By November 4, 2009

Random Motorcycling Tip #07: Keeping Visor Fogging to a Minimum

It can be a struggle to keep your helmet visor from fogging up at this time of year. Your dome, nice and snuggly warm from your house, makes contact with the cold air outside. For some of us, putting a warm face into a cold helmet stored on the bike makes things even worse.

All of a sudden you’re caught in a Catch-22: if you raise the visor to clear the fog your face gets cold. If you lower the visor to keep your face warm the visor fogs.

What can you do? Here are a few tips that work for me, and a few things I’ve tried that didn’t work.

What works

  1. Store your helmet (and sunglasses if you wear them) inside the night before. Putting a warm mug into a cold helmet is a recipe for fogging. This alone makes a huge difference.
  2. Take the chin curtain off of your helmet if you have one. Chin curtains reduce turbulance and helmet noise, but they trap your hot breath inside the helmet. Take it out.
  3. Avoid wearing anything around your neck. This is hard, particularly once things get really cold. I wear a fleece neck gaiter any time the temperature goes below 40°F. While this keeps me warm, it also encourages fogging because my breath has nowhere to go.
  4. Relax. Try to regulate your breathing as much as possible. I find that my heart rate and breathing rate goes up in certain places along my commute, such as uphill right-hand turn I have to make at a major intersection. Slow your breathing as much as possible to avoid unnecessary fogging.
  5. Try to take a 2/3 or 1/2 breaths through your nose. Avoid breathing out of your mouth. Taking shorter breaths means less moist air in your helmet, and it forces you to keep calm (see above). Breathing through your mouth bounces the air off the front of your helmet and up into the visor.
  6. Open your visor at stops. I keep my visor opened at the second lowest setting at stops. If it isn’t too cold (or humid), I use the “lock open” setting on my Bell Star.

What doesn’t work

  1. Cat Crap or similar “smear” type anti-fogging agents. Dish soap doesn’t work, either, despite some tall tales on the Internet.
  2. Wearing anything that covers your mouth. I’ve worn a snow mobile-style mantle and face mask and it makes things worse. A balaclava is great for head warmth but is murder on visor fogging.
  3. Breath guards. Helmet manufacturers started putting these into just about every helmet starting two or three years ago. I don’t think they hurt anything, but they don’t really cut down on fogging at all.

What I haven’t tried yet

  1. Pinlock. This is a second visor system that keeps fog from building up on the inside of the visor. I haven’t tried it because they don’t make a drop-in replacement visor for any helmet I have ever owned.
  2. Modern World’s Fog City insert.. I bought one of these a few years ago, but the application process has kept me from installing it. The adhesive is apparently pretty strong, and if I screw it up I am out both the insert and my visor. I will probably install it this year.

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7 Comments on "Random Motorcycling Tip #07: Keeping Visor Fogging to a Minimum"

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  1. stev3 says:

    One of my helmets is a Nolan flip face with the built-in pin lock system. It’s definitely the best anti-fogging solution I’ve ever used. It was difficult to get the secondary shield into place, but once I did, I haven’t had any issues with it and visibility wasn’t impacted at all.

    I ride daily in Chicago and if it’s cold out, I’ll always grab the Nolan helmet since it handles the fogging so well.

  2. Ric says:

    I’ve removed a couple of damaged fog city inserts, and they didn’t seem to damage the visor.

    Both my regular use helmets now have pinlock fittings though.

    Either device essentially makes fogging a non issue, but internal reflections at night can be annoying, especially as I wear glasses.

    How can you contemplate putting a cold crash helmet on? I find it so uncomfortable it upsets my concentration.

  3. Gremlin says:

    I don’t have any trouble with fogging visor as long as I am moving. When I’m stopped I just crack the visor and it keeps it clear.

  4. Tomax says:

    The wifey says to smear SHAVING CREAM all over the visor :P. I think she wants to collect on my new life insurance policy though…

  5. fishsprout says:

    I have some spray stuff that I never ended up using… how about I send it to you and you be the test bunny :)

  6. metricinch says:

    I use a respro foggy. works like awesome. visor down, at a stop after having been on the freeway in temps around the high 30s. exhale as hard as I can w/o feinting. nothing.

    highly recomend!

  7. Dave says:

    I can attest to the benefits of the Pinlock shield/insert. I have been using a Pinlock shield/insert since last year and have had *no issues at all* with fogging since.

    The only downside in my mind was the confusion when buying. You have to buy a Pinlock-compatible shield to replace your current one *AND* an insert to go into the shield. Once you understand this, it’s easy to shop and buy. I have Shoei helmets and got the shields/inserts from the JAFRUM store on Amazon (not affiliated with either).

    Installing the insert is odd the first time that you do it. You have to “flatten” the shield enough to be able to correctly install the insert, but after the first time, you will believe in the resiliency of the shield enough to make follow-on installs super quick.

    These work well enough that I would never consider riding without them again. If you’ve ever had bugs sneak into your full-face helmet while the shield was cracked, you’ll appreciate being able to have it closed all of the time.

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