If you're an ATGATT type of guy then you know how much nicer it is to ride with gear that works with you and not against you - and that especially includes your helmet. There's nothing worse than speeding off into the sunrise...only to have to park on the side of the road minutes later because you forgot to fasten your helmet and can't buckle up the D-Rings with gloves on while riding. Extra points if you have to stop your riding group as well.
Once I got used to a micrometric ratchet quick release, there was no going back. It's unconditionally superior regarding convenience and comfort. Not only can you release your helmet one handed, but it also makes flapping webbing a thing of the past. Another benefit is that since it's micrometric, it can ratchet into multiple positions like zip ties. You can adjust it exactly how you want it for every single ride with precision, even while riding. And it's so quick and easy to fasten that I simply can fasten it any time I walk in to a store and carry around my helmet like a basket, grabbing on to the buckled strap as a handle.
The Europeans have already seen the light on this feature, since many/most mainstream Euro helmets have a ratcheting buckle. Like our unit system it seems us Americans are lagging behind on this one, too. But no worries, there's a fix for that. In this tutorial we're going to go over the best way to add a ratcheting quick release to a D-Ring equipped helmet. Let's Begin.
Tool Requirements: Basic
Time: 2-3 Hours
This DIY might get updated over time with new info. To see the latest version, check here.
Motorcycling is an inherently dangerous activity, and no amount of protection will ever guarantee walking away from an accident without injury. Anyone who decides to follow this tutorial must do it at their own risk and under their own exclusive responsibility. Neither this Instructable nor it's author make any claims about the performance or safety of any item after any modifications have been made, including any in this document. For the best safety, any equipment worn should be undamaged and unmodified, used as the manufacturer intended.
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Step 1: What You'll Need
The following list is mainly so you can make sure you have everything available before starting the project. Items in parenthesis mean useful, but optional.I expect most people to already have most tools and supplies in their garage.
- Helmet - You already have this, right?
- Micrometric Quick Release Ratchet - Don't let the reviews disuade you, the vast majority are from people who were not happy with the fact that sewing is required to attach them. Or click here for an Amazon search. In general most seem to be of similar quality, though there are differences in aesthetic quality between batches. If you're not satisfied with the quality, just return it and buy the same item from another vendor. There are also other models, though I prefer the versions which have a toothed strap over the "seat-belt type" since it gives you a lot more adjustability mid-ride. It's also easier to fasten and release with gloves. To check Ebay for cheaper options with longer overseas shipping click here.
- 1" Triglides Sliders - While you can simply sew the toothed side in place, it will take you a lot longer, and if you do so the adjustment will be limited to the length of the toothed section alone. If you add a triglide, you'll save yourself half the sewing and be able to infinitely adjust the buckle length in the future. You'll want a sturdy (non fashion) tridlide however. And preferably stainless steel or powder coated (for rust resistance). The best choice is the unit linked since it's made for scuba gear, and as such you can count on it being strong, well finished, and rust proof.
- Speedy Stitcher- To quickly sew through the thick webbing.
Hot Knife - While you can also use a hobby knife and a lighter, a powerful hot knife does a better job of cutting and sealing the ends (the webbing used in helmet straps is tubular so heat-sealing the end is necessary). The Dremel Versatip I used did a great job. Don't bother with the smaller 25w Hot Knifes though - I tried it and it was underpowered for the job.
- Speedy Stitcher #4 Small Needle or Denim Needles - To sew through the thick webbing with multiple rows of stitches, you'll need a strong needle. The easy choice (when using a Speedy Stitcher) is the #4 small needle, but one of the best (unadvertised) things of the Speedy Stitcher is that it accepts normal sewing machine needles. In other words, you can also use "Jeans" needles or any other sturdy (non-cutting, read leather needle) machine needles you already have.
- T90 Upholstery Thread - While it is probably still overkill, in my opinion T70 or T90 bonded upholstery thread is probably the best choice strength wise for this project.
Step 2: Note - Can I Do This by Hand, Without a "Speedy Stitcher"?
To be honest, this is the first time I've ever used a Speedy Stitcher when adding a quick release. All the times prior I've simply sewn by hand with a thimble and some pliers. Using mostly the pliers. If you don't have a Speedy Stitcher and refuse to buy one, you can do it by hand. However given that they are relatively inexpensive and extremely useful, there's little reason not to have one in your sewing kit. I use mine all the time when sewing thick materials which few domestic sewing machines can power through. Or simply when I don't feel like bringing out and setting up my Singer 9960 sewing machine. It's just really useful to have.
Also of note is that given how the Speedy Stitcher sews - more akin to a sewing machines lock stitch - the stitches will be more aesthetically pleasing, much quicker, and less likely to break or damage the thread mid-project. It will give a better result.
Let it also be said that this can't be done with a sewing machine. There simply isn't enough space to work with the strap attached to the helmet.
Step 3: Note - What About Non-Sewing Quick Release Buckles?
If you really, really, really don't want to sew anything, then try the Echo Helmet Quick Release. After spending months with it (before deciding to install a buckle the right way), my opinion is that it isn't a bad product, but it isn't a great option either. The truth is that none of the "no-sew" quick release buckles are very good. And most are pretty bad. But I can understand someone choosing it if they want to save the hassle of installing a buckle themselves.
Another option is simply buying a helmet that comes with a quick release as the original option. I don't know which models on the american option come with one, but one option is buying the HJC Rpha Max Evo Helmet. The "Evo" model is simply the european version of the "normal" Rpha Max helmet, which is a very positively reviewed helmet. And it comes with a micrometric quick release helmet by default. I bought the Dorgon Evo which looks awesome, since I was looking for a quiet, lightweight modular helmet - without paying Schuberth prices. And I'm certainly satisfied with it.
But for most people with a helmet that already has a a few scratches on it, and who aren't looking forward to spending big bucks, simply installing a real quick release buckle and getting over it once and for all is the best option.
Step 4: Take a Look at Your Helmet
First, simply remove the cheek pads on your helmet and plan what you're going to do. I'm doing this on a Scorpion EXO-GT920 Modular Helmet. An excellent helmet for the price, let it be said. On this model the foam ear pieces were removable (simply tug forward on it after removing a single screw) so I pulled them out to give myself more space to work with. Consider how much strap length you want, where you'll be tucking in the spare webbing, if you can remove the strap padding without unstitching anything, etc.
While I'll be doing this to a modular helmet (which makes taking pictures a lot easier), obviously this can be done just as easily to a full face helmet.
Also, now would probably be a good time to remove the visor to keep it from being in the way or getting scratched.
Step 5: Undo the Stitching on the Strap Pads
Regrettably, on this model the strap pads (the padding next to the chin strap) isn't removable. On some (many?) helmets it can be removed with velcro or a snap but that wasn't the case here.
Carefully undo the stitching with a seam ripper without damaging the pads.
Step 6: Undo the Stitching on the Buckle
Now it's time to undo the stitching for the D-Ring Buckle. Pretty Straightforward.
Step 7: Remove the Snap on the Long Strap
On virtually all helmets with D-Rings, there is a snap on the longer side (the one that gets threaded through the D-Ring) so you can snap it in place to keep it from flapping in the wind (another one of D-Ring's quirks). To be able to slip on the triglide, we're going to need to remove it.
You can either remove the snap or just cut the strap just past the snap. I did the former. Just cus'.
Step 8: Test Fit the Setup
Now would be a good time to just test fit everything to see if you like how things are going.
Step 9: Sew in the Buckle
Now the moment of truth - sewing in the buckle.
First you'll want to set up the Speedy Stitcher. I like loading it with those cheap little transparent sewing machine bobbins (since they're plentiful and I don't have to waste a lot of thread on them), and then putting an extra bobbin in the back to take up the spare space. I also like putting a couple of rubber bands on the body to keep the thread from jumping over the pin, as well as applying extra tension on the thread so it doesn't feed as easily. If it still pulls out to easily, wrap the thread around the post multiple times.
I used a Speedy Stitcher #4 Small Needle because I had one on hand, but if not I would have happily used Denim Needles for machine sewing. Extra points if you apply some machine oil to the needle so it powers through the webbing easier. But that's only worth it if it's giving you a lot of trouble.
I won't get into how to use a Speedy Stitcher - there's plenty of good information on that out there already. But regardless it's pretty straightforward. Just pull some thread through the material, and keep creating lock stitches by threading that thread through the loop created by the tool. Through it's easier said then done in the beginning. If you haven't ever used the tool before I'd recommend you practice first. If you make the mistake of threading the thread through the front instead of the back even once, then you'll have to backtrack quite a bit). But once you get a hang of it, it has no equal for sewing thick materials. Gone are the days of sewing with a hand needle and pliers! Plus, it's stitch is a lot more aesthetically pleasing as well as gentler on the thread when sewing long sections.
Regarding the stitch itself, just imitate a crossed box stitch like the one that was removed earlier. In my case I sewed pretty much over the exact same spot the original sewing was.
I used some binding clips to hold back the strap pad. I've really come to like those clips whenever I do any sewing. They're quick and easy to use, and unlike pins don't damage the work material.
Step 10: Cut the Excess Strap
You'll want to cut off the excess strap from the toothed side, and you'll want a heavy duty hot knife to do so. I cut the strap perpendicularly at the snap's previous location to be able to use that rounded part as a template. Then I marked with some tailor's chalk where I want the strap to end. I cut there, and then I followed the tab to make a similar curve (though a 1" metal coin would have probably been better). I then used some flush cutters and a lighter to smooth out any rough bits.
Note: The webbing used for helmet straps is tubular, meaning that it's actually a tube pressed flat. You'll have to properly melt and seal the end to avoid it from opening in the future. It's easy to do, just don't get lazy about it.
Step 11: Outro
Well that's it! Hopefully it didn't take too long! Enjoy the upgrade and stay safe.
If you found this interesting, click the 'Follow' button up on the right to get notified of similar projects in the future, or check out my profile to see what other projects I've been up to — here are some you might like:
- DIY - Decoy Alarm for Motorcycles
Step 12: Addendum - Safety
A lot of riders think D-Rings are safer than quick-release buckles. That’s just not true. At least for daily use. I sent some emails to Schuberth and did some testing of my own and found some really interesting results. If you’re considering adding a quick-release buckle to your helmet, it’s worth checking out: