Kit: How to buy a cheap helmet

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If you are starting out on two wheels your budget has to cover a lot of first-time purchases. One of the most important is your crash helmet which could costs hundreds.

But there are great savings to be had on end-of-lines or discontinued ranges that have been lurking at the back of the stockroom in their boxes. But how do you know whether they'll still be up to the job for as long as a new lid?

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to a helmet's life as it depends on the sort of life it's had. If it's abused from birth a helmet is going to wear out a lot quicker than one that is kept in a hermetically-sealed box between infrequent outings.

A helmet's life is deemed to start when it is first used. So you can happily buy helmets that have been manufactured years before as the clock doesn't start ticking properly while the lid is stored in a cool, dark place at a steady temperature.

The manufacturers' recommendations of a five-year life are an estimate based on "average" daily use and take into account all the wear and tear you would expect in those circumstances.

Whenever a helmet is stored properly its "life-clock" is on pause. If the helmet is showing obvious signs of wear in the above areas it needs replacing.

If you've dropped it or had a crash and banged it on the deck the shock-absorbing polystyrene lining will need immediate inspection to determine whether it has compressed sufficiently enough to need replacing.

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Chris Dabbs

By Chris Dabbs