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How to find the correct helmet fit and size

February 5, 2012

When buying my very first helmet in 2006, the only guidance I had, was the advice of the staff that the helmet should sit snug and comfortable around the head. So I tried on different full-face models of brands like AGV, Shoei, Nolan and Arai. My choice back then fell on the Arai Chaser since it seemed to be the best fit. My choice in terms of size fell on M.

Nobody back then double-checked my actual head size, they were perfectly happy with me stating that my head size was 57 cm, and that the helmet sat snug, at least to my definition of snug. And it didn’t occur to me either to measure properly again, which I probably should have done, being totally new to helmets and usually quite picky in general.

Anyway. Last weekend at the motorcycle fair in Gothenburg I checked out helmets and prices at Lelles MC, one of the big Swedish shops for motorcycle clothing. Since I knew what I wanted, I went to one of their staff and mentioned what I intended to buy. A new Arai Chaser, and their new model, the Chaser V – in size M of course.

The first thing the guy did was made me try on the helmet in size M. He made me fasten it as I usually would, then look up to the ceiling and then pulled the helmet down to the front, right onto my nose. Ouch. And how easy that was done. The helmet didn’t come off, but it moved way too much. Although it felt comfortable and snug even when shaking the head. Snug, again, to my definition. This was the first “wow”-effect. The second one came when we repeated the same game with size S. The helmet sat tighter this time, but it was even then pulled down to my nose without any bigger problem. “You need XS”, the guy said, ignoring my surprised looks and getting one from the shelf. And indeed, size XS fitted like a second skull-shell around my head. Snug and tight, but in a comfortable way. I had it on for a while, then took it off, waited a bit and put it on again, just to be sure. The model was definitely right. No pulling it down to the nose was possible, and there was not much space either when putting in the fingers under the helmet at the sides of my neck. My head size turned by the way out to be just below 55 cm. Not as big as I thought then ;).

Knowing the severe consequences a wrong helmet size can have in an accident, I was stunned by the fact that I wore a helmet 2 sizes too big for 5 years, which luckily had been accident-free. Touch wood or head. How grateful I was for this expert advice of someone who knew his shit, you cannot imagine!

This experience inspired me to post some tips and links regarding buying a helmet.

1. Know your head size! Take a tape measure and measure tight but comfortably around your head, just above the eyebrows and just above the ears. This should be the biggest width of your head. If you measure yourself, take help of a mirror where you can see that you put the tape measure evenly around your head. Best is to take help of a friend, though.

2. Know your head shape, this will also help you choosing the right brand and model. If the staff in the shop of your choice doesn’t mention this fact, ask them to help you find out. Revzilla has a nice explaining video about the differences in head shapes.

3. Go to a shop with a big choice of helmets, better even if you have the possibility to check out different shops. Try on different brands and models that fit your head size and form. All known brands with a good reputation should be equal in security, but I find that a good browse through the reviews on the web will also help you making a choice. Especially if you should be between two brands. Read what others say, check with your friends as well as with the staff at the dealer. The staff should by the way be as knowledgeable as my sales guy at Lelles. If they are not, definitely go to another shop.

Buying a helmet is important. Not only because it protects your brain, but also because it is quite an investment financially, and once bought, usually no shop will take it back, simply since they cannot know whether you dropped it or not.

Never buy a helmet that was a demo which lots of people had on their heads. A helmet must be new straight out of its packing and it must adjust to your head alone for optimal fit and best security. So never lend it to friends either, unless you buy a second one for exactly these purposes. However, having read the lines here, you probably got that ideally everyone should have his or her own helmet.

– Never buy a helmet second-hand. Same reasons. It doesn’t fit your head, and it could have been dropped. And once dropped, it must be replaced.

Once you have your helmet, love it and treat it like your head. Means think for example of where you leave it and store it.

– Never hang your helmet on the mirrors of your motorcycle. It can affect the interior of the helmet on the long-term.

– Don’t store it in a warm place or in a room with solvents of paint, adhesives etc. Warmth and solvents can also affect the interior materials of the helmet and shorten its life.

Motorcycle Cruiser has a pretty good guide about buying a helmet with a few more points than I mentioned here. Go and check it out.

By the way, this one in Diamond White is my friend next season 🙂
(I am wearing it a bit high up in this picture, I remember that I pulled it down a tiny bit after the pic got taken, to make it sit just above the eye brows, fitting perfectly and giving best vision.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. anmara permalink*
    February 24, 2012 1:34 pm

    Hi Edwin, One definitely has to find ones brand , model and size. So thank you for your recommendation and the link to your site where people can find more information about Shoei helmets.


  2. February 23, 2012 10:03 pm

    Most comfortable headgear I’ve acquired so far is Shoei RF-1000. I prefer it almost every day of the actual riding time and it’s great. Wide opening up so you can observe everywhere, super light and contains great in-take system. I’ve found it tends to fog about stops in the event the visor’s closed and also sound prevention could be better but normally it’s an excellent helmet. Would certainly buy a Second one with no hesitation.


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