Tuesday, November 24, 2015

DIY Leopard Print Helmet

The finished product, all done up with leopard print duct tape!
I fell in love with a stylish leopard print helmet first spotted on Eleanor's bike shop many years ago. I was tired of my Bell helmet and very disappointed also that after only three years, the bright, highly visible yellow color had drastically faded - in some places it was nearly white. I could have replaced the helmet altogether, however, it was an opportunity to be creative, the helmet should have a little life left, and I still enjoyed the model, especially the rear bracket, a feature which most helmets do not have, providing an extra place to clip a taillight. 

An Xacto knife was the perfect tool to cut duct tape.
I perused the Internet, searching for what others have created and was inspired to use duct tape. It seemed like an inexpensive solution in lieu of sewing a covering. Some folks had torn the shell off before taping, but I felt that would compromise the helmet. I also learned that solid duct tape shows the edges and highlights mistakes - it is a shiny material - so I searched in a couple stores, knowing that locating a patterned tape would be the best solution, when I stumbled on leopard print tape at our local hardware store. It was then that I became excited about recreating the helmet I was fond of at Eleanors.

I removed the visor, rear bracket, and any stickers then cleaned the shell with soap and water. I placed one strip of duct tape at a time, carefully cutting around the vent holes as I went, starting in the back of the helmet so my first practice attempts wouldn't show much. However, it was relatively easy, only requiring a little patience. I was careful to completely cover the yellow. and at any rate, should I make a mistake I could always tear off the tape and start with a fresh piece.

Almost there, just the rim to go.
Total time, about two hours.
Voila! Snap on the visor and re-attach the light bracket and the project is finished. I'm pleased with how the revitalized helmet looks. It's barely noticeable that it was created with tape, a testament to patient cutting plus the pattern lends itself to seamlessly blending in with visor and foam under layer. I plan to replace the white reflective stickers so I will be visible to road users.

So with half a roll of leopard tape left, what's a girl going to do? Hmmm, I have another idea...


  1. Hi, there are products called "vinyl wrap" that may be obtained with animal print patterns. These are intended to conform well to curved and irregular surfaces such as your bike helmet, and from the videos I've seen, look fairly easy and forgiving to apply. All the best!

    1. Thanks for your suggestion. I'd heard of vinyl wrapping cars, but after searching on the Web, and discovering vinyl wrapping is an art, I'm pleased with how my project came out using inexpensive and strong duct tape. Also, if I happen to drop my helmet, I won't worry about scratches.

  2. Hey Annie this is a great idea, I've wrapped frames with this stuff before which provides a really interesting look as long as the overlaps line up ok but I've never thought of doing a helmet. One thing I would check though is that the adhesives on the tape doesn't come into contact with the polystyrene under the hard shell, we were always told years ago not to put stickers on soft shell helmets as the chemical reaction from the sticky stuff could alter the effectiveness of the polystyrene.

  3. That looks great. Nice work. I have a duct tape wallet I made several years ago and has lasted way beyond my expectations. It still functions great but is looking a little ratty and probably time I make a new one.

  4. Thank you for the awesome idea of using duct tape. Saves money and give my helmet a second life since its great condition.


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