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Visors

Helmet RRs Home Page

Keep it clean. A dirty or scratched clear visor will reduce vision and cause surface glare far more than a new dark one. If in doubt, chuck it.

Cleaning needs gentle care and nothing hard, not even fingernails. Rinse the dirt off and cover it with a clean cloth wet with a bit of sudsy soap for about 10 minutes before gently using the cloth (or put it in a bucket).

Any dirt picked up in the cloth can scratch it, so lots of rinsing needed.

Dried bug splats from three weeks ago will take a lot more soaking.

If it gets scratched you can try and use an extremely fine abrasive like a well known brass polish or "headlight restorer" to gently polish it, after you've got it scrupulously clean. This also works for taking off a damaged Iridium coating. If in doubt, chuck it.

Due to the nonsensical Road Rule requirement in many states for on-going compliance with point of sale requirements, the use of a visor without "Informative Labelling" is illegal. That's the label you have to remove in order to see through the visor. Yes, the one with "Remove Before Use" printed on it.

This point-of-sale requirement also means dark visors are currently illegal in all States other than WA. (or if you have an AS/NZS 1698 helmet and are in Queensland)

Yet, you are legally permitted to use sunglasses that are far darker than the darkest dark visor - in all states.

These requirements apply equally to pillions.

Despite all this palaver about visors, our Road Rules thankfully ignore goggles, so you can remove the visor and use whatever goggles you like. Around 50% of all helmets in use are off-road helmets designed to work with goggles. IN fact many off-road helmets lack a visor and require goggles.

Visor Standards

AS 1609
Once the visor is taken out of its wrapper, it no longer complies with AS 1609-1981. The labels on the wrapping are necessary for compliance with Sec. 7 of AS1609.

Marking of an AS1609 visor requires:

  • the manufacturers Trademark embossed into visor
  • embossed word “Clear” if Visible Light Transmittance (VLT) 85% or more OR
  • embossed word “tinted” if VLT between 50% and 85%

If the visor is 85% VLT, this means 85% of the light will pass through, so the lower the number, the darker the visor.

To determine if a visor in use is compliant with AS 1609 is almost impossible.

There is no requirement for the visor to have "AS1609" or a Certification mark anywhere on it. However, you may find markings for other Standards embossed in it, which tends to confuse the issue. You might find "AS1609", or a Certification mark, but that is NOT a requirement, it's an advertisement forced on the helmet maker by their helmet certifier.

ECE 22-05, VESC-8 or ANSI Z.87.1

If the visor complies with any of ECE 22-05, VESC-8 or ANSI Z.87.1 PLUS (high impact), it WILL be marked accordingly.

All of these visor standards meet or exceed requirements of AS 1609 for strength and colouration of clear visors*. A visor made in compliance with any of these Standards may have the word "clear" or "tinted" laser embossed as an afterthought. It is extremely rare to see a visor with ONLY the markings for AS 1609.

* for the pedants, ECE 22-05 requires a minimum of 80% VLT, while AS1609 requires 85% but these are minimums and most visors exceed this as well as exceeding car windscreen VLT requirements.

Both UN/ECE 22-05 and AS 1609 have a minimum VLT of 50%.

The main difference between AS1609 and UN/ECE 22-05 with other visor standards is that darker tints than 50% VLT are permitted by VESC-8 and ANSI Z.87.1.

Dark Visors
First, we have to understand what is “dark” and what’s not.

The 50% VLT maximum tint allowed by AS 1609 and ECE 2205 is a very light tint. It's so light, most riders wouldn’t recognise it as a “dark visor”.

Car window tinting allows a much darker tint of 35% VLT as the legal limit. Add to this a pair of 8% VLT sunglasses and its very dark indeed.

The Tinting Network provides a useful guide to car window tint limits in different jurisdictions. Car windscreens only require 70% VLT, so it's true, with a clear visor, you can see more than a car driver.

Wearing sunglasses under a clear visor is one option. You can change them fairly quickly, so can car drivers.

Sunglasses in compliance with the Australian sunglasses standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 can be much darker. AS/NZS 1067 allows tinting down to 8% VLT as long as signal light colouration is maintained (lens categories 0 to 3).

Table below from AS/NZS 1067:

Luminous Transmittance
Lens Type % VLT
From over to
080.0100
143.080
218.043.0
38.018.0
43.08.0

Aftermarket Dark Visors

Some comparison tables:-

Impact Testing
StandardMethod
AS1609'' steel ball @ 50 m/s
VESC-83/8'' pointed steel dart @ 9 m/s
Z.87.125.4mm steel ball @ 5 m/s
'' pointed steel dart @ 5 m/s
Z.87.1+500g steel ball @ 5 m/s
'''' steel ball @ 91.4 m/s
ECE 22-053kg drop hammer with 300g pointed steel dart @ 4.4 m/s

AS 1609 is sound, but ordinary when compared to others. The UN/ECE gives 'em a decent whack

Marking
StandardMarks Req %VLT
AS1609Manuf TM >50
'''Tinted' ''
VESC-8'Day Use Only'>20
'' Manuf TM ''
'''VESC-8' ''
Z.87.1 Manuf TM Light (>50)
'' 'Z87.1' Medium (>23)
'' Tint Class Dark (>14)
Z.87.1+ Manuf TM Light (>50)
'' 'Z87.1' Medium (>23)
'' Tint Class Dark (>14)
ECE 22-05 Manuf TM > 50
'' ECE App No ''
'' 'Daytime Use Only' ''
'' Sun Symbol ''

Now, go have a look at what's on your visor.

Iridium visors are basically a light tinted visor with a vapour deposited coating to reflect part of the light and filter the rest. The VLT is typically less than 50%. The coating can be variously coloured. Many reckon they're a good thing for the strength of Australian sun and yet allow you to see into shaded corners on a bright day better than with a plain dark. That's an opinion.

Dark visors can be a great comfort in bright summer sun, reducing glare and fatigue and allowing a better view of proceedings. The polycarbonate plastic material used for visors does filter UV, although not as well as sunglasses certified for UV protection under the sunglasses Standard AS/NZS 1067.

A change is needed to Road Rules.

If the rather nonsensical point-of-sale compliance is removed, then aftermarket visors may be used.

This would mean shops can reduce their stock requirements. We can have the same model helmet certified to two different standard (UN/ECE 22-05 and AS/NZS 1698) and their visors are interchangeable, but using an AS1609 clear visor on an ECE 22-05 helmet is illegal and vice-versa. Yes, it is idiotic.

A simple in-service regulation would permit use of dark visors between sunup and sundown.