MotoGP Helmet Technology TechTalk with Simon Crafar
- 1 MotoGP Helmet Technology TechTalk
- 2 Transcript of MotoGP Helmet Technology TechTalk with Simon Crafar:
- 2.1 Helmets Are All Handmade, Except for One Part
- 2.2 Helmet Shell
- 2.3 Helmet Inner Liner (Cushion Part)
- 2.4 Testing and Safety Requirements
- 2.5 Impact Absorption Can Only Do So Much
- 2.6 What Does A Motorcycle Rider Want In A Helmet?
- 2.7 Visors Are Another Important Part of Your Helmet
- 3 MotoGP Helmet Technology TechTalk
MotoGP Helmet Technology TechTalk
Today’s feature covers why Arai Helmets are so well known in the racing industry, including MotoGP and Formula 1. Originally posted on the Official MotoGP YouTube Channel, this Tech Talk with Simon Crafar is extremely educational in understanding the best way to protect your head.
Transcript of MotoGP Helmet Technology TechTalk with Simon Crafar:
Hello, my name is Simon Crafar. We are at Misano Circuit (International car racing track in Santa Monica-Cella, Italy), and it’s time for this week’s Tech Talk.
We are in the Arai Helmet Service Truck. And I want to speak about safety equipment. And first things first, we should speak about the construction of the helmets. We have got a sample here of the fiberglass, the kevlar, and it’s put with resin into a mold all by hand. And this is the sample that’s come out of the mold.
Helmets Are All Handmade, Except for One Part
And like I said, all done by one person. Then, the only automated part of the whole construction of the helmet is laser cutting.
They cut it off here, and the vision area. It’s cut out with a laser. And this [one’s] done, the laser’s already done its work. Then, the person who’s made this helmet signs in here. And two other people check the quality of the helmet thickness and weight to make sure it’s perfect. And then sign off on that.
I should show you the next part. That same shell painted, that’s got some primer on it, ready to paint up. Obviously, the shell has top coats, and whatever design, and transfers, and beautiful lacquer over the top. But, next step is the styrofoam that goes inside of here. And as you can imagine, or I am told, is a real art to putting the styrofoam—this is cut in half—in one piece, that [goes] inside here. The styrofoam, believe it or not, is a bit of technology as well.
Because there’s different densities. Like around the vision area, it has to be harder, it doesn’t squash too easy on impact. But other areas are different densities where it needs different densities where they need more absorption, over a bigger area.
So a bit of technology in that as well.
Helmet Inner Liner (Cushion Part)
Then obviously inside that is the helmet inner. And they are removable. Same as all the production helmets. Then, the helmet inner, you have different thicknesses. Same as the cheek pads that go in here. Because, obviously, some people are more gaunt. Some, chubby cheeks. So you can get different thicknesses to fit perfectly. And they clip in.
Then, here is a sample of a finished shell cut out so you can see everything in here. All the foam, there’s holes for where the vents go in. The vents go in through the visor, across the head, you can see all the liner is in there. All the interior.
Testing and Safety Requirements
Then, we should talk about testing. Because, once the helmets are finished, they go off to be tested. So, you know, until last summer, so June 2019. There were three main homologations. When I was racing, there was a Japanese one (JIS), European one (ECE), and SNELL the U.S. one. And they are all good helmet homologations and tests. But you can imagine during world championship, it’s good to have one. You know? For that world championship.
So the FIM came out with a new one with, the whole goal was to reduce brain injury. So make the helmets, make sure that they are at the high level. What they did is, first of all, a helmet manufacturer must pass one of those three, Japanese, European, or U.S. homologations. When they’ve done that, then they can apply to pass the FIM one, which is more stringent. Meaning, they do similar tests, but more.
The Helmet Safety Testing Process
I will tell you about what they do. Imagine, an anvil. They call it an anvil. It’s a big impact area, probably metal, at 45 degrees. And they put on something to replicate the asphalt. You know, when the helmet hits the asphalt. Like a sandpaper on it, and they change it every three impacts from damage.
And then they put in the helmet, a human-like head, weight-wise. Also, it has a silicon coating on it. So it replicates how we are in here. And that is dropped, like a controlled drop, around 28 kilometers per hour onto that 45 degree with the sandpaper on it, at different points. Many different points.
Helmet Safety Testing Performance Measures
They measure what absorption that helmet has. Because there is, some scientists came up with the hick value, in 2009, from the automotive industry. What they have done is made a measurement of the acceleration of what different parts of the body can handle before how much damage happens at certain acceleration or deceleration.
So they measure these helmets and make sure they absorb a certain amount. If it passes, they get, basically the helmet manufacturer has to give a minimum of 10 helmets per size. Because you can imagine, an extra small shell is much smaller than an extra large. You know, and everything in between. So they provide 10 of each size, so around 50 helmets or more. And they do all these tests on each size. If it passes, the helmet gets this homologation, the FIM one.
The rider or the team takes this to technical control at MotoGP, then they get this sticker to say that helmet has passed. And each rider has 3 or 4 helmets. But they know which helmet the rider is using.
Impact Absorption Can Only Do So Much
The next thing I would like to explain about is, with 60 years of experience, Arai telling me that it’s not only absorption of the helmet that is important. Because, basically a helmet can only absorb so much impact—any helmet. So they said what is super important, from years of experience, is that the helmet doesn’t stop if it doesn’t need to. Meaning, it can glance off. And they need the helmets to do this well. It is really important, the shape of the helmet, and how hard the shell is. So it glances off things.
Also, you can imagine, either the asphalt or especially the gravel, the pieces that are sticking off on this helmet (the diffusers), need to rip off easily. So they are all done with double-sided tape around the edges. So these just come off and don’t stop the helmet, so the helmet can keep going. You know. So it can glance off, and they are saying it’s super important to reduce brain injury. This glancing off.
What Does A Motorcycle Rider Want In A Helmet?
Now that we have done the safety side, the next thing I would like to explain is what the rider wants from a helmet. And Tarusan, who is the serviceman for this truck, explains to me really well.
“A helmet should basically not be noticed by the rider. So the rider can focus on his job.”-Tarusan, Arai Helmets Service Technician
I think that’s great. It is exactly what riders want. Meaning:
- It fits well, so it’s safe and doesn’t come off
- There’s no pressure points, causing any pain
- Super comfortable, you don’t feel the helmet is there
- Visual, it doesn’t restrict anything, so you don’t feel like the helmet is there
- Then, the ventilation works well, because if it doesn’t you sweat.
And when you pop up from the visor at the end of a really fast straight, it feels like somebody is pushing their hand into your face. And it squeezes the sweat and runs down into your eyes.
Which is why they have these that go inside the helmet. Disposable absorption pads, that goes in there. But the thing that makes me think that the ventilation has improved a LOT over the last 20 years (from when I was riding), is that not many riders need to use this anymore.
Ventilation works well enough, they don’t need to use the sweat pads as much.
Visors Are Another Important Part of Your Helmet
So all of those things, then, I would say visors are super important. Obviously. Let’s have a look. This is a clear visor for normal conditions.
And very few riders use this.
Light Tint Visor
Because even when it’s cloudy, riders prefer, on race track anyway, there’s no tunnels they’re going through. So they prefer a light tint. It takes the glare off, even on a cloudy day.
Dark Tint Visor
Then we move up to a dark tint, which is probably the most popular most of the time. Little bit of sun out, it’s like having sunglasses on.
All of these visors are (shatterproof), basically they don’t crack. You could jump on them, fold them in half, they do not fracture. Really high speed stone, will not penetrate for safety.
And then the next thing I’d like to talk about is a little bit of technology, they started putting inside. I don’t know if you can see it. It’s a dark tint like we just had, but inside, there’s almost a rose tint. And certain colors help bring out certain colors on the track, so it’s more discernible exactly where you are. Some riders are using that now.
Coatings for Inside of Arai Helmet Visors
Speaking of coatings on the inside. All of the visors, it’s possible to have an anti-fog coating in there. So, especially when it gets colder, your breath fogs it up. Anti-fog stops that from happening.
And if it’s really cold, and damp, the next one I’d like to show you is the rain visor.
And it’s not just for use in rain, it’s got tear-offs on the outside. But it’s double glazed. There is another layer on there, so two coatings and it reduces the fogging a lot. Plus, you can have that anti-fog coating inside there. And it’s got a rubber seal around the top.
That makes sure—the regular helmet seals in—this extra rubber seal is making sure no water runs in and down the visor. Because when you are riding, when the visor is so close to you, one bead of water, one drop, it feels like a magnifying glass. And it’s really difficult to judge distance, so you don’t want any water coming in there.
Rain Visor with Light Tint
One other thing here, is that same double glazed visor, can come in a light tint. You can imagine a cold day, it’s a little bit sunny, so need a tint, and double glazing, and anti-fog. Tear-offs on the outside.
Let’s have a look at — I will tell you what, we were talking about sweating before. You know, in the visor. The area, where your sweat is running down. That is in the hot races.
See the drink system here, connects to usually the hump area of the leathers to get fluids and the rider can take a drink when (thirsty) in the long hot races. Thank you Takusan.
Visor Tear-Off Screens
I would say the last thing I want to tell you about is on whatever visor you have chosen, you can have tear offs on there. This is just a protective coating That the rider takes off before he goes out. So he makes sure there are no scratches getting carried to the garage. Then, he has one tear-off that he can pull off say during some laps of practice or race. He can remove one tear-off. Rip it off, throw it away. And he has another tear off there that which pops out. Ready to go, ready to grab. And then he can take the second one off if he needs.
The thing is, riders, they are focusing so much, like concentrating so much on riding, very seldomly do they take it off during the race. Because they are too busy focusing. You know? It’s not until warm down lap that they realize that it’s really dirty.
I would say the only time they would take one off is if a big bug or something had gotten on blocking the view of one eye, then you’ve got to risk losing a little bit of time to clear that vision.
Anyway, thank you Suzukisan and I would like to say I hope you enjoyed this little insight into helmet and testing and technology. And we will see you next week in Misano again for the next Tech Talk.
Thank you for checking out our MotoGP Helmet Technology TechTalk with Simon Crafer. We hope it helps you in your search for the right helmet for you!