Using an Older Helmet (FAQ?)

Discussion in 'Motorbike Technical Discussion' started by Tim Smith, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. Tim Smith

    Tim Smith Guest

    I'm getting my first bike in, oh, about 9 years. Sold my BMW R80 then,
    and am getting a V-Strom 650 now (brag, brag, yeah, I know).

    Anyhow, my Arai Signet full-face helmet has been sitting on a shelf in
    a cupboard in my garage for all those lonesome 9 years. I got it only
    a short while before I sold the R80, so it hasn't had much use, or sun

    Do helmets like this age, and should I replace it now? I think (not
    sure) that this helmet is polycarbonate (not fiberglass)--the owner's
    manual doesn't say.

    Any opinions? I looked for a FAQ for this group, and didn't find one.
    Also, the Arai web site offers no help. I'm sure that Arai (and my
    dealer) would recommend replacing it, for obvious reasons.
    Tim Smith, Jun 4, 2005
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  2. Buy a new helmet.
    Michael Sierchio, Jun 4, 2005
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  3. Tim Smith

    Tim Smith Guest

    Tim Smith, Jun 4, 2005
  4. If it's polycarb, I'd replace it. If it's glass fibre, I wouldn't
    The Older Gentleman, Jun 4, 2005
  5. Tim Smith

    OH- Guest

    And they'd be right. Both the shell (assuming polycarbonate)
    and shock absorbing foam (important on all helmets but
    especially on polycarbonate ones as the shell does not absorb
    any crash energy) will have aged. I never remember the
    exact recommendations but even I will start thinking about
    getting rid of a polycarbonate helmet after 5 years, a
    fibre/resin one after 10 years absolute maximum.
    OH-, Jun 4, 2005
  6. Tim Smith

    Guest Guest

    AOL: The condition of the expanded polystyrene foam is far
    more important than the shell, as it's this bit that absorbs
    impact energy.

    No shell will _absorb_ energy (to any significant degree),
    just dissipate the impact over a larger area.

    Interestingly, polycarbonate shells are better at
    withstanding an impact than carbon- kevlar- or fiber-glass
    shells, it's just their structural integrity tends to be
    compromised more after the initial impact and their failure
    mode is to shatter rather than crumple: not ideal when
    bouncing down the road.

    This is where the old chestnut "replace a dropped lid" came
    from: Sure, replace a dropped lid if it's polycarbonate (or
    your head was inside when dropped) but if it's a modern
    fibre lid you can play football with it & it'll be fine.
    Guest, Jun 4, 2005
  7. Tim Smith

    OH- Guest

    On the contrary, fibre shells will actually absorb quite
    a bit of the crash violence by delaminating, tearing the
    structure to pieces. That is why it's the fibre shell
    helmet that is most sensitive to seemingly small damage
    from being dropped (not to speak of being used as a
    football), every crack, delamination or softening of the
    structure equals less crash energy absorption when you
    need it most.
    A polycarbonate shell on the other hand will be fine
    after a small impact because there is no structure to
    destroy. The toughness of polycarbonate can be
    illustrated by its use as burglar proof glass. The
    downside of this is that no energy is lost at impact,
    the harder you hit, the harder the shell bounces back.
    OH-, Jun 5, 2005
  8. Tim Smith

    John Johnson Guest

    AFAIK, the Arai Signet used a fiberglass shell even back then. IMO, the
    shell material is irrelevant. Replace the helmet: there's a good chance
    you can get something lighter and quieter than that old helmet, with
    better vision and ventilation too. I've posted my reasoning WRT helmets
    here in the past, and you can look for it if you care for more than the
    opinion. If you can't find it, I could be convinced to re-write it, I
    guess. :)
    John Johnson, Jun 5, 2005
  9. Tim Smith

    LJ Guest

    There's an excellant article in one of the rags about helmets last month
    (june motorcyclist or cycle world) that did a test on DOT v Snell standards,
    fiber v poly, cheap v expensive etc. It's well worth the read. The bottom
    line is non-snell, poly is marginally better than fiber and or snell and
    cost isn't really a factor. The fiber and snell helmets tend to transfer
    more of the impact to the noggin. That said, the article also indicates
    that they type of helmet is probably going to be a factor in less than 25%
    of accidents.
    LJ, Jun 5, 2005
  10. Tim Smith

    Tim Smith Guest

    Please do.

    Thanks to yours and others postings, I'll be looking into getting a
    new helmet soon (like next week).

    Why doncha rewrite your stuff about helmets? Lots of newbies (like me,
    almost) would like to see it.

    Tim Smith
    Tim Smith, Jun 5, 2005
  11. Tim Smith

    John Johnson Guest

    Because telling you that I wrote the article on June 25 2003, with the
    title: "Re: Arai Quantum/e helmet" after looking it up takes less time
    than rewriting everything that I wrote. It's probably worth reading the
    entire thread.

    Not much has changed since then, other than my having replaced a helmet
    that was probably not substantially damaged because it was old enough
    that I wasn't happy about my knowledge of its condition. The position
    stated in the final paragraph of my final contribution to that thread
    sums up my attitude:

    safety gear is a way of managing risk. The older gear gets the less
    certain you can be of its condition, and eventually you may choose to
    replace gear that isn't obviously damaged because it's too much of a
    chance (that's what I do, anyway).

    Mind, I'm not attempting to discourage questions, I'm just lazy. ;-)
    I've also got opinions on the benefits of doing your own research, but
    then I'm also a grad student. :D
    John Johnson, Jun 5, 2005

  12. This is the best advice so far. You're absolutely right.
    The Older Gentleman, Jun 5, 2005
  13. Tim Smith

    Tim Smith Guest

    OK people, guess I'll get a new one. Thanks for the advice.

    Tim Smith, Jun 5, 2005
  14. Tim Smith

    Frank Guest

    The helmet article that LJ referred to is in "Motorcyclist", and I
    think it's the June, '05 issue. I'm in agreement that the helmet
    should be replaced. The outer shell may still resist penetration
    pretty well, but the EPS foam will be deteriorated pretty badly in 9
    Frank, Jun 6, 2005
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