You just dropped some bills on a new lid. It felt ok in the store when you tried it on, but now that you’ve had it a few days, it seems tight. Small. Maybe a little too small.
Is there anything you can do about it?
In this article, we’ll discuss how helmets can naturally and artificially change sizes.
Can You Enlarge a Motorcycle Helmet?
Some manufacturers provide padding in different sizes to give riders a more custom fit for their helmets. You should not modify your helmet by stretching or cutting it, as this could compromise the safety of your helmet.
Will a Motorcycle Helmet Loosen Up Over Time?
Motorcycle helmets do loosen up over time. More often than not, the helmet will not feel the same way it did when you purchased it.
After a few hours of wear, consecutively or cumulatively, the padding in your helmet will begin to break down. This is caused by your sweat, oils from your hair, and the act of repeatedly pulling your helmet off and on.
This is why you should buy your helmet with a snug fit because the padding will loosen up over time. It can be uncomfortable at first, but after a few wears, the helmet will form fit to your head and fit like a glove.
Can You Make a Motorcycle Helmet Fit Tighter?
If your helmet has loosened up TOO much, there are a few things you can do to make it tighter.
The first noticeable component to break in are the cheek pads. If your helmet feels a little loose around your face, you may have the option to put in thicker cheek pads. Thicker cheek pads can help make up the gap around your face and reduce wind noise.
If the helmet feels a little loose around the top and crown of your head, wearing a thin bandana under your helmet may be an option.
This helps some riders to get a tighter fit, but you should be cautious if you pursue this option.
The bandana you wear under the helmet should be thin. If the bandana is too thick, the contact distance between your head and the EPS liner will be too great for energy to be properly distributed. Your head will no longer be as well protected as it would without the bandana.
If you find yourself having to add too much material under your helmet to make up for the gaps, it’s best to purchase a new helmet. Preferably one size smaller.
How Much Can You Really Stretch a Helmet?
Helmets can stretch and feel bigger over time. In most cases, the helmet may feel a whole size larger than when you first bought it. This is accomplished through wearing the helmet and allowing it to break in.
Some people try to stretch their helmet as a shortcut to breaking in, but these methods are ill advised. If you rush the process of breaking in your helmet, you can actually ruin your helmet by over stretching it, compressing the EPS liner, and even cracking the shell or EPS liner.
In some cases, riders believe their helmets are too small for their head because the helmet is actually the wrong head shape. This means that if you were to stretch the helmet, thinking it would make the helmet fit more comfortably, it would actually make the fit worse.
Stretching a helmet that is the wrong shape for your head will only exaggerate the fitting error and lead to more problems like wind noise, wind buffering, and a wobbly helmet.
Can I End Up Ruining the Helmet When Stretching It?
Stretching your helmet can ruin your helmet. Helmet manufacturers design and test helmets based on the way it will be sold to consumers. Helmet modifications outside of the manufacturing process pose a threat to your safety.
Helmets have the ability to absorb high impacts and keep your brains from scrambling. This is due to their rigid structure. When you attempt to “stretch” your helmet, it’s like trying to bend wood. It’s not meant to bend and will most likely end up in pieces.
Many people who “stretch” their helmets may be successful in enlarging their helmet but they have compromised the EPS liner.
Most methods of stretching require applying pressure into the helmet. When you do this, pressure is applied to the EPS liner of the helmet, which compresses the beads. Once those beads are compressed, they can never expand again and therefore cannot absorb energy.
Will the Helmet Shrink Back to the Original Size?
If you have stretched your helmet, don’t expect it to shrink back to its original size. Again, once the beads of the EPS liner are compressed, they can’t expand again.
The only exception is if the padding of your helmet has broken down and loosen up. In some cases, by washing your padding, you may be able to revive it and get back to a plusher feel.
Helmets do change sizes by nature. If your helmet fits properly, this natural change will be for the best, creating a custom fit.
If you don’t like the way your helmet fits and find yourself wanting to modify it, consider purchasing a new one instead.
Attempting to change the fitment of your helmet is risky since it can interfere with the helmet’s ability to absorb energy.