Getting the perfect fitting helmet can be a real headache. While a proper fitting helmet is crucial to the safety and comfort of your next motorcycle ride, there is a lot of confusion about how to fit a new full-face helmet.
Myth #1: A New Helmet Should Be Comfortable
This is probably the most common misconception with helmets. Many people shop for a new helmet with the expectation that they are searching for that comfortable fit, a helmet that slides onto their head with effortless ease. They are expecting a new helmet to fit like an old helmet, already broke in and hardly noticeable.
All helmets break in with use, some more than others. A helmet that feels very comfortable when new will more often than not become too loose once it breaks in. Your brand new helmet should feel “very snug” when you put it on for the first time. It should not cause pain to the crown or temple of your head, causing a headache, or dizziness. It should be a noticeably tight, even squeeze around your head. You should be thinking, “Wow, I’m definitely wearing a helmet!”
Myth #2: Chewing Gum is a Crucial Litmus Test
A full-face helmet is designed to protect your face as well as your brain, but your brains are not in your face. Be careful not to emphasis on how tight or comfortable a helmet feels on your cheeks when trying it on. Yes, it should fit snug in your face. Cheek pads have the most significant break-in of any part of the helmet. Yes, you should feel like you’re about to bite down on your cheeks. Yes, you should look a bit like a chipmunk. No, it should not be easy or comfortable to chew gum. Many helmet brands offer different size cheek pads that may be ordered in the event that a helmet is causing pain in your jaw. Only if there is pain or significant discomfort should this solution be sought. Remember, the cheek pads will break in significantly with wear due to the chemical break down from your body oil in your face.
That being said, it is the top of your head that is more important to fit. This is what will change the least. Furthermore, your brain is primarily what the helmet is designed to protect– and your brain is not in your cheeks. Imagine wearing a baseball cap. This is the area of your head that should be emphasized when trying on a helmet. A good way to make it easier to focus on this aspect of a helmet’s fit is to remove the cheek pads and try the helmet on again to see if the crown of your head fits inside of the helmet.
Myth #3: All Heads Are Created Equal
Everyone’s head shape is different and every helmet brand has several lines designed with a different head shape in mind. This is why you cannot say universally, “I wear a medium” or “I wear a large.” When you put on a helmet, it should put an even pressure around the top of your head. If it feels like it is pressing more prominently on one or more parts of your head (like your forehead or your temples), the best solution is not to go for a larger size, but to try a helmet in a different shape.
Going up one size in a helmet that has a pressure point is similar to going up a size in a shoe because it fits perfect except for that “one spot” where it feels too tight. The effect is the same: the compromise for the one painful spot means the rest no longer fits quite right. It is choosing comfort over a proper fit. It only feels better because the pressure point has been alleviated. It is not actually a better fitting helmet. Many people discover that when they find a helmet that fits their head shape well, they are able to go down a full size from what they were wearing in the past.
To Sum Up
Ideally, your next new helmet should put an even pressure around the top of your head, without noticeably pressing more in one or more spots. It should feel evenly “very snug,” but not like it will give you a headache. If it feels very comfortable, it’s more than likely too big. The cheek pads should give a good squeeze on your face, without causing pain on your temples or jaw. If you look a bit like a chipmunk, that’s perfect! Remember: a new, proper fitting, full-face helmet is not like wearing your favorite hat.