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How long do motorbike helmets last?

by Gary Cheetham on September 04, 2019

Man wearing a motorbike helmet looking at a bike

You've done it: you've taken the plunge and finally bought yourself a shiny new motorcycle helmet. Maybe you were on a ride out with a mate and liked the look of that new 2019 Arai. You may have done your research online for weeks or even months, combing over forum posts and review videos.

But after everything, it's here, and you can't wait to take it out on your next ride. But how many miles exactly can you expect to be riding with that new helmet for?

Motorbike Helmet Lifespan: Everything you Need to Know

Man looking inside a motorcycle helmetAs with anything, motorbike helmets come with a natural lifespan and should be replaced periodically. Working out how long you'll be keeping that helmet for should be a part of your thought process when you're deciding to buy since you'll be looking for a solid return on investment, especially if you've forked out for a more expensive model.

Are you the type of person who uses their toothbrush until the bristles are falling out and the handle is faded and worn? It's ok, you don't have to admit to that on social media, but while the exterior of a helmet will usually last for years and years without any significant structural failure, you won't want to be wearing a helmet that's been subjected to heavy everyday use for more than 2 years.

The reason for this being, that the interior of the helmet is exposed to sweat and oils off your skin whenever you wear it. Especially on those longer journeys, when you're taking off the helmet and your hair is stuck to your forehead. Anyone who's ever gone on a motorbike touring trip in the Med will know exactly what I mean!

If you've been getting the most out of your motorbike helmet and using it appropriately, you'll soon notice that distinctive helmet "pong" whenever you're putting it on. It's perfectly normal, according to Medical News Today odours such as this are caused by bacteria breaking down sweat.

While sweating inside your helmet is unavoidable, there are measures you can take to avoid the smell becoming too overpowering. Lots of helmets come with a detachable and replaceable inner lining, which can be machine washed periodically to extend the life of the foam and fabric layers within your helmet, and to remove odours.

Caring for your Motorcycle Helmet

Woman taking off her motorbike helmet to clean it
While out on the road, what you're wearing on your head is exposed to the elements. At 70mph, you can expect rain, dirt and dust all to attach your helmet and visor. During the hot and humid summer months, you'll also notice lots of bugs and dirt stuck to your helmet when you take it off after a ride.

There are lots of care products available on the market, such as Polish and Wax. For the best results, we recommend cleaning your helmet after every ride.

How to clean your helmet after a ride:

    1.  Remove the helmet and place on a hard surface that can be wiped down afterwards. or cover the surface with a sheet.
    2. Clean the helmet with a warm, damp soft towel to remove any dust or dirt. Take extra care with any decals or fixtures on the outside of the helmet, since it would be easy to accidentally remove the glue which keeps the stickers applied to the surface.
    3. Dry the helmet with a soft microfibre cloth. A microfibre cloth should be used rather than a towel to avoid scratching the glossy surface.
    4. Once dry, you can apply helmet polish and wax according to the manufacturer specifications. CAUTION: If your helmet has a matt finish, always check with the manufacturer to see if polish should be used. Some types of polish can damage matt finishes.

When to replace your motorbike helmet

If you've been caring for your motorbike helmet religiously, you can expect many years of use and many happy outings. However, there will come a time when things do get worn out and you may need to look at replacing.

Many bikers can become attached to their helmets, with them almost becoming like a souvenir of the rides you've had with your bike. We, however, recommend replacing your helmet every 3-5 years as a general rule. This, of course, depends on how often you ride, and the style of riding, but there are several ways you can tell if your helmet should be replaced or not.

How to tell if your motorcycle helmet needs replacing

Man holding a motorbike helmet next to a motorcycle
  • Check any straps, velcro, buckles, or fastenings on the exterior or interior of the helmet. Pay special attention to the chin strap. It's of paramount importance to the safety and comfort of your helmet that nothing is loose or frayed here. A fraying chin strap is a sure sign that your helmet should be replaced. Any loose fastenings can mean that the helmet could come off during a ride, or it may cause itching or irritation as the fit won't be quite right against your head.
  • Check the exterior for cracks or structural damage. Even if you've never been involved in an accident, the material that the helmet is made of is often subjected to structural pressures and wear. Hairline cracks can sometimes appear on the outside of the helmet. If you spot any splits on the exterior of any kind, you must stop using the helmet immediately and find a replacement before your next ride.
  • The final way to know if you need to replace your helmet is simple. If you have ever been involved in an accident of any kind, whether that's falling off your bike from stationary, or if you were moving, you must make sure you purchase a new motorbike helmet. Most helmets are only rated to protect your head during one accident, it's common sense, and safety should be your top priority. Even slight bumps can affect the safety of the helmet, so never take a risk.

Should I ever purchase a second-hand helmet?

A quick check of any popular online auction site will reveal many helmets for sale second hand. However, we would never recommend purchasing a helmet second hand, for the simple reason that you don't know the history of the item. If the helmet has been involved in an accident, for reasons stated above, it must be replaced.

Buying a helmet second hand or from a car boot sale can also pose additional risks, since the helmet may be counterfeit. All helmets sold through a genuine retailer will always be safety tested and carry the BSI kitemark, with second-hand helmets you can never be sure it isn't a knock-off, which could be unsafe in the event of an accident.


We hope this article was useful. If you're looking to replace your helmet, be sure to check out our extensive line on this website. If you did find this article useful, please share on social media and comment.