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Thread: Caution with Spirit Helmets - They Might be Damaging Your Eyes

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    Default Caution with Spirit Helmets - They Might be Damaging Your Eyes

    I tried to keep this brief but there are a lot of parts to this writeup – so for those who want the just of it….
    Spirit helmets are in my opinion (based on user experience, communication with Spirit, at home testing and internet research) – potentially damaging to your eyes with regards to the integrated sun visor which they have marketed as a replacement for your sunglasses. Read on for more detail….




    For the last few years I have been using a Spirit Cruiser Open Face Helmet with an integrated sun visor. Over time, I had a few instances where I would come back with ‘scratchy’ eyes after a long ride. At some point I wondered whether it had to do with the sun visor and so I emailed Spirit to get more details and to confirm that the sun visor had sufficient UV protection meaning that I didn’t need my sunglasses (as their website indicated at the time). Spirits response was that it did (100% correct as they put it) and that the visor was rated at UV 200. So for a time I was satisfied, but I still had this niggle that the visor wasn’t up to task.


    So in September this year I did a few at home tests to confirm my suspicions as best I could. Using a UV torch (basic one for camping and spotting scorpions) – I took three bank cards (which have UV stamps) and shone the UV torch through the visor and through a few pairs of sunglasses. I’ve attached images to this post where two ‘V’s’ and an M show up under unfiltered UV (ignore the bright circle in some images as this is just a reflection). These images aren't great quality as I had to reduce them for upload (but I think they make the point). The Spirit sun visor did not effectively block the UV light as 'V' and 'M' were still clearly visible, while every pair of sunglasses I tested performed far better. Two pairs of RayBans and 1 pair of unbranded sunglasses (~R150 in value), showed no indication of the 'V' or 'M', while a pair of D'Arcs (<R300 I think) showed a very faint 'V' and 'M' (included for full disclosure).


    With what I believed was reasonable evidence of insufficient UV protection, I engaged Spirit. First I tried a face to face discussion at their Cape Town store but that failed miserably with the sales rep more interested in the couple of scratches on my helmet than with my point about the sun visor. So I reverted to email to explain my suspicions and the results of my at home test and how I thought the sun visor was inadequate and that it didn’t offer sufficient protection to warrant not wearing sunglasses (bearing in mind that they advertised on their website up until sometime this year that the sun visor system saved you the hassle of having to take your shades with you on a ride (see attachment). The current website has, however, changed the description of the cruiser's sun visor which no longer includes the wording that leaving your sunglasses at home is an option – rather just the wording TSS twin shield sun visor. Nevertheless, they also indicated to me via email that the UV protection was adequate such that I wouldn't need to use my sunglasses.


    Their response to my email was unfortunately dismissive with Spirit indicating that there was no deficiency in this product and that if I had prescribed eye wear that I should wear that and that (I didn't) and if I wanted to accurately test the sun visor’s UV protection I would need to have it under a UV light for 5 days to 2 weeks at a cost of R1200/day (excess cost to try and get me to forget about it?).


    Upon my response that my only recourse was now the ombudsmans and relevant forums, they responded that you are entitled to move forward with a claim you feel legitimate however if any false accusations, false statements or reports are made without ethical evidence then Spirit will be entitled to take legal action against those claims (a scare tactic?). So for that sake – let me comment here that this write-up is my personal opinion based upon my user experience, home tests and research and that I have no professional certification that qualifies me to professionally review the suitability of a motorbike helmet's sun visors (i.e. this is not a professional review based upon laboratory test conditions).


    My last attempt to get more info on the helmet was to take it to an optometrist who had an in-house UV tester. Unfortunately the optometrist was unable to get a reading given the difference between the visor and regular glasses I think. I did ask whether 5 days to 2 weeks was needed to establish UV protection – his response being that a single reading should suffice as per their testing of regular sunglasses (since either there is more UV than safe coming through or there isn’t?). Again, this was just his (off the cuff) opinion but it makes me wonder about the 5 days to 2 weeks comment from Spirit.

    I also asked the optometrist whether UV 200 offered adequate protection. He commented that UV400 was the usual standard. Following up on this, I did a few internet searches to see if I could find something that said UV200 was adequate – but the websites I saw pointed to UV400 as ‘adequate’… see this site as an example https://www.drdonaldknapp.com/2014/0...uv-protection/
    This last point alone casts doubt on whether Spirits UV protection is adequate since they indicated that their sun visor had UV200 protection (assuming that the visor even offers that - I couldn't confirm it did).


    So here we are. From my user experience and at home testing and research – I will definitely not be using the sun visor as I worry that its damaging my eyes and could later lead to unpleasant complications such as abnormal growths on the eye's surface, cataracts or macular degeneration (potential complications from excessive UV exposure according to ophthalmologist Robert Noecker, M.D). This is aside from any damage that might have occurred from two years of use. For full disclosure, I have eyes that are sensitive to bright conditions and use sunglasses on most occasions – nothing too fancy… just a pair of R600 sunglasses. Also – I can’t comment about the other sun visors in the Spirit range - but I wouldn't be willing to test them given this experience.


    Lastly, when I emailed Spirit and received their ‘dismissive’ response – I was irritated. But a month later and I’ve had time to cool off. So hopefully this write-up comes across as an unbiased caution as intended. My motivation is writing this piece is from what I consider, an ethical obligation to others since we are entering summer and adequate UV protection will be assumed by many other Spirit helmet users. With that said, I welcome Spirit to prove that their sun visor does offer adequate sun protection such that you can leave your sunglasses at home.





    Images below are in the following order (left to right):

    Original Spirit website indicating that the sun visor saves you the hassle of having to take your shades with you on a ride

    Desk Lamp - No UV light

    UV Torch - No filter

    UV Torch Through Spirit Sun Visor 1 - two 'Vs' and an 'M' visible

    UV Torch Through Spirit Sun Visor 2 - two 'Vs' and an 'M' visible

    UV Torch Through D'Arc Sunglasses (Under R300) - 'M' and 'V' barely visible

    UV Torch Through Unbranded Sportmans Warehouse Sunglasses (~R150) - 'M' and 'V' not visible
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Personal opinion of my Spirit FT92 Helmet after a full day of working/riding in the sun......no issues with my very sensitive eyes at all. I would suggest caution when leaving warnings without official testing, on an open forum.
    "Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle!"

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    Fair enough Eaglewing - your FT92 sounds like it does the job. What is my option with regards to my helmet however? Just don't use it and hope others aren't compromised? (i.e. Delete my post?) I have tried to be as thorough as I can be without paying R6,000 to R16,800 as indicated by Spirit. I have also framed all comments as my personal opinion and been explicit that I am not a professional motorbike helmet tester.
    I welcome any guidance from you or others - but like I said - I feel i have an ethical obligation given not just my user experience, but my at home testing and internet research.

  4. #4
    Nuon Fangirl

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    I would prefer not to get involved in your helmet issue. In the end, you get what you pay for and Spirit is on the lower end of the scale. From personal experience, eye irritations are, more often than not, caused by the wind drying out your eyes.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by AMZ View Post
    I would prefer not to get involved in your helmet issue. In the end, you get what you pay for and Spirit is on the lower end of the scale. From personal experience, eye irritations are, more often than not, caused by the wind drying out your eyes.
    Fully agree - with both cost and wind.
    I would like to modify the original post to include that wind could have been a cause for the scratchy eyes but it's closed (anecdotally i would say on some long and less bright rides I had no issue).

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