When it comes to motorcycle safety, the helmet is the most important piece of equipment that you will have on your body. That’s because the motorcycle helmet is designed to keep you alive in the worst-case scenario. Because of that, it is important that you have the most up-to-date motorcycle helmet.
Believe it or not, motorcycle helmets do have an expiration date. That’s because the inner lining of the helmet is made from EPS foam. This foam can lose its shape over time. Thus, the motorcycle helmet can lose its ability to protect you from serious injury. The following provides a look at everything you need to know about your motorcycle helmet, including how helmets are made, how they become outdated and how you can care for them.
How the Helmet Is Constructed
If you’ve ever wondered how the helmet is constructed, the process typically goes like this. Motorcycle helmets are originally designed on a computer, and the prototype is constructed from polyurethane foam. The prototype is examined for its shape and style. Once the design has been approved, a metal mold of the helmet is created for production.
The molding materials for the outer shell are composed of polycarbonate pellets. The pellets are melted by an injection molding machine. The melted polycarbonate material is then injected into the helmet mold. After the injection is completed, the mold is cooled and hardened into the shape. This creates the outer shell of the motorcycle helmet.
After the outer shell has been created, a machine will place the helmet next to an automated sanding machine that will smooth out any seams left by the molding process. After the outer shell has been sanded, it is sent for painting. Afterward, a pivot mechanism is installed on each side of the helmet. This allows the face shield and visor to be raised and lowered.
When the outer shell is completed, it is now time to create the inner shell. Foam polystyrene pellets are melted to create the cushioning inner shell of the helmet. Once the foam inner liner has been created, it is married to the outer shell. Now, the chin guard is attached to the helmet. Finally, the visor is attached.
The Helmet Material Is Outdated
Because of the inner foam’s cushioning construction, it will lose its shape and become worn over time. When the helmet material is outdated, the helmet loses its ability to fully protect the rider. Over time, this will happen to every motorcycle helmet that is used often enough.
So, why is the inner lining’s original shape so important? The inner shell’s shape has been designed to provide maximum protection for your head. Over time, that cushioning can become thinner. Even a millimeter of less inner shell thickness can make a big difference in a serious impact. Because of this, you should inspect the helmet’s inner shell to ensure that the original shape has not been distorted to the point that it compromises your safety.
You can check to see if the inner shell is still suitable enough by checking the fit of the helmet. If the helmet begins to feel looser than usual, chances are that the inner shell has lost its ideal shape. At that point, you will want to replace the helmet.
There are also other factors that can make a motorcycle helmet outdated. These factors include prior impacts on the helmet. If the helmet has been in a couple of minor accidents, it may have sustained damage to the outer shell. This could make the helmet more vulnerable to serious impacts in the future.
Typically, a motorcycle helmet that undergoes regular use can last for about seven years. After that time, you should have your motorcycle replaced regardless of how much use you have gotten from the equipment. Replacing the helmet after seven years is also ideal because motorcycle helmet safety technology improves every year. Ideally, you will want to have the most advanced motorcycle helmet to protect your head.
To extend the longevity of your motorcycle helmet, you will want to maintain the accessory and provide regular helmet aftercare. Here are some tips to help keep your motorcycle helmet in top condition.
First, keep your motorcycle helmet in a dry and warm place. This will prevent the helmet from contracting too much in cold weather. Also, you will want to make sure that the inner shell does not get contaminated with water.
Next, keep the helmet in an open area with the visor open. This will allow for proper airflow into the helmet and prevent the inner lining from developing a fungus. Also, make sure to clean the motorcycle visor after every use to ensure that you have the best possible vision during each ride.
Clean the other parts of your motorcycle helmet on a regular basis. You can use soap and water to clean the outer shell. For the airflow vents, use a soft painting brush or a low-powered air blower.
When it comes to the inner lining, you will want to use a warm shampoo with water only if the inner lining is detachable. Be gentle when washing the inner lining and allow it to completely dry in the sun before reinstalling it back into the outer shell. If your inner lining is not detachable, then you will want to use a foam-based washing kit.
After washing, simply turn the helmet upside down and allow the inner shell to dry in the sun.
Now that you know how to care for your motorcycle helmet, it’s important to warn against common mistakes that helmet owners make during maintenance.
First, avoid using regular soap to clean your visor. Regular soap has an oily chemical that can compromise the transparency of the visor. Also, don’t wipe the visor back and forth. Doing so can lead to scratches. Instead, carefully rub from one side to another.
Avoid color modifications on your helmet. Changing the color of the helmet requires removing the exterior coating. The exterior coating plays an important role in the integrity of the helmet’s outer shell.
Staying Safe With the Right Motorcycle Helmet
Staying safe on your motorcycle requires having the best possible helmet. Check whether the helmet material is outdated, consider how the helmet is constructed, and follow the recommended helmet aftercare tips. With the proper care, your motorcycle helmet will be your best protection on the road.