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Tech Talk: Helmet Care!
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FROM: Spring 2013 VBOOST

Now that the riding season is starting it is the best time to take care of all the maintenance that your gear needs. Especially for that most important piece of riding gear that we use, our Helmets. Most of us are clueless as to what to do to properly take care of this piece of equipment that protects our brains! It is the most important part of our riding gear because its condition can affect your riding and your safety. So here’s my best advice… First, check the manufacturing date! It should be located on a label inside your helmet, sometimes on the liner, sometimes on the chinstrap. The recognized life expectancy of any helmet is 3 to 5 years even if you have taken good care of it and if it looks new from the outside. During those years, the polystyrene or EPS (the actual protective part of the helmet) suffers from degradation caused by the environment (pollution, sweat, hair products, exposure to UV light from the sun, etc.) and can become brittle. In case of an impact, the protection would not be optimum. Of course if it was in any sort of accident, even the slightest crash, even if you can swear that your head did not touch the ground, you should replace your helmet. Most damage is not visible to the eye and nobody can tell you whether there’s any damage to your helmet, as it happens under the outer shell in the outside portion of the polystyrene liner, which is not accessible. Remember, Accident = Replacement So, now that you have checked the date on your helmet and you are sure that it is not too old to provide protection in even a minor crash, it is time to take care of it. The Shield: if your helmet has a face shield, you should check that it is in good condition. Over time, shields receive many impacts from road debris and from organic flying objects while we ride, as well as from our own clumsiness. Everyone knows that if you hit or drop your helmet, it will always land on the shield, right? Then there’s the cleaning at the gas station where the only thing you can find, to clean our shield, is the brown paper towel next to the windshield brush or your tee shirt. The worst you can do for your shield is to use a paper product to clean your shield; it will leave behind a million little scratches that will make it hard to see, especially at night and your Tee shirt is not much better! What should you use other on your shield? The best recommendation is never to use anything with ammonia anywhere on your helmet, and never use glass cleaning products, Windex and the like. But you can use the famous rain repellent products (Rain-X), which will help shed rain drops. If your shield needs replacing do it now! I have used VISO-CLEAN, a special cleaner, in individual packets that will remove the bugs and leave your shield sparkling clean. I have also used those individual packets of plastic lens cleaner that I get at the local eye glass store. Keep them in your saddle bags or pockets so that you are never tempted to use the wrong thing. The Pinlock Insert: Many brands of helmets sell a Pinlock anti- fog inserts for their helmets. These work miraculously to keep your shields from fogging up, whether it is raining or it is cold. I install a new one each spring. Make sure that it is properly installed inside your helmet. Make sure to never use any cleaning solution on a Pinlock insert! They are made of water absorbing plastic (that’s the magic behind their properties) and they will absorb any liquid that you put on them! Any cleaning agent will be absorbed and will damage your Pinlock forever. If it is dirty, rinse it under running water and let it air dry. Do not use anything scratchy on your insert, its surface is very soft! You can wipe it down with a soft cloth, but it will take several hours before it regains its original anti-fog qualities. The Liner: Most modern helmets have a removable washable liner and you will find the instructions on how to remove it in your owner’s manual or online at the manufacturer’s web-site. Even though most liners can be washed in machine, I recommend washing it by hand with some gentle soap (Wool Lite} and hanging it to dry. This way you are sure that your liner will come out unscathed. Of course, liners will not last forever, especially if you use your helmet a lot, or if you live and ride in hot weather. Most liners are available as a spare part. Again, do not wait until the last minute to order a replacement and make sure that you have your helmet model and your helmet size before you order. If you can’t remove your liner or if you don’t want to take the time to do so, you can use Helmet Care spray inside your helmet, rub on the liner with a rag or a clean sponge and let air dry. This will clean up your liner and leave it with a fresh scent (nothing flowery or bothersome). During the riding season, here in sunny Florida, I regularly place a Drier sheet inside my helmet when it is not in use. I am careful to not let the sheet touch any plastic. It sure does make the helmet smell nice the next time I ride! The Outer Shell: Just like the shields, the helmet shell ride. just about every motor - cycle shop. The cleaner that you use should be sprayed on and then you tends to collect all kinds of debris, mostly bug parts! Most helmets are painted, some quite elaborately at great cost so you want to treat it the way you would treat your prized There are many spray on cleaners on the market at should use a soft microfiber cloth to clean the surface, it will erase fingerprints and melt away bug smears. And while you are looking at the shell, make sure that all the moving parts are functional. If you find some dust or bug bits stuck in your vents or in the shield or chinbar mechanism, use a spray can of compressed air (the kind you use on computer keyboards) and blow all this dust and debris away. Never use anything like WD40 anywhere on your helmet. It will help collect dust wherever you apply it, making your problem worse. And it might affect the integrity of the polystyrene or the material of the outer shell. The Helmet Chin Strap: important part of the whole safety system of the helmet. Inspect the strap material (usually made of a ballistic nylon webbing, for fraying or cuts to the material. Check the buckling hardware. Some helmets use “D” rings others use a nylon quick disconnect buckle or a ratchet type buckle. No matter what buckle system your helmet uses make sure it works and is in top operating condition... If you have any doubts as to the functioning of the buckle it’s time to start looking for a new helmet. Some helmet companies and or Helmet shops offer some type of maintenance service, sometimes the labor is free if you send or bring your helmet in. Don’t procrastinate! Take care of your helmet and your helmet will take care of you! Editor’s Note; I wrote this article because I just went through this, right before Bike Week, to see if I needed a new Lid... I get them fairly cheap from one of the vendors at the Iron Horse Saloon. My Nolan convertible helmet passed all of the inspections and will live to see me through the spring and summer!
Later/Steve Jasse

Posted on: 2013/11/4 14:32
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Be safe out there and enjoy the ride....

Mike Moore
VMOA Webmaster






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