After the first two weeks with your new motorcycle and your new helmet, the day will come when you start getting tired of carrying your helmet into the grocery store or flopping it down on the restaurant table, announcing to the world that, “Yeah Buddy, that’s my bike outside and I am the real deal!” Relax, nobody is noticing you and your helmet is not turning any heads. The helmet thrill is gone and now you want to know what do you do with your helmet when you leave your bike unattended at the cinema, the grocery store or the swap meet. You first solution is to take your new, expensive, shiny helmet with you when you leave your bike. But after lugging your helmet around with you for a couple of hours, you start looking for a more practical solution.
You have seen bikes parked all over the place with the helmet either sitting on the seat or hanging from the handlebars. OK, problem solved, just leave your helmet on the bike and put your faith in human nature that it will still be there when you return.
We (us riders) all understand that no-one will want to steal a used helmet because savvy riders would never trust their skull to a helmet with unknown history. Maybe it has been dropped and the lining has cracked inside, rendering it dangerous when you need it the most. However, non-savvy riders and all others, either do not know about the cracked liner theory of they just do not give a darn. It is shiny, obviously expensive, looks cool and even if there is no street sale value, it would look good hanging on the wall, so it is at risk.
If you just cannot part with your helmet, let’s go shopping for a backpack that will hold your helmet, leaving you hands free to enjoy the swap meet.
There are three (3) ways to secure your helmet, carry or backpack it with you, install a helmet lock or use a security cable. Let’s take a look at the backpacks.
Shoei, Firstgear and Icon (Urban & Squad) backpacks, above, are three examples of helmet backpacks. There are a lot more out there and they will run you between and 0.
I was looking at buying a backpack when I first started riding again. Not just for the helmet issue, but to use a backpack instead of saddlebags for my daily work commute. Gotta put your lunch somewhere, eh? And a couple of times I used my old hiking backpack to carry my helmet while I was walking around at the local swap meet. I didn’t like it. Not your cup of tea either? I like riding to the cinema or shopping for the inherent motorcycle freedom, not to be saddled like a donkey, or worst yet, a goofball. OK, OK, just my opinion, whatever floats you boat is good with me.
So, we are back with leaving your helmet on the bike. How about locking it to the bike itself? At least it will keep the honest people from stealing your helmet.
Let look at some helmet locks. First of all, you may already have a helmet lock on you bike. If your bike is Japanese, it may have a lock. I had a Suzuki Intruder 1400 (Harley knock-off) which had two helmet locks, right and left side on the rear fender. Unfortunately, after I put on saddlebags, the locks ended up under the bags and were difficult to use.
Some bikes (like my 2003 Sportster) use a padlock on the front fork neck to lock the bike (the newer Harley’s have built-in locks) so you are already dealing with an extra lock every time you want to leave your bike somewhere. The hassle is not with locking the bike, its carrying the lock around with you everywhere you go. The old style bikers usually lock it onto their Levis belt loop but if you are sporting a cell phone and the rest of the urban biker stuff, this is a pain.
However, if you have a lock and must use it, the easiest way to lock your helmet is to use a lock extension.
This is the M/C ENTERPRISES helmet lock extension #492. There are two (2) lock extensions (so you can lock two helmets, of course) in this kit. Simply stick one through the “D” rings and the other end goes on the padlock. You may be able to padlock directly to the “D” rings but usually, there is not enough room to get your helmet in close to the padlock. These extensions solve that problem. About and you need to carry these extensions with you when you ride.
Next choice is add-on locks. There are two basic types, clamp on and screw on.
Some of these photos are from JC Whitney’s catalog. There are a lot of different choices and manufacturers out there. The basic idea with these locks is to attach the lock to your bike and then lock your helmet with the “D” rings in the lock. You need to carry a key with you when you are riding.
This Kuryakyn KewLock attaches to your handlebar ends and is pretty cool. I would get two, one for each end. Not just for cosmetic reasons but to balance the handlebars.
Next comes a simple metal leash or cord that you run through the “D” rings (or chin guard) and then around some part of your bike.
There are a number of choices with this approach. Whatever works for you.(Here is a simple cable and lock setup.)
Whatever you do choose, remember, you will need to carry the lock with you when you are riding.
So if you choose a fixed helmet lock (see the clamp on and screw on types) all you have to carry is an additional key. If you chose the security cable style, you have to carry the cable and key (or combination style lock).
This Masterlock model has a 2 foot retractable cable and combination lock. Lock your helmet and maybe your jacket. No keys to worry about but you need to carry the lock with you when you are riding.
So what do I use? Which one of these marvelous solutions do I actually use? Well, none actually. I usually leave my helmet hanging on the handlebars and cross my fingers that it will still be there when I return. I do carry a small tool bag combo handlebar bag (12″ X 18″), which attached to the rear of my sissy bar and rests on the small fender rack. When my wife and I ride to the cinema, we squeeze both of our half-helmets into this bag and hand carry it into the cinema.
When we go to the swap meet or some other crowded event, I bring along my heavy-duty locking cable which is intended to lock the motorcycle to a pole of some other handy, unmovable, item. We lace it through both helmets and occasionally, both jackets and may or may not loop it around a pole. However, after writing this, I have my security juices going again and that retractable Masterlock combination security cable is looking pretty good.