The Mis­senden Flyer on whether we re­ally need to change our hel­met ev­ery five years, or are man­u­fac­tur­ers hav­ing us over?


I re­cently posted a video on my You Tube chan­nel ex­plain­ing how gut­ted I was at bin­ning my now seven-yearold Shoei Qwest hel­met. I loved that lid. It fit­ted super-com­fort­ably, it was nice and quiet and was made from top-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als. And, as far as I’m con­cerned, it looked darned good, too.

Now, I’m a rule-abid­ing type gen­er­ally speak­ing (you know the type from school), so even though it looks per­fectly good, it’s off to the dump for my old friend as I’m told by the hel­met ex­perts (the com­pa­nies that make them) that they should be re­placed ev­ery five to seven years at the most (depend­ing on brand and use). So where does this re­place­ment cy­cle time­frame come from? Ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts it’s to do with the way cer­tain ma­te­ri­als used in hel­mets (glues, resins, glass/ car­bon fi­bre) de­grade over time. Both SHARP and Snell (the hel­met qual­ity bod­ies who de­cide how safe your brain-cage is) will tell you the same thing. Ba­si­cally, the idea is that they get more brit­tle as time passes, which is ob­vi­ously not a good thing. Not only that, but nor­mal wear and tear can af­fect the liner and in­tegrity of the hel­met be­cause chem­i­cals in clean­ing prod­ucts (es­pe­cially those with petroleum in them), the sun’s UV rays, and even cos­met­ics and cer­tain hair prod­ucts (the lat­ter not a huge is­sue in my case, alas) worry away at your lovely lid.

Hang on though, I still have a skate­board from 1981 that con­tin­ues to han­dle my in­creased mass, even Lo­tus (Lots-Of-Trou­ble-Usu­ally-Se­ri­ous) Es­prit’s lasted more than five years. Well, a few of them did. It’s quite im­por­tant, or so I un­der­stand, that boats main­tain struc­tural in­tegrity, but I don’t see super-yachts be­ing scrapped af­ter half-a-decade. What other in­dus­tries make their own rules on re­place­ment? Now I think about it, ex­cept for mat­tress com­pa­nies (who de­mand we buy an ex­pen­sive pad to lay on ev­ery eight years), it’s nor­mally left up to us con­sumers to de­cide. So, when it comes down to it no-one is ac­tu­ally forc­ing me to bin my Shoei. As con­sumers we can make our own de­ci­sion based on whether we’ve looked af­ter our lid, ever had an im­pact in it and how much we’ve worn it. It’s our de­ci­sion to make and it en­tirely de­pends on how im­por­tant your head is to you. Which should be a fairly sim­ple equa­tion, shouldn’t it? Un­less you’re a Dar­win Award nom­i­nee.

Af­ter just a few years’ use they’re all junk. Or are they?

Vig­or­ous test­ing helps to de­ter­mine life­span

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