When Should You Replace Your Bike Helmet?

Help protect your noggin by regularly replacing your helmet

Pro Mountain Biker Mark Mathew's riding in the Utah Desert wearing a Lazer Jackal KientiCore helmet. When to Replace your bike helmet

Wearing your helmet when riding a bike is a no-brainer, right? It’s something we all do to keep ourselves safer out on the roads, trails, or bike paths. But while your helmet is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your bike setup, it’s often overlooked when it comes time to upgrade or replace bike parts. Just like your derailleurs, chains, and brake pads, your helmet wears out over time and needs to be replaced. Even if you haven’t crashed in the helmet or hit your head, it may be time to replace your helmet.


Replace After a Crash

There’s one scenario in which all helmet manufacturers and helmet safety certifiers agree you should immediately replace your helmet, and that’s if you crash. Even if you don’t think you’ve hit your head during an accident, you should replace your helmet before your next ride. That’s because sometimes helmets do their job so well that you may not even realize your head took a blow.

Lisa Muhammad wearing a Lazer Z1 KinetiCore road bicycle helmet while riding her gravel bike

Nearly all bike helmets are designed to absorb one impact, and then must be replaced. Sometime, if you hit the helmet hard enough, the impact will crack the foam that is underneath the helmet's hard outer shell, and you may be able to see the cracked foam. However, many times, an impact will compress the inner foam layer imperceptibly. You won't see any damage or deformations, but the structure of the helmet is now compromised and needs to be replaced. 

Additionally, as helmets get lighter and better ventilated, there is less material, and the helmets can be damaged more easily. Drop your helmet on the hard ground as you wrangle your gear into the car, and it can compromise the materials. Or if you're taking a flight to your next bike event and you pack your helmet in your checked bag, the impacts it absorbs with rough baggage handlers can be as harmful as a crash.

Man riding a road bike wearing a lazer vento kineticore performance road bike helmet

Lazer offers a program to provide crash replacement discounts on any model Lazer helmet that has been crashed within three years of purchase. You can find details regarding this program here: https://lazersport.us/pages/crash-replacement


Other Times to Replace Your Helmet

Even if you haven’t had a crash, it may be time to replace your helmet due to normal wear and tear. UV light can cause a helmet’s polycarbonate shell to degrade, but this takes an excessive amount of time out in the sunlight to occur. The shell actually has a UV inhibitor used in the material that resists UV damage. However, over enough time, the UV light can cause damage. Fading shell colors or cracks around the helmet vents could be evidence of this breakdown.

female mountain biker riding her bike off a cliff with a Lazer Jackal Kinetcore bike helmet on

Be sure to check your helmet over on a regular basis and look for additional signs of wear. Look closely at the helmet’s outer shell, inner foam, the retention system, and the strap and buckle system. If you find any of the following problems, it’s time to replace your helmet.

  • Outer polycarbonate shell is cracked or separating from helmet foam
  • Helmet foam is dented, compressed, or otherwise damaged
  • Helmet straps are fraying
  • Buckle or fit system is cracked, broken, or no longer operating correctly
  • The fit system is no longer fixed to the helmet shell
  • On  MIPS-equipped helmets, any of the tabs holding the MIPS system in place are no longer fixed to the helmet shell
Group of people riding gravel bikes wearing lazer bicycle helmets. When should you replace your helmet

Lazer recommends replacing your helmet every one to three years to ensure your helmet is perfect working condition. If you ride more, replace your helmet more, or have multiple helmets to rotate through for different types of riding. Think of replacing your helmet like an oil change, or like getting your teeth cleaned: It’s preventative medicine. 

While helmets mostly just sit on our heads when we ride and channel air through so we don’t overheat, we wear them in case we crash. We hope we don’t, but sometimes we do. And that’s when Lazer’s best-in-class impact absorption and helmet integrity matters, and the dollars you spent on regularly updating your helmet pay off. It’s an easy insurance policy for your head, and that’s worth protecting!