I had no idea how easy it was to ruin a helmet.
I hope that everyone is aware that your motorcycle helmet is basically a single-use piece of protective gear. I don’t mean throw it away after you’ve worn it once, of course. I mean if your helmet takes a good bash, you’ll likely need to buy a new one since the protective properties may have been compromised.
I wasn’t planning on writing this piece right now, but while watching a motorcycle show on the weekend I saw a bad habit that I, in conjunction with countless other riders, have been blindly practicing for years with all of my helmets.
After wearing my Schuberth C3 helmet for one season, I sent it back to the manufacturer for some repair work. The rubber seal along the bottom of the visor opening was separating from the helmet – possibly due to the way I carried it. In this day and age it is quite a surprise when businesses go above and beyond in the realms of customer service, but that is exactly what I experienced in my dealings with Schuberth… plus I got an education at the same time.
One day, a couple weeks after shipping my helmet to them, my phone rang. It was the technician who was going to work on my helmet. He said it was no issue to repair the loose rubber stripping, but he had a couple questions for me.
First, what exactly was I doing with my helmet?
I said I was wearing it.
He then clarified his question. The helmet had all kinds of weird indentations on the internal foam and small tears in the liner. Was there something I was setting it on, or was I carrying things in it?
The mirrors on the Honda ST1300 are built into the fairing, so my SPOT Trace GPS tracker mounts on my handlebar, where a lot of bikes have mirrors. This was a convenient place to put my helmet when I took it off. I said, yes, I was setting it on my SPOT tracker.
He proceeded to tell me that the damage caused to the foam inside the helmet was enough to reduce the protection the helmet could provide in a crash. He would change all the foam and the liner before shipping it back.
Second, did I have any other issues with the helmet besides the rubber strip?
Well, yes, after wearing the helmet for extended periods I would get a hot spot in the middle of my forehead. He said that was a complaint he had heard before and he would make some adjustments to the front foam section and maybe the interior liner.
I was impressed by this personalized service and even more impressed once the next riding season came around, and I no longer had issues when wearing the helmet for hours on end. I have since taken up the practice of setting the helmet on the ground beside the bike or using the strap or chin bar to hang it off my highway pegs. I am now very conscious to be just as careful with the inside of my helmet as with the outside.
So, the next time you stop for a break, be careful what you do with your helmet. It’s got an important job to do and you don’t want to inadvertently reduce its capabilities.
Ride responsibly and enjoy your travels.
— R. Bruce Thomas