It is essential when purchasing a motorcycle helmet to ensure it is a proper fit. Not all helmets are made the same. So keep in mind as you are reading that you may wear a medium from one manufacturer and a large from another. What one manufacturer calls a medium, another calls a large, even though they may be the same physical size inside the helmet. For safety reasons and for comfort, it is imperative to get the proper fitting helmet. After all, this is the most important piece of motorcycle gear worn.
Thinking about purchasing a motorcycle helmet? Then keep reading. Do not take the manufacturers labeled size for granted unless you want to make a second trip to your motorcycle dealer. Below is a list of necessary steps you should take in determining the proper size for your head.
1. Measuring the head is a starting point for the entire helmet sizing procedure. Due to varying shapes, heads that are apparently the same size when measured by a tape may not necessarily fit the same size motorcycle helmet. So remember, this is a rough guide and a starting point, and depending upon your head shape, this step alone may not provide a perfect fit.
a) Using a cloth tape measure is best, but any tape measure will work.
b) The circumference of the head should be measured at a point approximately one inch above the eyebrows in front, and at a point in the back of the head that results in the largest possible measurement. Take several measurements, to make sure you have the largest one.
2. Hat Size – Use your hat size as another starting gauge in determining motorcycle helmet size.
3. Select a motorcycle helmet to try on based upon your head measurement and hat size. Most helmets have printed on the sizing tag either the inside diameter of the helmet, the hat size, or both. If your measurement and hat size are exactly between two sizes, round up to the next largest size as a starting point.
4. Now that you have the helmet on your head, it is time for the visual check.
a. Your eyes should be approximately in the center, with the top edge of the liner padding just above the eyebrows.
b. Now that you are wearing the helmet, use a mirror to look carefully at the way it fits. Check to see if the cheek pads are in contact with the cheeks. Is there excess pressure on the cheeks? Look for gaps between the temples and the brow pad. Check the back of the helmet where the neck roll (if the helmet has one) makes contact with the neck. Does it touch at all? Or is it pushing the helmet away at the rear, causing it to roll down over the eyes in front?
5. After you have made your visual check, grab the helmet in your hands, one on either side of the helmet, and try to rotate the helmet from side-to-side. Note any movement of the skin while doing this, as well as the amount of resistance to movement. Hold your head steady to do this.
Next check movement up and down, again noting skin movement and resistance. If in either test there was little or no skin movement, and/or the helmet moved very easily, the helmet is too large. A properly fitted motorcycle helmet will cause the skin to move as the helmet moves. And, it will feel to the wearer as if evenly distributed pressure is being continuously exerted around the head. Keep in mind that helmets, like shoes, will break in over time. For this reason, the best approach is to select a helmet that is as snug as possible, and take into consideration the length of time it will be worn.
For Example: A drag racer’s helmet can be very tight, because it will only be worn for a few minutes at a time. On the other hand, a police officer, who wears a helmet for hours at a time is more concerned with comfort.
6. Retention Check – THIS TEST IS VERY IMPORTANT. Now fasten the chin strap, so you can check it. After the strap has been tightly fastened, hold your head steady, and note that this test may be a little uncomfortable, but that it is very important. Reach over the top of the helmet, grabbing the bottom edge with your fingers. Then try to roll the helmet off your head. If it comes off, it is undoubtedly too large. Do not use a helmet that can be rolled off the head with the strap fastened! Go to the next smaller size and go back to step number four.
7. Confirming Proper Fit. One way to confirm your evaluation of proper fit is to try on motorcycle helmets that are one size larger and one size smaller than the one you think is right. Keep in mind that people gravitate towards larger sizes, so don’t be afraid to go smaller and snugger as long as the helmet is comfortable and fits the type of riding you do.
8. When shopping on the internet for motorcycle helmets, only purchase from web sites that provide a sizing chart for that particular brand of helmet. Do not rely on a “catch-all” sizing chart because as stated earlier, sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The sizing chart should contain the head circumference and associated helmet size, and possibly a hat size comparison. If you are still not sure what size to get and want to purchase from the internet because of low prices or availability, go to your local motorcycle dealer and try the helmet on first.