Men’s vs. Women’s Motorcycle Helmets? Here’s The Difference

For the first 5 years of my career in the motorcycle industry, I specialized in motorcycle apparel.

This meant I met tons of riders, new and experienced, and helped them select the right gear for their riding needs.

All these riders came to me with preconceptions about helmets. One question I would get asked (mostly by men) was, “Is this helmet for girls?” My answer was “only if you want it to be.”

In this article, I’ll explain why there’s no such thing as gender specific helmets and how to check if you have a proper fitting helmet.

Is There A Difference Between Men and Women’s Helmets?

The only distinguishing factor that defines a man or woman’s helmet is the person wearing it. Helmet manufacturers create sizes based on head circumference. This is why you won’t find helmets sized for men or women specifically.

Are Motorcycle Helmets Unisex?

Motorcycle helmets have unisex fits. Obviously, there are anatomical differences between men and women, but the subtle variations aren’t enough to make a difference in the fitment of helmets.

Helmet manufacturers consider head shape and head circumference of riders when they create the interior fitment of helmets.

Using the circumference of the head crown ensures a helmet will protect a head while also fitting a wide variety of riders.

This means if a man and a woman have the same head shape and same head circumference, they could each wear the same helmet. Though for hygienic reasons, we don’t recommend sharing helmets.

Can Women Use a Men’s Motorcycle Helmet? (and Vice versa)

Even though helmets are made with a unisex fit, head sizes are different between the sexes.

In my 8 years’ experience of fitting and selling helmets, I can definitely say that most women wear a size small helmet and men wear a size large. Of course, that’s a generality.

There are always a few exceptions because of stature and brand variations.

This being said, most men could not fit into a small helmet. And though a woman’s head would fit inside a man’s helmet, it would most likely be too large.

Do All Motorcycle Helmets Fit the Same?

All motorcycle helmets fit differently. Some companies rely on padding to make up sizes, whereas other companies invest in individual shell sizes. Some companies favor an intermediate oval shape while others have more of a round-oval shape.

For these reasons, it’s important to try on helmets before buying.

When you’re trying on helmets, it’s important to keep in mind what your head shape might be. Head shape refers to the shape of your crown.

There are three head shapes sold in the U.S.: round-oval, intermediate oval, and long oval.

Round Oval

I’m most familiar with this head shape from personal experience. Round-oval shaped heads are just that, round. Those with more rounded heads may find it difficult to find a helmet that fits properly.

The most common problem is a helmet that pushes in too much in the temple area. The opposite problem is having a helmet that fits well on the sides but leaves too much space between your helmet and forehead.

One company that is common in the US and has a more rounded internal head shape is HJC. They offer a selection of helmets that fit budgets of all sizes.

Intermediate Oval

This is the most common head shape. This head shape is for those whose head length (front to back of head) is slightly longer than their temple to temple width. Those blessed with the intermediate head shape probably don’t have issues fitting in helmets.

Since this head shape is most common, most manufacturers cater to this head shape so it shouldn’t be hard to find a helmet that fits your head and budget.

Long Oval

Long ovals are the least common head shapes. This shape is more exaggerated than the intermediate. If you have this head shape, the most common fitting problem you’ll have is pressure points in the front and back of your head.

One of the best fitting helmets for the long oval head shape is the Signet-X from Arai Helmet. But I should warn that it’s not a helmet for small budgets.

Regardless, if you think you have a long oval head shape, visit your local dealership to try one on so you have a frame of reference of how a helmet should fit.

No matter what your head shape is, I encourage you to try on a helmet before purchasing. It can also be helpful to ask for help. The employees aren’t there to just sell you any helmet. They have spent many painstaking hours to make sure you’re in the right helmet. Trust me, I know.

Please also read our article about whether you can use motorcycle helmets for mountain biking.

5 Ways to Check If Your Helmet Fits

I always told my customers there is one word you should remember when you’re trying on motorcycle gear, and that word is SNUG. Everything from your jacket, gloves to helmet should fit snug.

Most people are used to wearing loose fitting clothing, which is why it seems wrong to wear heavy clothing that is so tight. This is also why most people are wearing gear that is 1 to 2 sizes too big.

This may seem obvious but many people wear motorcycle gear, particularly helmets, that’s one to two sizes too big.

If your gear is snug, it will reduce the chances of rotating out of place or snagging on debris, both causing further injury. When a helmet doesn’t properly fit your head, it’s like an egg in a soup can. Sure, the soup can is sturdy, but the egg is still going to crack.

Make Sure the Helmet Is Snug

When you’re trying it on, make sure the helmet feels snug, even if it’s a little uncomfortable. Focus on the crown and top of your head to check that the helmet makes contact with all parts of your head.

If you think the helmet is not comfortable, try the next size down.

Also read our article about why your motorcycle vibrates when braking

Don’t Worry About Your Cheeks

If a helmet gives you chipmunk cheek syndrome, don’t worry about it. It’s ok if the helmet fits a little in the cheek area. After a few wears, your cheek pads will break in and the chipmunk feeling should subside.

If your helmet still feels tight in the cheeks and you’ve given it time to break in, go back to the shop where you bought it and ask if you can order thinner cheek pads.

More often than not, helmet companies sell cheek pads in different thicknesses so that the rider can create a custom fit.

The Eye Port Should Sit About 2 cm Above Your Eyebrows

If your helmet is too big, you may find that the helmet slides down on your head. This can also happen if the helmet doesn’t match your head shape.

The opposite can also happen, meaning the helmet sits too high on your head. If the helmet sits too high on your head, it won’t protect your head correctly.

Ideally, the helmet should sit 2 cm above your brow line. This is about 2 fingers above your eyebrows.

You Shouldn’t be Able to Stick a Finger Between Your Forehead and the Helmet

If your index is between your forehead and the helmet, try on a different helmet. It’s too big or the wrong head shape, or both.

The Helmet Shouldn’t Move on Your Head

The very last test I would perform on a customer when fitting helmets was grabbing the helmet by the chin bar and asking them to shake their head from left to right. If their face left the cushions of the helmet, I knew we had a sizing problem.

Make sure to also read our article about things to check for motorcycle cold start problems.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a man or woman, you deserve to have a helmet that fits you inside and out! So, if wearing a hot pink helmet with lime green pigtails (I’ve seen it!) is what rocks your socks, then go for it. The helmet you wear is the helmet that will keep you safest.

Sources

Choose the Right Motorcycle Helmet Before You Hit the Road | nhtsa.com

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