As the weather turns cold and we have more wet days, the bane of all bikers strikes – a motorcycle visor steaming up. And if you wear glasses, they’ll mist up too, double trouble. Visibility drops to zilch and riding becomes a nightmare. The simplest solution is of course to stop breathing. However, I tend to find this detrimentally affects my riding, especially on long rides…
Stop helmet fogging – the cause
Cold air, wind chill and rain dramatically reduces the temperature of your helmet visor and glasses, such that moisture in the air your exhale condenses on these surfaces causing them to mist up.
How to stop visor steaming up
There are many solutions you can try, all of which tackle the issue in one of a few ways:-
- Ventilation. Increasing it and/or directing it such as to take exhaled air away out of your helmet. This is why steaming up is a bigger problem when stationary
- Maintaining visor surface temperature, to prevent moisture condensing
- Anti-fog coatings
Let’s now look at the various solutions in practice.
Open Your Visor
Yeah, pretty obvious, but opening your visor means exhaled air doesn’t hit it and the increased ventilation forces moisture away. A bit crap at high speed or in the rain and no use if you wear glasses. Most helmets have notches to leave the visor open just a bit. This is a good compromise to increase ventilation, yet still ward off the rain a reasonable amount. Otherwise a cable tie around the chin or your helmet can keep the visor open a fraction to achieve the same.
The downside with this plan is rain can seep down the inside of your visor and splash onto your glasses. Neither of which you can wipe easily and hinders visibility almost as much as fogging up.
Open all your vents, especially those around chin to help blow exhaled air away from the visor. If you have a removable lower chin skirt piece, ditch it to allow exhaled air to escape down. If your helmet has an optional nose guard, use it to help direct exhaled air down and away from the visor.
Similarly, with any neck buffs stopping air escape down, adjust them to allow air flow. I also find if I wear a buff over my face, it will direct my exhaled air up to my glasses causing them to steam up.
The holy grail of anti-fogging tech. Essentially a second visor stuck on the inside of your main visor, that acts like double glazing. The Pinlock stays warmer thanks to a sealed in bubble of air between it and the main visor, so no moisture condenses on it. Pinlock visors are incredible effective, as simple to fit, generally cost no more than £30-40. They are often supplied as standard or come ready fitted on many higher end helmets. Though, they aren’t available for all helmets.
Pinlock inserts do need regular maintenance to ensure they maintain a good seal, otherwise cold air and moisture can build up between the layers.
A similar insert to the Pinlock, but designed to stick on the inside of any visor. It doesn’t need the Pinlock bolts in the visor so is a good alternative to fit to any faceshield you have or for helmets where no Pinlock is available.
Respro Foggy Mask
This neoprene mask can stop helmet fogging by fastening to the inside of your helmet and covering your mouth and nose, to guide exhaled air down away from the visor and glasses. A well rated and cheap option, but not compatible with flip up helmets.
These masks can also tackle inhalation of air pollution as well as visor steam up.
- Hydrophobic – a soap based coating that repels water, preventing misting
- Hydrophilic – that attract and absorb water droplets to stop fogging
The advantage with many of these is they can also be applied to your glasses
The advantage with many of these is they can also be applied to your glasses, very useful not just on your bike to avoid steamed up specs when you park up and walk inside. Also on your internal sunvisor which is invaluable in the low winter sun but equally steams up all to easily. However, most of these hydrophobic treatments are soap based and so need regular reapplication every couple of days to remain effective.
Warm Your Glasses
For those that wear glasses, I find this strategy works well: When setting off, go outside into the cold and get your bike unlocked and ready to go, then go back inside to gear up. Place your glasses on a warm radiator whilst donning helmet and gloves, then put back on the now warm glasses and shut your visor before returning outside into the cold air. If your now keep the helmet shut, your glasses should remain warm enough to avoid any moisture condensing on them.Normally, I would have been outside long enough for my glasses to cool right down, so they would instantly steam up when I put my helmet on. I’m then stuck in a cycle of opening the visor to de-mist them, but cooling the glasses down so they mist up again as soon as I close the visor… With the above plan, you avoid this vicious circle, at least for a few miles.
So there you have it, a steamed up visor and glasses can now be a thing of the past allowing you can concentrate on riding. It may be cold and wet out, but with the right gear you can still have a blast on the road.