So you are ready to buy a new helmet. Whether it is your first or your fifteenth, It’s important you get the sizing right. After all this is your head we are talking about here. It doesn’t matter what safety rating it carries or what state of the art materials it’s constructed with. If you get the sizing wrong it won’t protect as it was designed to do. Motorcycle helmet sizing can get a bit confusing. By following these FIVE simple steps when buying your next motorcycle helmet, you will get it right. You will have a safe helmet and be comfortable for the next few years owning it.
Choosing the style
There are two types of helmets that we will deal with in this article. Full face helmets and open face helmets. There are other types of helmets out there as well. For the purpose of sizing, these two styles will lay the groundwork for how all motorcycle helmets are sized.
There are slight differences on how an open face helmet will fit compared to a full face one.
It is my recommendation that you choose the superior protection of a full face helmet. Ultimately the choice is obviously yours. By reading on I will help you get the best fit for both
Determine your head shape
Your head is going to fall into one of three shapes.
- Round oval
- Intermediate oval
- Long oval
This means, from the top, your head is more rounded than it is an oval shape. No head is perfectly round so it still will be slightly oval
You fall into this category when, unlike being rounded, you have slightly more length front to back than side to side. This is the most common head shape.
This is when your head is considerably oval in shape. The length from front to back is quite noticeable from its side to side width.
Take a picture
The best way to determine what shape you fall into is to take a picture of the top of your head looking down. The best way to do this is to sit on the floor and have someone stand above you and take a photo downwards. If a friend isn’t available you should be able to take a shot with your arm extended over your head shooting down. It might take a couple tries to get centered but it can be done.
Once you determine what your head shape is you can now narrow down your search for your next helmet. Each helmet is designed to fit one of these shapes. Narrow your search according.
Even if you find a helmet that corresponds with your head’s shape, it’s important to let fit be the deciding factor. There are occasions where it’s possible that a different shape may fit your head better so don’t get locked into this as a hard and fast rule.
Here is a video from helmet manufacturer Arai explaining their fitment process.
Measure Your Head
Now it’s time to get an idea of what size helmet you will best fit into.
The best way to do this is to use a seamstress tape measure. It’s soft and payable to wrap around your head. This gives an accurate reading.
It’s best to have a partner help you here to get a more accurate reading.
Simply wrap the tape around the crown of your head.
For a reference, use two fingers and place them horizontally on the top of your eyebrow. Where the top finger lies is a good place to start and wrap the tape around your head.
Bring it around to where it meets and mark the measurement.
Now do this same thing a little higher than the two finger mark and also a little lower like right on or just above the brow. Use the largest measurement.
Once you have your measurement you can start referencing manufacturers sizing charts to see is you are anything from an XS all the way up to XXL.
So you’ve determined your head shape and found a helmet that works with it. You’ve measured your head and referenced the manufacturer size chart to find your size.
You’ve ordered your helmet and now it’s arrived in the mail.
Time to try it on.
There are a couple things you want to check for right away.
- Can you chew gum without biting the inside of your cheek?
- If you lift the helmet up with your fingers from the bottom at the back does it roll forward on your head?
- Are your eyes much closer to the top of the view port than the center?
If you answer yes to even one of these, the helmet is too big and you might need to size down. I say might because some helmets offer a bit more customization to get the fit right. I had an Arai for example that fit great on my head but didn’t feel snug enough on my cheeks. Arai has different sized cheek pads that can be swapped out to get the fit just right. I ordered them and it was perfect. Make sure you check with your helmet manufacturer to see if there are such options to get the fit working for you before you send it back. Again these are for minor adjustments. Don’t rely on these if the helmet is just plain poor fitting.
Your helmet is too small if
- the interior comfort liner is sitting too high on your head. That it creates a gap.
- Your cheeks are excessively squished up towards your eyes
- You can see your chin peak out from under the chin bar.
For an open face helmet, all of these still apply except your ability to chew gum won’t be inhibited nearly as much as a full face.
You should still take note if there is a gap between the top of your head and the helmet. This is indicating it’s too small.
If the comfort liner is sitting low on the brow it is too big.
The helmet should not move independently from the head at all either forward and back or side to side.
Wear The Helmet
If everything has passed the initial fitment test it’s time to wear the helmet for a while.
Sit on the couch and watch some TV or play some video games for a bit. Try and forget about the helmet on your head for about 15-30 minutes.
You want to notice if any pressure points start to bother you. Does anything begin to hurt? Are you getting a headache? Are you getting any tingling anywhere?
If so, send the helmet back and try a different size or shape. I’d start with size first. If that doesn’t do the trick then it will likely come down to shape.
On the other hand if everything checks out and feels great then you are good to go!