I have a bone to pick with motorcycle helmet makers.
What’s the obsession with black? They just took the most boring color (not to mention the one that catches the most sun) and slapped it on everything. No variety, no fun.
I say we fight back: with wraps.
Motorcycle helmet wraps cover the original paint or design of the helmet with a vinyl wrap. That wrap can have any kind of graphics, colors, and patterns imaginable.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the wisdom I’ve gained from many wrappings, including:
- Benefits of wrapping vs painting a helmet
- The cost of wrapping a helmet
- How to wrap a helmet at home
- The materials used for wrapping (including the best vinyl)
- Tinting your helmet visor (plus legality!)
- Who to call to wrap your helmet professionally
I’ll also go through some questions I hear often about helmet wraps, including how long the wrap lasts, how to avoid air bubbles during installation, and whether vinyl wraps scratch easily.
Let’s get in to it.
- Wrapping a Helmet VS Painting
- How Much Does It Cost to Vinyl Wrap a Motorcycle Helmet?
- Wrapping a Motorcycle Helmet Yourself
- What is the Best Vinyl for Helmet Wrap?
- Tinting Your Visor (Easy DIY Project)
- Professional Helmet Wrap Companies You Can Trust
- Frequently Asked Questions on Wraps
Wrapping a Helmet VS Painting
So you want to customize your helmet… why wrap?
Why wrap a helmet? It’s an easy way to add customization without altering the helmet whatsoever.
Painting is much more time and labor intensive. In order to paint a helmet, you need to sand the shell which will likely void your helmet’s warranty.
Another advantage to wrapping is its temporary. The wrap can be peeled off at any time. That said, a good wrap (like those we’ll cover below) will last YEARS without any fading or peeling.
Wraps also tend to be cheaper than custom paint. I’ll get in to specific numbers later on. But with a wrap the hard part of making the design is done by a computer printer rather than a skilled artist. An intricate design is simple to print, but takes tons of hours for an artist to nail.
What’s the downside of a wrap? For one, if you pick a bad quality wrap it might peel off, fade, or scratch.
If you apply a wrap incorrectly, it’ll sag and distort like a tattoo on an old guy.
A wrap could also hide cracks in the shell of your helmet. After any drop, you should run your hands carefully around your helmet to check if there’s any cracking in your shell. A cracked shell is a shell that doesn’t absorb impact anymore. You don’t want to ride like that.
So what about cost? How much is a motorcycle helmet wrap and how can you save money?
How Much Does It Cost to Vinyl Wrap a Motorcycle Helmet?
The cost of wrapping a motorcycle helmet depends on how much sweat you want to put in and the materials you use. Vinyl wraps come in every level of quality from Saran Wrap to premium 3M wraps like you’d find on a car. The complexity of your helmet can also affect cost – more work for whoever is wrapping your helmet will cost you more!
TIP: Keep in mind you can remove a wrap and reapply a new one at any point – something you can’t do with custom paint!
A custom wrap starts on the low end at around $200 with some of the vendors I’ll mention down below. For very high end jobs with detailed or custom graphics, costs quickly climb up. You’ll see some of the premier vendors below charging $500 – $600 for bespoke jobs. You can also try any of your local car or sign wrap shops (though many wrap shops turn down helmets).
To save money while wrapping your motorcycle helmet, consider purchasing your own vinyl wrap and tools, and completing the wrapping process at home. You can wrap a helmet for under $20 by yourself, if you follow the instructions in this article.
Keep in mind wrapping a motorcycle helmet is difficult. You are stretching a flat piece of vinyl over a round object, which makes it very hard to keep straight lines in designs running straight. Consider a wacky design without straight lines for your wrap. Apply to a helmet that has a simple design. You could also apply stripes or decals instead of a full wrap.
If you still want to go ahead yourself, I’ll go through the steps next. Or, you can pick one of the wrap companies in the section further down to do it professionally.
Wrapping a Motorcycle Helmet Yourself
Wrapping a motorcycle helmet requires patience, precision, and attention to detail. If you lack those (like I do) skip to the section on professionally wrapping a helmet.
First, gather your materials:
- A vinyl wrap (more on how to choose this below)
- A precise cutting tool like a razor blade (X-Acto knife is perfect)
- A heat gun or hair dryer
- A credit card or squeegee
- Knifeless tape (makes edges SO much easier)
First, thoroughly clean your helmet and prepare it for wrapping by wiping it down until there’s not a speck of dust on it. Lay down knifeless tape around where you want the edges of the vinyl to lay – that’ll make cutting the vinyl SO much easier.
Now, take your vinyl sheet and begin applying it to the helmet. Start at the top or crown, sticking it on and then stretching and smoothing as you go. Be sure not to wrap over the vents and visor lip of the helmet, as well as any safety stickers from DOT, ECE, Snell or SHARP.
You may need to use a hair dryer to shrink and bond the vinyl to your helmet. A credit card or squeegee can also help smooth out bubbles in the wrap. Use a razor blade to trim around vents and edges.
When you’re done, let the wrapped helmet cool for a few hours. The vinyl will bond to your helmet, then you’re ready to hit the road!
Here’s a great walkthrough video of wrapping a helmet, step-by-step:
What is the Best Vinyl for Helmet Wrap?
Vinyl wraps come in all different materials, and unfortunately there’s a lot of low-quality junk out there. The worst thing you can do is spend 10 hours wrapping your helmet just to have it fade in splotches after one ride on a sunny day. So pick a good wrap the first time.
When shopping for wraps, you’ll see materials like cast vinyl and calendared vinyl. For a helmet you want a very thin and highly flexible plastic or vinyl that will stretch over curves. That’s usually going to be cast vinyl.
Calendared vinyl is cheaper, but usually far too thick for helmet application. You want a vinyl that’s under 20 mils (thousands of an inch) thick for a motorcycle helmet.
Cast vinyl is also exceptionally durable, easily lasting 7-10 years in outdoor environments. It’s resistant to scratches and minor impacts, making it a great choice for a daily use helmet.
TIP: You can pick up some great wrap kits for motocross helmets here from Magik Graphics.
When shopping around, read reviews and look for people who are professional wrappers (not to be confused with rappers). They know their stuff. Brands you can trust include 3M, ORAJET, and PrismJET. All of these will have every product from gloss to matte finish, however they don’t offer many graphics. However, many services exist to print graphics and decals on base vinyl from these companies.
Tinting Your Visor (Easy DIY Project)
While you’re waiting for your new wrap to bond to your helmet, I want to give you a quick tip. You can easily personalize your helmet’s visor to add a bit of tint.
A visor is much easier to wrap than a helmet because most visors only curve in one direction. That makes it easy to put a tinted vinyl on it, reducing glare and improving visibility in bright light conditions. Don’t be an idiot and put a heavy tint on a visor you’ll use at night, though!
Tinting a visor is simple. Pick up vinyl with your desired level of tint and remove your visor from your helmet. Clean your visor thoroughly, then stretch the vinyl over the visor. Use a hair dryer if necessary, but avoid it if you can. Heat can damage the anti-fog coatings on your visor.
Are Tinted Helmets Illegal?
Tinted helmet visors are legal throughout the USA. That said, states do regulate the level of tint allowed for car windows, so you may want to use those as a guide. Just in case an officer has a problem with your visor, you can use those regulations as a defense for your choice of tint.
Professional Helmet Wrap Companies You Can Trust
Who can you trust to wrap your helmet with amazing graphics?
Three great helmet wrapping companies are Dewraps, HP Graphics and WrapSesh. Both will wrap just about any helmet and do flawless work – just check their websites for examples. Expect to pay about $400 for the wrap and the labor, but in return you’ll receive what looks like a custom painted helmet.
For motorcross helmets, you must check out Backyard Design USA. They are MUCH cheaper than other helmet wrappers and allow you to build your own design right on their site. You’ll pay around $100 to $150 to wrap your helmet, about a third of other options.
Your local wrap shop that does cars and signs is also an option. Many shops won’t work on helmets, but some might take them in.
Frequently Asked Questions on Wraps
How long does a motorcycle helmet wrap last?
A motorcycle helmet wrap will last from 5 to 10 years, depending on the quality of the wrap material. A high quality wrap from 3M or ORAJET that’s rated for outdoor use will not fade, peel, or otherwise degrade until you’re done with the helmet underneath.
How to avoid air bubbles during installation?
To ensure a smooth, blemish-free application of your helmet wrap, follow the directions I laid out in this article. Use a hair dryer to relax the vinyl as you apply it, and a credit card or squeegee to smooth our air bubbles. It’s like applying a phone screen protector – so if that annoys you, just get your helmet professionally wrapped!
Does vinyl wrap scratch easily?
No – a good wrap from 3M or another reputable vendor will not easily scratch, unless you slide out on pavement or take a knife to it. Cheap wraps, on the other hand, will scratch easily and cause tears in your beautiful helmet.
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