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How To Find The Right Size Helmet


We've stressed countless times already that a helmet is the single most important piece of protective gear you can own.  It is the one thing that will save your life during the most terrifying seconds that you might ever experience. And it's also the difference between an amazingly fun ride and a miserable one.

But it'll only work right if it's fitted properly.

So how do you find the right size? Do not just guess your head size or go by solely your hat size. It could be a good place to start, but there is definitely more to fitting the helmet. The best way would be to try the helmet on at stores, but we know that can't always be done. Sometimes, you have no choice but to order online.

In this guide, we're here to help you properly fit a motorcycle helmet.

Why Fit Matters

No matter what helmet you buy (see our guide to the different types), it should be DOT or Snell certified. This means that the helmet has went through a series of tests to prove that it can absorb shock and handle an impact. But this is only valid for helmets that are properly sized.

This is why helmet fit is so important. A cheap helmet that fits properly will protect you more than an expensive helmet that doesn't. 

Not only is the right fit important for your safety, it also plays a huge role in your ride enjoyment. A helmet that's too small can cause headaches, easily turning your ride into an uncomfortable, miserable experience. A helmet that's too big will rattle around on your head, causing increased fatigue and stress. In addition, things like ventilation and soundproofing are all affected by the fit of the helmet.

Head shape

In your search for a motorcycle helmet, you may come across some brands specifying their helmet for a specific head shape. What does this mean? 

Most of the helmets will fall in one of the three categories: round oval, intermediate oval and long oval. 

To find out which head shape you fall under, take a look at the top of your head straight on (have someone take a picture). Take two measurements: 1) from your ear to ear, and 2) from your forehead to the back of your head.

diagram showing top of the head

- Round oval: these two measurements are about exactly the same; you have a pretty close perfectly round head.
- Intermediate oval: your measurement from the forehead to back of your head is slightly longer.
- long oval: your measurement from the forehead to back of your head is much longer

When in doubt, select the intermediate oval. This is the head shape most people fall under. And if a shape is not specified for a helmet, then it's made for this shape. Though it'll also help to know the shape of your head it isn't too essential since the brands these days do provide interior pads of different sizes to help you to fine tune the fit according to the shape of your head.

If you do find yourself having one of the less common head shapes, Arai and Icon are a couple of popular motorcycle helmet brands that make helmets for specific head shapes. 

Head Size

Getting the correct size is the most important measurement.  For the size, measure the circumference of your head where it is the widest. This is usually just above your eyebrows and ears. Note down your measurement in both inches and centimeters (as this is a little more exact). 

measure your head where it is the widest

Then match it to the fitment chart of the helmet you select. The helmets from different manufacturers have their own specific size charts (sometimes even varying between different models), so don't just look at one size chart and assume you're that size for all brands and models. 

For example, let's take this size chart for this AGV helmet as an example:


If your head circumference measurement came out to be 59 centimeters, you would order a Medium. But let's say your measurement came in at 59.5 centimeters. Based on the chart, you're right in between a medium and a large. In this case, size down to a medium, as helmets do loosen as they break in. Different manufacturers have slightly different sizing and shell sizes so it's always best to double check the size charge before assuming your size across all brands.

Checking the fit

When you put the helmet on, it should have a snug fit. It will be quite tight in the beginning because the linings do compress a bit as they break in. In time, they will adjust to your face shape and become looser, but never loose enough that you can move your head easily inside the helmet. 

In a correctly sized helmet, you should feel that:

- It fits tightly around the top part of your head, but no excess pressure. It it feels painfully tight all the way around, then go up a size.
- There are no gaps between the padding and your cheeks. Your cheeks should be compressed a bit, but not painful.
- Try to slip a couple of fingers against your cheek. You should not be able to easily do so. 
- The brow pads touch your temples, but don't exert extra pressure.
- The face shield shouldn't touch your chin or nose, when lightly pressed.
- The helmet should not come off when you grab it at the back and pull up. If it does, then it's too big. 

Like we said, it should feel tight, so how do you know if it's the good kind of tight? Leave the helmet on for 20 minutes if you can, and see if it begins to feel more comfortable. You should not feel any excess pressure or feel any headaches coming on. If after 20 minutes, it's still uncomfortable, then it's not the right size. Try the next size up, and repeat the process.

When you take off the helmet, look for any red marks on your forehead. This means that the helmet is exerting extra pressure at these points and may cause headaches. If you feel most of the pressure on your forehead, then it could mean that the helmet is not for your correct head shape. Try a longer oval helmet. On the other hand, if you feel mostly pressure around your temples, try a more round helmet. 

And if everything else fits perfectly, and only the cheek area feels uncomfortable, keep in mind that it is possible to order replacement cheek pads (either thicker or thinner).  

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the helmet isn't just another accessory you pick up to jazz up your riding outfit. It defines the thin line between a safe, comfortable ride and a risky, miserable one. It's the difference between walking away with just a headache and being rushed to an emergency room. But remember, a helmet's protective features only work if it is fitted properly, so spend some time to find the right fit.
By Sir D

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