Image from Discovery News

As a bike accident lawyer who has represented many cyclists lucky to have survived horrific car vs. bike collisions because they were wearing helmets, I am a HUGE advocate for helmets.

I am also old enough to remember the old Bell helmet ads from the 1970’s: “If your head isn’t worth $60, then you don’t need our helmet.”

Even with current costs for helmets well over $100, my feeling is that a good helmet is worth every penny.

It’s also important to remember that helmets don’t last forever. You should perform periodic inspection of your helmet to make sure it is still safe, and always discard a helmet after a crash.

The foam in a high-tech new helmet – instead of your head – is designed to absorb the impact  in a crash.

What many people don’t realize is that a helmet should be discarded after any strong impact – even if it doesn’t show visible signs of damage. Hairline cracks or a fracture in the foam render the helmet much less useful as head protection.

A German company came up with a great solution to let bicyclists know when it’s time to replace a helmet. As reported on the Chicago Bicycle Advocate Blog in the post “New Bicycle Helmet Smart/Stinky,” a German company has come up with a helmet that stinks like Limburger cheese after it’s cracked.

The foam contains microcapsules of stinky oil that are released if the helmet takes enough of a knock.

CrunchGear had a quote from a scientist with the project:

“Cyclists often replace their helmets unnecessarily after dropping them on the ground, because they cannot tell whether they are damaged or not,” Dr. Christof Koplin, a research scientist at theFraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, said. “The capsules eliminate this problem. If cracks form, smelly substances are released.”

What a smart idea. People hang on to all kinds of stuff, but not stinky stuff. Let alone something to wear on your head!

I’ll close with classic tips from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute:

When Should I Replace My Helmet?

Did you crash while wearing it?


Did you drop it hard enough to crack the foam?


Is it from the 1970’s?


Is the outside just foam or cloth instead of plastic?


Does it lack a CPSC, ASTM or Snell sticker?


Can you not adjust it to fit correctly?


I hope this convinces you to check out your own bicycle helmet for its condition and quality.

Sure it costs money to replace a bicycle helmet or invest in one that is really going to protect you well. But you’ve only got one head, so THAT is priceless.

Thanks for reading and RIDE SAFELY,

James B. Reed, Esq.
NY & PA Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529

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