Would a black helmet create more heat?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    Would a black helmet create more heat?

    I am trying to decide if I want to get this black helmet. Since it is black, would it create more heat as compared to a red and white one?

  2. #2
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    If you're riding in a well canopied forest, probably doesn't make that much difference. If you're riding in the desert, you're going to cook your melon. Just my opinion.
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  3. #3
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    Colour makes no difference. An inch or so of foam makes for a remarkably effective insulator.

    I have a black helmet and a white helmet, and have used both in beating sun. They have similar venting, and feel exactly the same with regards to temperature.

  4. #4
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    Theoretically I'd say yes, but realistically I would think the venting of the helmet would be far more important--especially since, as pointed out, the foam that makes up the inner part of the helmet is an insulator between the heat the black plastic is soaking up and your head. I would assume the problem is that foam also keeps the heat your own body generates in, and insulates in a bad way, so lots of venting is important.

    So if they are insulating shoulder pads for football players, and they've got those fancy things for them to put their hands in for about a minute on the sideline to drop their body temperature in just about a minute of use, when are they going to come up with a helmet that has some type of cooling mechanism?

    You know this could actually be a significant advantage for long and hot races if engineers could accomplish it without adding a bunch of weight. I know the U.S. Olympic marathoners had experimented with dropping their core body temperature a few degrees before the race in Athens, through the use of ice vests, and we ended up with a Silver (men's) and bronze (women's). The testing done ahead of time apparently suggested it had a statistically significant effect on performance in a hot race.

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    A few years ago when I was teaching a science class about the sun, we were watching Bill Nye. Bill is the greatest. He was testing the effect of solar radiation on a white car & a identical black car. He used a scientific thermometer and etc... to prove that the white car is cooler than a black car.

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    When I rode my street bike I had two helmets (one for my wife and one for me), both the same model Shoei, one was black the other a creme color, The black one definately heated up my head more than the creme colored one. When I rode alone on a hot day I would wear my wife's creme colored helmet to stay cooler.
    If you want to know for sure, stick a black and a white helmet in the sun with a thermometer in them, that will answer your question once and for all.

  8. #8

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    Yes...but, venting is what is important. I have white and black helmets...I wear my black one when its really hot because it's vented better and cooler. If I were going to sit out in the parking lot in the sun for hours I might prefer the white one.

    Mikey

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    if you take two helmets of the same model, identical vents,size etc, one black, one white the white helmet will reflect the heat and stay cooler than the black one which will absorb the heat.

    a good example of this sort of thing is Cadbury in the UK...they use refrigerated trucks to deliver their chocolate, these trucks WERE dark purple with white graphics, Cadbury's brand colour scheme. When gas prices started getting ridiculous in the UK twenty years ago, Cadbury repainted all the trucks white with purple graphics, they even sent a letter to my parents store explaining the change as a move to save gas as the trucks stay cooler and use less fuel to remain refrigerated to the correct temperature.

    Think about it, why are all the houses in the Med painted white?

  10. #10
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    Would a black helmet create more heat?


    Yes! IMO and I have always assumed it would.
    But I have no experience with one.
    But womble does so apparently it doesn't make a difference.
    Thank you womble I have always wondered that being that in San Diego many rides are done in desert like heat.

    Quote:womble
    Colour makes no difference. An inch or so of foam makes for a remarkably effective insulator.

    I have a black helmet and a white helmet, and have used both in beating sun. They have similar venting, and feel exactly the same with regards to temperature.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    Never seen that--but it is the same concept. The vests used by our olympic marathoners basically hung down like a real no-sleeve vest covering their chest, abdomen, and back. That thing from sixsixone is cheap enough that it really likes like it is worth a try. Especially for those of us who live in hot climates and get to ride in cool weather for say two months a year if we are lucky.

  12. #12
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    I ride in the desert in 100 F (37c) plus temps.
    I moved here with a black helmet, then switched to a white helmet.
    The white helmet is much cooler.
    Red, is a dark and hot color by the way.
    Cool colors, are silver, white and yellow. I've found that bright yellows reflect heat well, but attract bugs like bees.
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  13. #13
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    Doesn't really matter to me either way. A white helmet makes my head look five times bigger than it is. A black helmet doesn't. Black FTW.

  14. #14
    meh... whatever
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    the outer casing on xc helmets is less than .5 mm thick, resting on a rather thick layer of foam.

    will a darker outer casing absorb more heat than a lighter casing? absolutely. but because the foam under it is not a conductor of heat the only effect will be the exterior of the darker one will be hotter to the touch. it will in no way affect the temperature inside the helmet.

    in looking for a helmet to keep your head cool, look for venting irrespective of color.
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    ^^ when i was shopping for a snowboarding helmet the first time, i put a black one on, looked in the mirror and all i could picture was the little guy from spaceballs...someone has to know what i'm talking about.

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    Lord people!

    Ok, this is how I explained it to newbie customers concerned with wearing a dark helmet.

    "hey ya big dummy (in my Fred Sanford voice), see that inch thick foam? You ever drink some really hot coffee out of a cup made out of 1/16 inch foam? Did it burn you? Why? *tick tock, tick tock, tick tock*............... "OOOOOOOOOOOH"!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treybiker
    Lord people!

    Ok, this is how I explained it to newbie customers concerned with wearing a dark helmet.

    "hey ya big dummy (in my Fred Sanford voice), see that inch thick foam? You ever drink some really hot coffee out of a cup made out of 1/16 inch foam? Did it burn you? Why? *tick tock, tick tock, tick tock*............... "OOOOOOOOOOOH"!!!
    lol...ya, that thought did cross my mind. But there's alot more to it than that. I learned this in chemistry:

    The surface on top of the styrophone will heat up from the sun. In this case black will heat up a little more. You won't feel the heat directly because of the foam. But, air molecules actually carry heat. So, even though you won't feel the surface of the helmet directly, when the air passes through it will pick up the heat off the surface and you can feel that.

  18. #18
    pedal pusher
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    So, what are we talking about here, maybe 1-2° hotter than the air that passes through a white helmet? Stop being a bunch of p---ies and just go ride already.

    It was damn near 100° for the last two days and, yes, I wear a black helmet and, no, you didn't hear me whining like a teenage girl about it.

  19. #19
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    All science aside, my black Influx keeps my head cooler than my white Hex. I purchased the Hex assuming the white outer shell would keep my head cooler. After baking my head one day with the Hex, I did back-to-back rides on a 5.5 mile loop that I use to dial in suspension, tire pressure, etc. I did this test on three different days. Result: Influx was noticeably cooler on my head.

    This is not to imply that ALL black helmets are cooler than ALL white helmets, only that MY black Influx is cooler than MY white Hex. Color aside, as mentioned in other posts, superior ventilation trumps color.

    Now, would I be able to notice any difference between a black Influx and a white Influx? In all honesty, I don't think I would due to the same ventilation system.
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  20. #20
    meh... whatever
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    i took chemistry too...

    Quote Originally Posted by coolmoed
    lol...ya, that thought did cross my mind. But there's alot more to it than that. I learned this in chemistry:

    The surface on top of the styrophone will heat up from the sun. In this case black will heat up a little more. You won't feel the heat directly because of the foam. But, air molecules actually carry heat. So, even though you won't feel the surface of the helmet directly, when the air passes through it will pick up the heat off the surface and you can feel that.
    what you are describing is convection, and i would wholeheartedly disagree that convection would noticeably raise the temp of the air flowing through the vents for a couple of reasons.

    one is that the styrofoam itself doesnt heat up, as it is a poor conductor of heat.

    the other is that although the darker thin surface material will absorb more heat than the lighter, very little of it will actually be retained due to circulation of ambient air.

    also, very little of the air that flows through the vents actually passes over the covering surface of the helmet; instead flowing through the vents where its contact is mostly with the foam.

    thus, in order for convection to heat the air as it is flowing through the vents the air would have to first and in majority come in contact with the surface of the helmet as opposed to the foam, and that surface would have to be markedly hotter than the ambient air.

    in other words, the surface of the helmet around the vents would have to be too hot to touch for convection to noticeably raise the temperature of the air as it flowed through the vents.
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  21. #21
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    I would very much like to see some guys that afirms that color exposure directly to sun doesn't care, working hard below the Sun wearing black only few hours.

    Obviously, ventilation has too much to say in this aspect but, between two exactly surfaces (kind of material) black or white, white is coolest than black directly exposed to sun. It's not the same wear this helmet here in Spain (40ēC at shadow, for exemple), that on septentrional or more cool areas that warm does not affect the same.

    Just try a sunny day wearing a black shirt and take a walk. The same walk in white shirt is very much different.

    I'm talking just below the experience working & performing sports below the "spanish sun". I won't care about it in winter, but is a very important theme of choice in summer... veeery important.

    Light colors in summer, darks in winter.


  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiramson
    I would very much like to see some guys that afirms that color exposure directly to sun doesn't care, working hard below the Sun wearing black only few hours.

    Obviously, ventilation has too much to say in this aspect but, between two exactly surfaces (kind of material) black or white, white is coolest than black directly exposed to sun. It's not the same wear this helmet here in Spain (40ēC at shadow, for exemple), that on septentrional or more cool areas that warm does not affect the same.
    no one has argued that the darker SURFACE COVERING will absorb more heat than the lighter. but that is only the surface (pardon the pun) of the equation and there are mitigating factors which have far greater impact than simply the hue of the outer surface covering.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiramson
    Just try a sunny day wearing a black shirt and take a walk. The same walk in white shirt is very much different.
    for it to be applicable to the topic at hand one would have to have about an inch of styrofoam between their skin and the shirts.
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  23. #23
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    It's so hot that your brain starts to cook, causing you to crash. My brown Xen does the same thing.

    (I needed an excuse for excessive crashing. This seems like a good one. LOL!)

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod
    no one has argued that the darker SURFACE COVERING will absorb more heat than the lighter. but that is only the surface (pardon the pun) of the equation and there are mitigating factors which have far greater impact than simply the hue of the outer surface covering.


    for it to be applicable to the topic at hand one would have to have about an inch of styrofoam between their skin and the shirts.
    I agree. And is very important the distance betwenn this surface and the thing to protect against the sun (the other factor in the equation) about the fact of ventilation or refreshing air, for example:

    I won't never ever choose a black shirt to stay exposed to sun but definitely YES to a black umbrella or canopy for the same purpose (keep away extrem warms). Never a white umbrela or canopy.


    Very good point about the skin color. Touche!

    (Hey guys, apologize about my English, I'm just learning)

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiramson
    I won't never ever choose a black shirt to stay exposed to sun but definitely YES to a black umbrella or canopy for the same purpose (keep away extrem warms). Never a white umbrela or canopy.
    Off on a tangent, but black umbrellas are not good in the sun. Because they are paper thin, they soak up all heat from the sun, then radiate it straight down onto the person holding it. The best umbrellas are light coloured, preferably with a completely silvered lining.

    Naturally, umbrellas, t-shirts, cars do not apply to helmet considerations as none of none of them are built with a massive insulating layer.

    You really should pick your analogies to be more relevant to helmets

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by coolmoed
    lol...ya, that thought did cross my mind. But there's alot more to it than that. I learned this in chemistry:

    The surface on top of the styrophone will heat up from the sun. In this case black will heat up a little more. You won't feel the heat directly because of the foam. But, air molecules actually carry heat. So, even though you won't feel the surface of the helmet directly, when the air passes through it will pick up the heat off the surface and you can feel that.
    Well, theres even more to it than that. I learned this in pre-school.

    Movement causes air movement, unless you're riding in a vacume chamber. Vents on a helmet are designed to direct uninhibited air (and probably .001% of the helmet's surface air), in and back out of the helmet. So moving it won't make a bit of difference. Sitting still for a long period of time when there's no breeze, there may be the slightest difference, but I doubt you could tell being I can't tell on any of my fullface motorcycle helmets.

    I've worn motorcycle and bicycle helmets of all colors for over 25 years, and have never noticed a difference realting to color.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod
    the outer casing on xc helmets is less than .5 mm thick, resting on a rather thick layer of foam.

    will a darker outer casing absorb more heat than a lighter casing? absolutely. but because the foam under it is not a conductor of heat the only effect will be the exterior of the darker one will be hotter to the touch. it will in no way affect the temperature inside the helmet.

    in looking for a helmet to keep your head cool, look for venting irrespective of color.
    Hey, that's a great, thermaly-sound answer, but...the dude asked if a black helmet would "create" heat.

    Don't be dissin' his question by answering a different one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiramson
    I would very much like to see some guys that afirms that color exposure directly to sun doesn't care, working hard below the Sun wearing black only few hours.
    Wearing "black" what? T-shirt, sure...hotter. Pipe insulation...not so much.

    Surely you realize Mono's point that a higher surface temp on a helmet does not guarantee there will be enough conduction through the insulating foam for you to detect any temp increase on your head.

    Especially "at speed", where conduction is waay outpaced by convection.

    And to answer the OP's question, "No".

  29. #29
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  30. #30
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    Technically the foam does help insulate. A black helmet, here in the Mojave in summer, is hotter, but not as hot as one might think.
    I've used both and a white helmet is noticeably cooler.
    Like others have said; if you ride in a forested area, black vs white is a moot point.
    I think the reason my black helmet is hotter in summer, isn't so much because heat transfers through the foam, but because of "radiant heat".
    Radiant heat, is the heat radiating through the air around the helmet, from the darker black surface.
    Put a white helmet and black helmet, side by side, in direct sunlight, let them sit for awhile, then hold your hand a few inches above one, then the other.
    You'll definitely feel a difference between the two.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ericmopar
    Technically the foam does help insulate. A black helmet, here in the Mojave in summer, is hotter, but not as hot as one might think.
    I've used both and a white helmet is noticeably cooler.
    Like others have said; if you ride in a forested area, black vs white is a moot point.
    I think the reason my black helmet is hotter in summer, isn't so much because heat transfers through the foam, but because of "radiant heat".
    Radiant heat, is the heat radiating through the air around the helmet, from the darker black surface.
    Put a white helmet and black helmet, side by side, in direct sunlight, let them sit for awhile, then hold your hand a few inches above one, then the other.
    You'll definitely feel a difference between the two.
    But your head is inside the helmet, not above it.

    IME in direct sunlight a helmet with large vents is hotter at lower speeds because the sun shines directly on your head. Color is not a factor.
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  32. #32
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    I wouldn't wear a black helmet, no matter how cool they look.....

    I noticed a while back that the LBS had black water bottles. Blech.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manning
    I wouldn't wear a black helmet, no matter how cool they look.....

    I noticed a while back that the LBS had black water bottles. Blech.
    Okay, now explain how black water bottles have a logical relationship do with black helmets

  34. #34
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    I noticed my black bike gets too hot to touch when left in the 100F+ heat at midday. I solved the problem by covering it in an inch thick layer of styrofoam. I also wear white lycra shorts under a pair of inch thick styrofoam baggies to keep my doggie jewels cool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coolmoed
    I am trying to decide if I want to get this black helmet. Since it is black, would it create more heat as compared to a red and white one?
    Of course a black helmet will create more heat (from the sun or other light source). Scientifically it must! But you will not experience it due to the foam "insulation".

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    No it will not create heat...

    Quote Originally Posted by coolmoed
    I am trying to decide if I want to get this black helmet. Since it is black, would it create more heat as compared to a red and white one?
    The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It may be more efficient at changing the solar energy to heat, but it most certainly could not create heat.

    It may feel hotter on your noodle than a white helmet!

    If you like the helmet and it fits - get it and go for a ride.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by debaucherous
    The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It may be more efficient at changing the solar energy to heat, but it most certainly could not create heat.

    It may feel hotter on your noodle than a white helmet!

    If you like the helmet and it fits - get it and go for a ride.
    Yeah, I was wondering if anyone was going to point this "create heat" problem

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