Helmet buffeting is the annoying phenomenon of turbulence of the helmet. Sourcing from a certain resonating frequency and force that builds up due to airflow, the least impact of it can be as small as a droning sound. But the worst-case scenario might include moderate to intense vibrations inside the helmet and even blurred eyesight.
What is Buffeting of Helmet
If I put it formally, buffeting stands for the repeated and violent action of striking somebody or something. However, the definition is entirely different in the automotive world. Here, buffeting means the turbulent wind flow around windshields, fairings, or helmets during a speedy ride.
Buffeting vs Wind Resistance
Although both buffeting and resistance are related to the irregular air oscillation causing pressure against a rider, they are not the same. You’ll probably be familiar with wind resistance if you ever rode a naked motorcycle with no windshields. It is that constant force of air coming from the opposite direction of your motion.
On the other hand, buffeting occurs even after adequate protection of windshields, helmets, or both. Wind buffeting can cause hearing problems in the long run, whereas wind resistance lets you adapt without long-term consequences.
What Causes Helmet Buffeting?
Riders with windshields and front fairings on their motorcycle are most likely to experience helmet buffeting. Nevertheless, there are a lot more reasons behind helmet buffeting.
Windshields usually drive the airflow off of your shoulder and chest. While doing so, they make the wind swirl around their edges and clog inside them. It is more evident if you haven’t adjusted the windshield height properly.
As a result, windshields create a vacuum comprising inconsistent air streams. Such streams can cause a constant vibration in your helmet, resulting in helmet buffeting. And sometimes, an opposite airflow can flow directly into your helmet coming from under the fairing.
But I must say that wind buffeting can still happen even when the windshield adjustment is flawless. Whenever there is a strong wind from the sides, it will burst into packets after hitting you and the motorcycle. Consequently, those packets can crimp around your helmet and cause buffeting.
Your riding position can cause helmet buffeting to a certain degree. If you ride in an upright position while having an angled windscreen, the helmet buffeting will increase. On the contrary, if it has a straight placement, you won’t experience as much buffeting even while riding upright.
Your riding speed has a significant impact on the helmet buffeting you experience. For instance, the amount of noise will increase by up to 10 dB when you accelerate from 25 mph to 50 mph. The reason behind this is the extra turbulence generated from the interrupted airflow.
Type of Helmet
Whether you use a full-face, open face, or modular helmet can shape your experience regarding helmet buffeting. Open face helmets let all the air enter inside. So, I would not care about buffeting more than safety with an open-face helmet.
And though modular helmets feature at least a chin guard, I am not a huge fan of them either. The truth is modular helmets can’t stop the airflow from entering during a speedy ride.
Therefore, a full-face helmet remains the only choice that is less prone to buffeting. But helmet buffeting is still not absent, as it has air vents too. Yet, some expensive brands offer full-face helmets with top-notch aerodynamics. You will have to keep your head at the right angle for minimum buffeting, however.
How to Stop Helmet Buffeting?
Although no method is 100 percent effective for stopping helmet buffeting, you can try some of the hacks below. These will help you reduce the noise and vibrations.
Adjust The Windshield Height
A rule of thumb while placing the windshield is to align the top of it with your nose line. It will create the slipstream effect that helps push the wind over your helmet. It gives you better visuals as well. But remember that this alignment will only work when you have an upright riding position.
If the factory windshield that came with your motorcycle does not support adjustments, you can look for aftermarket ones. You might have to leave a small gap between the fairing and the windshield if adjusting the height does not work.
Use Scarfs or Balaclavas
The wind that causes buffeting often enters from below your helmet if your helmet has thin padding. But you can always buy a scarf or balaclava to fight with helmet buffeting. These options are pretty effective since they block the airflow from entering through the neck area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do lower help with helmet buffeting?
Ans: Though adjusting the windscreen or using balaclava makes buffeting tolerable, lowers can be helpful as well. But remember that lower fairings can result in more heat than usual during a long ride.
Q: What is the correct posture to reduce helmet buffeting?
Ans: Try to maintain a lower riding profile to experience as low buffeting as possible. Besides, you can practice leaning down over your tank as much as you can. For the side wind, sticking your knee out can come in handy too.
Helmet buffeting is one of the worst nightmares of a motorcycle rider. If I sum it up, the amount of helmet buffeting mostly depends on your riding habits. Hence, keep these three things in mind. Always ride with a low profile, buy helmets with better aerodynamics, and keep your windshield height right.