There is a lot of discussion around buying used motorcycle helmets. Motorcycle helmets can be very expensive, so naturally, some people may consider buying a higher-end second-hand motorcycle helmet.
However, is buying a used motorcycle helmet a good idea?
Generally, you should not buy used motorcycle helmets. The main reason to avoid buying a used motorcycle helmet is that used helmets can be worn out or damaged, which can negatively impact their safety. There can also be fitment issues and hygiene concerns.
Motorcycle helmets are an integral part of your gear and one of the areas where riders should not spare expenses. Investing in quality gear that may keep you safe in the case of an accident is well worth it.
So let’s take a more in-depth look at second-hand motorcycle helmets.
Is it worth buying a used motorcycle helmet?
The consensus is that one should not buy a used motorcycle helmet. Buying a used motorcycle helmet is associated with more risks and hazards than any possible benefits. (More on that in a bit.)
Used motorcycle helmets are just not safe, and the lower price they sell at is not good enough of a reason to justify their purchase.
You can purchase a brand new motorcycle helmet at the same price point that will be DOT certified. It is true, if a used motorcycle helmet and a brand new motorcycle helmet are sold at the same price, then the used helmet is probably a higher-tier one, yet it is still worth investing in a brand new product.
Even if budget is a concern, it is worth waiting for a while in order to save more money in order to purchase a brand new helmet.
Reasons why you should not buy a used motorcycle helmet
Limited shelf life
One of the main problems is that motorcycle helmets should be considered a consumable product. This may come as a surprise to many beginner riders. However, motorcycle helmets have a shelf life at the end of which they should be replaced.
Motorcycle helmets are expected to provide certain levels of protection.
Motorcycle helmets are made of materials that will slowly wear out and degrade over time. As a result, this will compromise their protective capabilities.
Generally, motorcycle helmets have a shelf life of 5 years. However, depending on how they have been used and the materials they are made of, their shelf life can vary.
For example, cheaper polycarbonate motorcycle helmets may need to be replaced after 4 years of use, while more expensive composite motorcycle helmets may last between 5 to 7 years.
See article: Are expensive motorcycle helmets worth it?
Buying a used bike helmet means that you will be buying an item that will have been used for a good portion of its shelf life, which means that you may need to purchase another motorcycle helmet just after a few years.
If buying a motorcycle helmet that you can use only for a few years is not a big concern for you, then there is another problem that you need to consider. And this is the simple fact that you will not be able to assess the real condition of the helmet by just looking or putting it on.
Unless you are buying it from a close friend or relative (somebody that you can trust completely), you will not know what the motorcycle helmet has been through.
There is a significant difference between a motorcycle helmet that has been dropped a few times or that has been in an accident and a helmet that has been barely used.
Motorcycle helmets are considered disposable items—in other words, once they have been used as intended, they should be thrown away.
Even if the outer shell of the motorcycle helmet appears intact, there is no way of knowing what the condition of the inner impact absorbing liner is—the part of the helmet that will actually provide the most protection in an impact-related accident.
Even dropping your helmet from a relatively insignificant height may compromise its protective capabilities.
Some people will sell their helmet if it has been dropped one too many times and do not feel safe wearing it anymore, not regarding the buyer’s safety.
Overall buying a used helmet may save you a little money now, but you could be risking your health in doing so.
The internal padding or lining responsible for how comfortable the helmet feels will break in around your head over time.
By purchasing a second-hand motorcycle helmet, you will receive a helmet that has been broken in by a different person who most likely has a differently shaped head. The helmet interior lining will have shaped to their head, and it may not fit well and it may even hurt your head.
This is very similar to buying used leather shoes that have been worn by somebody who has differently shaped feet. The fit will be off.
That being said, over time, the limning should be able to deform and eventually offer a good fit.
Personal hygiene concerns
Some people may see this as a sensitive topic, but it needs to be addressed. Not all people have the same hygiene habits, and it is not a surprise that not everybody will care the same way for their helmet as well.
If a person has poor hygiene habits and does not care for and clean their motorcycle helmet, it will not be long before the internal padding, liner, and cheek pads are ruined.
In addition to that, many riders will often have a second helmet that they will give to their passengers.
With a used motorcycle helmet, you will not know what people have been using it.
Worn out materials and parts
Let’s not overlook the fact that the different parts on the used motorcycle helmet will just be worn out and will not operate as smoothly and tightly as a brand new helmet.
For example, the visor latching may not work properly or be loose, and the retention straps may also not be in good condition. The EPC material used for the inner shell slowly degrades and hardens over time, which can make the helmet unsafe even if it has not been hit or dropped in any way.
Much like many other consumer products, motorcycle helmets also come with a warranty that covers manufacturing defects.
This warranty is usually between 5 to 7 years; however, it may vary between the different companies.
Manufacturing warranty, though, does not cover any damage or damage that has been caused by the consumer like dropping the helmet or hitting it on or with a hard object or if it has been in an accident.
Buying a motorcycle helmet from a private seller (as opposed to a reputable dealer) comes with another set of risks. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Counterfeit motorcycle helmets that try to imitate the high-tier (and significantly more expensive) motorcycle helmets can be found online.
However, they are not made with high-quality materials, and often the manufacturing process will also not be up to standard. As a result of the inferior materials and manufacturing, those helmets will not be able to provide adequate protection.
How much do used motorcycle helmets cost?
On average, the cost of used motorcycle helmets will vary between $30 to $550. The total price of a used motorcycle helmet will depend on its condition, type, and how well the previous owner has taken care of it.
Generally speaking, a used motorcycle helmet will be between 15% to 65% cheaper than the same motorcycle helmet that is brand new.
Used motorcycle helmets will always have a lower price tag compared to the same motorcycle helmet that’s brand new.
Conversely, some used motorcycle helmets, depending on their type, condition, and features, can be more expensive than some brand new motorcycle helmets.
See article: How much do motorcycle helmets cost?
Is it legal to sell used motorcycle helmets?
Selling used motorcycle helmets is not illegal. It is legal for anybody to sell their used motorcycle helmet to another person,
However, selling a used motorcycle helmet will often not be a legal question but a moral question.
When selling a motorcycle helmet, it is usually sold “as is”, which is considered a caveat emptor (Latin for let the buyer beware). This means that the buyer takes responsibility for any actions, consequences, and outcomes that may arise from the use of the product they have bought.
In other words, the buyer understands and takes the risk that the product may not meet their expectations or be defective.
Do people buy used motorcycle helmets?
Despite the practice of buying used motorcycle helmets being heavily discouraged, people do, in fact, buy used motorcycle helmets. Used motorcycle helmets are cheaper than the same brand new helmet, allowing people on a budget to use a more expensive helmet than what their budget may allow.
Just because people do buy used motorcycle helmets does not mean it is worth doing it, though, as there are too many risks associated with using a second-hand helmet.
Should you buy a used motorcycle helmet?
Many motorcycle riders will wonder if they can actually buy a used motorcycle helmet.
Yes, you can buy a used motorcycle helmet. You can find used motorcycle helmets online on websites like Craigslist, eBay, Gumtree, or purchased in person, for example, at garage sells or from friends and relatives.
However, a better question will be, “Should you buy a used motorcycle helmet?”
Although you can, you shouldn’t buy used motorcycle helmets. The main issue with used or second-hand motorcycle helmets is that their real condition is unknown. Although the helmet may look okay on the outside, there is no telling if it can really offer adequate levels of protection—the very reason why you are buying it in the first place.
If budget is a concern, you still have a few better alternatives than buying a second-hand helmet.
It is recommended to shop around and look for what deals you can find both online and in-store. Often there will be some very decent closeout sales where you may be able to buy new motorcycle helmets cheap.
See article: How much should you spend on a motorcycle helmet?
On the other hand, if you are buying an old and used motorcycle helmet for decorative purposes is OK. This poses no dangers or health hazards as long as you are not wearing it while riding a motorcycle.