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What is the Schuberth stance on the replacement of Helmets due to age??

 

Are they good forever as long as they don't receive a impact, or should they be replaced after a set number of years from date of manufacture due to age and possible deterioration of the materials??

 

Also have you done any testing or have any data on helmet material deterioration over time and how it affects impact absorption??

 

 

Tyler

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I can give a comment here from a test done by MOTORRAD magazine. They took a well used 11 or 13 (forget) year old Jeb's helmet (no longer in production) and ran it through the then standing EU test. And the helmet passed. If the helmet hasn't received a bad knock or a know with a head inside and hasn't been soaked with sweat repeatedly, it will likely be safe for many years. The question is if likely is good enough for you ;)

 

Now for the expert to give the qualified answer.

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5 years seems to be the oft quoted number.In theory, you could wear the carbon fibre/kevlar helmets all you life.Just replace the liner as needed.

 

The polycarbonate and fiberglass shells are supposed to develop some kinda cracks/stress fractures as time passes [ supposedly ].

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Good question, one I'd like to know the answer to. We have had some weird problem with getting Sarah able to post consistently, working on that now, so hope to hear from Sarah or Phil on this.

 

CF

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I'd like to know about this as well. I think my Arai is coming up on 4 or 5 years old.

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5 years seems to be the oft quoted number.In theory, you could wear the carbon fibre/kevlar helmets all you life.Just replace the liner as needed.

 

The polycarbonate and fiberglass shells are supposed to develop some kinda cracks/stress fractures as time passes [ supposedly ].

 

 

That refers to the outer shell only, theres also the internal polystyrene form or whatever it is that absorbs the impact, that could potentially go bad with age, harden up and no longer absorb as much impact force etc. But with the exception of the test Eirik is referring to, there seems to be very little hard data available. Also still being good enough to pass the EU test doesn't mean the helmet hasn't lost some of it's impact absorbing ability due to aging of the materials, you would need to compare the test results of a brand new identical helmet with a aged one and look at the numbers, not just the pass fail outcome

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McKeen raise a valuable point. A helmet will get worse every time you put it on by microscopically compressing the shock absorbing material. After some time, the protective capabilities of the helmet will have become reduced enough that you can measure the effect. How big that effect will be depends on the helmet design/materials and use. And only an actual test can verify, and at that point your helmet is destroyed by the test.

 

Personally, if I did a lot of track riding or worked as a dispatch rider, like that of an instructor, I would consider annual or bi-annual replacement as there will be long days and a lot of sweat, likely. With so much use, I would ask myself what value I put on my noggin ;) For the occasional rider who ride maybe 3000 gentle miles per year, I would not worry to use the helmet for a decade provided it is treated well.

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Checking with Sarah and Phil, I know both were traveling--for sure like to get some solid info on this (and a few other questions I've got).

 

CF

 

I was just looking at my photo, and I think I should add a Schuberth patch to that "helmet" waddayathink?

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These are some really great questions and insightful answers already. Eirik, I hadn't heard of that Motorrad test, I'll have to look that up!

 

Stroker, you are right about the 5 year period, that is pretty much the industry standard but we consider it a good rule of thumb. Sure some helmets, if cared for properly, will retain their protective value past that 5 year period - we just had an example of this come in the office the other day - while we were happy to know that the old Schuberth had protected the rider in his crash, we were still concerned about someone riding in a helmet that old because helmets don't always show their age and so you just don't know if it will be there for you when you need it - which is why the recommended max 5 year replacement period.

 

What T-McKeen says is important too, the materials (both shell and inner linings) will naturally break down over time - partly from use and partly from exposure or type of use. When you're talking about protecting your brain you aren't messing around, you want to know your helmet will have full impact-absorbing capability.

 

Here are some good tips to for keeping your helmet in top shape:

 

Follow the manufacturer's directions on caring for your helmet.
Clean with mild soap or shampoo. You know that your shampoo doesn't bother your skin so it is a good option for washing your helmet, I've even heard stories from people who just take their helmet into the shower with them to wash it. Of course with our helmets you don't have to do that because you can take the liner out and wash it that way.
Avoid any petroleum-based cleaning fluids - Not only do you need to be careful about the shell (harsh chemicals can cause it to delaminate/ break down) but also the EPS (Expanded Poly Styrene - the "styrofoam" layer that is the most important component for protecting you from brain trauma) is a sensitive material.
Clean your faceshield the same way, warm water and soap is the best and make sure not to wipe it when its dry because dried bugs or track grit can scratch it. I like to take a wet paper towel and drape it on the face shield for a few minutes and then use it to wipe it up - or I remove the face shield and let warm water run on it before I apply a drop of soap to do some gentle scrubbing. Phil recommends Plexus for Schuberth face shields, just be sure to do a little research because the folks at Plexus warn that it is not good for all faces shield plastics!
A helmet looks tough and sturdy, but should be handled as a fragile item. We had a guy send in a helmet because he was walking around carrying it and accidentally whacked a doorknob with it. Phil disassembled the helmet (we provide this service for Schuberth helmets for a fee) and sure enough, you would never know by looking at the helmet but held up to light, there was a small area where we could see light coming through the shell!
Don’t let your helmet drop onto hard surfaces. Its not like if you drop your helmet it is necessarily done, without a head in it, its unlikely the EPS will crush, but just think that every little drop and ding is contributing to compromising its integrity...
Do not store helmets near gasoline, cleaning fluids, exhaust fumes, or excessive heat. Just like the harsh chemicals, these can affect the integrity of the shell and the EPS. So think about that next time you set your helmet on the tank or store it in the garage.
Be careful about painting, decorating, pinstriping, or applying decals.
If you plan to use a radio or intercom when you ride, find a model that doesn't require drilling speaker holes in your helmet's structure.
And do NOT hang your helmet on your mirror! I know this is convenient, but everytime you slam that helmet down on the mirror, it is compressing the EPS in that spot - think about if you bite into a styrofoam cup, your teeth marks stay indented, the styrofoam doesn't expand back out - that's what's happening inside the helmet too. I like to hang my helmet on the mirror too, I just make sure that the mirror is sticking through the eye port so there is nothing pressing against the EPS.
Hope that helps, let us know if you have more questions!
PS - Cobie, I think we have a fix for that ^_^
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I was just looking at my photo, and I think I should add a Schuberth patch to that "helmet" waddayathink?

 

I think you need a photo with you wearing a Schuberth hat over a BMW hat over a Dunlop hat over your Superbike School hat, just like the guys on the podiums :D

 

 

Ms_Schuberth

 

Lot of good info there with regards to proper care and feeding of a helmet and the 5 Year replacement recommendation, might even be worth starting a new "Care and Feeding" thread to sticky with assorted do's and don'ts about helmets in general

 

now back to the stumping the experts challenge,

 

Do you happen to have any actual test data, in house or perhaps some 3rd party or regulatory testing that shows comparisons between a new helmet and one that has been "aged" in some fashion ? Or perhaps just the materials testing, spiffy new EPS compared to some that has been subjected to considerable UV degradation, excessive humidity, extreme dryness, etc. or or something of that nature ?

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I have not seen any tests that represent the degradation of helmets subject to specific environmental conditions, but would imagine that it would be a challenge to execute. Temperature, humidity, environmental pollutants of a variety of types, UV exposure, sweat of differing chemistry...all combined in varying degrees would be one heck of a data set to chew on!

 

Aside from the wear items like the comfort padding, the next weak link in the helmet is the EPS. While still the best balance between weight, volume, and energy management, it is subject to environmental pollutants, and its properties can change subtly over time. Some parts of the country have higher levels of ground-level ozone than others. Ozone is a nasty oxidizer that makes all kinds of rubbers and plastics brittle. Just look at "dry rotted" rubber bands and weather checked tires for evidence, but one of my favorite examples of danger to helmets is gasoline.

 

I have a photo (still sorting out how to post it) which shows exaggerated result of EPS exposure to gasoline. It's pretty dramatic. Just think about every time you go to the pump and smell gas fumes...so does your helmet.

 

So while a new, unsold helmet may pass the tests, there is no way to predict the performance of an in-service helmet that has been exposed to who knows what kind of nastiness. Thus the guideline to replace on schedule.

 

Hope this helps some.

 

PP

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Just a quick note about washing the visor in warm water; if it is too warm, some visors - and prescription glasses with plastic lenses - can turn white-ish over time. My optician has always recommended lukewarm, no more.

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