Motorcycle Helmet Sizing
Motorcycle helmets are not one size fits all. Manufacturers know that there are many different sized riders, so just like apparel, helmets come in an array of sizes. To find the right size helmet for you, you’ll need to know your head shape and its dimensions. A snug, fitted helmet will make a huge difference for your safety if you’re involved in an accident. When shopping for a new helmet, ensure its approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT), SNELL, or the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). These safety organizations rigorously test helmets to ensure they’re worthwhile and reliable. Here is how to get started on determining your motorcycle helmet size.
You’ll first need to determine your head shape before moving on to helmet sizing. This is because the shape of your head will help you find the best type of helmet to keep your noggin safe. There are 3 primary shapes folks fall into:
- Round Oval
- Intermediate Oval
- Long Oval
Flatten your hair as much as you can, then have a friend or spouse take a photo of your head from above. Most people have intermediate oval shaped heads, which are slightly longer front to back than side to side. You may have a round oval head, which is determined if your side to side and front to back dimensions appear the same. For long oval people, their heads are noticeably longer front to back than side to side.
Once you’ve got your head shape down, you can then move on to helmet sizing. With a measuring tape (a soft one like a tailor uses is preferable here), have someone measure your head’s circumference. The measuring tape should come across your eyebrows to the back of your head. Use this measurement when looking at a helmet’s sizing chart. Note that helmet sizing for one brand won’t necessarily be the same for another. By now, you’ve probably got a style that you prefer.
If you can, head to a local dealer or motorcycle shop to check out their selection of helmets. This will allow you to try them out if they allow for it. Otherwise, order online from a company that allows for returns. Why? Because you may find that the helmet you thought was going to fit actually doesn’t. There are the popular and very protective full-face helmets, as well as modular, ADV, open face, and half shell helmets. When you try a helmet on, it will feel tight as your head goes in. This is normal and not yet an indicator that it doesn’t fit.
When the helmet is on, how does it feel? Comfortable, or not so much? If you chose a full-face helmet (which we recommend for the best protection), it shouldn’t squish your cheeks. You should feel the firmness of the padding, but not an uncomfortable tightness. You may need to adjust your ears, which is also a normal thing that even the pros have to do. At the same time, the helmet shouldn’t wiggle or slide on your head either. Grab the chin bar and try to move it. Your cheeks should move a little bit, but not the helmet. Feeling just a tad tight? Remember that just like a pair of boots, you have to break in a helmet too. Many recommend wearing a helmet for up to half an hour before saying ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ to it. Watch TV, clean up the garage, or anything else. What you’re anticipating are pressure points. If a part of your head begins to ache, the helmet isn’t right for you. For example, did the helmet leave a red indention on your forehead? In this case, it isn’t long enough for you.
If the helmet does feel good and secure, take a ride in it. The more you wear it, the better it’ll feel as it breaks in. Enjoy your new helmet! With proper care and maintenance, it should last for a span of 5 years until it’s time to replace it with a newer one. One last takeaway here is that you should never cheap out on a helmet. As one of, if not the, most important piece of riding equipment you’ll ever own, a helmet can make the difference between life and death. Don’t sell yourself short! Get the highest quality one you can find that fits your budget. Read up on what others have said about it. If there is anywhere you need to spend a chunk of change, it isn’t on accessories! It’s your helmet.
Taking time to determine your measurements for helmets will save you a ton of hassle when shopping for a new helmet. A comfortable and well-fitting helmet will make rides safer and may just save you from a terrible accident in the future. Need a great source for motorcycle helmets? Yamaha Parts Nation is your new one-stop shop for all things motorcycles! We offer high-quality helmets from Bell, as well as others.