A motorcycle helmet is designed to protect your head from impacts and penetrating objects in the event of a crash. The key to a helmet doing what it is designed to do is how it fits.
A motorcycle helmet should fit snug without minimal play when firmly twisting the helmet from side to side, and up and down. Helmets that are too loose will easily move around that can be persistently uncomfortable, inconvenient, and dangerous when riding. A helmet that fits too tight may cause pressure points, feel uncomfortable, and be extremely difficult to put on or take off.
Not every helmet is ideal for every rider, and fitment is significantly more important than style or price. When shopping for a new motorcycle helmet be sure to utilize the size chart used for the specific helmet model you might be considering.
Not every helmet brand, or model, will use the same size chart
If you are ordering your helmet online you will not want to skip the simple step of taking a measurement of your head. This step will save you time and you will be much less likely to be disappointed with the performance of your new helmet in the long run.
Why Fit Matters
In addition to safety and protection from impacts, helmet fitment is important for a number of other factors that can have an effect on your ride.
A properly fitting motorcycle helmet can help:
- Reduce helmet lift at high speeds
- Greatly reduce or eliminate the helmet from shifting while riding
- Maximize airflow and venting for comfort
- Eliminate fog and condensation
Helmet Fit Test
There are a few ways to go about determining if a helmet fits correctly, or not. What we find works best in our shop is to have the rider put the helmet on, then tighten the chin strap before getting into any fitment tests.
With the chin strap tightened to comfortable level, grab the front of the helmet (chin bar of a full face, or leading edges of a ¾ or half helmet).
Keep your head looking straight forward and move the helmet from left to right and up and down.
The helmet should have a tendency to pull your head in the direction you are pulling, and rebound slightly back to the correct position.
A proper fitting helmet:
- Feels snug on all sides without having uncomfortable amounts of pressure or pressure points.
- Cheek pads on a full face helmet should have some pressure on your cheeks and cheekbones. The “thumb test” is somewhat misleading - if you can easily shove your thumb between your cheeks and the pads your helmet might be too large.
If the helmet is too large you will notice that it will rotate out of position. Aside from being unsafe in a crash, at high speeds this will be unsafe in addition to feeling uncomfortable as the wind will be able to move the helmet around. Helmets that are too large tend to catch more of an upward draft that can make the helmet feel like it is lifting your head. Any sort of wind buffeting will be noticeably worse with an over-sized helmet.
You should never purchase a helmet that is too big hoping to grow into it. This is probably more common for parents buying youth helmets for their young children, or teenagers.
In reality, a human skull is done growing between ages 16-18 according to Stanford Children’s Health
Your helmet should not be able to fit a ponytail. Your ponytail is not intended to fit inside a helmet. When trying your helmet on it would be best to wear your hair down.Those with thick hair might find that wearing their hair down is the most comfortable route.
Your glasses should fit your helmet. Prescription glasses or sunglasses do fit majority of modern motorcycle helmets. If that is not the case, try finding frames that are more comfortable with the helmet that fits you the best. Frames with straight, or temple arms made with thinner material will most likely be they way to go for comfortably wearing glasses while wearing your helmet.
Helmet sizes do not correlate with age, body weight, height, or gender. The circumference of your head is not at all related to variables like age, weight, height etc.
Your old helmet size is probably not your new helmet size. Helmet sizing has not been standardized. This means that the measurements for one size for a specific helmet will not be the same as the next. You will see a pretty big span of measurements if you compare a large helmet from one company to another.
Tips For Measuring For Helmet Size
Measuring for size when ordering a helmet is mandatory for finding the right fit. Using a seamstress tape is the best way to measure the circumference of your head, but you can also use some type of non-elastic string, rope, etc to wrap around your head to mark the circumference and then lay it flat next to a tape measure.
Measure over the ears, roughly 1” above the eyebrows, and around the largest part of the back of your head (where your skull meets your spine).
Keep in mind that when measuring you will want to keep the tape snug, but not overly tight. Enough slack to fit the largest diameter of a normal ballpoint pen between the tape measure and your scalp would be the right tightness.
As a general reference point you can compare fitted hat sizes to get a rough idea of your measurement. We strongly encourage measuring for size since you will get a more precise measurement.
For more tips on measuring for size check out our Helmet Sizing Guide