The most vital piece of safety gear for any motorcyclist is the helmet — in more ways than one. In a world where just about everything is adjustable, customizable, or able to be personalized in one way or another, the helmet remains relatively uncharted territory in those terms.
But there are some things that can be done to not only enhance the appearance of your helmet, but to improve aspects. Here are Ultimate Motorcycling’s top 10 ideas for things you can add to your helmet.
1. Quick Release Buckles
If you are like me, you don’t like having to putz with the old fashioned double-D ring fasteners on a typical helmet’s retention system. As a result, nearly every helmet I have that didn’t come from the factory with quick release buckles has been upgraded to quick release buckles.
In addition to being faster and easier to use the threading and unthreading the nylon retention strap though those D-rings, most quick release options can be opened and closed with gloves on. We took a look at one such system - check it out here.
2. Reflective Material
Some helmets arrive from the factory with pre-cut reflective stickers you can apply. This stickers increase visibility to other drivers in low light or hours of darkness when headlights are in use.
Being that your head is the highest point on the bike when you’re under way, it can be seen above your top box tailbag and most windshields, so having some reflective material up there can make a big difference in your visibility. If your helmet didn’t come with such items, reflective tape is available in any hardware store in several colors and widths.
3. Sun Visor
Back in the day street bike helmets often had short duck-bill sun visors available that could snap on and off the helmet — an option not generally available today except on adventure and off-road style helmets.
Having to shade your eyes in the late afternoon sun can be dangerous if you have to do it with your hand. A simple sun visor can be made with tape or non-adhesive static adhering vinyl window sunshade sold for application to automotive windows.
I’ve used both with very good results, although the static cling vinyl can come loose at freeway speeds if not anchored at the ends with tabs of transparent tape.
If you add a face-shield sun visor, take care to not make it so wide it reduces the viewing area if using a tape—using tinted transparent cling vinyl window treatment works exceptionally well while not reducing the view area.
Many helmets do arrive with retractable shields, and Arai offers the Pro Shade System.
4. Tinted, Photochromatic and Reflective Shield
Most full-face helmets arrive standard with a clear shield. This is an area where a little investment can lead to a big improvement. Reflective shields have a cool look and can have just enough tint to tame the sun, but they can’t adjust for changes in light levels as conditions change. Photochromatic shields that lighten their tint as light levels decrease are a great option, but cost considerably more than a tinted shield.
5. Eject Helmet Removal System:
The Shock Doctor Eject Helmet Removal System is a relatively new solution to a problem as old as the helmet itself. Helmets when properly fitted are very snug and as a result can take a little effort to remove.
That becomes critically important when a helmet must be removed by rescuers for a rider who has been in an accident. Applying the kind of forces that are required to pull a helmet off can pose the risk of worsening a neck injury, if one has occurred.
The Eject system uses air pumped into a small airbag inside the crown of the helmet to reduce that potential by pushing the helmet off the head. We took a look at the Eject system a while back—you can check it out here.
6. Communications Gear
Perhaps no option for helmet enhancement has gained popularity more rapidly than communications equipment. Of course, the helmet must be able to accommodate the equipment installation, but if it does, there are some great options. An example is the Cardo Scala Rider G9, reviewed here.
7. Helmet Camera
Next to the helmet communications gear, helmet mounted cameras are probably the next biggest thing for helmet functionality. Saving the memories of the ride can be priceless, if a little pricey. For more on this option, visit GoPro.
8. Breath Deflector
If you ride often in cooler temperatures that lead to face shield fogging and use a full-face helmet, it can be a great idea to use a breath deflector in the chin bar of your helmet.
A number of helmets arrive with these as a removable option, and it’s a good thing to look for if you are in the market for a helmet. Most are held in place with hook and loop material and pop into place pretty easily. They also do much to keep your face warm on a cold day.
9. Anti-Fog Shield
Face shields that have an anti-fog coating or a Pinlock inserts are the second part of the solution to fogged view in cold weather riding. There are also shield cleaning products that can be useful in preventing shield fogging.
10. Decals and Designs
They don’t really add to the functionality of a helmet, but they can add to the fun factor and are, let’s face it, the most economical and popular helmet enhancement option!
Whenever using any sort of paint, coating or adhesive on your helmet to always check with the manufacturer’s recommendations and precautions in the owner’s manual or website to be sure the finish quality or safety performance of your helmet will not be affected.