A permanent anti-fog coating for motorcycle helmet face shields that works.
It is a permanent treatment that is potentially a better solution than the Pinlock system or temporary anti-fog coatings.
Just a few weeks ago, in March of 2011, the Université Laval sent us a press release announcing a new permanent anti-fog coating for motorcycle helmet face shields. They claimed it is the "very first permanent anti-fog coating".
Not long after that, an email arrived from RIA Anti-Fog in St. Ouen l’Aumone, France to let us know that they have been making a permanent anti-fog coating that has been in use for many years.
I'm not sure if the two products are similar, but the RIA coating is being used to treat aviation instruments, airplane and automobile windshields and for military applications.
The RIA coating is called the RIA2 permanent anti-fog coating and it is also available for use on motorcycle helmet face shields.
RIA invited me to send over a few face shields for treatment so we could evaluate the results and report back to our readers.
I have been using an Arai face shield treated with the RIA2 coating for the last couple of weeks and it works as described during my rides in the cold and rainy weather you can see in the photos. The face shield on the Arai RX-Q helmet (review) has remained perfectly clear in all conditions, without any fogging at all and I can not get it to fog even when trying to breathe heavily inside the helmet in the cold and rain.
I also placed the face shield in the refrigerator for 2 hours and could not get the treated section to fog under heavy breathing, as seen in the photo below.
RIA originally developed the RIA2 anti-fog coating for use on aviation instruments, which can become fogged during changes in altitude, temperature and humidity. They have since expanded the use of the coatings to other aviation, sports, police, fire and military uses.
There are also a few other unique applications for the coating, including windshields in hybrid and electric automobiles to help reduce the load on the air-conditioner and defrosting systems.
The coating is a permanent treatment that is flow-coated on to the glass or polycarbonate surface and then "fixed" at high temperatures.
According to RIA, the RIA2 coating is a water-based solution which is crystallized on the substrate. After the flow-coating, the face shield or visor is processed in an oven at +130°C, or with infrared heat.
The RIA2 coating has a "highly hydrophilic permanent characteristic", according to RIA. They said that "the bonding of molecules with the substrate and between each other prevents the dilution of coating". The RIA2 coating can be applied to glass or on any plastic substrate by first using a primer coating. Typical uses include polycarbonate or PPSU plastic, which can withstand the brief exposure to high temperatures required to "fix" the anti-fog coating.
It is an original equipment (OE) process, designed for a continuous process, high volume use. However, RIA manually coated the face shields I sent and I asked them to partially treat the face shield shown in the photos, so we could compare the treated vs. the non-treated areas.
RIA said that "the RIA2 coating absorbs and allows a thermal exchange,
which further reduces the condensation phenomenon and the surface of
material is also then less subject to the condensation phenomenon.
The thickness of the coating enables the visor to sustain high temperatures variances, from -40 degrees C to +90 degrees C and humidity levels over 95%.
Typical thickness of the RIA2 coating application ranges from 5 µ to 10 µ and features less than 1% loss in light transmission.
The face shields to be treated with the RIA2 coating must be "raw", right out of the mold, and before any other anti-scratch or anti-fog treatment has been applied.
The optical quality is unchanged, although there are a few very minute artifacts in the face shields I received, due to the fact that these face shields has been previously used on motorcycle helmets and had been coated with anti-fog treatments that were first removed by RIA.
RIA says that the optical properties on both glass and plastic is considered to be one of the major advantages. RIA said that the less than 1% light transmission loss after the RIA2 coating is applied which cannot be perceived by human eye.
The RIA2 coating exceeds the requirements of ECE22/05 - EN166:2001 - EN168:2001 and is compliant to MIL-I-83336B.
Note that the RIA2 coating is not 100% resistant to all fogging under every possible condition. For example, extremes of heat and condensation, such as steam from boiling water, may cause the coating to become fogged after it reaches a certain temperature.
The ECE 22.05 testing standard calls for an anti-fog treatment to remain free of fog for at least 20 seconds under the test conditions; the RIA2 treated visors remained clear for more than double that time, according to the test report, but I'm not familiar with the test conditions for the EN166:2001 standard.
The service life of the RIA2 coating is considered as the lifetime of the
visor or substrate. It is a permanent coating and needs no refurbishment or
maintenance. RIA said that the RIA2 coating has been in service on some
Airbus airplanes for
14 years so far on their flight instruments, despite daily exposures to high
humidity and numerous thermal cycles.
Water tests have demonstrated that the performances levels of the RIA2 coating do not change at 13 days at 50 degrees Celsius.
For motorcycle use, face shields treated with the RIA2 coating have gone the equivalent of 10 years with no degradation of performance. RIA says the coating is resistant to scratching.
The RIA2 treated surface is claimed to also be resistant to the adherence of dust, grease or pollution. Also, RIA said that the coating is "self healing" and that most of the will disappear when moisture is applied or after several condensation cycles.
The coating can be cleaned with non-oxidizing cleaning agents (water and fingertips are probably best).
The RIA2 permanent anti-fog coating seems to be the "Holy Grail" of motorcycle helmet face shields. It obsoletes the Pinlock system, in my opinion, which is a clumsy approach, due to the requirements for special attachments and its soft nature, which makes it difficult to keep clean without scratching. Many users report changes in optical quality at night when using the Pinlock system.
The RIA2 coating is also a permanent resolution of the fogging problem, unlike the temporary anti-fog treatments, which work only up to a point.
So what's the next step? I will be corresponding with our contacts at the various motorcycle helmet manufacturers to let them know about the RIA system, which is ready for use today and available to bring "in house" to any visor manufacturing location.
I would think that if enough webBikeWorld readers sent an email to their favorite helmet manufacturer, requesting that they employ a permanent anti-fog treatment on their motorcycle face shields, the manufacturers would react. I would think that motorcyclists would be willing to pay a little extra to buy a helmet with a face shield that has a real permanent anti-fog coating that actually works, and this seems to be it.
For more information, contact Mr. Laurent Evano, VP Support Department at
RIA Anti-Fog (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tel + 33 6 34 11 03 21 or Tel + 33 2 38 72 46 92
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From "R.K.H." (05/11): "One option the manufacturers have is to have this coating applied to replacement shields and sell those shields at a higher price. Then many of us could get them for our current helmets."
From "B.L." (04/11): "While I am happy that there is a solution in the works, it is too little, too late for many of us. This will likely be picked up by the high end helmet makers, who will add the expense to the price tag of their products which feature it.
For those of us who take to heart what Dr. Hurt shared in his famous study, that an inexpensive, DOT-rated helmet, from Pep Boys, will likely give you as much protection in a real-world accident as an expensive helmet, this really is not worth the price of admission. The "$10 head" argument simply is not true.
When my wife and I are touring, we frequently have issues with fogging in our helmets. Our solution is to open the visor a 1/2 inch, until the weather conditions improve enough to allow us to close them. While this increases the noise, and the air flow, we are still well protected behind our fairing and windshield (sport riders face a very different situation, and perhaps they are a better market share for this feature).
Your article states that this product has been in use, inside commercial airplanes, for 14 years. I have to wonder why it has never been pursued by helmet makers before now."
From "T.G." (04/11): "I have tried for years to convince someone to make a RIA2 coated HJC helmet visor to no avail. I have friends that fly so I have known about the product for a while and have been surprised that we have not seen it at all on helmet visors or even motorcycle windshields.
The holy grail rich man's touring bikes don't even have it. I know a lot of BMW touring riders that would pay an additional $1000 for their bikes if the instrument cluster lenses and the windshield were coated with this product. This makes me believe that getting the product is not easy, or the process to cure it has a high reject rate. Otherwise we would have been seeing it for years on the high end bikes.
That said, my next helmet purchase will be heavily influenced by who has RIA2 coated face shields available. Thanks for the neat article! I am glad that others are discovering this product and asking, 'Why is this not on everything?'"
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