Do Bike Helmets Expire? All You Need to Know

A bike helmet is a crucial part of cycling gear, with this safety accessory offering some protection for riders. Bike helmet safety stats across the past few years point to a higher risk of injury for bikers not wearing helmets as opposed to those who do.

Your bike helmet doesn’t have an expiry date. It will not suddenly give out when in use, but could become compromised over time. Your bike helmet has a lifespan of between 3-8 years, which is heavily determined by your frequency of use. A new bike helmet will withstand impact better and ensure improved protection in the event of a collision.

Bike manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet after a period of time. While each manufacturer offers a personalized time period for replacement, all suggestions are based off investigative studies and research. Even though healthy skeptics may consider the brands’ suggestions as arbitrary, the increased impact on safety cannot be understated.

When Should You Replace Your Helmet?

Your bike helmet will degrade over a much longer time and will be tougher to pick out. You may discover that you need to change your bike helmet after paying the price.

You can take up continuous efforts to replace your bike helmet once it reaches a certain age to ensure high safety standards.

Respected bodies, including the Snell Foundation, recommend a maximum 5-year bike helmet use period with efforts such as The Snell 1995 Standard for Protective Headgear.

Bike manufacturers recommend varying helmet swapping frequencies lying between 3-8 years. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) suggests a replacement period falling between 5-10 years.

You need to consider replacing your helmet in case you experience an accident. No matter how small, a collision could significantly impact your helmet. This means replacing your helmet immediately after an accident to restore a high level of safety.

You should assess your helmet carefully for any signs of tears or damage to avoid using an already weakened bike helmet.

Remember, bike helmets can reform and hide any damage. Your helmet will probably come unscathed when dropped, but you should generally take better care with your helmet placement.

Bike helmets will also face UV degradation, although this is mostly experienced by long distance riders. Ultraviolet light can crack and fade your helmet around its vents, which will set off quick aging.

Over time, your bike helmet will even wear out and offer an uncomfortable fit. Should this happen, you need to replace your helmet immediately.

Should You Wear Vintage Bike Helmets?

A vintage bike helmet might make a great addition to your collectibles and improve your look too. However, it cannot be trusted to keep you safe when cycling.

Vintage headgear will have experienced wear and tear over a large period of time, which will in turn limit their protection capacity.

Vintage bike helmets made before 1990 do not meet the quality standards of today, with some even missing the protective foam liner.

Older helmets will look great and make fun memorabilia items, but they will not offer an ideal level of safety when cycling.

We recommend leaving them alongside other collectibles and using a new model within the expiry timeframe.

What Features Should You Look for in A Replacement Helmet?

If your bike helmet fails to meet at least two of the characteristics pointed out, it might be an appropriate time to replace it. But what do you need to look for when shopping to pick out the perfect match? Here are a few key points to consider.

Helmet Size and Shape

There are several specialized bike helmets which may be an ill fit for your needs.

Some bicycle helmets will be better designed for specific cycling uses, such as the streamlined racing helmet. You need to assess your helmet’s size and shape to find the right pick.

You should measure your head with a flexible tape measure which is placed about an inch above the ears and eyebrows. The closest match should be an ideally secure fit.

Multidirectional Impact Shielding

Modern bike headgear offers various technological tweaks that improve the quality of protection offered.

Bike helmets will feature an EPS liner which crumples to take in impact. The EPS foam lining counteracts angled impact and any experienced rotational force for improved protection.

Generally speaking, a bike helmet designed for added protectiveness against impact will be a quality addition to your gear.

Visibility and Comfort

You should always consider your bike helmet shape and build to determine the level of comfort offered. After looking into its size, you should then consider the chin strap mobility.

Consider helmets that are snug without being uncomfortable to enhance the helmet’s fit.

Visible headgear will improve your safety levels even further. Some helmets feature reflective items and LED lighting to enhance the overall level of visibility.

If you are interested in a bike helmet with appealing aero qualities, the inconspicuous looking aero helmet could be a great choice for your gear.

Bike Helmet Care

Your bike helmet will need regular care and maintenance to remain in tip top shape over time. While some studies suggest potential damage by sweat, research points to minimal damage arising from it. However, your bike helmet will need cleaning to completely curb other risks of wear and tear.

Avoid placing your helmet carelessly since it could fall and decrease its effectiveness for comprehensive coverage in future. We recommend hanging your helmet over your seat to minimize the risk of dropping it.

When washing your helmet, avoid soaking it in water. You should sponge it with soap and water to wipe off the dirt. Removable pads can be washed. Once your helmet is clean, remember to dry it thoroughly before storage.

After washing your bike helmet, avoid storing it when wet. Make sure your helmet is completely dry before storing it. We recommend avoiding your attic, garage, car trunk or any other place where heat may build up too quickly.

Excessive heat will wear your helmet down quickly, which would then necessitate a replacement anyway.

Avoid sharing out your helmet with others to keep precise track on it for efficient replacement.

How to Wear Your Bike Helmet Right

Your bike helmet should fit your head comfortably but securely to ensure ideal protection levels.

It is supposed to cover a rider’s forehead up to at most an inch above the forehead. When put on correctly, a bike helmet’s strap dividers will sit slightly below the ear lobes.

When putting on your helmet, you should leave at least a two-finger space between the strap and chin to ensure it is not too tightly fit.

You should consider any additional features to enhance your bike helmet’s fit over your head. That said, the strap dividers, chin strap and the bike helmet’s build will still be central to finding the right fit.

Avoid rushing your bike helmet fitting to ensure you fit on your bike helmet securely for a safer ride.


Where should I put my helmet?

The best place to put your helmet is over your seat when your bike is not in use. When cycling, we strongly recommend having it securely over your head.

Do helmets save lives?

Bike helmets offer increased protection against impact to the head. They are a crucial part of cycling gear for the added safety.

When is the right time to replace my bike helmet?

You should always replace the bike helmet after impact or damage even if the helmet is still new. A damaged helmet will offer you less protection in case you get another accident.

Patrick Flinch

Patrick Flinch is a professional cyclist, according to him, cycling is a sport that also helps people stay in good shape. Cycling takes many forms, and styles and so does the cycling equipment, however, this information is not available to everyone and that is why Patrick thought it wise to consolidate the most important information about cycling on “For the Bike Magazine.” Beginner, intermediate and professional cyclists will be furnished with useful insights. They will be able to understand the differences and benefits of both online and physical cycling. Apart from Cycling, Patrick is a family man, he is passionate about cycling and when not on duty, he loves to enjoy biking with his crew.