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Thread: Helmet question

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    rat
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    Helmet question

    Hey BF overthinkers,
    Does it make the slightest difference on a hot sunny day if one's helmet is dark or light coloured? I've always been wary of dark helmets for that reason, but maybe the styrofoam dissipates the extra heat? Thoughts?

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    Senior Member MegaTom's Avatar
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    I don't think so. Not with modern vented helmets anyway.

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    Supposedly black is actually cooler than white when there is at least low-moderate wind speed.

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...eep-you-cooler

    The article refers to clothing, so the effect is probably less pronounced with helmets.

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    If you're riding fast enough to keep air flowing through your helmet vents, then color doesn't make much difference. At very slow speeds, then maybe.

    On the other hand, I expect that there is a safety benefit to brighter, more visible colors.

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    Senior Member pablosnazzy's Avatar
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    i don't believe color has any noticeable effect.

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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Tend to disagree a bit . . .
    Living in Tucson, AZ where temps easily go 100+ degrees and yes, it's sunny 360 days a year.
    A white helmet is a tad cooler than a black/dark one.

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    Senior Member mpearson76's Avatar
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    Styrofoam is a pretty effective insulator (It's actually used as an insulator in coolers, coffee cups, etc), so even if that black plastic shell got much hotter, it's just not going to transmit that hear all the way to your head.

    That straight dope article is interesting by the way, but I don't think it applies, because the outer shell of the helmet is not going to absorb heat *from* your head for the same reason that it's not going to radiate heat *to* your head--there's a think insulating hunk of styrofoam preventing any detectable amount of heat transfer in either direction.
    DFL>DNF

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    Quote Originally Posted by chadteck View Post
    Supposedly black is actually cooler than white when there is at least low-moderate wind speed.

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...eep-you-cooler

    The article refers to clothing, so the effect is probably less pronounced with helmets.
    Good article. I am not sure about white necessarily reflecting body heat back to the skin, but one important characteristic of darker colors is that not only they absorb heat faster, but they also radiate that same heat faster. This is why with the same amount of circulation darker objects will radiate heat faster.

    By the way, for the purposes of the helmet it doesn't matter because even if the top of the helmet were to get very hot (you're stationary under the sun), you still wouldn't feel anything because the styrofoam is an excellent insulator (not dissipator). Think about that hot water in a styrofoam cup. You don't feel anything on the outside.

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    I dont think heat/cooling would be much of an issue between the two colors, but in the world of motorcycles white helmets are said to be more visible to drivers.

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    The foam insulates. I will keep a helmet on to stay cool when it's really sunny out. I have black hair and my last few helmets have been dark. For me it's much, much cooler with a helmet on when waiting around in powerful sun. White, black, it doesn't matter for a helmet.

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    rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    On the other hand, I expect that there is a safety benefit to brighter, more visible colors.
    True that.

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    Iconoclast rat fink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    The foam insulates. I will keep a helmet on to stay cool when it's really sunny out. I have black hair and my last few helmets have been dark. For me it's much, much cooler with a helmet on when waiting around in powerful sun. White, black, it doesn't matter for a helmet.
    I agree.
    "Winning is the best deodorant. Someone can look at your bike and say it stinks, but if you win with it, suddenly it's okay." - Jim Busby

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    Quote Originally Posted by chadteck View Post
    Supposedly black is actually cooler than white when there is at least low-moderate wind speed.

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...eep-you-cooler

    The article refers to clothing, so the effect is probably less pronounced with helmets.
    The actual study that the article refers to is about feathers. The article then speculates about clothing - and long, flowing, loose-fitting clothing that's thoroughly dissimilar to the types of clothing worn when cycling at that.

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