Introduction: All-Weather Bike Helmet

Picture of All-Weather Bike Helmet

I ride my bike all year round, and since I live in Canada that means I have to bundle up quite a bit in the winter! When temperatures dip below 5 Celsius or so, I put my "summer" helmet back on the shelf and reach for my custom modified all-weather helmet. It's so effective that despite my mostly bald head I don't need to wear a hat underneath, even at temperatures down to -20C at speeds in excess of 40 km/h (tested and confirmed!)

The All-Weather Helmet is also completely waterproof, so it's great to have when it's raining, sleeting, or snowing.

Virtually any helmet can be modified into an all-weather helmet, the only requirement is that the plastic decorative shell can be removed.


One bike helmet in your size. Make sure the plastic part comes off.
About one square yard (or one square meter) of nylon fabric
Contact cement or some other glue with a long open time, that won't melt foam
Electrician's tape
A plastic face shield (optional)


A sharp knife

Step 1: Remove the Plastic Shell

Picture of Remove the Plastic Shell

The first step is to remove the plastic decorative shell that is stuck to the foam of the helmet. Chances are it will be taped around the edges, and maybe glued in a few spots here and there underneath. If your helmet is more securely attached (like my Giro "summer" helmet) then this may not work so well.

If your helmet has a visor, pop it off and set it aside.

Start by cutting the tape around the perimeter, or just peeling it off. Lift the plastic cover at one end, and feel for the first spots of glue. Gently break the glue connection, being careful not to dent the plastic or pull pieces of foam off the actual helmet. Use a metal shim, such as a ruler, to make this easier. Do this for all the glue spots, until the plastic cover comes loose.

Step 2: Cut the Nylon Fabric to Shape

Picture of Cut the Nylon Fabric to Shape

The nylon fabric will be sandwiched between the helmet and the plastic cover. It will provide a windproof, waterproof shield between your skull and the elements. It also traps the warm air from your head, sealing it in to keep your head warm. This air gap ends up being "thicker" than almost any tuque you can get (a tuque is a warm knitted hat, for you folks in the south!)

Dry-fit the nylon onto the foam of the helmet. Obviously, something is going to have to be done to fit the flat fabric over the severely curved helmet! We don't want to have to cut the fabric or else the weatherproof-iness may be compromised. So, it will need to be folded and overlapped instead.

Place the plastic cover on top of the nylon. Center the fabric so that at least an inch of material sticks out on all sides. Tug the material so that it's pulled taut, then trim around the edge with scissors. Leave at least an inch all the way around.

Now, experiment with the fit of the fabric by tugging on it in various places. Try to set it so that the fabric is pulled flat across the vent holes, with no folds or wrinkles visible.

Step 3: Glue the Nylon in Place

Picture of Glue the Nylon in Place

Choosing the proper glue for this step is important. The foam, in spite of its ability to protect your head in a crash, is very sensitive to extreme heat and many chemicals. Hot glue is out, because it might melt the foam, and because it sets too fast for this task. Some other glues that contain powerful solvents also won't work, since they may dissolve the foam. I used contact cement for this, since both the foam and fabric are nice and porous - ideal surfaces for contact cement. It also has a nice long "open time," allowing you to position and reposition folds of fabric without worrying about things getting stuck where you don't want them to be stuck.

Run glue along all the ridges, and around the perimeter where the edge of the plastic cover stops. Lay the fabric in place on the helmet - again, make sure that there is an inch of material all the way around! Fold over any major folds in the fabric to get rid of some of the wrinkles, then put the plastic cover back on.

With one hand holding the cover in place, tug on the fabric with the other hand so that all of the vent holes are covered by a relatively smooth and tight nylon layer. You'll need to shift, fold and tuck bits of fabric up underneath the ridges of the cover to achieve this effect. It doesn't have to be perfect, and there will be some "waves" visible in the vent holes here and there. Don't fuss with it too long either, or the glue won't set properly.

When you're satisfied, hold the plastic cover in place for 15 minutes or so (if using contact cement). Once the glue is dry you should be able to lift off the cover, and the fabric will stay in place.

Step 4: Gluing Down the Plastic Cover

Picture of Gluing Down the Plastic Cover

The plastic cover doesn't need nearly as much glue as the nylon. Just put a few dabs here and there in strategic locations, like along the top ridge, around vent holes, and around the edges. Press firmly as with the nylon gluing step, and allow the glue to dry before moving on.

With scissors cut the remaining bits of nylon as close to the edge of the plastic cover as you can manage. Then, finish trimming it back right to the edge with a sharp knife. Try not to cut too deeply into the foam when you do this.

To finish the job, use electrician's tape or even reflective tape to hide the edge of the plastic cover. Don't stretch the tape or it will eventually pull away and leave a sticky residue. Press it down firmly so there are no bubbles or folds for water to enter.

Step 5: Add a Face Shield

Picture of Add a Face Shield

This step is optional, but it's worth doing if you ride in cold weather a lot. You used to be able to get a windscreen from Louis Garneau that stuck on to any helmet with velcro, but I can't find it anywhere on their site... it may be discontinued. In any case, it's easy enough to make out of a clear piece of plastic.

Since I'm used the purchased face shield I don't have build pics to help you make your own, but you should be able to figure it out. You could hack a face shield designed for industrial use, cut up a piece of packaging, or maybe even use a plastic soda bottle. The face shield wraps all the way around the front of the helmet from ear to ear. It also extends downwards to protect part of the rider's cheeks. It attaches via a strip of velcro that runs along the top of the shield. The velcro allows you to remove the shield when it's not needed.

With the face shield in place, you may reattach the visor. The All-Weather Helmet is finished! You will, of course, need to protect the lower half of your face with a scarf or half-mask. I use the #2705 Neofleece Combo Scarf from Seirus, which I find to be fantastically effective on even the coldest days.

Step 6: Testing

Picture of Testing

I have used my All-Weather Helmet for two winters, and I'm working on the third! I have ridden in temperatures down to -20 Celsius, and hit speeds of over 40 km/h at those temperatures. I have also ridden when the wind is gusting faster than that. In all those cases, my head stayed warm. My hair is cut very short and I don't wear a hat or skullcap under the helmet. Therefore, the only thing keeping my head from freezing off is the helmet. It really works surprisingly well.

I would really like to know how effective this helmet is for other people, especially in temperatures lower than I've experienced. If you build your own all-weather helmet, be sure to let me know how it works out for you!


AdamS11 made it! (author)2014-11-21

I took a slightly different approach. I found a visor made for motorcycle or scooter helmets (?) on ebay. I secured it with commercial zipties, then secured my EVT SafeZone mirror on top of that. A commuter's dream helmet. Rock solid mirror, let's me keep an eye on overtaking traffic, no wobble or shake. Visor or shield can pivot up and out of the way when not needed. Where I commute it is mostly swampland, so it is hot and humid, with lots of bugs keen on lodging themselves in your eyes. Also it rains, and the shield keeps rain from building up on my glasses (a real problem before).



Ringer1633 (author)2013-04-03

Where would you buy the face shield?

ilpug (author)2012-02-22

You can use the side of a large soda bottle for the face shield.

jeff-o (author)ilpug2012-02-22

Great idea! It would be a but thinner than a store bought shield, but it would probably work just fine.

ilpug (author)jeff-o2012-02-22

Yeah, I bet it would. HDPE soda bottles are surprisingly tough, and with the bonus that if you scratch it, you can replace the whole shield for about 2$.

al_packer (author)2011-07-21

Now-- we need to have someone design a bike helmet that gives good cooling AND protects the head, ears, neck, etc. from the sun for folks who are susceptible to melanoma

jeff-o (author)al_packer2011-07-24

Hmmm, perhaps you could cut the brim off a Tilley hat and glue it on! LOL.

Best to stick with sunscreen, I think.

Wasagi (author)2011-04-20

I have that bike helmet! I will need to try this, although it doesn't get too chilly here in DC, and if it does, there's snow.

Although, Surly Solved that problem. So did FiendofHumanity...

Underwater Chef (author)2011-03-01

That would be very useful!

jeff-o (author)Underwater Chef2011-03-02

Thanks! And also, it really is!

bendog38 (author)2011-02-14

did u search "windscreen"?

Darth Sensate (author)2010-11-19

What do you use to wipe your lens while you are out riding? That much rain and crud on the lens would be pretty annoying after more than a few minutes. Same problem with glasses in a summer downpour.

jeff-o (author)Darth Sensate2010-11-19

My finger. If it's cold out, a gloved finger. That sometimes leads to blur-o-vision, but I can still see well enough to stay out of trouble.

[insert username here] (author)2010-07-10

i think you mean tuque (not toque). as it would be hard to ride a bike with a chef's hat.

Ha, you are correct! I shall correct it.

finnrambo (author)2010-05-19

YAY! bike wear that self-concious people can use, well done man!

jeff-o (author)finnrambo2010-05-20

Thanks.  :)

keithgarvin (author)2009-12-26

I have to weigh in on this instructable because taking off the plastic shell and putting nylon in between compromises the integrity of the helmet.  I've been in a number of accidents where my helmet was destroyed and I can tell you that helmets are only good for one use and should never be compromised.  when I ride in the winter, I use the louis garneau time trial helmet, its the one that the visor you use is designed for, it has less air holes than a standard helmet and covers the ears, I also wear a thin thermal hoodie underneath the helmet.

jeff-o (author)keithgarvin2010-04-27

The key here is that the outer shell on this particular helmet is really on there for looks.  It's held on with tape and a few dabs of glue here and there.  On other helmets, like those made by Giro, the plastic shell is indeed part of the structure, and should not be removed in this way.

vanmankline (author)keithgarvin2010-04-27


michaeldavid (author)2009-04-10

Wonder if you can get the face shield tinted?

get your hands on some window tint for car glass. i believe walmart has some in automotive

jeff-o (author)michaeldavid2009-04-10

Dunno. If you make your own face shield, you could use plastic that's already tinted.

dollardude (author)2009-06-28

Great but i live in AUSTRALIA not some cold place like that

jeff-o (author)dollardude2009-06-28

It still rains in Australia, doesn't it? ;) It'll keep your head dry too.

dollardude (author)jeff-o2009-06-28

I... Guess... still, the only rain in AUS a lightning storm (i dont ride then(metal bike))

dollardude (author)dollardude2009-06-28


Kaiven (author)dollardude2009-10-09

LOL! Metal bike... Haha make a bamboo bike, like in that recent Instructable :D

All Day (author)2009-08-15

I Love the idea. great to keep mosquitoes out of your eyes as well

jstringer94 (author)2009-06-19

yeah just showing ya

Zaphod Beeblebrox (author)2009-06-14

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH............................ but does it have windshield wipers?

jeff-o (author)Zaphod Beeblebrox2009-06-14

Yes - your fingers. ;)

MarkCamano (author)2009-04-03

thats a great idea. and that clear viser will keep the wind out of your eyes. the wind makes my eyes water.

kergareth (author)2009-03-08

For the visor on the Garneau site, click here Alternatively, go to the site
Catalog Section> Fall Cycling 08-09 > Helmets > Acessories > Windscreen

coolsciencetech (author)2009-03-01

how do you keep your bike from rusting????

jeff-o (author)coolsciencetech2009-03-01

For the most part, a generous application of bike lube, WD-40, or marine-grade grease. It also helps that many of the components (including the frame) and fasteners are made of aluminum and stainless steel.

noelle_tan (author)2009-02-07

have you tried using dish soap on the shield, and then buffing it? I've heard that that was reliable to keep water off.

jeff-o (author)noelle_tan2009-02-07

Nope, I haven't tried dish soap. I have heard that it works, though...

coolsciencetech (author)2009-01-18

FINALLY! someone who rides their bike in winter too. what do you do if there is a snow storm?

I live in Tennessee where it doesn't snow much, but right now it is under 20 degrees Fahrenheit. I ride my bike year-round and this helmet seems like a good idea for the winter time. But now I am anticipating spring so I might consider something like this for next winter...

jeff-o (author)catman5292009-02-05

Well, it's great for spring rain, too... ;)

Evil Bike (author)jeff-o2009-02-05

winter biking is awesome. i made some studded tires for my bike. i live in Oregon

jeff-o (author)Evil Bike2009-02-06

Cool. I bought mine - Nokian Mount & Ground W160. Very nice tire!

Evil Bike (author)jeff-o2009-02-06

its always more fun to build your own...thats what instructables is for.

jeff-o (author)Evil Bike2009-02-07

Well, I needed something with carbide studs since I ride on an unpredictable mixture of snow and bare asphalt. DIY studded tires just don't last as long.

Evil Bike (author)jeff-o2009-02-07

good point... but its more fun building your own

For myself, in a snow storm I just pedal harder... much harder. And it take maximum 30 minutes compared to 15 minutes in nice weather, for 5km. And sometimes I put a ski on the front (from the snow bike I built based on another Instructable). But the ski is really just for fun as it improves stability but makes it harder to move forward. I've never had to stay home due to weather. In fact I started winter biking at 11 years old with 45 newspapers on the back of my bike, and never did snow neither ice stopped me. Poor paperboys on their feet in deep snow, I pity them.

jeff-o (author)coolsciencetech2009-01-18

If I'm at work, I ride home. If I'm at home and I need to go to work, I'll either wait it out, take the bus, or take a vacation day. Generally, if it's bad enough that the police are advising people to stay off the road or to be extra-careful, I'll put my own safety ahead of my pride. ;)

pellepeloton (author)2009-02-04

I like your instructable, just a coment: That plastic cover is not only a piece of decoration, is serves very important safety purpose. In case of an accident that plastic shield allows the head to slide on any surface and that way prevents the person to break his/hers neck. If you don't believe me, try sliding a helmet on the concrete with or without plastic cover and imagine your head in it. Safe biking

jeff-o (author)pellepeloton2009-02-04

Excellent information. Fortunately, my modification leaves the cover intact and fully functional!

About This Instructable




Bio: By day, Jeff is the Jack of All Robots at Clearpath Robotics. By night, a mad scientist / hacker / artist / industrial designer wannabe!
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