Touring Tip: Making Your Motorcycle Helmet Last

Jan 08, 2016 View Comments by

I have the benefit of testing and using a variety of motorcycle helmets, but there’s a particular one I especially like and use often. I want it to last as long as possible—well-made ones are expensive to replace. Here are some tips for having a long-term relationship with yours:

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  1. Don’t Drop: The integrity of a motorcycle helmet can be compromised with a single drop on a hard surface.
  • Don’t leave it on the ground, where it can be accidentally kicked, stumbled over, or invaded by some of nature’s creatures (ants, spiders, etc.).
  • Don’t leave it on the seat or any other location on the bike where it can be easily knocked off.
  • Be careful not to strike solid objects while carrying it. I prefer to reconnect the chin strap and grasp it by that or the chin bar rather than trying to cradle it under an arm.

If you keep your helmet safe, it’s more likely to keep you safe.

  1. Store High & Dry: When not in use, a motorcycle helmet should be allowed to dry out on the inside and then stored somewhere away from the elements. Keep yours in a safe location where it is not likely to get dropped, kicked, scratched, or otherwise damaged. Avoid storage near gasoline, cleaning fluids, exhaust fumes, or excessive heat, and do not leave items inside that may soil (e.g., sweat-soaked gloves) or compress the inner lining.
  1. Keep it Clean: Like many other accessories, keeping a helmet clean after use helps to prolong its life. Pay close attention to:
  • Air ducts: Be careful not to damage passageways when removing debris, and do not use a sharp object for cleaning.
  • Exterior: Use soap and water and a soft rag, not Windex or some other type of corrosive cleaner.
  • Interior: Non-scented drier sheets can be used to remove odors. Otherwise, a wet rag with a little soap applied to it will do the job.
  1. Check it Regularly: Perform a periodic inspection of the helmet’s major components:
  • Outside shell: Look for any cracks, scratches, or dings that indicate the helmet has sustained some type of impact. Discoloration or deformities may hint at exposure to harmful chemicals, excessive heat, or aging. Make sure all air duct passages are clear of debris.
  • Inside shell: Remove the inside padding and inspect the Styrofoam liner for any signs of cracks, indentions, or compressed foam.
  • Fitting pads: Make sure there are no signs of fraying, damage, or excessive wear. Your helmet should retain its snug but comfortable fit.
  • Buckle & strap: Remove any salt accumulation left from perspiration and check for signs of overuse, such as loose stitching. The buckle should not be damaged.
  • Mechanical parts: All vents and visor mechanicals should work properly; make sure flip-up helmets still lock securely in their down position.

High quality motorcycle helmets may be expensive, but what they protect is irreplaceable. Even with the best of care, though, the maximum lifespan of most is around five years. So take care of yours, inspect it regularly, and don’t hesitate to replace it when circumstances or time dictate.

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