Giving a Helmet its Cafe Racer Soul

I ride my 2011 Bonneville SE with a smile. It has a cafe racer spirit – a result of some minor modifications — drag handlebars, Thruxton-style seat, bar-end mirrors — they all synchronize to give the Bonnie its cafe-racer soul.

The challenge is that I prefer riding with a full-face helmet, but can’t find one that has the cafe racer soul — so I made one.

My Scorpion EXO 500, matte black helmet seemed an appropriate canvas to accept a cafe racer element. The element I see often is the black and white checkered flag, so that’s what I chose.

I scoped out the concept on high-tech paper (white lined notebook paper).

My initial idea was to have an orange and black checkerboard to match my Bonnie’s color scheme.

I tried the orange paint (my Bonnie is the orange and black kind), but that didn’t work. So I tried Plan B – a simple black and white checkerboard across the top. But painting wasn’t an option so what could I do?

While cleaning off the first attempt of orange paint, I managed to scrape through some of the matte black on the helmet. This was quite serendipitous because it revealed a white layer. So, I figure I could just ‘carve’ out the checkerboard pattern and by exposing white checkered areas, create the checkerboard pattern.

I scooped up a Dremel rotary tool from my local Walmart and proceeded. I drew the design with pencil and a little – a lot – of my anal-retentive (some would euphemize it as punctilious) attitude to ensure it was just right. Then I simply etched out the checkerboard sections and viola – I have my full-face helmet with a spiritual connection to the cafe racer scene.

The cafe racer checkerboard gives the helmet its cafe racer soul

The etching is pretty cool because it gives a distressed look and feel when you look up close. And it can’t be scratched off!

The etched checkerboard – done with my Dremel rotary tool – gives a raw, distressed look.


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