Should You Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet If You Drop It?
Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is a personal choice for people in many states. At the time of writing this, there are about 17 I can find that for sure mandate wearing one. I say about because that seems like it changes often enough.
I primarily ride in Minnesota and Wisconsin which means as someone over 18 and with my motorcycle endorsement, I don't have to wear one. I did start wearing a helmet again a few years ago and actually quite a few people I ride with or know that ride have started too. For everyone it's different reasons, that might mean they have kids, or a buddy went down without one, they are feeling more fragile in older age, or it's just the idiot cars drivers getting worse.
For those that do wear one, even if just occasionally, I wanted to share my findings on if you drop your motorcycle helmet. This is something almost any helmet user has done. You might be taking it off and drop it, maybe you set it on your motorcycle seat and it fell off, or it got bumped off a shelf in the garage. Stuff happens, so the question is, if you drop your motorcycle helmet, so you need to replace it?
The short answer is probably not, you generally don't need to replace it after dropping it. The Snell Foundation, who sets standards for helmets states this at the long answer on their website:
"Generally the answer is probably not. If your helmet drops to the ground from your hand, off a seat or handle bar of a motorcycle, you do not have to replace it. In general, the real damage comes when the helmet contacts an object with a head inside. However, helmets are one-use items, so treat them with care. Frequent dropping, or spiking a helmet on any hard surfaces may eventually degrade the helmet's performance. Similarly if the helmet falls to the ground at highway speeds unoccupied, damage to the helmet may degrade its protective capability. Snell recommends that if you are participating in an activity that requires helmet use, you should pay attention whenever your head hitting things. Without a thorough inspection by a trained professional, it can be difficult to determine if a helmet has been damaged and its protective capabilities compromised. Some manufacturers may provide this service or direct you to others that can perform these inspections. If you suspect your helmet may be compromised, Snell recommends that you replace it. If the helmet has been involved in an impact while in use, replace it. Even good helmets cannot provide adequate protection the second time."
It's just about riding season around our northern parts, and I've heard enough people say that if your helmet was dropped, it's junk now. Clearly from what Snell states above, that's not necessarily the case. You do you of course, but also remember that Snell does encourage replacing a helmet after five years of regular use even if it's never been dropped.