Nov 24, 2007

Motorcycle Helmets: What is the visor made of? What is it for? How to take care of it?

I'm a little short of data on this one, but here goes. The cheapest visors are usually acrylic. Among Indian brands, most use acrylic visors. These shatter pretty easily, are light and almost too easy to scratch. They are, however, inexpensive. The better, more expensive shields, almost without exception are polycarbonate. In feel, they feel like hard plastic and when you flick your index finger (carrom striker style) against it, you should hear a clear, almost musical ting. An acrylic one will respond with a dull tick sound.

The perfect helmet impact safety-wise would have the hard shell going all-round. But to look through the shell, we need a hole. Again, a hole isn't perfect because you can be blinded by flying debris or worse, bleed when a stone chip finds skin to collide with. The faceshield or visor's primary task is to be optically perfect and protect against this kind of flying debris. And lest you be worried, most helmet standards specify the hole's dimensions so that visbility, focal and peripheral is not hampered. Among the list of growing secondary tasks is to stay fog free (your breath can fog up the visor), UV protection (really), contract adjustment (dark visors, or the new age amber coloured hi-def ones) and yes look good (reflective finishes look great!).

Taking care is quite simple. Remove the shield from the helmet, wash it out with running water (to sweep away dust) and then hand wash with a mild soap (baby shampoo, as usual is where it's at). I tend to first pat dry with a regular towel before a more comprehensive wipe down with a lint-free cloth. In my experience, used dhotis/vests work wonders. I also remember a Swagat Baniyan ad that claimed that it was lint-free but I never got around to trying that. Then remount the shield.

Mounting the shield, actually is a topic in itself. But we'll come to that.

Related links in this series:

Other links on helmets

1 comment:

Julian said...

the number one thing i've learnt about visor care is never, EVER, dry wipe a visor. thats probably the easiest way to get those night-star scratches.

the way i clean my visors is pretty much the same as mentioned above, except for the drying bit.

after the final rinse, hold the visor by one end and completely dunk it into a bucket of water. then slowly lift it out of the bucket, keeping the contacting part as perpendicular as possible to the surface of the water. the surface-tension of the water will pull all the drops off the visor, and it will come out of the bucket bone-dry. makes a neat magic-trick.

yes, ocd .....