Respro Foggy [first impressions]

In WebBikeWorld’s review of the HJC IS-16 helmet they pondered why there was Velcro on the inside of the chin-bar. A commenter suggested that maybe it was for a Respro Foggy. Curious as to what one was I Googled their site and was amazed at the simple brilliance of it. There is nothing fancy here. It’s just one of those head-slappingly obvious ideas that makes you wonder why no-one else has been making these.

##Summary:

Good, cheap, anti-fog device that really works.

If you live in New England or anywhere else it gets chilly you’re more than familiar with the problem of fogged visors. A pinlock system is great, but it requires getting a fancy visor which isn’t available for most helmets, or a do-it-yourself kit that involves drilling a couple holes into your visor for the pins. Not fun and particularly sucky if you’re like me, and find yourself either getting a big scratch on your visor, or having enough bugs and dirt and dust pinging off of your visor that the micro-scratches built up and you end up needing to replace it every year. Your other alternatives are Fogtech anti-fog liquid, Cat Crap anti-fog wax, pre-treated visors (which may or may not be available for your helmet), electrically heated visors (probably not available), and now, the Foggy.

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Personally I think the idea of having to treat my visor with liquid, or wax and then remembering not to touch the inside is lame, and annoying because how much would it suck to pull up to your first stop-light and realize that you needed to redo the coating? Electric would work but that’s another cable to run and more power to suck from a bike that probably wasn’t designed to have the spare juice to run all your electric heating widgets.

But the Foggy… That’s an idea I can get behind. Stick it in your helmet in the fall, take it out as summer starts rolling around. The end. The principle is simple. All the hot moist air coming out of your nose and mouth gets redirected away from your visor, and thus never has a chance to fog it up. The end.

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It comes in a variety of colors and is held in with hook-and-loop (Velcro™) that attaches to your chin-bar and your cheek pads. It also has a plastic arch that goes over the nose to keep it fitted to your face. There’s just one little catch. While it has 3 male hook-and-loop pads it only comes with an matching adhesive-backed female hook-and-loop pad for the chin. There’s a sticker on the back of that that says “the side pieces of the Foggy® mask should be sandwiched between the helmet cheek pads and the chin strap.” Sounds workable, except for the fact that the side pads come across your face at about the same level as your cheekbones which is slightly above where the chin straps emerge from the padding on most full-faced motorcycle helmets. In other words, following the instructions is essentially impossible. Fortunately I noticed the “Approved for…” list of helmets on the package and I happened to own one of the brands listed (HJC) so, I set down my Scorpion, picked up the HJC and said “Oh hey, there’s Velcro on the chin-bar!” The side pieces still couldn’t fit under the chin straps but it turns out that the fabric that HJC uses is fuzzy enough that the hook-and-loop on the Foggy can attach to it. “How cool.” It’s not an incredible attachment on the sides, but I’m not worried about it falling out, especially with the real hook-and-loop in the chin-bar. The Velcro on the Foggy’s side pieces doesn’t even remotely want to stick to the lining of my Scorpion.

So, I stuck it in, put on the helmet and started adjusting it to make a good fit across my nose and cheeks. Now, before we go any farther I should point out that I’ve got a typically skinny British nose. It’s not teeny but it’s by no means large. A fairly average white-person nose. But the plastic bridge on the Foggy is is skinnier than my nose. I assume the idea is that it should gently clamp on to it to keep moist air from escaping up beside your nose. The problem is that if I put it up on the bony bridge of my nose it squeezes itself up and off a bit. If I put it below the bony bridge then it’s squeezing my nostrils, but it seems to be adjustable. So, before you insert it gently spread the arms apart and hold them there until you have a slightly wider bridge. It took a couple minutes but I eventually I found that It would sit comfortably just below the bony bridge of my nose.

Once I’d stuck it in the helmet and adjusted its placement to make a good seal on my face. I stuck my helmet outside in the 16 deg. F weather to chill for a bit. The bikes are not in riding shape this winter, but I wanted to give it a decent test. I went out, put on the helmet, inserted my glasses so I could actually see anything, and started breathing. And… nothing happened. So I breathed some more. Nothing happened. So, I breathed some more…. I breathed big heavy breaths out my nose. I breathed big heavy breaths out my mouth. Eventually, I noticed that if I looked closely the top half of my visor was slightly foggy when I was breathing out of my mouth. I started paying more attention and noticed that I could feel some of the air from my mouth escaping up between the foggy and my face, but only barely. And I’m sure that if I adjusted it I could get rid of most of that.

But, maybe it wasn’t the Foggy. Maybe it was a flawed test. I took off the helmet. I took out the foggy. I put the helmet back on. I put my glasses back on. I breathed in. I breathed out through my mouth, and was suddenly blind. My glasses were totally opaque with fog. I lowered my glasses, closed the visor again, and yup, it was nearly opaque with fog. As I was standing still with no wind neither really felt like de-fogging, but eventually they did. And yup, they fogged up when I breathed through my nose too. Not nearly as badly, but enough to remember why I bought the foggy in the first place, and enough to remind me that it really sucks to have to breath exclusively through your nose while riding.

So, would I recommend the Foggy?

Hell yes. But, unless you have one of the Approved Helmets listed below you may need to go to your local sewing store and buy a little bit of adhesive backed Velcro for the cheek pads. They’re £13.99 plus shipping from Respro, which ends up being roughly the same price you’d pay from KneeDraggers, except the money’s going straight to the manufacturer who has a pretty cool line of products, and, I think, deserves to be supported. Of course, it’ll take a wee bit longer to get to you from the UK. On the other hand, KneeDraggers.com said “Distributor does not provide live stock data” and “This item usually ships in 1-3 days” which usually translates to “we think it’ll go out soon but we may not actually have any”.

Overall I give the Foggy a 4 out of 5. It’s great but not absolutely perfect, and I was pretty irked by Respro leaving out the matching velcro for the cheek pads. That was just cheap corner cutting that will leave the product effectively unusable in many helmets without you running to the store to buy more velcro.

The foggy is “Approved for” Shoei, Arai, Dainese, Shark, FM, AGV, Bell, OGK, Roof, and HJC helmets.

Over 20,000 miles & 14 Countries later

Since writing this review we traveled from Boston to the Southern tip of South America. Hot, cold, humid, dry, you name it we’ve ridden through it and the Foggy held up exceptionally well for me. Dachary regularly had trouble getting it positioned correctly, and while I never had problems with it needing to be re-adjusted once inserted she frequently did. I still think it’s a fantastic device, and even though it frustrates Dachary sometimes, we haven’t found anything better.