Your motorcycle helmet is your most piece of riding kit, legally obliged to wear, for the good reason that it could save your life. But it needs looking after. Exposed to the elements, on the outside, and your greasy head, on the inside, it gets grimy and smelly pretty quickly. There are three main parts to keep clean – the outer shell, simply to look smart; the interior lining, to keep it fresh and odor-free; and the visor, so you can see through it clearly. The good news is, there are innumerable products on the market to help with each of these jobs – all manner of cleaners, treatments, sprays, polishes and potions.
Use cleaners and polishes to keep your flashy paintjob sparkling in the sun. Helmet cleaners are formulated to break down tough dirt such as road grime and splattered insects. The advantage over plain water is that you can simply spray on then wipe off, with less need for elbow grease. Cleaner-impregnated wipes are particularly useful, as you keep a stash under your motorcycle's seat and use them 'on the go'. Importantly, helmet cleaners are non-corrosive to paint, so won't having a dulling effect. Once you've removed the crud, you'll want to restore a sheen – and that's where a helmet-specific polish comes in handy.
You cleaning spray or polish is only as good as the cloth you use to apply and wipe it off with. These cloths are made from super-soft, non-scratch materials to ensure that your motorcycle helmet's shiny finish isn't attacked or scratched. Mini-sponges, such as the world famous V2, provide invaluable mobile cleaning, which you can keep in your pocket and whip out at a moment's notice – essential in the muddy depths of rural Thailand in the raining season and it also works wonders with splattered insects... There's no excuse for a smelly motorcycle helmet, and that's not a smutty joke. Arriving at one's destination with a head stinking like a damp dog won't make you much friends. Helmet liners get pungent pretty quickly, particularly if you're doing a lot of riding in tropical weather. And your super-gaudy, feather-light race replica helmet isn't so glamorous when it reeks of decomposing, er, matter. A sanitizing spray penetrates the fabric, killing any nasty bacteria and fungi, while loosening dirt. All you have to do is wipe away the residue, leaning your helmet a smell-free, mushroom-free zone.
For your visor. Again, there are interior and exterior solutions on offer. The inside of your visor can let you down by fogging up when you breathe. And you'd better not stop breathing, so an anti-fog insert is a damn good investment. As a rule of thumb, inserts are a far more effective form of fog-antidote than liquid treatments, and they last longer too. You can even get a tinted insert, which is better than a dark visor. Cleverer still, get yourself a light-reactive insert that changes according to brightness levels. Adding another layer to the outside of your visor – in the form of tear-offs – means you can rip off a strip once it get dirty or insect-splattered, which is far better than having to stop to give your visor a clean, particularly when racing! Finally, if you're carrying a spar visor, keep it in a proper visor-bag to prevent if from getting scratched.
Can you see clearly? No? Well, you might not need to get your eyes tested just yet. It's amazing what a difference keeping your visor, particularly during the raining season, when it gets coated in scum much quicker. Apart from general grime, there are two major problems: on the inside, fog, and on the outside, rain. You can keep your visor from misting up by using an anti-fog treatment, which is much better than having to keep the air-vents open to let in a blast of air. The problem of rain is that the droplets stick to your visor, distorting your vision, which can be a major factor at night, turning oncoming headlights into dazzling star-bursts. Anti-rain treatments give your visor a slippery coating, so raindrops can't cling on. It needs re-applying every few days, but it's well worth it during the rainy season.