Ask RideApart: What To Do With Old Helmets?

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What To Do WIth Old Helmets

If you’re a regular motorcyclist then over time you are going to amass a huge amount of gear. Some things you’ll wear until they either break, get damaged or are just too dirty and outdated to use anymore. But what do you do with old helmets after that? Should you just hang on to them, sell them or even consider recycling them?


OK Motorcycle people, what do you do with your old/outdated/crashed helmets? I’ve got a few taking up space.
- @Rumblestrip (via @RideApart Twitter).


Good question and one that we at RideApart don’t have an immediate answer for. It’s certainly something that can causes one or two problems as your home starts to become a graveyard for old helmets, worn out boots and, on occasion, some pretty smelly jackets.

Crash helmets, unless they have been worn very frequently or have been damaged, are still relatively new (depending on the year of manufacturer in the lining label) and can be sold on. But the person making the second-hand purchase is taking on a bit of a risk. They are essentially buying blind and don’t know what has happened to the helmet or if it’s still safe to use.

There are some alternatives to consider when retiring old helmets, some which are frankly quite innovative. How about using them for flowerpots in the garden? Some bright spark has planted up these and made a interesting display for their garden. Or how about adapting an old lid as a accent table lamp  in your living room? Your other half might not think it matches the décor but it looks pretty cool to us.

Others have suggested taking them out to the desert and unleashing hell with some choice weaponry – one of the more entertaining options. There are some other even more extreme suggestions that involve using them as portable toilets when camping but we didn’t like the idea of that, nor the imagery it brought on.

It’s also not clear if recycling plants would take them as there is a lot of materials to dismantle and sort in a motorcycle helmet. Some people have suggested the best thing to do is just throw in the trash. We aren’t fond of that idea as it’s not very environmentally friendly and there must be a better use for an old crash helmet?

Anyone have better suggestions on what to do with an old motorcycle helmet that you can’t bring yourself to throw away?

  • Ben Myburgh

    Best option is donating to a local EMT or fire department. They use them as practice to be able to respond better when they are at a motorcycle accident.

    • JamesM

      I did not even know that was an option. Great idea.

      • Guest

        I have an old one on the shelf collecting dust right now. Totally doing this. Thank you for the tip.

    • Heath Collins

      I have an old one on the shelf collecting dust right now. Totally doing this; thank you for the tip.

      • Heath Collins

        Made this out of your post.

    • Scott Otte

      I’ve tried this with little success… maybe the Bay Area has too many motorcyclists trying to donate old helmets, or I have bad timing.

  • Ryan Sweeney

    I just started a collection of my old trashed helmets. They are hanging on the wall in the garage for display haha

    • Adrastos34

      This is my plan for all my helmets. I have seen people use those IKEA cube shelf things to display them. I was thinking of something a bit more unique though. When you spend a good amount on a helmet it just seems wrong to discard it even if you can’t use it anymore. If I crashed in a helmet I would still keep it in the collection to remind myself of why I crashed and avoid having it happen again.

    • Robotribe

      Office decor.

      • Dennis Hightower

        Makes me want to switch from solids to Rossi replicas, for their future wall value

  • Lee Mychajluk

    “Crash helmets, unless they have been worn very infrequently and have never been damaged, are still relatively new (depending on the year of manufacturer in the lining label) and can be sold on.”
    What does this mean? That the 10 year old helmet in the garage that has seen 20k miles of use each year is still ‘relatively new’? It can be re-sold for close to what was paid for it?

    • James Jamerson

      Simplifying the sentence we have: Crash helmets, unless they are basically new, are basically new.
      Glad I could sort that out for you.

      • Pingu2.0

        Not quite, the materials that make up the outer shell deteriorate over time and won’t provide the same crash protection as a new helmet. See below from Shoei:

        “…Even if none of these is applied, we, SHOEI, recommend replacement in 5 years after it’s first purchased at retail.”

        • Nolan Zandi

          I agree, that line was confusing. I edited to better represent what Tim was trying to say.

    • Blake Bryce

      utterly confusing!

  • dreygata

    You can always sell them online to people who are into cosplay design, or use them in costume design yourself. Just make sure you mention that the helmet is not suitable for actual crash protection anymore.

  • William Connor

    The donation option is pretty cool. You can also cut them in half for a wall display.

    • Fava d’Aronne

      the cutting in half for display on the wall is a pretty neat idea…

  • the antagonist

    Target practice.

  • Miles Prower

    I’ve been cutting off the straps of my old helmets and give the helmets to the kids in my neighborhood.

  • michael franklin

    I have my theory as to why no one has ever taken a…. say 10 yr old helmet and subjected it to the same tests as a new one, because they’re afraid they would find absolutely nothing wrong. Than who would need to buy a new one every 5 years?

  • eddi

    Last one I got rid of I pulled out the liner and cut the D rings off. Then tossed it in a dumpster. That’s about as useless as you can make it short of a hydraulic press or hammer. Next time I’ll ask if the local emergency service people want it.

    • Piglet2010

      “…short of a hydraulic press…”

      Hmmm…., I have access to a compression test machine rated at 250-ton capacity.

  • Michael Howard

    Is Disqus randomly dropping some comments? I’ve had several “totally inoffensive” comments disappear after the page has reloaded. They showed up in grey text when I posted them and were gone after a page refresh.

    • eddi

      I suspect technical problems. Losing data somewhere as opposed to a berserk nannybot censoring at random. I noticed it on another site as well. So it’s not Ride Apart’s doing.