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  1. #1
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    Bicycle helmet - paint

    I completely wasn't thinking and it was early spring when I bought it, but I made the terrible mistake of buying a black bicycle helmet. I live on the 40th latitude with a large urban heat effect and I have long hair. There is a thin plastic shell on the helmet that can, no doubt be painted white without compromising the structure of the helmet and that alone should be big help (it's now deep dark glossy black). The helmet itself is glorified Styrofoam, or at least a relative of it because it is much harder. The Styrofoam is also dark, though it is a lighter shade of gray. Will it compromise the structural integrity of the helmet to paint the Styrofoam portion of the helmet?

    As I said, I wasn't thinking and since my bike is black, I went with the black helmet. During the summer, the seat (which is also dark black) gets uncomfortably hot even after 10 minutes of being outside in the sun (like if I go in a store). This helmet, when it is sunny is killing me. Also, I got stuck in a rain storm and the thin plastic shell completely separated from the main structure of the helmet and so It's taped on, so removing it will be a breeze. Spray paint is nearly always oil based and I am worried that if I paint the main Styrofoam structure, it could weaken or melt the Styrofoam structure, which would mean I am wearing this geeky helmet for nothing. I've been biking since I was 8 years old and last spring was the first time I ever bought/used a helmet. There are times when I feel that conditions are safe enough and I take the thing off for a few blocks to cool down. I will mostly have till spring now to do whatever I am going to do (either splurge for a new helmet or paint this helmet).

    One other thing.... How much of this inability to loose heat through your head just the helmet itself? How much of a difference would a white helmet make with a sun that's high in the sky? It appears to be well ventilated but it still leaving at least 70% of my head covered. IOW, how much would a lighter color (glossy white) help? Is it more trouble than it's worth?


    Thanks,

    Chris

  2. #2
    Randomhead
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    In general, it's not a good idea to paint a helmet. I have been thinking about it because I want a blaze orange helmet for riding in the woods during hunting season. You might be able to get away with using a water based paint. There are also water-borne paints that contain solvents that are probably a bad idea.

    I bought a white helmet for visibility. The helmet it replaced was dark blue. I don't think it made any difference in heat.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    In general, it's not a good idea to paint a helmet. I have been thinking about it because I want a blaze orange helmet for riding in the woods during hunting season. You might be able to get away with using a water based paint. There are also water-borne paints that contain solvents that are probably a bad idea.

    I bought a white helmet for visibility. The helmet it replaced was dark blue. I don't think it made any difference in heat.
    What about the thin plastic shell? It's paper thin and is really only there for "style". The rain made it completely come off and not wanting to use any type of glue, especially super-glue (which could compromise the integrity of the helmet), I simply taped in on with Scotched taped. Could I at least paint the super thin plastic shell bright white? I'm certain it will help at least a little. It's either that or I am going to have to cut my hair when spring comes.

    Chris

  4. #4
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christo930 View Post
    What about the thin plastic shell? It's paper thin and is really only there for "style". The rain made it completely come off and not wanting to use any type of glue, especially super-glue (which could compromise the integrity of the helmet), I simply taped in on with Scotched taped. Could I at least paint the super thin plastic shell bright white? I'm certain it will help at least a little. It's either that or I am going to have to cut my hair when spring comes.

    Chris
    The plastic shell has two safety functions:
    1) It aids in the helmet's ability to "skid" on pavement. Styrofoam alone tends to "bite" and grip the pavement. This increases rotational forces and axonal injury to the brain.
    2) It helps to contain the styrofoam, keeping it from simply shattering on impact. This increases the amount of force it can absorb and diffuse.

    I'm not sure how much luck you're going to have getting paint to adhere to the plastic. I'd probably lean more toward just covering the helmet with these:
    http://www.truckntow.com/p-10647-3m-...red-white.aspx

    You can find these strips in any auto parts store or Walmart.
    That's gonna leave a mark.

  5. #5
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    A lot of paint will eat styrofoam . I'd use model car paint only on thin plastic shell

    cheers

  6. #6
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    If that plastic shell is coming off all the time, I question how well it's going to work anymore.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  7. #7
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    Agree -- if RAIN made the shell come loose, your helmet is too cheap to worry about. Replace it with one that's lighter-colored. Heck, even WAL-MART helmets are safety-rated, and several are fairly decent quality.

    Better helmets are "co-molded"; the shell conforms to the shape of the styro better, and there are no gaps between styro and shell. Cheaper helmets use a thin strip of tape to hold the shell onto the styro, and the shell is loosely fit to the styro.

    My daughter and nephew have helmets from Wally, and I spent like $25 each on them. Perfectly good products (THIS time, Wally doesn't always do that, as we all know....).

  8. #8
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    Contact the manufacturer of the helmet, most have a web site, and a way to contact them. But I'll bet they say it will void any warranty that is in effect(if any) if you paint the helmet, with any kind of paint.
    I'd get a better helmet, with bigger vents.
    And I'd cut the hair. I did.
    I was riding on a 90+ degree day last July, I was hot, and close to home so I squirted some water from my bottle on to my head. The water didn't make it through the matted, sweaty hair. I went home, showered, got in my air conditioned car to the local cheap hair place. The nice girl asked what I wanted, I looked at her and said "number 4". She told me it would be pretty short. My response was, when you're done all I want to see is a pile of hair(on the floor). Buzz, buzz, buzz, clip, clip, clip, and done. It made a big difference in cooling to have the air flowing over my now short haired head. Plus it grows back.
    If you don't know the way, you shouldn't be going there.

  9. #9
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
    But I'll bet they say it will void any warranty that is in effect(if any) if you paint the helmet, with any kind of paint.
    If the helmet has any kind of "warranty," the OP should use it to get a replacement for a helmet so defective that in a rain storm the thin plastic shell completely separated from the main structure of the helmet.

  10. #10
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Use reflective tape, not paint.
    Last edited by Chris516; 10-09-13 at 09:00 PM.

  11. #11
    Casual Student of C&V J.Oxley's Avatar
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    I sprayed my helmet, and my wife's as well. Of course I didn't do the sensible thing and remove the shells; I just took about 45 minutes per helmet masking off all the foam. On the plus side, the ugly-as-sin graphics were covered with a nice solid matte color. On the down side, they reeked of spray paint for a couple of weeks and if I pay attention I can still smell the paint. I can't speak to whether or not I wrecked the integrity of the styrofoam (it appears unaffected, but I haven't dug out a microscope or anything). I can, however, tell you the never-ending paint odor is reason enough to explore other options.

    That's been my experience anyway.

  12. #12
    Senior Member aubiecat's Avatar
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    Time for a new helmet.

  13. #13
    Bike hoarder. Murray Missile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    You need reflective tape, not paint.
    Fixed it for you. That gets my vote, I got some reflective tape from a sign shop to put on my "foul weather/night riding helmet". It can be found in several colors and is pliable enough to follow the contours of the helmet. I also found tape to match the primary color on my new helmet and added some reflective accent stripes to the exposed foam on the sides and rear. It sticks to the foam VERY well. I think a 25 ft. roll of 1 In. wide would cover an entire helmet with plenty left over.

  14. #14
    Senior Member skye's Avatar
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    Just don't wear it. You don't really need one, y'know. It doesn't make you any safer.

  15. #15
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Another vote for reflective tape. I get mine from here:
    http://www.identi-tape.com/

    They've got just about every style and color you'd want.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Dahon Speed Pro TT,Brompton S6L

  16. #16
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murray Missile View Post
    Fixed it for you. That gets my vote, I got some reflective tape from a sign shop to put on my "foul weather/night riding helmet". It can be found in several colors and is pliable enough to follow the contours of the helmet. I also found tape to match the primary color on my new helmet and added some reflective accent stripes to the exposed foam on the sides and rear. It sticks to the foam VERY well. I think a 25 ft. roll of 1 In. wide would cover an entire helmet with plenty left over.
    Thanks.

    I hate when my mind is going faster than my fingers can type.

  17. #17
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
    Another vote for reflective tape. I get mine from here:
    http://www.identi-tape.com/

    They've got just about every style and color you'd want.
    Excellent recommendation!!!

  18. #18
    Bike hoarder. Murray Missile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    Thanks.

    I hate when my mind is going faster than my fingers can type.

    No sweat, happens to me all the time and gets worse as I get older.

  19. #19
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    I dont have scientific evidence to support this but heres my take on it.

    the styrofoam in your helmet is going to act an insulator. Its probably at least an inch thick. I would be surprised if any exterior heat would transfer through it.

    What Im getting at is I highly doubt a white helmet would be any cooler than a black helmet. especially if your moving and wind is rushing though the vents as designed.

    if its a visibility issue you're concerned with then reflective tape is your answer as others had suggested.
    2010 Kestrel RT900SL, 800k carbon, chorus/record, speedplay, zonda
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catonec View Post
    I dont have scientific evidence to support this but heres my take on it.

    the styrofoam in your helmet is going to act an insulator. Its probably at least an inch thick. I would be surprised if any exterior heat would transfer through it.

    What Im getting at is I highly doubt a white helmet would be any cooler than a black helmet. especially if your moving and wind is rushing though the vents as designed.

    if its a visibility issue you're concerned with then reflective tape is your answer as others had suggested.

    Yeah. The hard cover on the helmet is polyester (Lexan). On many very inexpensive helmets the shell is separate and held to the Styrofoam by tape or glue. Higher level helmets use the in-mold process where the Styrofoam is molded to and self adheres to the shell. The shell is part of the design and helps hold the styro together in impacts.

    There are many suitable paints available for Lexan RC car bodies etc. in hobby shops. Mask off the styrofoam carefully as the solvent in the paint will dissolve it. Proceed at your own risk.

  21. #21
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    not sure why you quoted me. Your post isnt related to mine at all. thanks for reading though.
    2010 Kestrel RT900SL, 800k carbon, chorus/record, speedplay, zonda
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catonec View Post
    not sure why you quoted me. Your post isnt related to mine at all. thanks for reading though.
    The first word in my post is "Yeah", meaning I agree with your post about temperature.

  23. #23
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    cool I get it now. Thats usually indicated by "+1". my bad.
    2010 Kestrel RT900SL, 800k carbon, chorus/record, speedplay, zonda
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