It is well-known that one of the most important expenses you make for your bike outside of the bike itself is the helmet you put on your head. However, there are a lot of factors that go into choosing the correct helmet for your ride, fit, and needs. If you are wondering how to buy a motorcycle helmet, you are not alone: this is one of the most common inquiries we get out of new riders.
There are several factors that go into purchasing the right motorcycle helmet. One of the most important to keep in mind is motorcycle helmet sizing. The DOT stamp that your helmet comes with is actually only valid so long as the helmet fits properly. This is why understanding fitment is very important.
Making it even more complex is that different varieties of helmets are designed to fit in different ways. Read on to learn more about how to measure for motorcycle helmet.
Choosing the Style
The good news is that you have no shortage of styles to pick from when you are making your helmet decision. There are five main types of helmets for you to choose from. The first type of helmet is an open face helmet. This helmet only covers the back of the skull and leaves the face and chin completely open. This is a very retro look that many who like to ride cruisers choose. If you want the protection of a helmet but also want to feel the wind in your face, an open face helmet may be the right choice for you.
The full face helmet is an essential buy for those who like to ride sport bikes or just want maximum protection. Full face helmets come with a face shield that covers the eyes and nose. There is also a chin bar that wraps around the front of the face. Not only do full face helmets give you maximum crash protection, they also block out a lot of wind noise, resulting in a quieter ride.
Modular helmets are a variety of full face helmet. These helmets have hinged mechanisms that allow you to move the chin bar and the face shield out of the way. These helmets are essentially Transformers: they move easily from a full face into an open face helmet. While these helmets can offer the best of both worlds, they also tend to be heavier than either a dedicated full face or open face helmet.
If you sometimes are an off-roader, and adventure helmet may be a better choice. Similar to how modular helmets are a combination of full face and open face, an adventure helmet is a combination between a street bike helmet and a dirt bike helmet. If you are using the helmet on the street, an adventure helmet gives you a full face shield. If you switch over to dirt riding, the same helmet can offer you goggle compatibility and the shade piece over the eyes to prevent glare and protect you from dirt and debris.
The last major type of helmet is the dirt bike helmet. This helmet is meant specifically for riding off-road. These helmets do not come with face Shields and are compatible with goggles. They also have the aforementioned shade piece to help make visibility better and protect against getting hit in the face with another dirt bike’s roost. These are also the lightest variety of helmet on the market. They are only meant for off-roading, so if you are going to be doing any sort of street driving you need an additional helmet.
Ensuring Proper Fitment
Once you decide which variety of helmet is right for you, you then need to move on to ensuring good fit. The first thing to figure out is the shape of your head. Usually people are either long oval, round oval, or intermediate oval. The easiest way to figure this out is to have a friend take a photo of the top of your head and see what the shape is. In the US, the most common shape is intermediate oval, but you need to ensure your own shape.
You also need to know the approximate size of your head. The easiest way to do this is to take a string or flexible measuring tape and wrap it around the circumference of your head. The string should run above your eyebrows and go around the back of the widest part of your head. Once you have this measurement, you can then compare it against the measurements provided by helmet manufacturers that you are interested in.
Try it On
Once you have placed an order for a helmet, you will of course wish to try it on. Most helmets come with adjustable chin straps and some may even have removable interior padding. Keep in mind that the helmet is probably going to feel a bit uncomfortable going on. Once your head is inside of the helmet, it should feel snug but not like your head is being crushed in a vise.
If the helmet is too tight, you may want to consider redoing your measurements to make sure that they are accurate. If you have measured correctly, then the helmet shouldn’t be too far off the mark in terms of fit.
You should feel the cushions of the inside of the helmet up against your cheeks if it is a full face helmet. If you grab the front of the helmet and move it, your cheeks should be doing the movement against the helmet, not the helmet moving against your cheeks. If you feel the helmet moving around, you may need to either get a different size or potentially adjust the inner padding.
Finally, if you believe that the helmet is a good fit, try wearing it around the house for about a half hour. If your head starts to hurt, the helmet probably isn’t sitting well.
If after your initial half hour test run the helmet is still reasonably comfortable, get on your bike and see how it performs out on a ride.
There are a variety of motorcycle helmets out there on the market for you to choose. Ride smart and choose your perfect fit today.