Wearing a helmet every time you climb behind the handlebars of your motorcycle or ATV is an effective way to stay safe wherever you choose to ride. Still, finding the perfect riding helmet can be more challenging than it initially seems. After all, not only do you want a safe helmet, but you also want one that fits your head perfectly. Further, you want to look your best every time you suit up for a ride. In this guide, we give you an insider’s look at how to size a motorcycle helmet and find a precise fit.
Like many purchases of safety gear, buying a good helmet requires a bit of planning. After all, you do not want to get stuck with a helmet that fits neither your head nor your riding style. To avoid a misstep, you must first decide which type of helmet is right for you. Then, you need to measure your head to be sure you get the fit right. Still, trying on the helmet you plan to purchase is a good idea. After you decide on one, you should wear the helmet for a bit before riding your motorcycle. This will allow you to determine if the helmet obstructs your view or is uncomfortable to wear on the road, track or trail.
Choosing the Right Helmet Style
As you probably know, helmets come in a few different styles. While there are hybrid and custom helmets that do not fit neatly into any category, you can likely choose a helmet from one of the following five types:
- Full-face helmets
- Open-face helmets
- Modular helmets
- Off-road helmets
- Adventure helmets
Often the preferred helmet of sport riders and racers, a full-face helmet completely surrounds your head. Rather than worrying about wearing goggles or another type of eye protection, you have a face shield to protect your eyes, nose and face from wind sheer, road debris, rain and insects. You also hear less road noise with a full-face helmet, because of its enclosed design.
Open-face helmets, as their name suggests, lack a face shield. This helmet lets you feel the rush of air on your face. If you think an open-face helmet is right for you, you can choose between either a half helmet or a three-quarter helmet. Half open-face helmets cover the top of your head, while three-quarter ones fit over your ears and the back of your head. If you ride a cruiser or retro motorcycle, an open-face helmet may be the right way to go.
If you are having trouble deciding between a full-face helmet and an open-face one, you may want to consider purchasing a modular helmet. These helmets give you the best of both, by having incorporating a hinge in their design. If you want to ride with a face shield, you pop the shield in place. When you are ready for a breath of fresh air or to talk with your riding buddies, you toggle the face shield up and out of the way.
Off-road helmets are usually optimal for ATV riders, dirt bike racers and others who love to take their machines off the beaten path. These helmets maximize the rider’s field of vision while offering ultimate airflow. Usually, riders pair off-road helmets with goggles that protect their eyes from trail debris. Because off-road helmets typically do not have a safety rating, though, you do not want to wear one on highways, streets or roads.
If you ride both on paved streets and unpaved trails, an adventure helmet is a hybrid alternative to full-face and off-road helmets. Also called ADV helmets, adventure helmets tend to offer significant airflow and adequate protection. They are also compatible with riding goggles, allowing you to quickly shift from street riding to an off-road adventure.
Measuring Your Head
After you have decided which style of helmet is best for you, you need to determine your head shape and size. To measure your noggin, you need a flexible tape measure. You can either print one online and cut it out of paper or visit your local craft store for a sewing tape measure. Alternatively, you can use a string, which you can then measure with a ruler or yard stick.
When measuring your head, you must be certain you place the tape measure or string in the correct place. You want the measure to wrap around your head, just over your eye brows. Be sure to encircle the widest part of your noggin for an accurate measurement. To determine the shape of your cranium, ask someone to photograph the top of your head. Then, determine if your head’s shape is round, ovular or elongated. To avoid some of the common problems with sizing motorcycle helmets, flatten your hair before measuring your head or finding its shape.
Once you know the size and shape of your head, you can compare your measurements to helmet sizing guides. You can also filter your helmet search to include only ones that are apt to fit you perfectly.
Trying on Potential Helmets
As with any piece of protective gear, it is a good idea to try on any helmet you are considering buying. After all, even if you know the size and shape of your head and have picked out the right style, every helmet fits a bit differently. Don’t become discouraged if the helmet seems hard to put on. Often, helmet padding feels tight until you put it on. If you have purchased your helmet online, be sure to try it on and wear it for a bit before deciding to keep it. Also, wear your helmet for a while in the comfort and safety of your home before hitting the road. Doing so allows you to detect visual restrictions before they become dangerous.
Planning for Replacement
If you choose the right size and style of helmet, you may fall in love with your new headgear. You must realize, though, that your helmet may wear out over time. Further, if you drop your helmet, tiny cracks that weaken its overall integrity may appear. Therefore, you should monitor the condition of your headgear and order a replacement if you see any signs of damage. Also, if your helmet survives a collision or slide, it is probably a good idea to replace it.
Now that you know how to choose a helmet style and size, you are ready to buy. Shop the best motorcycle helmets online and find your new favorite piece of protective gear today.