I recently came to the conclusion that I needed a mobile hydration solution for my longer rides. I started by looking at CamelBaks and figured I could run the hose underneath my helmet with a 90* bite valve; this didn't work as well as I wanted, especially inside my tiny helmet. I needed something more compact and streamlined.
A bit of Googling lead to a great guide on 600RR.net by user raemhild, the MotoGP Style Hydration Tutorial (pictured above). I started to investigate implementing it on my helmet, but grew averse to the thought of drilling into a $600 Arai. I wanted to maintain as stock a helmet look and operation as I could, without drilling it. So I came up with my own solution: 100% reversible, warranty friendly, requiring no drilling of my helmet, and using a pressurized system rather than vacuum based one. Now I can drink on the go with little effort and you can too with a few modifications.
Total Time to complete: ~1-2 Hours
Total cost of modifications: ~$30-40
I'd like to thank Kat @ Arai USA for her assistance, without her I would likely have never attempted this project. Thanks as well to raemhild for the original guide and inspiration.
Check your local laws regarding helmet modifications, as some municipalities may not allow any modification.
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Step 1: Get Your Stuff in Order - Things You Will Need for This Project
You will need a helmet with a suitable venting system to modify. The helmet in this guide is an XS Arai Signet Q.
Also needed is a complete Geigerrig kit. I picked up the Rig 700, with 2 liters of water capacity and ~700 cubic inches of storage. Big enough for some ride necessities, but small enough to not impact maneuverability.
To modify your Geigerrig, you will need:
- 1/8" hose - ~5' - I chose this particular hose for its resilience, especially in crimps and tight bends, which will occur in the helmet.
- 1/8" female quick disconnect fitting - 1 - Brass was chosen over plastic for longevity and quality of experience.
To modify your helmet, you will need:
Step 2: Geigerrig Modification - 1/8" Nano Tubing
Geigerrig sells a 1/8" Nano Tubing kit for ~$20, but unfortunately it is not very useful for this modification. The hose is thin and easily pinched and the bite valve has been swapped out to an open flow valve with pinch to close. None of these things are ideal for this helmet modification.
First order of business: reducing the water output hose size. In the Nano kit this is accomplished simply with a single quick connect adapter. The same thing can be done with a single reducing coupling and the stock quick disconnect coupling.
- Remove the stock bite valve/hose assembly from the hydration pack.
- Remove the quick connector from the hose.
- Cut off 1" of the hose from this end. Throw this piece away.
- Cut off a fresh piece of hose just long enough to completely cover the barbs on both sides of the connection.
- Assemble your reducing adapter.
- Connect your 5' length of 1/8" hose to the reduced barb.
- Run hose through the bag and output hole.
- Shorten hose as needed (or wait to do this last) and complete by capping the hose with the female quick disconnect. Free hose slack can be rolled in the pack. (Additional notes regarding helmet hose slack are in the final step)
- Geigerrig modification finished, put it away and get your helmet.
Step 3: Vent Cover Removal
Removing the vent cover is far easier and less damaging than you may expect: it is held on with double sided tape.
- Choose the side to be removed (I chose the right side based on the hose return to the backpack)
- Pull out 3-4' of floss
- Work the floss under one of the corners
- Pull the floss flat and towards you, gently pulling it back and forth; the glue should let go with a bit of force. At this point, there's nothing you can break (other than floss) as long as you don't drop your helmet.
- The vent cover pops off and the vent hole is exposed. Note the "filter" in place in the hole. Don't worry about it for now, this will be removed when the hose is inserted in the next step.
- Clean the residue with an appropriate cleaner (iso alcohol, orange clean, etc). This is critical for replacement of the cover later.
- Vent cover removal completed, grab your 2' length of hose.
Step 4: Hose -> Vent Hole Routing
Now for the most important part of this modification: routing the hose through the vent hole.
- Remove the padded inserts from the helmet
- Locate the vent hole on the inside of the EPS liner
- Push your hose into the hole from the inside of the helmet to the outside, pressing in the direction of the outer vent hole.
- The "filter" will press out of the vent hole with the hose, simply grab it with your fingers and pull it out.
- Pull the hose through the vent hole.
- Attach the male quick disconnect fitting.
- Adjust the slack appropriately, leaving enough for the fitting to hang outside the new vent cover.
- Test fit with the old cover, adjust as necessary.
- Get out the Sugru.
Step 5: Exterior Vent Wrapup
Finishing up the helmet exterior:
- Fix the fitting in place using a small amount of Sugru; use the old vent cover for test fitting. Do not overdo it with the Sugru here--the new vent cover will do most of the work. Also be cautious to not pinch the hose (a little is ok) coming from the vent hole.
- Affix the new vent cover using the pre-attached double-sided tape. Hold in place for ~30 seconds.
- Build up Sugru underneath the connector. The purpose of this is to prevent the fitting from scratching up the helmet.
- Use another object (in this case I used the old vent cover) to maintain fitting distance from the helmet during cure time.
- Helmet exterior completed, let's move to the inside bits.
Allow Sugru to cure at least 24 hours before using the connector. If you're inclined and have the Sugru, you can come back later and improve the look of this.
Step 6: Modular Bite Valve Assembly
As the space in this helmet is tight, I have been experimenting with different bite valves. Normally, this would be a lot of trouble due to the various sizes of valves available, but with enough reducing couplings, anything is possible! In this case, I made the system modular.
- Cut off a fresh piece of hose from the stock bite valve kit just long enough to completely cover the barbs on both sides of the connection.
- Assemble your reducing adapter and valve assembly.
- Bite valve completed, grab your helmet.
Step 7: Internal Helmet Hose Cleanup - Finishing Up the Helmet
Finishing up the helmet:
- Route the hose inside the helmet in a way that does not crimp the hose, but still keeps it out of your way and comfortable. In my case, this meant running down to the neck roll and underneath the cheek pad.
- Install cheek and crown padding, careful not to pinch the hose.
- Shorten the hose as necessary.
- Connect your [modular!] bite valve to the hose. (As you can see, I've switched out the bite valve for the stock Geigerrig valve. Still testing different valves :))
- You're finished! Go test it out!
Step 8: Finished Product
- Prep your Geigerrig (water fill, pack your stuff, etc)
- Get your gear on (sans helmet)
- Put on your Geigerrig
- Put on your helmet
- Push the quick connect on
- Pressurize the system
- Enjoy your ride
You should have left enough hose slack to move your head around freely. Small kinks shouldn't be a problem either way, as the pressurized system makes up for these issues.