No-one knows when Spring will arrive, but these tips will make sure you’re all set
1. Start at the top
If your lid still has a coating of bugs from your last autumnal ride then now is the time to get it sorted. Old-school tactics are still the best, and certainly cheaper than using dedicated products. Soaking a few sheets of kitchen paper with cold water, draping them over the visor and shell and leaving them for half an hour will soften up the bugs’ dried-up corpses and let you wipe them clear with the wet kitchen paper. If the debris is well hardened you might need to repeat this to get the shell and visor clean.
2. I can see clearly now
Cleaning the visor isn’t just a matter of keeping the outside free from grime. If you’ve got a Pinlock anti-mist insert on the inner surface, you can help it perform its function properly. A Pinlock works by storing moisture in microscopic holes on the inner surface. In time these holes become saturated, so you should remove the insert and give it a clean. Straighten the visor to reduce the tension on the pins and ease the insert free. Now rinse the insert under a cold tap, shake off excess water and allow it to air dry before re-installing it.
3. The way to pin-sharp vision
Before replacing the Pinlock, clean the inside of the visor. To put the Pinlock back in, straighten the visor out again and pop the slots on the insert on to the mounting pins. Make sure the silicone beading around the edge of the Pinlock is facing the visor surface as this creates the seal around the outside. Many visors now let you adjust the tension of the Pinlock by rotating the pins, which are mounted eccentrically so you can achieve a tighter or slacker fit. If you can slide a sheet of paper between the insert and the visor it needs tightening.
4. It’s what’s inside that counts
If you’ve never cleaned the comfort padding in your lid then you’ll be surprised how much gunk comes out of it. All but the cheapest helmets have removable linings and cheekpads, so they can come out for washing. They mount with pop studs, usually near the three corners of cheekpads and at the nape of the neck for the skullpad. Get your fingers as close as possible to the studs to avoid pulling the mounting plate out from the polystyrene liner. The front of the liner, near the eyebrows, needs teasing out as there are no pop studs.
5. Get yourself into a lather
There are two options for washing the lining on your helmet. The traditional method is to handwash it in baby shampoo, which is mild enough to leave the lining material undamaged and not leave any nasty residue. To do it this way, wet the lining in a sink full of lukewarm water and rub in the baby shampoo to get all the sweat and muck out. Then rinse it thoroughly in cold water until there are no bubbles left, squeeze out excess water and hang the linings out to finish drying naturally – don’t put them back into the shell until they are completely dry. The other option is to machine wash on a 30°C cycle, putting the lining pieces in a protective washing net first. While the lining is out, clean out the air channels and any other trapped detritus you can see.
6. Keep water out and warmth in
Clean textile kit will be more effective at keeping you dry and warm. Remove the thermal lining if it comes out, and whip out the armour from shoulders, elbows and back, and from the knees and hips of trousers. This will sit in pockets that are usually secured with Velcro, and sometimes you’ll need to look for zips near the cuffs or bottoms of legs to get access to the pockets. Get yourself a dedicated bike clothing cleaner, which is available from the likes of Nikwax or sDoc100 and will not damage the delicate waterproof and breathable membranes. Wash on a cool 30°C cycle in the washing machine and allow the kit to drip dry.
7. Make the water bead off
When it’s clean and dry, you can restore the water-resistant qualities the outer shell would have displayed when it was new. This is from a treatment called durable water repellency (DWR), which will wear off over time. DWR can be sprayed onto the outer surface once the jacket and trousers are clean – again look for brands such as sDoc100, Nikwax or Muc-Off. Use the spray in a well-ventilated area.
8. Total wipeout
Some people clean leather kit in the washing machine, but we prefer the old-fashioned method. Using lukewarm water and a microfibre cloth, give the leather a good wipe over, paying particular attention to seams to make sure no grit has got in there. If the leather is very grubby, use a mild detergent such as hand soap. Leave the suit to air dry and don’t be tempted to speed things up by putting it over a radiator.
9. No shame in skincare
Leather needs moisture to retain its protective properties. Once it is dry, you should treat the leather with a dedicated conditioner or feed. Products like Chelsea Leather Food, Muc-Off Leather Conditioner or Storm’s range of soaps and creams will moisturise the hide and extend its lifespan. Give the garments a light coating first to see if it soaks in before deciding whether further treatments are necessary.
Photos: Mark Manning