When to Replace Mountain Bike Helmet

Last Updated on January 17, 2022

Mountain biking is not just about fun, adventure, and conquering the outdoors on two wheels and sheer endurance. But it also comes with its own perils.

One of which is the risk factor that all cyclists should be aware of. You are just riding on two wheels and depending on your legs to pedal your bike as you maintain balance.

Knowing this reality helps you easily gauge the situation and make you realize that safety is always your priority.

This is why wearing a helmet when mountain biking is important. But what many cyclists forget to consider is how long should they use their helmet, and when they should replace it.

In this article, we’re going to answer that question and show you all the signs that you need to get a new helmet.

When you get a bad crash

Little do people know that helmets are disposable bike gears. And being disposable means that you can just throw them away if they’re not anymore functioning properly.

Most riders also don’t know that your helmet isn’t anymore functioning optimally if you already crashed it. The material present in a helmet can easily disintegrate if it comes in strong contact with any surface.

Exterior wrinkles

Another sign that you need to replace your bike helmet is if you see wrinkles on its exterior area. This is commonly seen on the outer shell of the bike helmet.

Wrinkles and small lines come out if you regularly use your helmet, most especially if you always ride at noon or when the sun is at its peak. Sudden changes in temperature can also cause your helmet’s exterior to have deformities.

Exterior cracks

This is the most obvious sign that you need to replace your bike helmet. Never wear a helmet that has cracks outside no matter how small they are.

Even minor cracks can grow into big ones if you still constantly use them. What’s worse is that the sharp edges can injure your head once you go through rough trails.

Soggy foam

Helmets have an interior liner foam that ensures you stay comfortable when wearing one.

These also serve as a stabilizer so that the bike helmet won’t shake off when you are riding on rough technical sections. However, this foam liner can get too soggy once you have already used it a lot.

This sogginess might seem like an aesthetic part, but it actually can cause you more harm as this cannot anymore provide any cushion or protection for your head because of the disintegrated material.

Dislodged buckle strap

The buckle strap is a very important part of your helmet because this is what locks it in place on your head.

Make sure that the buckle strap clicks in and fits perfectly when you wear it. Any slight dislodgement can compromise security as your bike helmet can fall out of your head if you do on rough downhill sections.

How long do mountain bike helmets last?

mountain bike with helmet showing safety or sports concept in nature

The length of use or lifespan of mountain bike helmets depends greatly on your use. But multiple researchers from reliable helmet and headgear subcommittee organizations have found out that the average lifespan hovers around the three to five-year mark.

This is because materials will degrade over time regardless of the frequency of use.

What’s more is that over the span of three to five years, the bike helmet is most likely to come in contact with various chemicals and degrees of usage that will cause its materials to gradually degrade.

The factors that can cause this material degradation are sunlight, hair oils, grease, dirt, smoke pollution, and many more.

However, there are already a lot of technological advancements today that increase the lifespan of helmets.

So, it’s safe to say that newer premium helmets, such as those from Fox and Troy Lee Designs will now last longer compared to other older versions.

EPS vs EPP Foam

Many riders are unaware that there are two main kinds of foams used on a bike helmet. These are the EPS and EPP. 

EPS foams are simpler and aren’t made for extreme rugged used as compared to EPP variants. EPS liners or EPS foam are designed for just a single crash, which means that you need to get a new one as soon as you experience a crash.

In other words, these kinds of bike helmets expire, but that’s the reality of most modern bike helmets.

They get permanent dents and are most likely to snap or crack when placed under stress. This makes them dangerous to wear if you already crashed with them.

Meanwhile, EPP bike helmets are a more durable kind of bicycle helmet foam because they can withstand multiple impacts without getting serious performance issues. Instead of snapping suddenly, they just tend to bend slightly and conform their shape to the pressure area.

How strong should a crash be to damage a helmet?

You don’t need to put your bike helmets into strong amounts of force or have it experience a strong crash for it to be damaged.

In fact, a simple drop can deform the interior structure of the helmet and cause small cracks that can weaken its overall support system.

EPS foams can also withstand just a single impact, so there will be no point why you should still wear one even if you already crashed it hard on the ground before.

Just remember that most bike helmets can do a good job the first time, but not anymore that well the next time around.

It then makes sense for you to be sure not to drop your bicycle helmets or crash with them. But that’s the reason why you should wear a new mountain bike helmet. It is all about protecting your head at the end of the day.


With all of this being said, you can clearly see that replacing a mountain bike helmet is important because this gear is what protects your head from impacts and from being injured.

Note that you are just riding on two wheels and depend mostly on your balancing skills. This is why there’s a huge chance that you’ll fall off your bike. And when that happens, you can hit your head on something.

It then makes sense to always prioritize safety over anything else by focusing on helmet safety and making sure to replace your helmet if you crash.

Note that your head is your body’s command center, so you should take good care of it by protecting it with a helmet shell using the latest helmet technology available.

If you think that it’s not functioning properly anymore, then replace it when needed. It might cost you some fortune, but that’s totally fine knowing that you’ll come home in one piece safe and sound.