Tech Tip: A Slick, Shady Helmet Sun Visor on the CheapNot so many years ago, a lot of helmets had snaps over the eye port to allow for the...
Not so many years ago, a lot of helmets had snaps over the eye port to allow for the attachment of various types of shields and/or a snap-on sun visor.
There are still some helmets available with the old snaps—but I’m not so sure about snap-on duck-bill sun visors that were available. In any event, the ones I had used some years ago tended to cause whistling noises in the wind and if you tended to lean forward very much—as in sport bike seating configurations—where you tend to look out the upper part of the helmet’s eye port, an old-style visor would obstruct your vision.
So, we thought we’d share our technique to create cheap, durable and easily replaced sun visor for modern helmets that is even better than the old snap-on visors, since it does the job without blocking your vision and can’t cause any wind noise.
All you need are:
- A roll of static-cling window tinted vinyl available at many retail outlets or online. There are various tint levels available—the material I’m using in this instance is five percent visible light transmission (VLT) film. If you’d like more light to be able to pass through the shade, use a higher VLT spec.
- Sharp scissors and/or a rotary cutter like those sold in craft shops
- A good straight-edge ruler—ideally a clear ruler or cutting guide
- Tape measure
- Transparent adhesive tape
- A good flat, clean surface for layout and cutting
- Optional would be a ruled cutting board like those sold in craft and hobby shops.
Retail prices for a roll of the static-cling vinyl range from under $10 to about $13 depending on the manufacturer, product, and amount in the package. Any package size will provide a lot more material than you’ll need for any one application, but being able to make more for replacements, new helmets, or other projects is handy and the material has very long shelf life, so it shouldn’t all go to waste.
For most helmet visors (and I’ve done quite a few of these), about 17 inches in length and 1 ½ inches in width is all you need. The beauty of having plenty of extra material is that you can experiment with different widths till you find what works best for you.
Cut the material to rough width first off the roll, then cut it down to the rough length you need to cover the entire top edge of the visor from end to end. You’ll trim both ends to the point you want after you position the film on the shield. Since the vinyl is static cling and doesn’t use any adhesive, you can lift the film off and reposition it as often as you need to without messing anything up.
I line the top edge of the cling vinyl up with the top edge of the middle of the shield; that way, the edges will align across the top edge without trimming. You may have to use a different approach for positioning the vinyl for the shield you’re working with.
Lay the vinyl up on the shield working from one side across to the other, applying gentle tension to the vinyl and smoothing it on as you go.
After it’s in place, select the points where you want to trim it and cut to the finished length. I find that it works best to make sure the vinyl extends past the edges of the eye port on both sides—you may opt to run the ends all the way to the end of the face shield.
Even though the static cling material generally stays put once it’s on, at certain speeds, wind force may be enough to lift the vinyl off the shield, so putting a length of transparent tape across the ends to the shield can help prevent that.
Depending on the tint you choose, if you tend to ride in a position where you look through the top edge of the face shield, as in a sport bike, you may want to use a lighter tint and be prepared to lift the shield in low light to be able to see through the shield instead of the sun visor, but of course that depends on light conditions. Since the vinyl is transparent, you can still see through it, though in low light it would be like wearing sunglasses.
I opt for a darker tint to get more of a true sun shading effect and that works well for me since I always ride in a more upright stance and look through the main part of the face shield while the sun visor shades my eyes from glare. No more having to take a hand off the grips to shade my eyes so I can see down the road.
Now all you need is a lot of sun-drenched days to put your sun visor—and that bike—to use!
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