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Helmets, Safety, and Cold Weather???

1323 Views 11 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Chérie
No I am not looking for a new cold weather helmet to wear. But there are a lot of us that ride in extreme temps both hot and cold.
I went to our old neighborhood's Suzuki dealer where they keep helmets on display that have gone through a crash. They had a new one on display and it was cracked or split at the impact point. I asked my buddy what happened to it and he said it cracked because it was too cold for the helmet. What the hay? He then said people shouldn't ride when the temps are below freezing because the helmet shell becomes more brittle and are less safe. This was the first time I ever heard that but I also realize that plastics and fiberglass do get brittle in the cold as do other things.
Could there be some truth to his story?
Is a helmet safer and more flexible when it is hot as compared to when it is cold?
I have never seen any research done on this but now am very curious about it.
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Dont you suffer from...........
"SHRINKAGE" in the cold weather.?????????? (From seinfeld episode!!!) :lol: :lol:
It should be obvious that the shell cracked because it hit something. Without knowing what the helmet shell is made of, it could be made of a number of different materials, what the temperature was at the time of the accident, how long after the helmet was taken outside the accident occurred and a number of other variables it would be impossible to say whether or not the cold affected the performance of the shell. However, based on your description it did not shatter or break apart which is what I would expect to happen if there was embrittlement from being excessively cold. So, my guess would be that the cold had little, if any, effect on the performance of the helmet's shell.

I've been known to be wrong, though.
I'd say it's a bit of a crap shoot as to the cause of the damage to that helmet, but I suspect that the cold had little to no bearing on it. A cracked helmet at point of impact shows that the helmet was doing it's job of protecting a head by absorbing the strike. Remember that snow machine riders wear helmets all the time also and they typically ride in far colder weather than we do with helmets made out of the same material. Motorcycle riders generally never get out in the extreme cold the way that snow machine riders do. Of course plastics and such become more brittle as they get cold but I think that the impact absorbtion is not affected negatively to any great degree by riding a motorcycle in 20F temps.

Research into DOT regulations shows that testing is carried out on helmets after being subjected to 14F for 12 hours and I don't know about you, but that is plenty colder than anything I care to ride in anyway.
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Thank you! That is very informative.
S6.4 Conditioning.
S6.4.1 Immediately before conducting the testing sequence specified in S7, condition each test helmet in accordance with any one of the following procedures:
(a) Ambient conditions. Expose to a temperature of 70 °F(21 °C) and a relative humidity of 50 percent for 12 hours.
(b) Low temperature. Expose to a temperature of 14 °F(-10 °C) for 12 hours.
(c) High temperature. Expose to a temperature of 122 °F(50 °C) for 12 hours.
(d) Water immersion. Immerse in water at a temperature of 77 °F(25 °C) for 12 hours.
S6.4.2 If during testing, as specified in S7.1.3 and S7.2.3, a helmet is returned to the conditioning environment before the time out of that environment exceeds 4 minutes, the helmet is kept in the environment for a minimum of 3 minutes before resumption of testing with that helmet. If the time out of the environment exceeds 4 minutes, the helmet is returned to the environment for a minimum of 3 minutes for each minute or portion of a minute that the helmet remained out of the environment in excess of 4 minutes or for a maximum of 12 hours, whichever is less, before the resumption of testing with that helmet.
The water immersion test kinda throws me a little...but I guess if you ride in the rain for 12 hours it would be valid.
I always thought a helmet was a floatation device and would be hard to Immerse/submerse. :lol:
v8eyedoc said:
Dont you suffer from...........
"SHRINKAGE" in the cold weather.?????????? (From seinfeld episode!!!) :lol: :lol:
Oh yes, I remember that one. Poor George.
The fact that the outer shell on the helmet cracked only means that it worked or did it's job.
The shell is as much decoration as protection.
It's what's inside the helmet that really protects your head.
When the inner material absorbs the shock it will deform and not return to the original shape if the hit is hard enough.
I doubt very much that any temp a person would be out riding in would have much effect on a helmets performance.
It does make sense that being that cold it would be more brittle. Does that have anything to do with how it cracked? I don't have a clue! I will say that I have my own thoughts regarding heat. I commute almost everyday by scooter in sunny south Florida and yes...during the summer (and sometimes winter) it gets HOT! Even though my helmet would fit under the seat or in the top box I always take it into the office. With absolutly no data or references to back it up I just don't think storing a helmet in an oven every day can be good for it...the shell, the foam....any part of it.
v8eyedoc said:
Dont you suffer from...........
"SHRINKAGE" in the cold weather.?????????? (From seinfeld episode!!!) :lol: :lol:
sometimes all the way up to my knee but brittle ????? nope
Me not believe this at all, doubt very much than company such Shoei, Arai, Schubert have this kind problem with bit colder weather.

If this true, snowmobile & ATV helmet crack and break all time when out in -20 or -25 degree ride and this not problem with snowmobile or ATV helmet.
Funny thing is it was an Arai helmet.
Scootereno said:
Funny thing is it was an Arai helmet.
As said before, helmet crack because impact not because cold.
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