What a year 2020 has been!
I know what you are thinking. Covid blew my whole disposable income pile I and just realized my helmet rating is 10 years old! Do I need to buy a new helmet too?!
Do you have a SA2015 or M2015 helmet? Relax, you’re good for 5+ more years.
Do you have a SA2010 or M2010 helmet? Read on…
2020 has come to a close, SNELL 2020 rated buckets were released on October, 1 2020 and are officially available for sale. Below was the timeline for the release of the 2020 standard, you can expect similar timelines with future releases (2025, 2030, etc)
To sum it up: SA2020 helmets did not go on sale until October 1, 2020. Your SA2010 helmet may be good through the 2021 season.
History has shown us these timelines may not be set in stone: When the 2015 standards came out there were significant delays somewhere in the process for approval, stickering, and helmet production. Helmets were late to get to retailers. As a result, many clubs delayed their updating and the SA2005’s were allowed to run for at least an extra year… You should plan to shop for a new helmet the winter a new rating is released, but many clubs will be accepting 2010 rated helmets through the whole 2021 season.
Can I run my 2020 helmet through the 2021 season?
Yes and no. With the standard helmet delays exasperated by various effects of Covid, many clubs are allowing 2010’s through 2021. I have reached out to multiple clubs and have gotten mixed answers. I’ve started compiling a quick list of responses I’ve gotten from clubs below. I STRONGLY recommend you check with your local chapter to confirm as their answers may change.
2010 Helmets Accepted THROUGH the 2021 track season:
NASA, SCCA, Chin Track Days, EMRA, AZP Track Events, MVP Track Time.
2010 Helmets NO LONGER ACCEPTED through the 2021 track season:
Hooked On Driving, Apex Track Events, Champcar
Some tracks currently have rules prohibiting 2010 helmets: As of 1/2021, NJ Motorsports Park will not allow SA/M2010 helmets for any clubs (Even if the club on track does allow them)
How does all this relate those who are using SA2015 helmets? You are still good for another 5 year cycle until the SA2025 helmets are released. Note: some clubs allow older helmets for HPDE and Autocross use, your helmet may continue to be legal for another cycle. For Wheel-To-Wheel racing everyone I’ve heard of requires helmets no older than 2 ratings.
So my helmet rating is good for 10 years, is that safe? The rating is indeed good for 10 years from the date of the rating’s release, and as long as The Helmet is in obvious very good condition, it should still protect you for that time. Most likely you will be buying your helmet at some point during that 10 year window so you’ll usually get anywhere between 5-10 years of rating life. If you buy a SA2015 helmet on September 30 2020, you should get about 5 years before the useful rating “Expires” after two cycles. If you buy a SA2020 helmet on October 1, 2020 (The Day the SA2020’s get released) you should get 10 full years before the useful rating expires.
Even with the 10 year maximum rating life, the SNELL foundation recommends cycling helmets out after 5 years… or immediately if you have a serious crash.
I see 2015 rated helmets on sale with huge discounts. Should I buy one, or are they useless? While the 2020’s are available, dealers are still clearing out their final remaining 2015 stock (Which can be sold until March 31 2021). Any 2015 rated helmet will be allowed for at least 5 more years (Once the 2025 standard is released). If you are using your helmet constantly, chances are it may be pretty gross in 5-6 years. Many people choose to replace helmets after 5 years… if you are one of those people, buying a 2015 is a great option. While there are improvements in the safety standards between the rating generations, the differences are miniscule… so you aren’t actually sacrificing anything for safety. Being the the cheap person that I am, I try to get as much time as I can safely get out of my helmets. Making a helmet last 10 years without being compromised or getting gross is certainly possible. A Balaclava can go a long way in keeping your helmets fresh closer to 10 years.
To sum it up… It’s your call. If you can get an especially good deal on a 2015 and you’re someone who is generally hard on gear… Now is a great time to buy a new 2015 leftover.
Want to read up more about helmets and safety gear? Check out my post: The Budget Safety Gear YOU need for Track Days and Racing and OTHER POSTS by No money Motorsports.