Arguably the most annoying thing about wearing a motorcycle helmet is the fact that the visor always finds a way to steam up; it drives me mad.
Not only is it annoying, but the reduced visibility can lead to some pretty hairy riding circumstances and can be downright dangerous.
So, I have pulled together the best ways to prevent this nuisance issue from bothering you any longer.
Before we dive into the solution, let’s understand why a helmet steams up in the first place.
Why does my helmet steam up?
Condensation is your worst enemy.
If your helmet is fully closed, your hot breath gets trapped in the helmet causing it to mist up.
When the weather is cold, this makes things ten times worse.
The cold, fog, wind, rain all lower the temperature of the visor itself, so when you breathe out, moisture gets trapped on the visor, and it steams up the same way as when you get in a car after being out in the rain, the windscreen steams up.
However, unlike in a car, you don’t have access to hot air fans, climate-controlled glass, and neither can you open up windows in your helmet.
So let’s take a look at what you can do.
1. Open your visor and vents
Starting with the easiest solution, just open up the visor a little or all the way.
You can breathe in and out normally. With cold air coming into the helmet, the warm exhaled breath will be swept away with no time to condense and gather on your visor.
Sometimes just opening the visor a little is possible with your helmet having a second catch to lock it in a different position.
If your helmet doesn’t give you this option, a DIY mod could be as simple as a piece of blu-tac between the chin bar and visor, which will keep it open just a touch.
Your vents should also be open; depending on your helmet, you may have a set of vents at the chin and forehead area that can be opened and closed. There will likely be some exhaust vents at the back too.
Ensure the intake and exhaust vents are open to allow the air to flow through the helmet.
In the cold and wet, nobody really wants their visor wide open.
Furthermore, your visor is there as the first line of defence from debris on the road, insects and rain, so removing that can lead to being hit in the face with all sorts of things.
2. Use an anti-fog visor insert/pinlock visor
Many motorcycle helmets now come with a visor that is either ‘pinlock-ready’ or already equipped with a pinlock.
Some manufacturers produce their own anti-fog visor inserts, but they work the same as the most widely used inserts from Pinlock.
If so, look on the inside of the visor and see whether there is a recess between the two pins or a clear plastic insert already sitting there.
The insert has a silicon-type edge all the way around, which presses against the visor and creates an air-tight seal.
The seal stops condensation from forming on the visor; the pinlock insert also absorbs some condensation.
In my opinion, a pinlock insert is the best and most effective way to ensure your visor doesn’t steam up, but they do come with their problems.
Read more: What is a pinlock visor?
Fitting a pinlock insert can be tricky, and you need to get it right; otherwise, it won’t work.
Before you even begin to fit your insert, you need to remove your visor; if you are unsure how to do this, check online with the manufacturer’s website.
3. Use an anti-fog spray
There are loads of anti-fog sprays available today; some are better than others.
They work by spraying directly onto the inside of the visor, and the chemical make-up essentially prevents water from sticking to the surface and forces it to evaporate.
The best of the bunch is the Muc-Off Anti-Fog Spray which you can find on Amazon.
Using an anti-fog spray is a good choice for those who wear glasses inside their helmet, as you can also spray your lenses.
If you wear glasses, using a pinlock insert for the visor and anti-fog spray for your glasses will be the most effective way to keep you fog-free when riding.
The spray doesn’t last very long and is a temporary measure; in most cases, it will only be effective for 24-48 hours, depending on how long your ride is for and the conditions.
If riding in daily wet/cold weather, you may find yourself needing to apply spray before every ride.
Related: Winter motorbike riding
4. Use an anti-fog mask
Much like the anti-fog sprays and treatments, loads of ‘anti-fog’ masks are available.
The mask has a nose clip that holds the mask in place and creates a seal, forcing the breath down from the visor.
The Respro Foggy Mask is the best choice for masks; you can find them on Amazon.
It is comfortable neoprene with ventilation points, so you shouldn’t feel too suffocated.
Again, a mask is a good choice for those who wear glasses as it should keep your breath away from the lenses.
If not correctly in position, a mask will not work and allow air to escape and condensation to occur.
Unless it is particularly cold, riding with a mask underneath a helmet can prove very uncomfortable, and you may find yourself overheating.
5. Silicon based water-repellents
Using a water-repellent on the outside of the visor will go some way to keep the condensation away; by not allowing water to settle, it won’t find its way in through the vents to then form condensation on the inside.
You can use a treatment on the inner visor, too, but its effectiveness is questionable over any length of time.
6. Dishwashing soap
Many old-school riders will swear by this method.
Give your visor a clean, and then using a soft rag with a small amount of dish soap, rub it over the visor on the inside. Next, take a clean cloth and rub the visor until it becomes clear.
It can be effective when done properly, but it is temporary.
7. Anti-fog coatings
Some helmet manufacturers produce visors already treated at the factory with an anti-fog coating.
However, the longevity of the coating will depend on how often you ride and in what environments.
You may find the visor steam-free to begin with, and then eventually, you will need another method to keep your visor clear.
8. Stick-on inserts
Working the same as a pinlock, these inserts stick directly to the inner visor.
They are suitable for helmets with visors that are not pinlock ready or do not come with an anti-fog shield.
Being stuck on, these inserts have a shorter lifespan than traditional pinlocks and should you wash your visor; you will need to replace the insert after doing so.
For me, I always go for a helmet that has a pinlock-ready visor. I am yet to find anything more effective than using a pinlock, especially in horrible wet weather.
I also use an anti-fog spray for my glasses, and that combination solves any issues I have with steaming up.
However, if you are caught short on a ride with a helmet lacking a pinlock, opening up the visor is the only way to be fog-free.
I’ve also tried the dish soap trick, and it does work; however, the convenience of a pinlock wins every time.