- Badly fitted helmets
Forget the head/ear aches that badly fitting helmets can cause. If your helmet is flopping around on your nogging, it isn't going to be much use in a crash. The snug fit ensures that as little of the impact force as possible is transferred to your head when you hit something solid. A loose lid, then is like, useless.
- Hang it on the mirror
Yes, it's the most casual thing to do at the end of the ride... even, road testers do it. But leaving you helmet perched on your rear view mirror is slowly compressing your impact absorbing layer of polystrene (the thermocol-like stuff) and reducing the impact-absorbing ability of your helmet
- Leave it perched on the seat/tank
Do this often enough, and the helmet will land on the road with that sickening hollow sound that means your helmet just died. Keep wearing it and one day you will too.
Oh yeah, we all want cool stickers on our lids. Even I do. But, stick non-helmet safe stickers on the shell and you're asking for it. Adhesives can react and cause the shell to
delaminate destruct shatter explorespoil. Still insist on stickers? Use the rubber strip at the bottom, the plastic of the vents or the sides/top of the faceshield so that your vision is not restricted.
- Leave it on the helmet lock and ride
A helmet lock (that black rubbery thing with nuts that break off) is only meant to keep you lid safe when parked. During a ride, the shocks from the road will eventually break the jaw part of your full face helmet clean off. Or at least weaken it. So don't do that.
- Carelessly knock it against doors, walls and stuff
You'd be surprised how easy this is to do. But, remember, a helmet is designed to absorb one giant bash. Many minor bashes erode that ability and one day, when you need it, it won't have that capability.
Yes, like many other things, helmets age. Father Time shows little respect for the best of things and helmets certainly are not hard wearing. A glossy, well kept helmet will still be useless in five years time (Shoei recommends changing lids after five years). Our Indian ones? Two years, tops.
- Riding with the straps not tightened and/or fastened
This is just sheer reckless behaviour. If you were in the army, would you go into battle with your bullet proof jacket stuffed into your backpack? Wearing an unfastened helmet is the same. And wearing a fastened helmet with a very loose strap is also exactly the same thing. If you can pull your chin strap over your chin, it is too loose. And if the helmet comes off when you crash, you're in for a rough ride.
- Dirty helmets
A dirty helmet is just stupid. Cleaning the helmet gives you a chance to examine the state of the lid. Accumulated muck can hide scars, react and render the shell useless and worse, dirty brown is a background colour and hide from an inattentive car driver. All of these are bad things. Don't do this to yourself.
- Not wearing it
This is obvious. But if you have a crash when your helmet is worn around your elbow, mirror, helmet lock or even backwards on top of your head... Goodbye, nice knowing you.