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My helmet is 3-4 years old. I have not been in an accident (knock on wood) and with three young kids and a busy job, I'm not exactly riding with great frequency. The bottom line is that the helmet is in like new condition. My LBS recommended that I nevertheless buy a new helmet because "after a couple of years, the foam breaks down and the helmet loses its ability to protect you in a crash." Have you ever heard of this or is this just a sales scam?
 

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Squish Mitten
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This issue is legit. There is a life to the foam of a helmet and should be replaced after a certain amount of time. What that time limit is I am not 100% positive but you are not being scammed.
 

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I've heard this too

I'm guessing that degradation of the material is probably somewhat dependent on time, though the conditions in which that time was spent (sun, extreme heat from sitting in the trunk of a car, oil and sweat from your head, etc...) may be even more important. If you've barely used/abused the helmet, I can't imagine there would be any significant degradation in crash protection over a 3yr period. The statements recommending replacement after X # of years sound conservative and probably originate from the legal departments of the companies from which they were issued. Then again, I could be totally wrong... Personally, none of my helmets have ever survived long enough for this to even be an issue.
 

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http://www.bhsi.org/replace.htm

"Most manufacturers now recommend that helmets be replaced after five years, but some of that may be just marketing. (Bell now recommends every three years, which seems to us too short. They base it partially on updating your helmet technology, but they have not been improving their helmets that much over three year periods, and we consider some of their more recent helmets to be a step backwards, so we would take that with a grain of salt.) Deterioration depends on usage, care, and abuse. But if you ride thousands of miles every year, five years may be a realistic estimate of helmet life. And helmets have actually been improving enough over time to make it a reasonable bet that you can find a better one than you did five years ago. It may fit better, look better, and in some cases may even be more protective. For an alternate view that agrees with the manufacturers, check out the helmet FAQ of the Snell Foundation. Snell knows a lot about helmets and their views on this subject should not be dismissed lightly, even though we disagree with them.
Somebody is spreading rumors that sweat and Ultraviolet exposure will cause your helmet to degrade. Sweat will not do that. The standards do not permit manufacturers to make a helmet that degrades from sweat, and the EPS, EPP or EPU foam is remarkably unaffected by salt water. Your helmet will get a terminal case of grunge before it dies of sweat. UV can affect the strength of the shell material, though. Manufacturers put UV inhibitors in the plastic for their shells that control UV degradation. If your helmet is fading, maybe the UV inhibitors are failing, so you might consider replacing it. Chances are it has seen an awful lot of sun to have that happen. Otherwise, try another brand next time and let us know what brand faded on you.

At least one shop told a customer that the EPS in his three year old helmet was now "dried out." That is highly unlikely, unless the EPS is placed in an oven for some period of time and baked. The interior of your car, for example, will not do that, based on helmets we have seen and at least one lab crash test of a helmet always kept in a car in Virginia over many summers. EPS is a long-lived material little affected by normal environmental factors. Unless you mistreat it we would not expect it to "dry out" enough to alter its performance for many years.

In sum, we don't find the case for replacing a helmet that meets the ASTM or Snell standards that compelling if the helmet is still in good shape and fits you well. "
 

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This information is spot on

Unless exposed to a lot of heat or a lot of direct sunlight, EPS will not degrade to any significant extent in 3 years. Your sweat (because of the body oils) will attack it somewhat, but not very much. When EPS has degraded, it will be punky to the touch and deform easily under pressure. And even then, this will only happen in a very shallow depth. Your helmet will crap out due to pad failure, strap failure, weakened shell, getting skunky, etc. long before the EPS foam deteriorates.
 

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m2¢

Henry Chinaski said:
http://www.bhsi.org/replace.htm
UV can affect the strength of the shell material, though. Manufacturers put UV inhibitors in the plastic for their shells that control UV degradation. If your helmet is fading, maybe the UV inhibitors are failing, so you might consider replacing it. Chances are it has seen an awful lot of sun to have that happen. Otherwise, try another brand next time and let us know what brand faded on you.

In sum, we don't find the case for replacing a helmet that meets the ASTM or Snell standards that compelling if the helmet is still in good shape and fits you well. "
UV definitely destroys the (break-resistant) properties of Polycarbonate (i.e. GE's Lexan®) products. If you were to leave the helmet exposed to direct daylight everyday, it would be practically worthless as impact protection within 3 yrs....however, for me I ride less than 24 hours/week and I don't have any problem with trusting it for a 5 year period....providing I don't do any 'yard-dart dismounts'. I'm afraid that Giro has become a Brand that I 'used' to use, now that their helmet prices approach the $200 mark ....I'm sure that next year's helmet will be >$220......I've started using the MET helmets which I like as-well/better and are much less expensive. :D
 
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