A motorcycle helmet is the most critical safety wear you can invest in as a rider. So when buying a helmet, you need to buy a size that has a snug fit. The compact size can then be broken in to ensure it fits your face contours like a glove.
It All Begins with Sizing the Helmet Right
If your helmet does not fit you right, it is almost pointless to wear one. You should make sure it is not too large as this can fly off as you ride your motorcycle. Or a size too small as no amount of breaking in will fix it. And being constricted while riding your bike is also dangerous.
How to Size a Motorcycle Helmet
Measure your Head
First, you need to determine if your head is a long oval, intermediate oval, and round oval. These are the three main categories of head shape. This will go a long way in determining the helmet style you should select. Take a photo of your head from above or ask someone to do it. This is the best way to determine your head shape.
It is possible to have a hybrid head shape. You may need to be extra careful with the measurements as these determine whether the helmet will fit snugly or not. Nest measure the circumference of your head.
Using a tape measure, measure the widest part of your head, which is above your eyebrows to the back of your head. You can also use a string then convert the measurements on a ruler.
Then use a helmet size chart to determine which helmet is best for your head shape and size. You can also use an online helmet chart converter to determine the best helmet for your head.
Choose a Helmet Style
Now that you have determined what helmet size you should get, you need to decide whether you want an open face helmet, full-face helmet, modular helmet, ADV helmet, or a dirt bike helmet.
Test the Helmet
It is imperative to test your helmet before you take it for a test run. The fit is critical when it comes to safety on the road. You need to make sure it fits you perfectly before you start using it. This allows you to return it if it does not fit you, is too snug, or is too large. Wear it for at least thirty minutes to check if you will be comfortable riding your bike.
If the fit is not too large or too small, you can keep it and break it over the next few days. Do not attempt to keep it if it is too large as it needs to fit right for it to offer you protection.
Breaking in a Motorcycle Helmet
The key to breaking in a motorcycle helmet is time. You need to wear it over and over for it to conform to the shape of your face. As time passes, the foam used to line the helmet will wear down and deflate, causing it to contour to your face’s features.
To hasten the breaking in process, wear the helmet consecutively for a couple of days before taking it for a test drive. This will allow you to get a feel of how it fits. As well as enable it to lose its stiffness.
If the lining is too tight, remove the padding and place it underweighted items to help break the padding. You can also switch the removable lining with the lining made from a softer foam if the one that came with the helmet is too hard.
How long does it take for a motorcycle helmet to break in?
It takes at least 15-20 hours to break in the helmet by at least 15-20%. The best way to get through this break-in hours is to wear the helmet around the house for at least thirty minutes.
Will a Motorcycle Helmet Loosen Up?
Yes. As you wear your helmet, the padding used on the inside will lose form and degrade, causing it to get thinner. This will ultimately make the helmet to become looser.
Should a Motorcycle Helmet Squeeze Your Cheeks?
No. It should follow the contour of your face but not be too snug. A tight motorcycle helmet should take a little bit of effort to take off. But it should not feel like your face is being crushed.
How snug should a motorcycle helmet fit?
Your cheeks should need to move inside the helmet. The idea is for the helmet to cradle your head, not squish it. The whole idea of using a helmet is for it to keep your head safe in case of an impact, not cause it.
Why Does My Helmet Hurt My Head?
A tight helmet will compress your forehead or your temples causing you to develop external compression headaches. This type of headache is also known as a football-helmet headache. To figure out which part of your head is being squeezed, check if you have any marks on your face when you remove your helmet.
Lines on the forehead indicate the helmet style does not suit your face. And you should try a helmet that is more oval-shaped. On the other hand, if the crease marks are on your temple, go for a rounder helmet.
How Can I Make My Bike Helmet Fit Better?
If the helmet feels a bit tight, you can try the following (as long as you got the sizing stage right)
Break The Helmet In
This is time-dependent. Wearing the new helmet consistently over time will cause it to become looser.
Use Smaller Padding
If your helmet has removable padding, you can change it for smaller liners that will be more comfortable. At the same time, you can start breaking in the other padding to interchange with the other padding once it gets worn out.
Bigger helmets, on the other hand, can be made to fit better by:
To make the helmet fit better, add padding to ensure all the extra space is filled. This will reduce drag as you ride your motorcycle. It will also reduce the chances of crashing into the helmet when you crash, which may cause a concussion.
The best way to keep an extra-large helmet in place is by using straps to prevent it from coming off. It will ensure that your head is still protected in case of a crash. Get straps that are comfortable enough for your chin. Chafing can make you uncomfortable while riding your motorcycle. Also, ensure the straps are easy to remove.
What Happens if Your Helmet is Too Big?
The worst-case scenario is your helmet will come off during a crash, causing you to sustain more fatal injuries. On a less severe note, you will have a lot of wind coursing through the helmet, making it noisy. This will make it difficult for you to acclimatize your surroundings as you ride your motorcycle.
It may also cause it to move around while you ride your motorcycle, making it difficult for you to focus on the road, which may ultimately cause you to crash or get involved in an accident. Lastly, it can injure your head when you crash and cause you to have a concussion even if it does not come off.
Check this too: Best Value Modular Helmet
Do Helmets Expire?
Yes. Helmets do expire—the main reason is the lifespan of the materials used to make it. For instance, over time, the foam used to line the helmet will degrade and stop offering the support and insulation as it did initially.
The same case applies to the outer shell casing. Especially if it is made from PVC or any other material that is not resistant to UV rays or other elements, additionally, the materials used may lose their shape over time, making them ineffective for safety purposes.
The Department of Transport has regulations stipulating that safety gear such as helmets must be replaced every three to five years. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends replacing helmets every five to ten years.
But you should not wait till five years are up before replacing your helmet. The polystyrene used degrades as per the amount of usage. For this reason, if you use your helmet regularly, you should replace it more often. This is critical for your safety.
It is up to you to decide if your helmet should be replaced. Most manufacturers recommend helmet replacement. Follow this guideline if you do not wear your helmet regularly.
At the end of the day, each type of helmet your buy will need breaking in. The reason being helmets are made to fit a standard head. Bearing in mind, we all have different shaped heads, a particular part of a helmet brand may be too tight for you compared to another rider.
For this reason, every helmet will need custom contouring to your features before it fits you correctly. However, if you start with a perfect size helmet, you have won half the battle.