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Most helmets these days are not the smooth bowling ball lids of the 70's. Technology has made our helmets pretty complex. The contours of your helmet can be used as a road map for decal application. Scroll through our Decal Instructions list or follow the General Application Guide below.
All of our decal kits come with detailed instructions. This page contains basic techniques that can be used with most of our sets as well as a few tips and photo's. For specific decals please see our list of downloadable PDF's above.
Doing a little preparation will make the application process smoother and help insure your helmet comes out looking great.
You will need:
A sharpened pencil. (optional)
Lint free cloth or similar for cleaning your helmet.
Clean Your Helmet
Using glass cleaner, we prefer windex or invisible glass, clean the surface you are applying the decals to thoroughly of dirt, oil and debri.
Prepare your decal
With your sharp scissors cut the decal sections apart. Any section of vinyl over 2.5" in diameter regardless of shape will produce creases when applied to a curved surface. This is not true of all vinyl so if you are applying decals made from something other than 3M industrial grade reflective vinyl you may have more or less wiggle room. The masking can crease to absorb some of this but the vinyl will buckle. Removing excess material minimizes bunching.
These decals are made of three parts. A Backing, which is what the vinyl is suspended upon,
the vinyl itself, and masking. Masking is just what it sounds like, masking tape but a bit thinner.
Masking is the delivery system for the vinyl. It also protects the reflective cells within the vinyl during cutting and application.
Each set is actually two sets, one for the left and right side of your helmet. Getting these pieces mixed up during application can be a pain. We suggest labeling them L and R on the back of each piece.
Plan Your Design.
It helps to know at least where you want to start. The first piece of vinyl along with features of your helmet give you points of reference. This is where the scotch tape comes in handy. Planning ahead can help you sort out any curves or plain changes in the helmet surface that could affect the vinyl. You'll know ahead of time how the vinyl will react and how the finished product will look.
Tip: Practice with a section of decal you don't intend to use. Experiment with cutting the vinyl as you might when encountering a vent or adjuster on your helmet.
To separate the backing and expose the adhesive of the vinyl and masking carefully peel the backing away. Do this at a sharp angle to reveal the silver adhesive side of the decal. Now treat it like kryptonite. There's a reason emergency vehicles use this product, it's very sticky even before the adhesive is pressure activated.
Tip: For decal kits with finely cut sections this is where your sharpened pencil comes in handy. Occasionally when the backing is being separated a small section of decal can start to lift off of the masking as well. Gently pin the piece down with a sharpened lead pencil. Vinyl doesn't adhere to lead very well so it's a handy tool in a pinch.
Do not press hard when applying a decal, the adhesive is pressure activated. Activating it now will make repositioning the vinyl nearly impossible without stretching and damaging it's reflective properties.
We do not suggest lifting and repositioning the decals. If you think this is something you may need to do spray Windex on the surface first for a wet application. This will allow you to slide the decal around a bit. You must squeegee the moisture and air from beneath the decal before removing the masking if you decide on a wet application. Failing to do this thoroughly will result in bubbles later and possibly and orange peel texture. This technique is not ideal as it takes a bit of skill, but it does work and is used regularly by sign makers.
As you can see in this photo the widest section of vinyl creased immediately. This is because the tail end curved around the helmet and stuck there. We suggest working from the center of the largest section, out. Or in this case from left to right because the tail section reduces in size. To fix this I lifted the tail section away from the helmet and worked the crease out with my fingers, working my way from left to right.
Now is the time to work out any bubbles or creases and activate the adhesive. Starting from the center rub and push outward all the way to the edge of the vinyl. If air is trapped it will be forced out. If there is a small crease the vinyl will flatten and fill that void. The vinyl does have similar properties to rubber. When warmed it can conform, the friction from your fingers is enough.
Had I not lifted the tail section but tried to force the vinyl flat the lifted section in the photo would have become a problem. At that point I could carefully cut the vinyl so it could overlap and lay flat or remove a wedge and hope the edges come together to form a tight seam. Neither is ideal.
You can see in this photo the vinyl is flat but the small amount of masking around it is bunched. The masking can absorb the bunching, but if there is too much it can affect the vinyl. This is why trimming around your decal before you start is necessary.
All that is left to do at this point is to remove the masking. Start from one end and peel it back at a sharp angle. Lifting it straight out from your helmet can pull on the vinyl. The adhesive is activated but it's not cured yet.
Your decal should almost look painted on. You don't want to see any gaps or lifting.
If everything looks good move onto the next piece.
As your putting the pieces on and the design is coming together step back often and look at the helmet as a whole. Many times we have gotten so absorbed in getting pieces applied uniformly that we didn't realize we were using the wrong piece, or it was upside down or intended for the other side of the helmet. Labelling the pieces can also help avoid any mix ups.
One more piece down. These are the most difficult due to there width.
Once applied it looks like it came from the factory this way.
The decals should stop about 1/4" from vents. Some folks prefer to apply vinyl right over a gap between the edge of the helmet and the plastic body of a vent or adjuster, they then slide a blade between the vent and helmet effectively cutting the vinyl. This works and we have done it but it does create a different look and there is always the chance of damaging your helmet. It's up to you how you get this done.
This photo shows one way to score the vinyl creating a line for you to cut. Simply bend it back to mirror the angle you need. The more you bend it the more it will score the vinyl so be sure before doing this, the score line is permanent.
The chin strap is often overlooked when applying reflective material. It's important to have reflective material on every side of your helmet. Too often drivers look directly at on oncoming motorcyclist and pull out in front of them. City streets are busy landscapes for tired, stressed or distracted eyes.
I left these strips intact, if you do this be aware the masking between the vinyl strips must be allowed to bunch in order to absorb any creasing that may occur. Due to its length and narrow width this section saw creasing on the ends. The distance between the strips in this photo were closer at the tips than the center as a result.
As you can see we get a lot of coverage with this vinyl, I only used 10 pieces for both sides of this helmet and the chin strap. The kit contains 22. The side pieces can be seen from the rear as well.
Applying these decals took about 25 minutes from start to finish.
We are always available to help our customers. If you have questions, suggestions or need a little help applying your decals do not hesitate to contact us.
Thank You for visiting our site. Be Seen, Be Safe and keep the shiny side up!