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Photochromatic shields

  1. #1
    Lifer 01xj's Avatar
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    Photochromatic shields


    Anyone rocking one? I know Shoei and Bell make them. I'm almost ready to pull the trigger. The price is a little stiff (160$) but the convenience factor looks huge. I work nights and usually ride to work, so having one shield that does it all would be awesome. I wear polarized sunglasses almost every time I step outside and having to jam sunglasses into my helmet is kind of a pain. I'm definitely more comfortable without glasses under my helmet. As awesome as this seems I'm wondering if a dark smoke pinlock would just be a good solution at a fraction of the cost.

    I was reading on ADVrider that the photo chromatic aspect of the shield can deteriorate over time. Anyone been using one for a few years have any input?

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    Last edited by 01xj; 08-06-18 at 04:45 PM.

  2. #2
    Dic on
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    I have been using my Bell photochromatic visor for 2 years. It's one of my favorite pieces of kit. Works super fast (after the first couple of times) and has not deteriorated at all so far.

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  3. #3
    Member jimmycapp's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Love mine. Had it since 2014. Won't own a helmet without it. Mines a bell. They had a batch of faulty ones (mine failed after a year), that were replaced under warranty
    . No issues with the replacemnet.

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  4. #4
    Awesomeness, Inc. MattR302's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Are you not considering a helmet with a drop-down tinted visor? The one in my Shoei GT-air works well.
    Often I still end up wearing sunglasses under the helmet anyways, just so I can have sunglasses to wear at my destination.

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  5. #5
    Lifer 01xj's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    I just bought an rf1200 so no, not considering a new helmet.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member OneCheekRider's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    I switched to photochromic on my Bell Star years ago. I liked it so much that when I bought a Bell MX-9 Adventure on closeout for $99, I also eventually bought the photochromic shield when they released it for $150. I love them.

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  7. #7
    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by MattR302 View Post
    Are you not considering a helmet with a drop-down tinted visor? The one in my Shoei GT-air works well.
    Often I still end up wearing sunglasses under the helmet anyways, just so I can have sunglasses to wear at my destination.
    I haven't found a higher end helmet with flip down glasses yet.

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  8. #8
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    I have heard great thing about the Bell chromatic, but I have yet to drop the coin.

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  9. #9
    Lifer 01xj's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by OneCheekRider View Post
    I switched to photochromic on my Bell Star years ago. I liked it so much that when I bought a Bell MX-9 Adventure on closeout for $99, I also eventually bought the photochromic shield when they released it for $150. I love them.
    Any experience with the pinlock inserts? I don't mind paying for the convenience factor but I haven't personally used a pinlock insert so I have no experience with them. My CW-1 shield has the pegs so it's ready to use. 30$ vs 160$

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  10. #10
    Senior Member OneCheekRider's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by 01xj View Post
    Any experience with the pinlock inserts? I don't mind paying for the convenience factor but I haven't personally used a pinlock insert so I have no experience with them. My CW-1 shield has the pegs so it's ready to use. 30$ vs 160$
    No, I've never used a pinlock insert.

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  11. #11
    Lifer 01xj's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Thanks. I just checked out the pinlock inserts and they are pretty adamant that you need to keep it lint and fingerprint free in order for your vision not to be obstructed. I thought it would be easier to take it on and off but I'd need to find a place to store it lint and debris free each night. Not something I want to be bothered with. Looks like the transitions shield is a go.

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  12. #12
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    I've worn photochromic prescription glasses for the past 50 years, but they still don't get dark enuf in the summer sun (winter sun against a snow covered background they do), so I use a dark smoke shield and just flip it up at night and ride with the shield open

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  13. #13
    Awesomeness, Inc. MattR302's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    I've had the pinlock insert in my GT-Air since basically the first cool day the shield fogged up maybe 4-5 years ago. The anti-fog doesnt work quite as well as it did a couple years ago, but I've never noticed a significant change i regards to vision obstruction. I do keep my helmet in the cloth storage bag when its not on my head, but usually my gloves and the Sena unit are stuffed inside there too.

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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Had a high-end helmet with a flip-down sun shield (Schuberth S2). That way adds bulk and weight, but works.

    Just replaced it this year with a Shoei RF-1200 and I picked up the Transitions.

    I love it. No comment on longevity (obviously) but I'm sold.

    I was worried about it getting dark enough, and about the slight purplish tint. I don't notice the tint, and it gets dark enough.

    Convenience is huge.

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  15. #15
    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by adouglas View Post
    Had a high-end helmet with a flip-down sun shield (Schuberth S2). That way adds bulk and weight, but works.

    Just replaced it this year with a Shoei RF-1200 and I picked up the Transitions.

    I love it. No comment on longevity (obviously) but I'm sold.

    I was worried about it getting dark enough, and about the slight purplish tint. I don't notice the tint, and it gets dark enough.

    Convenience is huge.
    A high end helmet that isn't Snell or ECE rated? Interesting...

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  16. #16
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by csmutty View Post
    A high end helmet that isn't Snell or ECE rated? Interesting...
    No helmet that has a drop-down sun visor is Snell-rated. The standard rules them out.

    The S2 is ECE rated.

    Frankly I like my Shoei better FWIW... $$$$ does not a superior product make.

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  17. #17
    Lifer Chippertheripper's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by 01xj View Post
    Thanks. I just checked out the pinlock inserts and they are pretty adamant that you need to keep it lint and fingerprint free in order for your vision not to be obstructed. I thought it would be easier to take it on and off but I'd need to find a place to store it lint and debris free each night. Not something I want to be bothered with. Looks like the transitions shield is a go.
    I have pinlock shields in most of my visors, they’re not something you want to be popping in and out. I rotate a clear visor and a clear pinlock and a dark smoke visor with a clear pinlock in and out as daylight requires. I keep the unused visor in that soft helmet bag most manufacturers provide. It fits in a decent size tank or tail bag with minimal stress.

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  18. #18
    Super Adventurer SRTie4k's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    I'll be the voice of discontent here. I have had photchromatic shields in both my Bell RS-1 and my Bell MX-9 Adventure.

    I liked it in my RS-1, although there were a few areas where it didn't work very well. In tunnels, it simply just doesn't lighten fast enough to be useful. Riding the Blue Ridge, whenever I'd enter a tunnel I just couldn't see a damn thing with it closed, so I'd have to open it. Also you can't get one with pinlock capability, so no riding in very cold or wet weather. Kinda minor I know, but just stating facts.

    As for the MX-9, well that was a whole different story. The MX-9 has a peak, which also has holes in it. Because the shield requires sunlight to darken, the bottom half (the part of the shield exposed to the most sunlight) would get extremely dark while the top half would stay somewhat lighter (the part blocking the sun). Then because the peak had holes in it, and because photochromatic shields have "memory" (that's why they tell you to store it in an area not exposed to light), whenever the shield was up, there were two "blocks" that would stay dark due to being exposed to sun constantly, while the rest of the shield was light. Over a few months, this caused the shield to have permanently dark "blocks" that would never get as light as the surrounding areas. The end result was a gradient of darkness/lightness from the bottom of the shield up, with two extremely dark "blocks" right in the middle due to the design of the peak. It just never worked as designed due to the style of helmet, and it was annoying.

    I now have a Nexx XD-1 with a drop down sun visor and a clear shield with pinlock, and I love it way more than just the photochromatic shield. It's much more versatile.

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  19. #19
    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by adouglas View Post
    No helmet that has a drop-down sun visor is Snell-rated. The standard rules them out.

    The S2 is ECE rated.

    Frankly I like my Shoei better FWIW... $$$$ does not a superior product make.
    Maybe there's a reason they won't certify drop down sun visors...

    That helmet also wouldn't have been certified because it's a modular.

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  20. #20
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    No it's not. The C3 (now C4, I think) is modular. The S2 is their sport-touring lid, equivalent of the Shoei GT-Air.

    The reason why Snell won't consider these helmets may have nothing to do with inherent safety. The added structure and mechanism might simply be too much of a variable for their tests to provide meaningful data. The helmet itself might be just fine. Same with modulars... rather than actually testing them to see if they're in fact inferior, they made a policy decision to not test at all.

    In other words, these helmets don't FAIL the Snell test. They aren't tested in the first place.

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  21. #21
    Lifer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by csmutty View Post
    A high end helmet that isn't Snell or ECE rated? Interesting...
    I checked around with track day and racing orgs in the area as part of a new lid search.

    Most of them no longer require Snell as long as they are ECE or SHARP rated. This may be fallout from the Snell M2010 debate, not sure. DOT alone was not generally sufficient.

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  22. #22
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by SRTie4k View Post
    Also you can't get one with pinlock capability, so no riding in very cold or wet weather. Kinda minor I know, but just stating facts.
    The Shoei Transitions shield I have does have Pinlock posts, and the RF-1200 came with a Pinlock insert. Can't speak to Bell's current version.

    I hear you about the speed of lightening/darkening. All of these things are compromises. If you had a regular smoke shield you'd be in the same boat, right?

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  23. #23
    Senior Member OneCheekRider's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by SRTie4k View Post
    I'll be the voice of discontent here. I have had photchromatic shields in both my Bell RS-1 and my Bell MX-9 Adventure.

    I liked it in my RS-1, although there were a few areas where it didn't work very well. In tunnels, it simply just doesn't lighten fast enough to be useful. Riding the Blue Ridge, whenever I'd enter a tunnel I just couldn't see a damn thing with it closed, so I'd have to open it. Also you can't get one with pinlock capability, so no riding in very cold or wet weather. Kinda minor I know, but just stating facts.

    As for the MX-9, well that was a whole different story. The MX-9 has a peak, which also has holes in it. Because the shield requires sunlight to darken, the bottom half (the part of the shield exposed to the most sunlight) would get extremely dark while the top half would stay somewhat lighter (the part blocking the sun). Then because the peak had holes in it, and because photochromatic shields have "memory" (that's why they tell you to store it in an area not exposed to light), whenever the shield was up, there were two "blocks" that would stay dark due to being exposed to sun constantly, while the rest of the shield was light. Over a few months, this caused the shield to have permanently dark "blocks" that would never get as light as the surrounding areas. The end result was a gradient of darkness/lightness from the bottom of the shield up, with two extremely dark "blocks" right in the middle due to the design of the peak. It just never worked as designed due to the style of helmet, and it was annoying.

    I now have a Nexx XD-1 with a drop down sun visor and a clear shield with pinlock, and I love it way more than just the photochromatic shield. It's much more versatile.
    Did you ever speak to Bell about your issues? I was probably one of the first to get the MX-9 Adventure transitions and I haven't had a problem in over 20k miles of use. Yes, with the shield up it darkens where the wind cutouts in visor are but mine always goes back to normal. Bell has been very responsive to fix any issues (like when I lost one of the visor screws on the MX-9 recently).

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  24. #24
    Your Father csmutty's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    Quote Originally Posted by Garandman View Post
    I checked around with track day and racing orgs in the area as part of a new lid search.

    Most of them no longer require Snell as long as they are ECE or SHARP rated. This may be fallout from the Snell M2010 debate, not sure. DOT alone was not generally sufficient.
    That's because it depends on the area of manufacture. ECE is for euro helmets and Snell is for everywhere else.

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  25. #25
    Newbie JMD-CBR's Avatar
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    Re: Photochromatic shields

    I just ordered a photochromatic visor insert from Amazon today for $33. Not sure how well it will work, but Iíll report back after I receive it.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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