Chances are your helmet is out of date and busted. Luckily this is Helmet Safety Awareness Month and I'm going to show you how to check your helmet to make sure that it's still good to go for your next ride.

Let's start by breaking our helmets down and the materials used. First we have the shell. Depending on your helmet, some shells are made of polycarbonate or a more fibrous material in fiberglass, carbon fiber, or some type of combination weave. Now, if you have the polycarbonate or plastic material, it's very porous, so that means there's going to be holes in it, like pores on your skin, and it's going to allow a lot of UV light, sweat, oil, moisture. It's going to get into those pores, and it's going to break down quickly over time.

Most poly-carbonate helmets are going to give you a two to three year lifespan, depending on how much you ride and the weather that you ride in. Your fiberglass or carbon fiber helmets are going to last three to five years with a five year shelf life. And that's why most of the manufacturers you see like Arai, Shoei, and Bell, they're going to offer you a five year warranty. They can offer this warranty because the materials that they use are a little bit more tightly wound and will not allow as much of the elements inside of them, to cause a breakdown.

So really there's not much you can do to inspect your shell other than look at the outside of your helmet. When you grab your helmet, you want to make sure there are no visible cracks, any type of scarring from a drop, or from a previous wreck. Give the outside of your helmet one quick glance over and make sure there's no visible damage to it.

Closer to your head is going to be the EPS liner. The EPS liner is what protects you in case of a fall. This is what absorbs all that energy. So instead of your head crunching, this foam's going to crunch instead, absorbing the impact. You can locate this by removing the internal liner and this is the part that's going to save your life if you need your helmet, so this was the most important part we're going to look at (other than date).The EPS liner is basically foam. Different manufacturers offer tri-density or dual density versions.

It is very important to look at that foam EPS liner on your helmet and makes sure that it is not, most importantly, brittle. And what I mean by that is if you look at it and it starts to flake or it gets a little dusty, take that helmet and slam dunk it in the trash right now, because that is garbage. It is not going to protect you. When you look at your EPS liner, it should have a firm shape to it, and when you press on it, it's not going to sink in. So it should still have some type of rigidity to it when pushing your finger on it.

Next is going to be the liner itself. This is good just to double check, because liners can get funky. This is the closest thing to your skin. If you wear product in your hair, it's going to get in there. Sweat, oil, dirt, exhaust, everything's going to get in that liner of your helmet. So what's really good to take this out and inspect, sometimes it just needs hand washed, throw it in the sink, wash it with some good dish soap, and let it air dry. Once dry, throw it back in and you're good to go. Also, it may be falling apart on you, if stitching's coming undone or maybe the padding is just so broken down that the helmet doesn't quite fit like it did last riding season. Then maybe it's time just to replace your padding. It's good to visibly inspect your interior liner. Now, some is not removable, so do what you can. For those that can remove, pull it out and give it a once over.

The final thing I want to show you is how to check for the date of your helmet. Now, this is going to be one of the most important parts, and you're going to be like, "Well, Brian, what if I have a brand new helmet that's in a box, that I never wore?" Or, "Hey, that helmet I got back in 1993 still looks great." Well, congratulations. You now have a really nice display piece to go on top of your mantle, because that is all its good for.

To inspect the inside of your helmet, you're going to want to lay it down on the table. In order to do that, we suggest you get a helmet donut, or if you don't have one of these, get yourself a bathroom towel and roll it up. The reason why we do that is because we don't want to scratch the top of our lid when we set it down on the table. Most Helmets have their inspection date at the crown of the head. If you don't see it there, it's probably going to be on one of the sides with the cheek pads  (if applicable). All you need to do is remove that liner to expose the date. Now, with this Bell, I can see this small circular sticker. It has the number 14 on it, meaning 2014, and then the little number two is dashed out here. So I know that this helmet was manufactured in February of 2014 and need to be replaces as it is now over five years old.

Now that you know how to check and inspect your helmet to make sure it's still safe to ride with, head into that closet, grab your helmet off your bike, and look for that inspection date and give it a good once over and make sure it's good to go out for your next ride. If it isn't, if it's old, if it's busted, head over to jpcycles.com. We have tons of helmets available, no matter what your riding style is. Make sure you use the helmet fit guide to make sure you get the right helmet for your riding style. Hit us up on social media. Subscribe to us on YouTube. Together we'll help you find what's next.