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Face Shield Factoids

With companies like Arai, Shoei, Shuberth and others creating helmets that last four to seven years, you'd think the things were indestructible. They aren't and the face shields that come with them aren't either.

In fact, if you hadn't thought about replacing your face shield lately, perhaps now is the time to do just that.

Face shields endure a lot of pain in their life. Oh sure � maybe you've been through a divorce, had a messed up childhood, or suffer from some muscular disability brought on by eating a can of Campbell's botulism soup. But that ain't nothin' compared to being struck by rocks again and again, having flying insects imbed themselves onto your surface, or enduring the wiping of paper towels back and forth, day after day. It may be time to replace your face shield.

Your face shield protects your eyes and your face while you ride. But in doing so, over time, it can impair your vision and become a nuisance doing so. Let's look at a few ways to increase the life of your face shield and know when to say when.

1. No paper products � When you clean your face shield use a micro fiber cleaning cloth or terry cloth towel to do so. Stay away from paper towels and napkins whose fibers can mar the surface of your face shield. It's tempting to reach for a paper towel or paper napkin when you pull into a gas station or restaurant. Don't. Instead pack a quality cloth you can clean with water and take it with you on your trip. It takes up so little space.

2. Use Gentle Cleaners � Like sunglasses, face shields need to be cleaned with gentle cleaners. Ammonia and alcohol based cleaners like Windex will do more harm than good on your plastic face shield. These cleaners are made for glass and can tear away at the plastic layers on your face shield. So instead of cleaning it, they're actually deteriorating it. Instead use mild cleaners like gentle hand soap and plastic cleaners. A favorite plastic cleaner of mine is made by Griot's out of Tacoma, Washington.

3. Rock-A-Bye-Bye-Baby � Your face shield is going to protect your face from getting smacked by gravel. Soon enough you'll know that's happened when you realize you can't clean off an imperfection. When that happens you suck it up and live with it. But after a few of these occurrences your face shield is really starting to distort your view making it hard to see a far distance when you're distracted by numerous imperfections in the plastic. It's time to chuck it, vamanos, throw it way. And while it may cost you a few bucks to buy a new one, the life you save may be your own. I make it a practice to buy a new face shield every year. It's your call based on how much you ride and knowing when to say when.

4. Get Clear � Clear face shields are legal all over the world - not to mention in all 50 states and Canada too. As for the other myriad of face shields - they are not. In Washington State no face shield other than clear is legal after sunset, so if you broke down with a smoke shield and make it home after dark, you're endangering yourself and setting yourself up for a moving violation. The trick � always wear a clear face shield and purchase a set of interchangeable optical lenses (also know as sunglasses or eyewear) that you can carry with you while you ride. Such systems can provide you with clear, smoke, yellow (night/fog) and driver (amber) options so that you'll have whatever you need for any conditions. And some systems even come with a prescription option .

5. Fog, Fog, Go Away � Fogging on your face shield can be a major pain in the tutu. I've heard all the remedies and the reality is that none are the end all. For mild fogging, simply open the face shield about half an inch and that solves the issue. Rain and humidity only add to the insanity and for that try a Scott cloth. Most other methods I'm aware of (Zooke etc�) cause excess moisture to develop on your lens and impair your vision otherwise. For an all purpose face shield care set, check out the one we developed by clicking here .

While a face shield does a wonderful job of protecting your eyes and skin, it only does so until the other factors of light, age moisture and general visibility set in. Make every effort you can to become one with your face shield and don't feel bad when you finally send it to the recycle bin.

Patrick Thomas/Spring 2004


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