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Motorcycle, Bicycle Helmets
Many bicycle and motorcycle riders may not be aware that their bicycle helmet or motorcycle helmet needs to be replaced from time to time, and definitely after any impact. Since your helmet is so important to protecting you from brain injury or head injury, this is an extremely important safety detail to know and remember. Your helmet might actually look OK accept for a ding, but the structural protection of the helmet may have been compromised even from what seemed an uneventful incident.
What does replacing your helmet from, "time to time," mean?
Most say, for both bicycle helmets and for motorcycle helmets, that you should replace your helmet every 2 – 3 years. Motorcycle helmets should have the year they were made stamped on the chin straps (helmets manufactured after 1974).
There is an important "crush liner" in your helmet, a protective layer, which may not protect you if it deteriorates or takes any impact. Other materials in your helmet may just naturally break down over time as well, causing your helmet to lose it's full protective ability.
For both bicycle and motorcycle riders, a better signal of when an impact means their helmet should be replaced would be quite helpful, helmets can be pricey, and it might just be that you dropped your helmet onto the street, but it was more than just a bump, and now you worry you might be taking chances with your skull or brain. Technically, this is what the experts advise should be the time to replace your helmet otherwise you could be taking a bad risk with your helmet, when you really need it to be in proper working order. Some helmets can be taken to the manufacturer to inspect and make sure they are still in a functioning condition.
One new prototype invention for bike helmets exists though. It is a crush liner, a special layer, that emits a foul oder if it is damaged. Smelling a strange stench is how you know that your helmet needs to be replaced.
Some bicyclists say this idea stinks, and is impractical for bicycle business commuters since if you crash on your way to some appointment, does this smell transfer to your hair or skin? Perhaps an audio warning or color change may be a less offensive warning indicator. These would be promising advancements and something that motorcycle riders with their even more expensive helmets might be envious of, as we wait for motorcycle versions of these features.
These are a different species altogether from motorcycle helmet safety standards. Bicycle helmets are actually not designed to take much force impact...only about the force of falling from waste height to hitting your head on the curb at a standstill, not the kind of force of even a slowly moving car.
SOURCES - FURTHER READING
2. Science Daily on prototype bike helmet.