April 7 2010 by Jason Fogelson
Whether you live in a state with a helmet law, or in one where helmet use is optional, I advise you to wear a helmet every time you ride. And if you're going to follow my advice, take it one step further, and wear a full-face helmet. You will never regret it.
A full-face helmet doesn't have to be plain and boring. By adding some simple, inexpensive enhancements to your helmet, you can create a piece of equipment that not only protects your noggin, but also expresses your personality. And some of the changes and additions you can make will have the added bonus of making you safer on the road.
If you've priced helmets recently, you've noticed that fancy paintjobs and race replica graphics almost always boost the price of a lid, often by hundreds of dollars. Why pay extra to buy a helmet that's a reflection of some professional racer's personality, and not your own? Why not design your own paintjob? Most motorcycle painters will also paint helmets. A custom paintjob on your helmet will be one of a kind, and you may be able to negotiate a price that saves you money over a race replica. If you're really ambitious, you can even try to paint your own helmet. Be sure to use waterproof automotive paints, and a good sealer coat. You don't want your masterpiece to drip down on your leathers during your first wet ride.
Afraid of paint, but still want a custom look? Tape, graphics and stickers can provide a quick, ready-made transformation for your helmet. Helmet wraps are also available. They're one-piece printed graphic stickers that cover your entire helmet. The possibilities are endless.
Lately, I've seen some cool helmet add-ons that definitely fall into the novelty category. I'd never wear one, but the Helmet Mohawk is certainly an attention-getter, and looks great on a sportbike rider. I might be convinced to stick a pair of Viking horns on the sides of my lid, if the mood struck. Don't rule out a helmet adornment -- just be prepared for the attention that it attracts, both positive and negative.
Aftermarket face shields can also enhance the look of your helmet. A tinted shield can help protect your eyes from the sun. There are even photosensitive coatings that get lighter and darker in response to light conditions.
I always personalize and enhance my helmet to improve my visibility. I usually buy a solid black helmet as a starting point. I then apply 3M Reflective Tape in a simple, attractive design (at least I think it's attractive). I also use a Helmet Halo , a reflective neoprene band that stretches around the base of my helmet. As a result, my helmet virtually lights up at night, and the contrast between the reflective tape and the solid black helmet finish is also quite striking during the day.
Don't leave that full-face helmet at home. And don't ride around in a boring helmet.