Have you ever had a helmet that felt like it wanted to lift off your head while you’re riding down the highway? Or maybe it felt like it would do a full spin when you looked over your blind spot? Maybe it gives your very specific pins and needles or headache vibes while it’s on you. These are just a couple of red flags that maybe your helmet isn’t sized correctly for you, whether it is too big or the improper shape compared to your head. In my personal experience, when I ask someone if they’ve ever been measured for their helmet, I generally get a “No, I’ve always just worn this size.”
I was equally as guilty of this when I first started riding years ago. I used to wear an Extra Large, but I measure as a medium! I also had other complications that made it a little tougher to find my proper helmet which we will get into later. So let’s talk a little about what a helmet really does.
Regardless of the safety rating (Snell, ECE, DOT, etc...) a helmet is an energy absorption device. It is meant to take the energy from an impact whether it's low or high-speed and stop that energy from reaching your vitals. If your helmet isn’t fit properly then you will not be taking full advantage of your helmet’s impact rating. Every helmet size chart will be based on the circumference of your cranium. We generally measure from the direct middle of your forehead to the largest part of the back of your head. I have found if people don’t have their heads measured they will instead try to fit a helmet to how tight it feels on their face instead of how it feels on the top of their head. If you have extra space at the top of your head you run the risk of two things: 1) You have wiggle space that will kind of pinball your head around instead of properly absorbing impact inside the helmet. 2) When the helmet properly breaks in, you will find that is going to be very loose and you run the risk of the helmet coming off in an accident. This is a very serious issue as I’m sure you can imagine.
Realistically a helmet should be very snug the first time you try it on and for the first few hundred miles. Most importantly you WILL feel a lot of pressure on the face but you should be feeling a nice even pressure around the crown of your head. What I’ve found is that the crown of the helmet almost never breaks in, but rather your cheek pads and neck roll will break in anywhere from half to a full-size after a few hundred miles.
Every helmet will break-in differently. We are mainly focused on measuring you up and getting you in the proper size so you can be as safe as possible while you ride. I would much rather see someone in a $200 helmet that they are properly sized for, than being unsafe in a thousand dollar helmet that’s 2 to 3 sizes too large.
We will be going through a few different segments of how to properly fit your helmet so stick around for more!