Motorcycle helmets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it that much more exciting when you find the helmet that’s exactly what you’re looking for. That said, not only is a helmet that’s too tight or too loose uncomfortable, it’s unsafe.
Because safety and comfort both affect the joy and quality of your riding experience, this article explores how a new helmet should fit and how long it takes to break in a motorcycle helmet.
Here’s the Short Answer to How Long It Takes To Break In a Motorcycle Helmet:
It takes between 15 and 20 hours to break in a motorcycle helmet. A brand-new motorcycle helmet should loosen up by between 10 and 20% as its pads and lining conform to your head shape.
The padding loses foam and degrades until it’s slightly thinner, and the foam lining deflates and gets more comfortable.
A well-fitting motorcycle helmet is essential for a comfortable, safe, and enjoyable motorcycle ride.
Therefore, it’s important to secure a motorcycle helmet that fits your head shape well and to break it in properly for an enjoyable long-term experience.
Here’s How to Break into a Motorcycle Helmet Faster:
The best way to speed break in a motorcycle helmet is to wear it as much as possible. You can wear it around the house for at least 30 minutes at a time or while you watch TV, read, or do any other sit-down activities.
I actually know someone who mows the grass in their new helmets to break them in and adjust to the feeling of the helmet.
Regardless of what you do, wearing your helmet around the house can help you get used to the feel of the helmet and let it adjust to your facial features. You can also wear it on short rides before going on longer trips.
If the padding is too thick or rigid for your liking, you can try removing it and placing it under a weighted object for a while to soften it up. You can also look for replacement pads that are softer or thinner if the original ones are not suitable for you.
However, you should not try to force or stretch the helmet to make it fit better. This can damage the structure and integrity of the helmet and compromise its safety.
You should also avoid using any chemicals or solvents to soften the pads and lining, as chemicals can have a negative impact on the helmet’s quality and durability.
Make sure you also check out our post on how to make a motorcycle helmet more visible.
Can You Speed Up the Time to Break in a Helmet?
Buying a new motorcycle helmet can be expensive, especially considering all the features available in the modern helmet market.
If your brand-new helmet is too tight or too loose, it’s, at best, uncomfortable and, at worst, unsafe.
Therefore, it’s important to find a helmet that fits a little snugly initially, as the average helmet’s padding and lining will loosen up by about 10-20%.
That said, since the average time for a helmet to break in is between 15 and 20 hours, many riders are left looking for ways to speed up the break-in time of a motorcycle helmet.
You can speed up the break-in time of your motorcycle helmet by wearing it around the house, thinning out the padding with weights, using water to increase the pads’ malleability, and shooting a helmet brand that fits your head shape.
Consider the following tips:
- Wear your helmet around the house for at least 30 minutes at a time to help you get used to the feel of the helmet and let it adjust to your facial structure.
- Remove the padding and place it under some weighted objects for a while to soften it up. Ensure the objects have a smooth surface so they don’t damage the padding.
- Soak a towel in cold water, wring it out, and use it to wet the padding inside your helmet. This will help the padding stretch out more quickly.
Make sure to dry your helmet completely after this and wear it for an hour or more while its pads are freshly malleable.
- Choose the proper size and shape helmet for your head, keeping in mind that there are different head shape types and that different manufacturers design helmets for different shapes.
A helmet that is too small or too big will not break in properly and will remain uncomfortable and unsafe. Before buying a helmet, you should measure your head’s circumference and compare it with the manufacturer-specific size chart.
Do All Helmets Need a Break-In Period?
Most motorcycle helmets need a break-in period of between 10 – 20 hours to conform to your facial features, especially full-face helmets that cover your entire head and face.
You might want to read about how tight a motorcycle helmet should be.
However, the amount of time varies depending on design, material, and quality. Some helmets may also have removable or adjustable padding that can help you customize the fit.
Note the following:
- A brand-new motorcycle helmet should be 10-20% tighter than you want it to fit long term.
- A motorcycle helmet should fit snugly on your skull without tilting forward or back like a hat.
- If a helmet isn’t tight enough, it will let traffic noises and wind blasts in while you’re riding, especially at highway speeds.
- Rushing wind noise is not only unpleasant, but it can damage your eardrums.
A loose helmet can slide around your head while you’re riding, obstruct your field of vision, shift or fly off your head, failing to absorb the impact during a collision.
Therefore. fitting a motorcycle helmet is slightly more intricate than measuring your hat size and translating it to small, medium, or large.
Consider the following to fit a motorcycle helmet to your head:
- Wrap a soft measuring tape around your head, at its widest point – just above the eyebrows on most of us.
- Start with zero in front of your head, and wrap the tape around, marking the place where the tape loops back on itself.
- The number on the part of the tape that overlaps the zero is the measurement of your head’s circumference.
- Take the measurement a few times for the sake of accuracy.
Not all motorcycle helmet brands size their helmets the same. So use a size chart for the particular helmet brand you’ve been considering. This is why it’s so helpful to know your head’s measurement in inches or centimeters.
Find the XS, S, M, L, or XL helmet that most closely aligns with your head’s circumference in that specific brand of helmet you want.
How Do You Know if Your Helmet Has Already Loosed Up?
It’s essential to remember that a motorcycle helmet will break in by about 10-20% when purchasing the helmet.
However, if you’ve already worn your helmet for more than 20 hours, whether riding or doing household activities, it’s likely broken in as much as it’s going to.
That said, after a few years of riding and sweating into your helmet, the pads wear out and loosen up towards the end of the helmet’s life.
A helmet that has loosened up too much can be counterproductive to your comfort and safety. A loose helmet can slide around on your head, block your vision, allow more wind noise, shake around and distract you while riding, and even fly off in an accident.
Therefore, it is essential to know how to detect if your helmet has already loosened up and when to replace it.
- Shake your head while wearing the helmet. If it slides up and down, your padding has become compacted, and it may be time for a new helmet or, at the very least, new pads.
- Check for indentations in the helmet’s foam lining. Your helmet should hug your head firmly and have no gaps between your scalp and the inner liner.
- Measure your head’s circumference and compare it with the manufacturer’s size chart. If your head size matches the measurement of the helmet, but the helmet is too loose, this means your helmet has become too big for you, and you need a smaller one.
- Finally, compare your head’s shape to the helmet’s shape. If the particular brand you are using typically fits well on your head shape, but you’ve been experiencing pressure or loose spots, the helmet may have warped or worn out and changed size and shape.
A helmet that has loosened up too much can compromise your protection and comfort on the road. You should check your helmet regularly and replace it every 3-5 years. You could also do this after an accident or hard helmet drop.
Either case, ensure you replace it with a helmet that fits snugly but painlessly on your head and has the right shape and size.
Do Motorcycle Helmets Loosen up Over Time?
Motorcycle helmets loosen up by about 15 – 20% after 10 – 20 hours of riding. Some impatient riders stretch motorcycle helmets by forcing a round object like a basketball into it. Mind you, tampering with a helmet affects its integrity.
We suggest buying a helmet that fits properly. Learn more about this by checking out our article on whether motorcycle helmet loosen up over time.