Helmet Painting Question- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    Helmet Painting Question

    Has anyone ever painted a cycling helmet before? I ask because I just received a Bell Variant and really like the fit. I'd like to get another and have it painted green/white to match my FS bike.

    Can helmets be painted? I was thinking about finding someone to airbrush it since there is a lot of masking off to do otherwise. Any thoughts or experience sharing would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Any of these places can hook you right up. Be forewarned though, sometimes a custom paint job can cost more than the lid itself. But it does look trick.

    http://www.customstds.com/
    http://www.dbcustoms.com/
    http://www.puresportsdesigns.com/
    Ever been to Mountain Bike Tales Digital Magazine? Now if only the print rags would catch on!

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the Tip

    Wow, awesome art work. It's way more than I was thinking of having done. I can see why the prices would be so expensive though. Thanks again for the reply.

  4. #4
    El Pollo Diablo
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    Find an artistic buddy, get them to do it for a sixer, spend the difference on some parts
    :P

  5. #5

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    I don't know how well most paints will stick to the helmet, but some paints like gold and silver can wind up dissolving foam.

    The only helmet I ever painted was back before they started making them the way they do now.. with the dense foam and the light plastic shell. Back then they were more like the skater helmets. I painted it up based on a helmet design from the Sega Genesis game Musha Aleste. I was like... 13 at the time, though.

  6. #6

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    I was worried about the styrofoam

    I was wondering if the paint would harm the foam part of the helmet. That's why I was considering getting it air brushed. I could do some masking to hide the foam from the paint, but it would probably be quite the project. Maybe I'll drop Bell Helmets a line and see if they can add a white and green color scheme to the helmet line. I haven't seen many XC helmets with a green color scheme that fit my head as well as the Variant does.

    Thanks again for the thoughts...

  7. #7
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob_Element50
    I was wondering if the paint would harm the foam part of the helmet. That's why I was considering getting it air brushed. I could do some masking to hide the foam from the paint, but it would probably be quite the project. Maybe I'll drop Bell Helmets a line and see if they can add a white and green color scheme to the helmet line. I haven't seen many XC helmets with a green color scheme that fit my head as well as the Variant does.

    Thanks again for the thoughts...
    You can also use sign makers vinyl to add stripes or panels. What color is your helmet now?
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  8. #8
    7hz
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    I was wondering if the paint would harm the foam part of the helmet. That's why I was considering getting it air brushed.
    It doesn't matter the application method, what matters is the solvent used in the paint. IOW, anything other than water based paints are very likely to damage the helmet. Even with water based paint, I think there is a risk. AFAIK it has always been advised to never paint any type of helmet for safety reasons, as any type of paint has the possability to weaken the helmet structure.

  9. #9
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    As 7hz stated, the paint needs to be waterbased. The polystyrene foam will melt with solvent based systems.

    It should be possible to mask the foam to allow just the hard plastic shell to be airbrushed, but that will be tedious work. You might want to consider doing that part to make sure the foam is masked off.

  10. #10

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    I doubt it would. Just to be funny I spray painted mine with the krylon plastic paint metallic gold and its still on there and didnt harm the styrofoam as far as I know

  11. #11

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    I've done a few helmets. The paint does not need to be water-based. It just need to be non-aerosol. It's not necessarily the foam that you need to worry about. Aerosol-based paints will weaken the plastic itself. These helmets were painted with a combination of lacquer-based and water-based paints.

    Here are a couple I've done (for motorcycles, not bikes, obviously). I have done a few bike helmets, but don't have photos. I was without a camera for most of the time when I was painting.




  12. #12
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    Nice paint jobs- I especially like the seams/ rusty rivets on the second one. I wish I had that kind of talent.
    Ever been to Mountain Bike Tales Digital Magazine? Now if only the print rags would catch on!

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    Wow!

    I'm always amazed at how talented some people are. Cosmo, you are the man! Very well done. Thanks for the tips!

  14. #14
    7hz
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    Quote Originally Posted by gothrashers04
    I doubt it would. Just to be funny I spray painted mine with the krylon plastic paint metallic gold and its still on there and didnt harm the styrofoam as far as I know
    As far as you know....

    And guess when you will find out? When you need the helmet the most, and it splits open, and then your head splits open.

    I would NOT mess about with painting helmets unless I knew EXACTLY what paint should be used. That doesn't mean vague generalisations like 'as long as you don't use aerosols' (they are not the only paint method to use those specific solvents). Don't confuse the application method with the chemical make up of the paint. Find out for sure what works and what doesn't. TBH I would just stay away from the whole idea, having a flashy helmet (ooh err missus) isn't worth it.

    p.s. Nice job anyway Cosmo!

  15. #15
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    This is a little off subject but I'm considering buying an airbrush and doing some of my own paint work.

    What I'm thinking of doing is painting stems, bars, forks, and cranks. I'm looking at doing some multi-color fades and maybe simple patterns (such as spots with fades). I looked and for $300-$350 I can buy a small compressor and airbrush. Is it difficult to do the type of work that I mentioned? If I sat down with an airbrush a few times a week for an hour, would it take me a long time to get good enough to paint passable fades and simple patterns? Cosmo?

    Penguin

  16. #16
    He be a moose too.
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    This is a little off subject but I'm considering buying an airbrush and doing some of my own paint work.

    What I'm thinking of doing is painting stems, bars, forks, and cranks. I'm looking at doing some multi-color fades and maybe simple patterns (such as spots with fades). I looked and for $300-$350 I can buy a small compressor and airbrush. Is it difficult to do the type of work that I mentioned? If I sat down with an airbrush a few times a week for an hour, would it take me a long time to get good enough to paint passable fades and simple patterns? Cosmo?

    Penguin

  17. #17

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    It's hard to say. Too many variables involved. But, if you have some artistic inclinations, you shouldn't have a problem.

    Be sure your airbrush is double action. It will say wherever you buy it (I get all my stuff from www-dixieart.com. My airbrushes are all Iwata brand. But, Badger makes decent ones too. The paints I use are Createx Auto Air. They are water-based, and they can be sprayed right out of the bottle.

    But, once you get a little experience, you should be able to do what you are talking about no problem.

  18. #18
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    I've painted several of mine (Giro XEN2) and they have yet to fail. Even today I knocked my head into a low hanging tree and the helmet was fine. I do have a headache though.

    I did test on an old school helmet to see if it would screw with the foam. I just used spray paint from my local supply store.

    If you're unsure, leave it alone.

  19. #19

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    As I said before, it's not the foam you need to worry about. Tape it off and you'll be fine.

    Aerosol based paints weaken the plastic itself. Maybe not of as much concern on a mountain bike, but I wouldn't want any of my motorcycle racing customers hitting the ground at 80+ MPH on a helmet that I was concerned about the strength of...

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