LIFTING THE LID ON HELMET UPGRADES
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