Summer passed quickly, as it always seems to do, and we’re on the cusp of entering fall in New England in full swing. Thankfully, the end of summer doesn’t mean the end of cycling quite yet.
Fall is one of the most beautiful times to cycle in Massachusetts. Whether riding in the North Shore, downtown Boston, or along the Charles River Esplanade — you’re sure to enjoy the crisp air and beautiful changing leaves.
Wherever you ride, one thing is certain: you should always wear a helmet. A helmet reduces your risk of a serious head injury in a bike crash by about 70%.
Is It Time To Replace Your Bike Helmet?
After a full summer of riding, it’s a good time to check to ensure that your helmet is still in good condition.
Generally speaking, there are two times that everyone should replace their bike helmet.
Replace your bike helmet after any crash
If you’ve been involved in any type of accident or crash while riding your bike, you should get a new helmet. From the outside, your helmet may look fine - perhaps there are no cracks in the outer shell or no significant dents. When it comes to protecting your head, however, one of the most important aspects of your helmet is its interior foam.
After a fall from your bike, or a crash or accident in which your helmet took a hit, the interior foam of your helmet may be damaged in a way that you can’t see. When the foam is damaged or compressed, a bike helmet becomes less protective.
Replace your helmet every three to five years
Many bike helmet manufacturers recommend that all cyclists replace helmets every three to five years. If you are an avid cyclist who regularly rides, replacing your helmet every three to five years is a good rule of thumb to ensure your helmet is still protective.
If you ride more occasionally, however, you may be able to use your helmet for more than five years. If you’re not riding each day or each week, and you store your helmet under good conditions you might be able to use it for five to 10 years — of course, also assuming you haven’t been in any accidents.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, for example, advises a new helmet every five to 10 years unless the helmet makers suggest replacing sooner. The replacement suggestion is assuming that your helmet will have been exposed to UV light from riding outside in the sun (which can wear on your helmet), and assuming that your helmet has been tossed around into a locker, your car, or a garage shelf. Helmets can also wear more quickly in humidity and summer temperatures. If the colors on your helmet are starting to fade from the sun, that is a sign that it may be time to replicate your helmet.
A good rule of thumb is to plan to replace your helmet about every five years, especially if you’re not particularly ensuring that your helmet has been handled with the utmost care. After some time, even if the interior foam isn’t too worn out, the straps, adjusters, and other pieces might be worn or stressed and amount to less protection when cycling.
Additional Times to Replace Your Bike Helmet:
- Technology advances: not only will your helmet degrade over time, but new technology also continues to make helmets safer. Importantly, newer helmets are designed to reduce impact in a way that can better help protect you from concussions.
- Signs of Compromise: A few signs that should indicate you need a new helmet include a chipped or worn hard outer shell or foam, any dents, cracks or splitting in the foam, and foam separating from the hard shell.
How To Extend The Life Of Your Bike Helmet
There are a few things you can do to help maximize the life of your bike helmet.
- Travel Gently: Keep your helmet in a padded bag instead of just throwing it in the trunk to bounce around and get banged up.
- Keep Your Helmet Clean: Wash your helmet with mild soap and water, and you can usually wash the inner foam pads on the gentle cycle in the washing machine but they should never go into the dryer.
- Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Store your helmet out of the sun and somewhere it’s protected from extreme heat or cold.
- Replace Pads First: You can routinely replace the padding inside your helmet for safety, comfort, and even hygiene. This can help extend the life of your helmet.
- Protect From Chemicals: DEET insect spray, for example, can compromise the construction of your bike helmet.
Injured On A Bike In Massachusetts? Our Chelsea And Peabody Bike Accident Attorneys Offer FREE Consultations
As cyclists ourselves, we know the joy that cycling brings. But as injury attorneys, we also know about the dangers of cycling in Boston and beyond with less-than-friendly Massachusetts drivers.
If you were injured in a bicycle or e-bike accident, Spada Law Group’s injury attorneys can work to protect your legal rights. We have three offices but proudly serve the entire state with the ability to meet with you remotely from the comfort of your own home. Contact us for a free consultation so we can learn more about your bike or e-bike injury case and see how we can help you get the recovery you deserve after your accident.