Many consider a motorcycle helmet to be the single most important piece of riding gear you’ll ever purchase, and, regardless of your state’s laws, you may want to consider wearing it every time you ride your motorcycle. A motorcycle helmet is specially designed to reduce injury in the event of a crash, but like any other piece of specialized equipment, it only works when used correctly.
Surprisingly, many motorcyclists on the road are wearing incorrectly fitted helmets. Not only will an improperly sized helmet affect the comfort of your ride, but a helmet that is too large or too small may be ineffective in doing what a helmet is designed to do: save you from serious injury in the event of a crash. Only a properly sized, properly fitted and properly worn helmet will be able to perform as intended, so make sure to follow these steps when buying your next helmet.
- Measure your head
Using a cloth measuring tape, measure your head around its largest circumference, about one inch above your eyebrows and just above your ears. Take several measurements to get an average. Write down this number and take it with you when you go to try on helmets. Use this number as a starting point only as every helmet is shaped differently and not all manufacturers’ size guides match.
- Try on the helmet
Once at the retailer, select a helmet based on the size recommendation for your head measurements. If your head size falls exactly between two sizes, start with the larger of the two. Place the helmet on your head and securely tighten the strap.
- The visual check
Using a mirror, ensure that your eyes are the center of the visor opening. The edge of the forehead padding should be just above your eyebrows. Look for gaps between the cheek pads and your cheeks, the side pads and your temples, and feel the back of the helmet to make sure it’s in contact with the back of your neck.
- Move the helmet
A properly sized helmet will fit snug enough to cause your skin to move with the helmet. A helmet that is too loose may come off in the event of a crash, but a helmet that is too tight may cause increasing discomfort as it is worn. Grab the helmet with a hand on either side and attempt to rotate the helmet side to side. With your thumbs, attempt to lift the helmet straight up off of your head. If the helmet moves easily during either test, it is too large. Try to push the chin bar to your chin. The front of the helmet should not touch your nose or chin. Finally, place your thumbs at the back of the helmet and attempt to roll the helmet forward off of your head. If the helmet comes off, try one size smaller.
- Wear the helmet
Once you’ve determined the proper size of your helmet, fasten it securely and wear it around the store. Note any excessive tightness or increasing discomfort. Take this time to familiarize yourself with the features of the helmet such as the locations of the vent switches. After 30 minutes, remove your helmet and look for any red marks on your face and head that may indicate pressure points.
Once you’re satisfied with the comfort and style of your helmet, make your purchase, confident that your new, properly fitted helmet will provide you with all the protection for which it was designed.