My helmet for road cycling has seen some good use and I was considering to replace the padding because it is falling apart, but at this point I was wondering myself: Should I even keep the helmet?
I found some old questions that state - barring crash or impact - the "rule" are ~5 years if the helmet is structurally intact:
- When or how often should I replace my bike helmet?
- Do I really need to replace my helmet every 2-3 years if it hasn't been in a crash?
- How long does an unused helmet keep for?
I hope this qualifies as a standalone question given that there are already a few but the cited ones are pretty old (between 6 and 13 years) and feature some contradicting standpoints, for example the 5-year rule vs. the study quoted in #3 that showed 5 years are not enough to impact the structure as much so that a helmet would fail a crash test...
Question complex #1 (lifetime): Mine is used for about 3 years and the manufacturing date states mid-2018 (reaching 5+ years), which date should I take into consideration, here?
Should one be more cautious when buying helmets of the shelf because it may already have 1-2 years of life before you actually ride it, effectively reducing its active usage duration? Do the 5 years include use and exposure to sweat and sunlight or is this strictly from a material age standpoint? (plastic shell, styrofoam core, glue, etc...)
Question complex #2 (damage replacement): Is every crack in the styrofoam an instant write-off? I'm aware that this weakens the structure, indeed, but is such damage always considered a reason to replace it?
Mine definitely didn't suffer a crash and no sign of shell and core separating, over the course of three years, I can't rule out that it hasn't taken a minor fall (like from my sofa when dressing up for a ride) but nothing I would consider a "oh-no" situation that made me think I should not have dropped it.
However, mine has a crack at the front - there is no adjacent damage on the shell but it is a crack, nevertheless. It might have been there for a while but I just noticed recently when I took out the padding for a wash.
My anticipation is that in my case, the combination of borderline age and damage will lead to the suggestion Get a new helmet (and I probably will because it is hard to find pads for the Cosmic Pro) but I would still be interested in some thoughts, experience and resources on the topic.