Recycling your old helmet

Can motorcycle helmets be recycled?

Well not in the conventional way of taking it down the local recycling centre because of all the different components used to make a helmet such as the plastic shell to the ESP foam liner, but there’s plenty of other things you can do with them instead of chucking them straight into the bin.

Can I sell my old motorcycle helmet?

Selling on your old helmet is a big no-no, the delicate nature of motorcycle helmets means that selling them again would mean there’s no proof on how it’s been previously cared for.

Although you might have the original box and it might look super shiny and new on the outside, it’s unknown to what could be bubbling underneath the surface.

Research shows that over 40% of motorcyclists are currently using helmets that need to be replaced, it’s important to remember that helmets only last up to five years but this may be shorter if they’ve had a knock or two, or been involved in an accident.

pink motorcycle helmet

Not sure what to do with your old helmet? You could upcycle it!

Upcycle your helmet

If you fancy yourself as bit of a Monty Don then you could upcycle your old helmet into a great planter or hanging basket for your garden.

Drill some holes into the top of your lid (for drainage), fill it with soil and pick some pretty flowers to fill it with – attach a strong chain if you want to use it as a hanging basket.

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Donate it to emergency services

Ambulance, police and fire services are always providing free first aid courses, especially those for motorcyclists like Biker Down or FireBike. You will need to contact your local centre to see if they are accepting donations. 

You could donate your old helmet to be used for these courses when they teach how to move an injured bike, removing the helmet without causing injury etc. All you need to do is make sure the chin strap is still attached to the helmet.

police motorbikes in London

Donate your helmet to the Emergency Services. Credit: Devitt

One for the fancy dress box

If you’ve got kids, or you know the local theatre company then you could always add your old helmet to the prop box.

Got a fancy dress party coming up? You could turn your helmet into part of your costume – you could The Stig, create your own Lego head and more!

Make sure you cut out the chinstrap to make sure it’s never accidentally worn on the road as a proper piece of protective equipment.

Trade it in

Some motorcycle shops will offer a discount on a new helmet if you trade in your old one. Although it may vary between dealers, a lot ask for the original proof of purchase (a receipt will do) so they can check the age of your helmet.

After that you can try on whatever lid you fancy before purchase a brand new one with a nice little discount!

However, if none of these options suits you then you can just throw it in the bin. Not always the most eco-friendly way of doing it, but it gets the job done. One thing to remember is to make sure that you cut the chinstrap out to prevent from any further use.

Can I paint my old motorcycle helmet?

Maybe, you’re not quite ready to part with your motorcycle helmet just yet and you just fancy a bit of a refresh, well the questions is asked a lot if you can paint or spray paint a motorcycle helmet. In theory, yes you can but you need to be aware of any risks in doing so.

As we know, helmets are delicate things that have been made for the utmost protection every time we wear it.

Painting could potential damage your helmet in the long run as the adhesive materials used to hold the helmet together could become weakened when paint is added to it – we’re not entirely sure what chemicals will react but it could have an overall negative impact.

There’s no clear answer on this one really, but spraying your helmet could lead to some potential damage to the integrity of the outer- shell which is your first layer on protection in the result of an accident.

Also, other issues that could occur could be from removing the inner padded lining which could then weaken then adhesive glues that hold it altogether.

We suggest contacting the manufacturer to see if they can advise what paints might be suitable for you to use in your next project. You can always contact a local helmet spraying specialist for advice or a quote on doing yours.

If you’re still going to go ahead with updating your helmet then it’s worth remembering the following steps:

  • Make sure you’ve thoroughly cleaned the helmet beforehand to get rid of any dirt or dead bugs
  • Cover up any air vents before spraying to help avoid clogging them and causing any ventilation issues
  • Cover up the visor and the rubber trim around the base of the helmet
  • Remove whatever is detachable from the inside of the helmet
  • Make sure any stickers are replace or covered up that prove the validity of the helmet e.g. ACU
  • Latex gloves to wear so the grease from your fingers doesn’t imprint onto the helmet
  • Water based paints are highly recommended but check with the manufacturer beforehand

Some site will suggest using sandpaper to take off the layer of shine from the top of your helmet; however this could (again) cause potential damage to the helmet in the long run.

If you can avoid doing this then it’s advised, however some paint will not stick. If your old helmet is a plain colour then you’re already one up as you can just apply your new colour to the top.

Vinyl wrap is your best bet; this shouldn’t cause any damage to your helmet and leave a pretty good finish.

Another option is stickers – we’ve seen plenty of helmets covered in stickers from adventures – it’s a quick-fire way of revamping your helmet without the trouble of getting it painted.

Now you know what to do with your old helmet, it’s time get shopping for a new one!

More information about motorcycle helmets right here...