I bought a new helmet this winter. To save money, I bought a plain, solid colored lid. While shopping for my helmet, I noticed that race replica or decorated helmets of the same helmet were 20%, 30%, even 50% more expensive than a solid, single color version. They may have been way cooler than my boring new helmet, but the more expensive versions offered zero improvement in safety, comfort or functionality. I decided to go for the best helmet with the least expensive cosmetic treatment. I will personalize it and make it cool ‒ and I’ll still save money over the fancy factory versions.
A motorcycle or automotive paint shop will probably be willing to paint your helmet for you, and it’s a great option. Bring your new helmet around to a shop, and ask around. There’s a painter at a shop near my house who will custom paint a helmet for around $200 ‒ which sounds like a lot, but it’s still less than the difference between a race replica helmet and the plain solid version. And when it’s done, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind custom helmet. Ask if you can save any money by doing the prep work yourself. You might be able to disassemble, mask and sand the helmet, and save some money.
Several companies make helmet skins ‒ literally, stretch-on covers with printed designs that you put over your helmet. The advantage is that they act as a sacrificial layer on the outside of the helmet, protecting the surface from incidental bumps and scratches. It’s not a permanent application, so you can take the skin off when you get tired of it and replace it with another. Helmet skins are about $30 to $50.
Another option is to customize your helmet with pinstripes, stickers or applied graphics. I’ve done this in the past, and I’ve found that weatherproof stickers work best. I add functionality by selecting retro-reflective stickers that add a bit of visibility and safety to my helmet. There are companies that make graphic sticker sets for motorcycle helmets, and they are very reasonably priced, from about $10 to $50.
If you’re really serious about having a unique helmet, you might want to look at adding some foam accents to your lid. Some riders think they look cool with a purple Mohawk on their helmet, or with Viking horns sticking out of the sides. I don’t judge. Just be sure that you’re not applying anything to your helmet that’s going to affect its function. You don’t want to block the operation of your visor or vents; and you don’t want to apply anything to the helmet that might cause you to get injured in a crash. No real goat horns or spikes, please ‒ you might stand out in a crowd, but you’ll almost certainly wind up impaled or worse.
Don’t be satisfied with a boring lid ‒ spice up your helmet with some creativity.