It's not just smelly, it's also potentially unsafe.

We helmet wearers know a thing or two about our lids, don’t we? We wash them out between seasons (and sometimes mid-season), we take care not to abuse them, and we replace them when they age out. Right?

Well, OK, yeah, maybe some of us don’t replace our helmets as often as we should, but I am here to say: Do it. Due to attendance at a recent track day, I was inspired to check the date on my helmet. The organizers insisted they wouldn’t let anyone on the track wearing a helmet that was more than five years old. Oho, five years you say? When did I buy that helmet again?

Two thousand twelve. Yes, dear reader, you are doing that math correctly. A seven year old helmet. How many miles has that helmet seen? Some quick napkin-based math says over 85,000 miles. Plenty to retire it.

Out of an abundance of caution (heck, I wanted to ride the track!) and after no small amount of research I pulled the trigger on a new-old helmet, that is, the same helmet I already had, only seven years newer.

Let me tell you, technology is advancing all around us and helmet manufacturers are definitely not sitting on the sidelines making the same old helmets. Even though the new Arai Signet is nearly identical to the Arai Signet it replaced, the new helmet has loads of improvements over and above smelling way better.

Old Arai Sideplate
New Arai Sideplate

Arai is among the best helmet manufacturers out there, and if you have a long-oval head like I do, it’s the only one that won’t give you that forehead pain. All manufacturers, though, are constantly CAD designing and wind-tunnel testing. They’re improving shell materials, liner materials and impact foam materials and design. Any new helmet will probably be better than your old, smelly, sweaty helmet just by dint of its all-new materials, but also because advances in materials technology and the way we understand motorcycle crashes is always getting better.

Comfort-wise, more new helmets often have space for communication systems, as manufacturers understand we’re going to install them. Liner materials themselves are anti-bacterial. The visors are pinlock-ready, and often come with the pinlocks in the box. Gone are the days of installing those things from scratch! Materials have gotten lighter and stronger. Helmet venting has gotten much, much better, and venting controls likewise have improved. No more easily-busted rocker switches on the new Arai! They’re all low-profile sliders now. They’ve even redesigned the shield mechanism, though I would argue that they have made it pickier and unfortunately impossible to do while wearing the helmet.

Do yourself a favor, and if your sweaty old lid has seen better days, look around for a replacement. Go sniff a few new helmets at your local dealer and I guarantee you that you will be impressed. If you’re the kind of person who insists that full-face helmets are “too stuffy” or they cut off your field of vision? I bet you haven’t tried one out in ten years or more. I dare you to try out a good, modern full-face lid and insist to me that that is still the case. Besides, you like your teeth, don’t you? Dental work is still more expensive than even the priciest race-replica full-face helmet.

You’re out of excuses, everyone! To the helmet shop!