cleaning your motorcycle visor without scratching it is easy, all you need are two inexpensive tools.
all you need to clean a motorcycle helmet visor is a good polish and a microfiber cloth. we tested three of the top motorcycle helmet visor cleaners and here are our results. what you will find may shock you.
if you could slice through your motorcycle lense and look at it from a side view through a microscope it would look pockmarked and scratched. it will look generally porous that scatters light into a messy image and it also holds on to dirt so we need to polish it.
what polish to use for your visor
most polishes have an abrasive to smooth out projections and also a wax to fill in the depressions, the resulting smoothness is optically correct.
we tested four products the first one hailing from the world of aircraft maintenance called plexus available from amazon. this quickly became the most popular polish amongst motorcyclists and also the most expensive.
the next we tested was slipstreamer windshield polish available from amazon, it is reputed to be just as good.
the third we tested was tie-rocks which is desperately cheap propositioning this huge 14 ounce can for only 15 bucks.
of course, i can always be a cheapskate using toothpaste and is rumored to hack this job for a dollar ninety-nine.
our test windshield has seen fifty thousand kilometers of uv fade dust blur and violent scratches, made from polycarbonate it will respond similarly to a helmet face shield as well and divided into four sections each polish gets a crack at the same surface.
plexus is definitely the easiest to use, spray it on wipe it off, give a tiny little buff and you’re done. it also smells the nicest and they use coconut oil as part of the wax finish.
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flip-streamer takes a little bit more effort to buff out, the tie-rocks polish comes with its own microfiber but i’m not gonna use it because a scientist would prefer identical brand new cloths for each treatment.
this one foams the most to lift up dirt and it feels like it has a fair amount of resistance for buffing out scratches.
finally the toothpaste, i chose one with baking soda because sodium bicarbonate plays well with polycarbonate lenses. you want to avoid anything with calcium carbonate or ammonia because those severely weaken poly carbs. the baking soda sort of feels like it’s buffing up pretty well
every method made improvements, though on close inspection our gritty toothpaste appears too abrasive as it leaves its own swirly scratches. the tight-rocks and slipstream were too gentle killing clouding but failing to smooth and the deeper scars while plexus eliminated the most blur and scratches so for me plexus wins.
however, a polish is also a protectant and to test that we will blow dust at the windshield for an extended period of time. each section gets its own head-on blast before being photographed for build-up, ironically the fancy anti-static polishes lose by a country mile to toothpaste and coconut oil.
plexus attracted a significant but not excessive amount of grit making it the first loser, while slip streamer comes in a close second while narrowly edging out tie-rocks in the last place with the most expensive polish, proves to be the best.
what causes fogging
several of these polishers also claim to be anti foggers, to understand why let’s understand how fog appears inside your helmet. your face is hot and heat makes h20, molecules zip around so whatever water comes from your mouth becomes a gas. the gaseous water is see-through but then it hits your lens and the lens is cold.
when the h20 hits your cold visit it turns back into liquid, water is also see-through but polish leaves a wax film behind and that is hydrophobic, it hates water. instead of running off the visor h20 prefers to stick to itself forming droplets, thousands of tiny droplets each one scattering light and that is what we call fog.
polish is a bad anti fog treatment, you need a proper anti-fogger, aka a hydrophilic solution that encourages condensation to spread across your lens.
muck-off available from amazon charges almost $1 per milliliter, for that which we would categorize this price bracket as the top of the pile.
oxford anti-fog solution available from amazon is more like 20 cents per mill and it smells like mint which is more than a novelty inside your smelly helmet. shaving gel is our hydrophilic hack job and finally a pin lock lens.
a pinlock lens work on a different principle, the pin lock sandwiches a bit of air against your visor. air is a good insulator, it slows the heat transfer between two surfaces so the outer lens can be as cold as quebec city while the pin lock lens can be as warm as your face and because our steamy h2o molecules only hit the inner lens they don’t turn into a liquid at all.
we treated four identical helmet shields with anti foggers, each according to their instructions with the fifth remains untreated. i then placed a cup of boiling water inside a helmet, note that every helmet has the visor closed.
the untreated lens fogged up immediately, meanwhile, the treated helmets stayed relatively clear but muck-off and oxford held a fairly thick film of water against the lens. shaving gel less so, though it’s still translucent.
only the pinlock lens available from amazon cover can be called optically perfect, that’s because the plastic pinlock lens is special water-absorbing material so leaves no film. the other reason we like pin locks is that the fog proofing is permanent.
the hydrophilic solutions wear away in a week, less if we contaminate them with our oily hands. of course, rubbing the pin lock lens with anything but fog-proof cleaner doesn’t do it any favors either.
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pinlock lens inserts costs around 30 bucks more if it’s shaped to a specific helmet, more again if it’s treated with an anti-fog solution, more again if it’s tinted and more again if it’s sold by a helmet manufacturer like arai or shoei.
most people choose a visor that comes with mounting pins but it is possible to buy just the pins and drill them into a regular face shield.
the final thing to test is water repellents. obviously, these are hydrophobic so we don’t want them on the inside of our helmet visor but outside in the wind, they encourage rain to run off your visor.
ipone visor rain off spray is 10 bucks for 100 mils, national cycle rain zip is $34 for 90 mils and two tiny cloths which is expensive unless it works very well.
rain-x plastic available from amazon is the cheapest and also the most popular.
some repellents list potato starch in their ingredients, whether or not that works competitively on its own remains to be seen but we decided to test it anyway. again four identical visors were treated with rain repellents plus a fifth we rubbed a sliced potato on the lense.
the original glass treatment became a favorite of uk motorcycle couriers so much so that rain-x created a special variant for plexiglass, perspex basically anything a motorcycle visor or windshield can be made of.
the helmets were then completely soaked with droplets of water using an air nozzle to blows at about 32 kilometers an hour. the rain-zip was most potent at beating off water droplets.
rain-x is respectable, iphone less so and the nicest thing i can say about the potato is that it isn’t much worse than bare polycarbonate but no better either.
so in these tests, we found that plexus is the best polish, pinlocks make the finest fog proofer and rain zip is the most effective rain repellent.
on a budget, i would use plexus but shaving gel is a shockingly competent fog-proof alternative that you may already own. if you’re looking to save a few bucks on rain repellent rain-x is nearly as slick.