. In case you get into a crash once again and end up landing on that part of your head, you’re risking head damage.
Hence, a crash cannot just damage a helmet, it can also decrease its protective capabilities. This negative effect on a helmet’s integrity is something that makes it a necessity for you to change it after a crash. Every single helmet brand advises you to change your helmet after a crash, no matter if it’s near to or far from its expiration date.
How to Inspect Your Helmet
To replace your helmet, you need to check if it’s damaged or not. To do so, regular inspections are a necessity. Furthermore, you need to inspect your helmet after every crash and every time your helmet happens to fall down. Here’s how you should inspect your helmet:
- Check Exterior
Check the exterior, especially the top, to see if there is any damage on top.
- Check inside
Check the inside of the helmet to look for any place where the foam might be getting weak or the covering cloth may be torn. In the latter case, the foam is exposed to the air and becomes hard.
- Check foam density
Run your hand on the inside of the helmet and check each of it to look out for any area where the foam density might not be normal. The foam needs to be firmly packed in all places.
- Check all straps and pads
Every single pad and strap must be intact and must be free from damage. No one wants their helmets to slip off while they are riding.
Should You Replace Your Helmet After Dropping It?
You might think that helmet damage is something that can occur at any time, such as when you drop it. That is not usually the case. A dirt bike crash happens at high velocity and sends you hurtling down at great speed and a lot of force. That’s how it incurs such major damage.
Dropping your helmet usually won’t damage it like that. A helmet is sturdy and just having it drop to the ground rarely causes damage to it. However, if you do happen to drop it hard or from an abnormal height, you should do an inspection of it just in case.
How to Keep Your Helmet in Great Shape
To give yourself the proper protection, you need to make sure that your helmet stays in great shape. To make sure that it does, you need to constantly inspect it and maintain it. Just like every other object, maintenance is a necessity for a dirt bike helmet. Therefore, you can only use it regularly if you maintain it properly.
How to Maintain Your Dirt Bike Helmet?
Maintaining your dirt bike helmet requires you to take care of certain things in an order. You need to follow the process each time you go for dirt bike helmet maintenance. The process usually advised for helmet maintenance goes like this:
- Clean It
Thoroughly clean each and every part of your helmet. This includes the outside, inside, and everything else that you find on your helmet.
- Polish the Outer Shell
The outer shell is either made of plastic or metal, and polishing both not only make them look good, but also clean them up of any unwanted materials.
- Take Care of the Plastic Parts
Check if all the plastic parts are intact. Fix them if they are loose and replace them if they are cracked.
- Comfort and EPS Liners
Both liners keep the EPS foam intact and protect it from damage. So apply them to keep the protection to your head intact.