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Brilliant Biking Inventions…Anti Fog

For years we made do with the likes of Fairy Liquid (other brands of washing-up liquid are available) spread on the inside of our flat, Griffin Clubman International visor, but what is the secret behind modern anti-fog coatings?

We did some digging, after all, it’s impossible to hold your breath for a three-hour ride eh? Apparently, the first anti-fog system was made for riot police. Yup… apparently you want a riot cop to know where he’s landing that baton/pepper spray so they need to see clearly when they’re breathing heavily.  So, the first lid to have a ‘Pinlock’ style anti-fog insert was a Schuberth ‘riot police’ helmet and not a bike lid or even a Formula 1 helmet!

A man by the name of Derek Arnold started out making anti-fog visors for the motorcycle market in 1979. Once more, it was riot police who used Derek’s ideas together with their protective headgear, but Derek’s idea for the current Pinlock system didn’t materialise until 1994. After patenting the idea and testing it with the Dutch police, it eventually became invention of the year in 1998 and today it is used not just on a wide-range of helmets, including those used by firefighters, but also on windows, vehicles and even aeroplanes.

So how does it work? Well, the Pinlock system fixes a specially-treated lens under tension between two pins, on the inside of the visor. The lens is porous and absorbs moisture, leaving your vision clear. Think of it like a double-glazing system.

If your helmet doesn’t have a Pinlock insert, then you can use Fogtech. This was developed by American inventor (and bike rider) Gene Menzies. We’ve tested this over the last decade and it works very well indeed. Gene was an ex-chemistry ‘major’ in the USA, which helped him invent both Fogtech and Raincoat, which makes rain droplets run off the outside of your visor, meaning we don’t have to do the sideways head thing at speed to get shot of the water droplets…

Gene came up with Fogtech after a particularly dodgy ride home and after experimenting with a wide range of chemicals he – almost by accident – found a combination which could be spread across the visor very easily and do the job of keeping the moisture at bay. It took nine months of experiments before he came up with the formula which allowed him to wipe on the anti-fog, leaving a thin film of it on the visor – which didn’t fog when he breathed on it!

Going back to washing-up liquid, it seems many anti-fog coatings have used this ‘glycerin’ or soap-based formulas, along with alcohol combinations to get something that works, but they don’t seem to last that long. And there’s the rub (literally, as you have to work them into the surface of the visor to make them work…) Unlike Pinlock which lasts for the life of the visor, Fogtech and other wipe-on anti-fog formulas have a finite lifespan and one which is dependent on the chemicals used and how well you’ve applied them. So, look after your visors and they will look after you!