Confused about whether you need to replace your bike helmet? You’re not alone. Bicycle helmets seem incredibly durable. After all, they are meant to protect your head from injury. But appearances can be deceptive. Bike helmets can look fine on the outside, but if they have been worn in a crash, they may have internal damage. Such damage can make the ineffective in protecting you from future head injuries.
Most bicycle helmets are crafted with an expanded polystyrene (EPS) core. The EPS foam is composed of thousands of bubbles that absorb impact. The EPS expands to fill the mold of the helmet, with the individual beads expanding as much as 40 times their initial size. When your helmet strikes the ground, the EPS absorbs much of the energy and the beads collapse. After collapse, they are unable to regain their size. Sometimes the collapse will be visible, and you will notice the foam has been pushed in or has shrunk in size. But other times, depending upon the nature and exact location of the impact, it will be on the interior surface of the helmet and you will not be able to see the damage.
Many helmets do not show obvious damage after a bike crash. There may be some scrapes on the outer shell, but most of the time, the inner protective core will show no or only minor damage. Remember that the bulk of the impact is absorbed by the foam just inside the outer shell. It can be impossible to tell if this part of the helmet is damaged.
If you have been in a bike crash, you need to replace your helmet! It’s as simple as that. Even if you are not certain if your helmet hit the ground in the accident, it’s better to err on the side of caution and replace it.
What If I Drop My Bike Helmet – Do I Need to Replace It?
There is no easy answer to this question. Certainly, if you have dropped your helmet on a hard surface like asphalt, at the very least you should inspect it carefully. Look close at the EPS and check for any dents, cracks, or separation in the foam. Does the exterior shell of the helmet have any bumps, scrapes, or other signs of damage? Personally, I would suggest that you err on the side of caution and either replace your helmet or at least have it checked professionally for damage. Having helped many cyclists who have suffered head injuries in bike crashes, I have seen firsthand the devastating damages caused by traumatic brain injury. If you are at all unsure that your helmet is safe, replace it.
Is It Safe to Use a Second-Hand Helmet?
We recommend you never purchase a second-hand helmet because you do not know if it has been damaged. As you now know, you cannot necessarily see if the internal foam core has been impacted simply by looking at the exterior of the helmet. When it comes to your safety, it is simply not worth taking chances.
Helmets are a fairly inexpensive way to protect yourself. Head injuries, even mild concussions, can disrupt your life. More severe injuries, like traumatic brain injury from a bike crash, can alter your life forever. Helmets have proven their worth time and time again. If you are at all unsure if your helmet is safe, purchase a new one. If you have been hurt in a bike crash and have questions, contact us today for a free consultation. We work for safer cycling because we ride, ourselves. We are on your side and will help you get compensation for your bike crash.