I’m only alive because of a motorcycle helmet, true story.
I was once t-boned by a drunk driver who ran the light of an intersection—had I not had my helmet on, the medic says I might not have survived with my capacities intact.
That said, if my helmet was too loose or tight, it might not have done its job.
This article will explore some fast, easy tips to ensure your helmet fits right!
Table of Contents
Try Before You Buy
A poorly fitting motorcycle helmet is more than just uncomfortable and dorky looking; it’s unsafe.
While most helmet fitting principles are universal, the critical first step to ensuring your helmet fits properly is to try it out before you buy it.
The increase in online moto-retailer options has made helmet shopping more accessible and affordable than ever. Online helmet shopping is an efficient option for buying a helmet you’ve worn before, once you’re familiar with the size, fit, and style of that particular dome protector.
That said, if you’re considering purchasing a helmet you’ve never owned or even worn before, you might want to do some in-person shopping so you can find the right fit.
Know the Helmet Style You Need
There are various types of motorcycle riding, and there are helmets that coincide with every kind. These helmets are designed and intended to fit differently. Finding the helmet that fits means knowing which helmet style you’re trying on.
Knowing what type of riding you’re doing, what type of helmet is ideal for that style of riding, and how that helmet is supposed to fit is imperative for ensuring your helmet fits right.
Know Your Head Shape/Head Size
Different helmets are designed under the assumption that there are three general human head shapes: Round Oval, Intermediate Oval, and long oval.
Know your head size and research the brands and styles of helmets ideal for your particular head shape—it makes all the difference.
This is another reason why buying a helmet in person is more conducive to getting your helmet to fit; most helmet and motorcycle accessories vendors are aware of the different head shapes and which brands and models fit the best, and how to help particular head shapes fit into the various styles of helmets.
Add a Visor to Your Open Faced Helmet
The open-faced helmet is the least restrictive; as its name implies, an open-faced helmet covers three-quarters of your head at most, leaving most of your face exposed to the open road’s airflow.
These helmets are meant for casual cruising on trusted roads, as your face and chin are left vulnerable if you are involved in a collision.
If you are riding on the highway, the wind can blow up your open-faced helmet.
An open-faced helmet that fit fine around town might lift up and blow around on the highway. Adding a protective face screen will prevent that uplift from yanking off our lid.
Adjust Your Modular Helmet
Modular helmets are a distinct category of full-faced helmets that can unhinge, so to speak, along the chin bar and flip up, locking in place above the rider’s head.
This mechanism effectively converts a full face into an opened face on the fly while riding.
These are popular choices for riders who travel, as they can keep their helmet modular in their more protective full-faced mode on the highway and at high speeds, increasing not only the rider’s safety but ensuring the helmet fits properly.
At the same time, once you’ve dropped your luggage at the motel when it’s time to hop around town, riders can flip up their helmets into the more forgiving open-faced position to let the breeze move across their faces and increase their visibility and comfort.
Be sure you adjust your modular helmet into the ideal position for the type of riding you’re doing to help your helmet to fit better.
Wear an ADV Helmet for a Better Fit While On to Off-Road Riding
Whether you are ripping dirtbikes, crawling trails on an adventure dual-sport, or just scrambling around the dirt roads on a scrambler, ADV or adventure helmets are ideal for riding off road.
Not only are they designed for enhanced protection against the rugged terrain encountered while trail riding, but they’re also engineered to achieve the street legal safety rating and to fit well on and off the road.
ADV helmets are set up to stay in place and provide a comfortable fit while you’re rolling over bumpy roads—the same can’t be said for a cheap open-faced helmet.
Tighten the Chin Strap
Some riders don’t realize just how tight the chin strap is meant to be. Most moto helmets use a D-ring design to pinch the strap shut.
Make sure the strap is untwisted and flush with the buckle, pull it through the D ring until it’s snug, and then button, clap, or fasten the strap to the jawline or to the strap, depending on the helmet design. You’d be surprised how much better a slightly loose helmet will fit after a quick adjustment to its chin strap.
The strap should be tight enough to rest against your skin but not tight enough to cause any friction. If the strap is causing discomfort or pressure to your throat or even just irritating your neck skin, it’s likely too tight and needs to be readjusted.
Let the Helmet Break-In
This may seem like an obvious item, but one of the best tips I ever received was to go out of my way to break in a brand new helmet.
You really won’t know how the helmet fits until you’ve worn it for 4-6 hours. If you’re only riding for 30 minutes a week, it’ll be weeks before you even realize the true fit of your head protector.
Pro tip: Try wearing your motorcycle helmet while watching a movie to accelerate the break-in process. It’s also safer and less stressful to break in your rigid new helmet while at home on the couch rather than on the commute to work.
The helmet lining will adjust to the shape of your face, as intended, after about 2-3 movies, depending on your film taste.
If you’re in a rush to break in your helmet in less than 6 hours, try massaging the inner lining with your hands. If they’re removable, pop those puppies out and rub them with your clean fingertips. That said, we only suggest doing this if you really need to speed things up.
Allowing the lining to adjust to your face, whether while riding or watching TV, gives the lining a chance to form fit to your distinct features, ensuring a better fitting helmet in the long run.
Change the Cheek Pads
Most modern helmets come equipped with removable cheek pads and crown pads. Some helmets are set to where the whole inner lining can come out.
This feature does more than just make cleaning your helmet easier. It allows you to change your pads for thinner or thicker inserts.
While some brands are interchangeable, others require you to buy replacement cheek and crown pads from the helmet’s OEM.
The top helmet pad should rest firmly against your forehead, about one finger’s width above your brow. Swapping for a thicker crown pad might keep it in place if it slides down lower than that. If it gets stuck too far above your forehead, a thinner crown pad might let it drop into place.
Cheek pads should squish your cheeks enough to pucker your lips just slightly, without hurting or noticeable sensations or pressure.
If your cheeks are squished uncomfortably together, try some thinner cheek pads. If you feel there’s not enough contact between your pads and your cheeks, or if the helmet is too loose, try some thicker pads.
Wear a Bandanna
If the helmet feels loose around the top of your head, you can throw a bandanna on to get a more ideal, snug fit.
That said, if the bandanna you wear underneath your head is too thick, the contact distance between your head and the helmet lining is too wide to absorb the energy of an impact shock.
If significant, the increased gap compromises the protection your helmet has to offer.
If you have to apply multiple layers to your helmet to get it to tighten up to an ideal position, your pads are either worn down and need to be replaced, or the helmet is simply too big.
At the end of the day, the best solution for a poorly fitting helmet is to get a new one. Pads wear out eventually, and replacing the pads with freshies is a great way to extend the helmet’s life for a while.
But all helmets wear out, eventually. If you’ve considered all the items mentioned in the list above and your helmet still doesn’t fit well, it’s worth the time and money to replace it.