Motorcycle Helmet Sizing: How to Buy the Right Helmet for Your Head Size and Shape

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The motorcycle helmet is the most important and effective safety measure a rider can invest in. There’s no other piece of motorcycle gear that matters more, provides more protection, or can provide more return on your investment in the event you have an accident. Because of this, it’s very important that you do your research and learn more about motorcycle helmet sizing to learn how to buy the right helmet for your head size and shape. A helmet should never be purchased based just on appearance or price.

I’ve done my own research to learn more about the different shapes and sizes and how to choose the best fit. I’ll cover many of the important aspects of selecting the right helmet size and why it’s so essential to choose the correct fit. This article will include information on exactly how to ensure you choose a helmet that fits you perfectly, what you can anticipate during the break-in period, and the common signs that will indicate the helmet you’re wearing is too small or large.

Safety and Testing

The type of motorcycle helmet you use should be based first on its safety rating, then the fit, type, and style. All helmets that are approved for sale in America come with a DOT rating. There are other safety ratings to consider, such as an ECE and Snell rating. Both ECE and Snell tend to have a stricter testing process, however, that’s not to say that helmets that are DOT approved only are any less safe. When you’re shopping for a new helmet, it’s important that you find one with an excellent safety rating and use one that feels comfortable and allows you to ride without hindering your ability to perform necessary functions or negatively impacts your range of motion.

Shape

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Helmet shape and size is the most important aspect to consider before you buy. The shape of your head will play a major role in selecting a helmet that fits well. All motorcycle helmet brands design their helmets to fit a certain head shape. These shapes include round oval, intermediate oval, and long oval. For long oval, the head is longer front to back than side to side.

Intermediate oval helmets are perfect for heads that are a little longer front to back than they are side to side. The majority of helmets on the market tend to cater to this style since it’s the most common head shape. If a helmet spec sheet does not specifically mention the type of head shape it’s designed for, then it’s probably designed for the long oval shape.

Round oval helmets are designed for heads that have a shape that’s almost identical side to side and front to back.

After you’ve determined your head shape, it will be much easier to rule out a variety of helmets that won’t work for you, so you can find a model that will work perfectly with the shape of your head. But even if you’ve figured out your head shape, you’ll still need to determine the correct helmet size.

Size

Measuring your head for a helmet is pretty simple. How the helmet fits your head can vary from model to model. You can use a soft measuring tape for this task since it’s flexible enough to wrap around your skull and features useful measurement increments that are designed to help you determine an accurate size.

To do, you’ll begin by wrapping the measuring tape around the fullest part of your head, which will be right above your ears and half an inch to one inch above your eyes. You’ll take the measurement at your forehead. I recommend having someone help you with this job, so you can get a more accurate measurement. You’ll find that sizes can vary from model to model, and manufacturer to manufacturer, which is why some brands will allow you to exchange your helmet if it’s not the right fit.

The size of the helmet can also differ based on gender. The best women’s motorcycle helmets tend to run slightly smaller than the average helmet designed for men, so if you’re a woman, you’ll want to check out helmet lines that are specifically designed with women in mind, to find a model that caters to a smaller head size.

Custom Jobs

If you’re struggling to find a helmet size that works for you, you can also have a custom helmet made, based on your specific head measurements and shape. Of course, this can be a little pricey compared to purchasing a helmet off the rack, but if you’re someone who basically lives on their bike year-round, then this type of investment will be worth every penny. When you customize your motorcycle helmet, it will come equipped with a shell shape, and cheek pads and liners that will precisely follow the curve of your head and face. You’ll also find that it’s one of the most comfortable helmets you’ve ever worn. If you decide to go this route, make sure the company that makes custom helmets produces models that are DOT approved, so your helmet is street legal.

How it Fits Says a Lot

When you first wear a new helmet, you’ll notice that it feels a little tight. The padding in the interior will come into contact with most of your head, but it shouldn’t be so restrictive that it causes pain and discomfort. If you notice it causes sores or hot spots in places where the padding places pressure on specific points on your face or head, then it’s not the right fit. The helmet should not be able to move around freely, so a little tightness is to be expected. Over time, the helmet should adjust to fit your head shape. This means you can anticipate a break-in period until the helmet conforms to your head shape. The helmet should never be loose enough that you’re able to turn it from side to side easily.

When you put your helmet on, it should feel pretty tight as you pull it over your head. It should rest evenly on your head, with the upper edge of the eye port resting right above your eyebrows. You should have excellent peripheral vision so you can easily see from side to side.

To test if the helmet is the correct size you can place one of your fingers between your skull and the padding. If your finger is able to easily slide right in, then you may need to wear a size smaller. Some models will allow you to purchase a different type of cheek pads for a more custom fit, so you may want to look into this if you’re having a hard time finding a helmet that fits comfortably. Purchasing a separate liner and cheek pads is a great way to customize your motorcycle helmet and ensure it fits you perfectly.

Style

The helmet style is another important factor. However, this is more a matter of personal preference. You can choose from a variety of patterns, colors, and shield tints. Keep in mind, the brighter the helmet is, the easier it’ll be for other vehicles to see you on the road. The face shield you choose should not hinder your vision. If you buy a tinted visor, it should only be used in bright sunlight since wearing it down at night can make it difficult to see clearly.

There are many different styles and types of helmets to choose from. Each type will come with its own pros and cons. Some motorcyclists prefer to use the best full-face helmet since this type can provide full protection. Other riders prefer a lighter helmet, one that will allow them to legally ride in any state that has helmet laws.

Style choices include:

  • Open face
  • Modular
  • Half helmets
  • ¾ helmets
  • Full face

Deciding on the type of helmet to use can be a daunting, time-consuming task. You should choose a style based on your riding experience and safety needs. Beginners should stick with full-face or modular helmets, while the more experienced rider may want to opt for a half helmet.

Final Thoughts

Motorcycle helmet sizing is very important since choosing the wrong size can have a major impact on your safety on the road and your comfort. If a helmet doesn’t fit correctly, then it can lead to dangerous distractions and can cause pain. It also may not fully protect you the way it’s supposed to, making you more vulnerable to a serious injury in the event of an accident. Because of this, finding a helmet that fits you correctly will be crucial in terms of safety and comfort. A model that fits perfectly will reduce wearer fatigue and discomfort, and will keep you cool and dry as you ride.