Your helmet is important for protecting your head, but protecting it can make all the difference – By Jason Sumner
Arguably, no other article of cycling gear is more important than the helmet. After all, your helmet’s primary purpose is to protect you from head injuries, some of which can be fatal. Despite this fact, many riders don’t take proper care of their helmets, which can compromise safety in the event of an incident.
To ensure that your helmet in proper working order, always follow these five rules.
Helmets are designed to protect you against impact, but exposure to unnecessary impact can weaken them over time. A classic traveling mistake is clipping your helmet to your backpack, then dropping it on the ground or tossing it into an overhead compartment, where it can be struck by other travelers’ luggage. “Although the impacts aren’t the same as a crash, they can add up and easily damage the outer polycarbonate layer,” says Scott Junker, Giro’s product manager.
Investing in some extra protection for your helmet will minimise any damage you’re doing to it throughout your day. “Make sure to at least wrap it in a shirt before jamming it in your roller bag.” says Oscar Huss, POC’s head of product development.
“Don’t expose your helmet to high heat,” advises Huss. “Cycling helmets are often held together with glue, which can melt at extreme temperatures.” That means you shouldn’t be leaving it out on the dashboard or front seat of your car during the hottest and sunniest summer days, and you should never run it through your dishwasher. When storing it, keep it in a cool and dry place.
Keep Your Helmet Away From Spray Paints And Solvents
Just like high heat, solvents can break down the glue that holds your helmet together. “This includes paint,” says Junker. “Never use spray paint on a cycling helmet. The paint and its chemicals can interact with the polycarbonate shell and the EPS foam and degrade the integrity of the helmet.”
Wash Your Helmet With Care
When washing your helmet, you should be using water and mild soap (but never ammonia or bleach). Then, you should rinse it thoroughly, and allow it to air-dry. You shouldn’t be submerging your helmet in water for long periods of time, even though most helmets must pass a submersion test to receive safety certification. This can cause your helmet’s materials to absorb water, affecting the adhesive and hardening the foam.
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The majority of helmets are designed to withstand one large-scale impact. Once that impact occurs, don’t try to keep the helmet around or fix it up—it’s time to get a new one. Some damage can be hard to detect sometimes, so it’s better to play it safe if you’re not sure.
Frequent helmet inspections are also important. Look for cracks, fading, and strap damage. Any of these may indicate that it’s time for a replacement. Otherwise, you should replace your helmet before it’s three years old.