Pinlock inserts were invented in 1994 but were initially slow to take off, however, popularity has been increasing rapidly in Europe, the United States, and Asia in recent years.
I couldn’t imagine riding my bike in a helmet without a Pinlock visor insert now, as it keeps my visor fog-free, no matter the circumstances.
So, what’s so great about them, and what even is a Pinlock? Everything you need to know is in this article.
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What Is Pinlock?
Pinlock was invented in 1994 by a man called Derek Arnold, an English Inventor, who had been riding motorcycles most of his life and had been importing helmets into the Netherlands since 1979.
A Pinlock insert is a thin piece of plastic that sits between two ‘pins’ on the internal side of the helmet visor with the sole purpose of absorbing any condensation keeping the visor clear.
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A motorcycle helmet with a Pinlock insert fitted will not mist up, which leaves the visor clear to focus on enjoying the ride safely in any conditions.
How Does Pinlock Work?
The Pinlock insert acts like double glazing for your helmet visor. Your motorcycle helmet needs to be Pinlock compatible and have two pins on each side of the visor, which is where the Pinlock insert fits into and the pins then hold the insert in place.
The insert has a silicon type edge all the way around which presses against the visor and creates an air-tight seal. It is the seal that stops condensation forming on the visor; the Pinlock insert itself also absorbs the condensation so it doesn’t form on the insert itself either.
The pins can be turned to ensure the insert is held tight and pressed against the visor, this is imperative to make sure the insert does its job.
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It is worth noting that the Pinlock insert doesn’t cover the whole of the visor so condensation can still form around the area where the insert isn’t covering. On the flip side of that however, Pinlock inserts are made to cover the area of the visor where your vision is most important and where condensation is most likely for form, for example where you breathe at the front.
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Pinlock (the company) also makes MaxVision inserts which provide a broader coverage of the visor.
A common point of confusion with people who have never used a Pinlock insert before is that they come with a yellow film on the back of them and people often fit them as they are without peeling the film off. This not only means you have a yellow tint to your visor but the Pinlock won’t work.
The film is only there to protect the Pinlock insert from scratches. So peel the film off and you are good to go.
Are Pinlock Inserts Universal?
Pinlock inserts are generally not Universal. They are specific to different helmet manufacturers and also models within those manufacturers’ line-up.
The reason for this is that helmet visor sizes vary, and the only way a Pinlock insert will actually work is by being fitted correctly to ensure the seal is air-tight.
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Some visors even have a cut out of a few mm’s into the visor itself which the Pinlock insert slides into (still in between the pins), creating a seamless fit.
So, it is very important you get the correct Pinlock to fit your specific helmet, otherwise you won’t get the benefits from your insert.
A very important note here is that there are a range of “Universal” Pinlock inserts made which fit a lot of the cheaper helmet brands.
With these helmets and Pinlock inserts the key to making sure they work is ensuring the fit between the pins is tight and the seal is secure. You may find in this situation that the Pinlock insert is smaller and covers a smaller area of the visor than other made-to-fit, visor-specific Pinlock visors.
Pinlock also make inserts that are sun-reactive which are great for riders who buy from manufacturers who have Pinlock compatible helmets but without internal drop-down sun visors such as Arai.
The sun-reactive Pinlock insert does it’s conventional job of keeping the visor fog-free but also reacts to the sun and goes darker, then goes lighter/clear when cloudy or in low-light conditions.
There are also light smoke, dark smoke and yellow tinted Pinlock inserts similar to different tints of visors that are produced for some helmets.
Pinlock inserts also come in three levels of protection, 30, 70 and 120, which, according to Pinlock “The numbers are used to indicate the levels of fog free clearance which the lenses provide.”
How Long Do Pinlock Inserts Last?
When you find that your Pinlock insert is beginning to mist-up, then it is time to give it a little bit of attention.
You need to remove your helmet visor, and remove the Pinlock insert itself. Run the insert under cold water, let it dry then gently wipe away any dust with a microfiber cloth.
Check the edges where the pins sit to make sure the pins aren’t bent backwards or too worn. Insert your Pinlock back into the visor, tighten the pins to ensure a good fit and check the seal is nice and tight. The easiest way is to simply hold it up and blow on it and see if any condensation forms where it shouldn’t.
Once you are satisfied that all is in order, your Pinlock will be good to go again.
Pinlocks do eventually wear down and need replacing, this varies with the amount of use, humidity and a whole other host of factors. You will know when your Pinlock insert needs replacing as it won’t be doing it’s job anymore even if you have taken the steps mentioned above.
The good news is that they are not particularly expensive to replace and the benefits are well worth the small investment.
Who Should Use A Pinlock Visor?
Anybody who has a full-face or modular motorcycle helmet with Pinlock compatibility.
There are few if any negatives to using a Pinlock insert, they offer one of the best anti-fog solutions on the market with the only close competition being a similar insert that has a sticky side that adheres to the inside of your helmet visor.