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  • Helmet Fit Guidelines...

    Someone asked me to post this here (I'd had it on beginnerbikes, before).

    Guidelines for getting the best fit in a full-face helmet.
    There is much to be said about going into a Motorcycle shop and physically trying on the helmet you are considering. Even if you plan on buying online, knowing what size you need will save much time and aggravation. Cheaper is not cheaper if you must exchange by mail repeatedly, or end up with a helmet that doesn't fit well, or worse, is painful to wear after 30 minutes.

    I did not devise this fit guide, but I was taught it and have tweaked it AND put in writing, in an effort to make it available to more folks. I have also added details that I have learned through experience in an effort to make it as helpful as possible. Please give credit if you paste it elsewhere.

    1. Do NOT look at prices first. Fit is most important. If Arai (generally the most expensive) fits, then that will provide the BEST protection, if an HJC (generally a less expensive make) fits, then THAT will provide the best protection. For this ‘fit test’ do not buckle the chin strap. If you wear glasses, or sunglasses while riding, don’t forget to have them with you for the fit test. Note: At a helmet seminar offered by Arai, those in attendance learned that about 60% were wearing helmets too BIG for best protection. Recently, I learned that I've evidently been wearing a helmet TWO sizes too big, while shopping to replace my "crashed in" Arai helmet. For fit-trying helmets, a Sliks helmet liner, or other snug fitting "do-rag" is VERY helpful, especially if you've got multiple ear piercings or thick hair, etc.

    2. Choose a size that looks close (you gotta start somewhere). Pull the helmet on over your head by holding the straps. It should go on with a bit of work, but NOT so tough it feels like your ears are being scraped off your skull. If the helmet goes on with little or no effort, try the next size DOWN. Tilting your chin slightly down should ease neck strain in doing this.

    3. Flip up the face shield. (If trying a helmet with flip up chin bar, ONLY flip up the face shield.) Now, push the helmet around on your head. Have someone watch your face or look in a mirror while you do this. Your scalp and eyebrows should move around with the helmet padding. If it doesn’t, try the next size down OR a different make of helmet and repeat from #2. If your scalp does move, close your eyes and think about how the padding feels around the crown of your head. You should feel snug EVEN pressure all around, like a good firm handshake - no ‘hot points’ at forehead or ears. Some helmets give a sort of "chipmunk cheek" feeling. Remember, the padding will compress with wear, so snugness is good in a new helmet, rather than a ‘just right’ fit, or it will become too loose with wear. Some helmet manufacturers offer thinner cheek padding if this is your main concern. (If you feel a hot point at forehead, you probably have an ‘oval profile’ head and should try one of the Arai models.)

    4. Now tilt your chin down to your chest (still unbuckled) and take one hand and push UP on the bottom of the back of the helmet. You should NOT be able to push the helmet off, or part way off. If you can, then try another make helmet - "flip face" helmets are more likely to fail this step, which should not be disregarded. (If the chin strap fails, or you forget to buckle... )

    5. Once you’ve gotten to this point, wear the helmet around the shop for at LEAST 5 to 10 minutes. This is where using a full service shop is worth it. They should encourage you to wear the helmet for some time before buying. You don’t want to find out after you plunk down $$, that the helmet you thought fit you is agony to wear for more than 30 minutes. If you are indecisive about two different helmets, make sure you WEAR the 'most likely candidate' last, before purchase. If this is it. Buy it. Get the box and packaging for the helmet, if at all possible. THEN, take the new helmet home and wear it while watching TV or 'surfing the net' for an hour or two... it can be tough to really get used to the fit, when somebody is staring at you (don't think about pink elephants right now), so wearing it while doing something else is probably the best way to make sure the fit is right. If you have any fit "issues" after this last at home test, RETURN the helmet. A reputable shop should have no issues with taking an ill fitting helmet back.

    Other NOTES:
    A) Motorcycle Helmets should be retired/replaced EVERY five years, or at a maximum of seven years from date of manufacture (month/year usually imprinted on chin strap or on label inside). When buying a 'clearance' helmet, the low price is often because the helmet is already 2-3 years old. No way to tell how well or poorly a helmet has been stored. One reason ARAI no longer allows ANY retail helmet sales online, or by discounters. Arai now insists that their helmets be FIT to the wearer. This must be done in an authorized shop.

    B) No matter how well taken care of, a helmet that has been dropped should be replaced. A helmet that has been in a crash MUST be replaced, for your safety (your insurer may cover replacement of your helmet and/or other safety gear).

    C) Always make sure you have a clear face shield (visor) available for your helmet. Carry one in your tank bag. If you find yourself out later than planned, or if the weather should change, it is dangerous to ride in low-light conditions with even the lightest tint visor. You won't realize what you are not seeing until it is too late.

    D) NEVERNEVERNEVER use any paper product (paper towels, tissues etc.) to clean your face shield. The tiny wood fibers will create microscratches in your visor over time. A soft flannel detail rag or other fabric is best. Only use cleaners made for plastics to clean your face shield. Products such as Rain-X and Windex contain amonia and will cause the plastic to yellow and become brittle.

    Happy riding and stay safe!! LL
    Last edited by Missy B; 05-26-2007, 07:59 PM.
    If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

  • #2
    Thanks for posting this. I know I read something similar before buying my lid and I am glad to have had the info. My helmet turned out to be a perfect fit.
    I never knew why a dog would stick its head out the car window until I took my first ride on a motorcycle.
    • 2016 Indian Springfield - Indian Red cause it has to be Indian Red.
    • 2007 VTX 1300C - The X has moved on to a new home. Unlike most, I will miss my X.
    • 1981 KZ 1000 CSR SOLD - Was a great bike for sure but I had to move on
    • 2010 Chrysler 300C 5.7L Gotta have that HEMI

    Comment


    • #3
      Another deal Ive read, is that with the helmet on, push on the back of the helmet. you shouldnt be able to slip a finger in between the helmet and your forehead in front.

      Also helmets come in different shapes. if you have a particualarly round or oval head certain brands/models may not fit you well. Ideally the helmet should be equal tight all the way around.

      Protection doesnt generally get better with more spendy helmets. What you get is better venting, lighter helmets, cooler graphics, more comfortable padding, and probably the most important- a better aerodynamic shell. ( meaning it wont try to lift off your head at freeway speeds.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by lionlady
        D) NEVERNEVERNEVER use any paper product (paper towels, tissues etc.) to clean your face shield. The tiny wood fibers will create microscratches in your visor over time. Only use cleaners made for plastics to clean your face shield. Products such as Rain-X and Windex contain amonia and will cause the plastic to yellow and become brittle.
        I hadn't heard this one before. What should I be using to clear my face shield of the inevitable bugs and fingerprints?

        Comment


        • #5
          A micro-fiber cloth used to clean eyeglasses should work. Very soft, and it doesn't scratch plastic Oakley lenses.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the info I just bought my bike and will be helmet shopping here soon so this is good onfo!!

            Comment


            • #7
              For really big, spattered bugs (or a whole bunch of little ones), I will use a soggy paper towel to soften up dried on bugs. Lay it on the face shield for a few minutes, THEN use the microfiber or flannel towel to clean up.

              Yet another reason to carry a bottle of water in your tankbag.
              If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

              Comment


              • #8
                I just had a look at the guidelines... they're NOT the "latest edition."

                I have made some changes. How to update it?

                P
                If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

                Comment


                • #9
                  If you want to PM me the changes, Pam, I can edit the post for you.
                  CURRENT BIKES: 2014 Suzuki Wee Strom, 2016 Honda CBR500R
                  PREVIOUS BIKES: 2002 Ninja 500, 2002 Kawi ZR-7S, 2002 Kawi Concours, 2003 Yamaha XT225, 2006 Yamaha FZ6, 2005 Suzuki Wee Strom, 2004 Honda CRF250R, Yamaha TTR250
                  Test riding bikes since 2004.
                  If loud pipes save lives, imagine what learning to RIDE that thing will do!
                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Guidelines for getting the best fit in a full-face helmet.

                    Missy, I've done a number of 're-writes' so here is the most recent edition in its entirety. Can you replace it?



                    There is much to be said about going into a Motorcycle shop and physically trying on the helmet you are considering. Even if you plan on buying online, knowing what size you need will save much time and aggravation. Cheaper is not cheaper if you must exchange by mail repeatedly, or end up with a helmet that doesn't fit well, or worse, is painful to wear after 30 minutes.

                    I did not devise this fit guide, but I took what I was taught and put it to paper to share. I believe it is based on the Arai fit method, but is applicable for all makes. This is what I was taught while working in a MC dealer. I have tweaked it in an effort to make it understandable in print. I have also added details that I have learned through experience in an effort to make it as helpful as possible.

                    Do NOT under any circumstances purchase for use, a USED helmet. Not "still in the box," not "only worn once," not "free with the bike." Hidden damage that even the previous owner is unaware of can kill you if you go down wearing that bargain helmet. Don't take the risk.

                    1. Do NOT look at prices first. Fit is most important. If Arai (generally the most expensive) fits, then that will provide the BEST protection, if an HJC (generally a less expensive make) fits, then THAT will provide the best protection. For this ‘fit test’ do not buckle the chin strap. If you wear glasses, or sunglasses while riding, don’t forget to have them with you for the fit test. Note: At a helmet seminar offered by Arai, those in attendance learned that about 60% were wearing helmets too BIG for best protection. Recently, I learned that I've evidently been wearing a helmet TWO sizes too big, while shopping to replace my "crashed in" Arai helmet. For fit-trying helmets, a Sliks helmet liner, Buff, or other snug fitting "do-rag" is VERY helpful, especially if you've got multiple ear piercings, thick hair, etc.

                    2. Choose a size that looks close (you gotta start somewhere). Pull the helmet on over your head by holding the straps. It should go on with a bit of work, but NOT so tough it feels like your ears are being scraped off your skull. If the helmet goes on with little or no effort, try the next size DOWN. Tilting your chin slightly down should ease neck strain in doing this.

                    3. Flip up the face shield. (If trying a helmet with flip up chin bar, ONLY flip up the face shield.) Now, push the helmet around on your head. Have someone watch your face, or look in a mirror, while you do this. Your scalp and eyebrows should move around with the helmet padding. If it doesn’t, try the next size down OR a different make of helmet and repeat from #2. If your scalp does move, close your eyes and think about how the padding feels around the crown of your head. You should feel snug EVEN pressure all around, like a good firm handshake - no ‘hot points’ at forehead or ears. Some helmets give a sort of "chipmunk cheek" feeling. Remember, the padding will compress with wear, so snugness is good in a new helmet, rather than a ‘just right’ fit, or it will become too loose with wear. Some helmet manufacturers offer thinner cheek padding if this is your main concern. (If you feel a hot point at forehead, you probably have an ‘oval profile’ head and should try one of the Arai models.)

                    4. Tilt your chin down to your chest (still unbuckled) and take one hand and push UP on the bottom of the back of the helmet. You should NOT be able to push the helmet off, or part way off. It should feel secure. If you can, then try another make helmet - "flip face" helmets are more likely to fail this step, which should not be disregarded. (If the chin strap fails, or you forget to buckle... )

                    5. Once you’ve gotten to this point, wear the helmet around the shop for at LEAST 10 to 15 minutes. This is where using a full service shop is worth it. They should encourage you to wear the helmet for some time before buying. You don’t want to find out after you plunk down $$, that the helmet you thought fit you is agony to wear for more than 30 minutes. If you are indecisive about two different helmets, make sure you WEAR the 'most likely candidate' last, before purchase. If this is it. Buy it. Get the box and packaging for the helmet, if at all possible. THEN, take the new helmet home and wear it while watching TV or 'surfing the net' for an hour or two... it can be tough to really get used to the fit, when somebody is staring at you (don't think about pink elephants right now), so wearing it while doing something else is probably the best way to make sure the fit is right. If you have any fit "issues" after this last at home test, RETURN the helmet. A reputable shop should have no issues with taking an ill fitting helmet back. ASK ABOUT THE RETURN POLICY BEFORE YOU PURCHASE.

                    Other NOTES:
                    A) Motorcycle Helmets should be replaced EVERY four to five years, or at a maximum of seven years from date of manufacture (month/year usually imprinted on chinstrap or on label inside). If you leave your helmet on the bike in the sun, consider replacing it more often. When buying a 'clearance' helmet, the low price is often because the helmet is already 2-3 years old. No way to tell how well or poorly a helmet has been stored. (One reason ARAI no longer allows ANY retail helmet sales online, or by discounters. Arai now insists that their helmets be FIT to the wearer. This must be done in an authorized shop.)

                    B) No matter how well taken care of, a helmet that has been dropped should be replaced. A helmet that has been in a crash MUST be replaced for your safety (your insurer may cover replacement of your helmet and/or other safety gear). http://tinyurl.com/4muc9

                    C) Always make sure you have a clear face shield (visor) available. Carry one in your tank bag. If you find yourself out later than planned, or if the weather should change, it is dangerous to ride in low-light conditions with even the lightest tint visor. You won't realize what you are not seeing until it is too late.

                    D) NEVERNEVERNEVER use any paper product (paper towels, tissues etc.) to clean your face shield. The tiny wood fibers will create microscratches in your visor over time. Use only cleaners made for plastics to clean your face shield. Products such as Rain-X and Windex contain amonia and will cause the plastic to yellow and become brittle.

                    Happy riding and stay safe!! LL

                    >edited to include a link back to this original, after finding a 'cut and paste,' without credit of it, purely by accident, on another site.

                    FOR those who are on the fence about full face/half helmet, here is an illustration created from a study done in europe of impact point percentages for a full face helmet:



                    Note that the FOREHEAD and JAW are the two areas in double digits percentage wise.
                    If you are always trying to be normal, you'll never know how amazing you can be. -Maya Angelou

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Very informative...thank you so much.
                      It takes a lot of balls to be a caterpillar in a world full of butterflies.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To add to this, for those of you who wear either oval headshape or round headshape helmets, you can use this chart from Web Bike World to see what headshape the helmets they've tested are. It is helpful if you know you have an oval or a round headshape.
                        Rain or Shine 8 - May 20-22, 2016 - Monterey, TN

                        No matter what goes to hell, always rise from the ashes, stronger.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'd like to post some thoughts on this... (and obviously correct me where I am completely wrong)

                          "If you feel a hot point at forehead, you probably have an ‘oval profile’ head and should try one of the Arai models"

                          Not true. First off, Arai models come in different shapes as well. The RX-Q is rounder than the Signet-Q. So simply switching to Arai as a brand doesn't accomplish anything necessarily. Switching to a helmet with the right shape does. And where you have the hotspots and what helmet you are wearing, and size will help determine your headshape. For example:

                          - If your head is more narrow, and the helmet that you are trying on is rounder, assuming it is the right size, you will feel hotspots on the forehead and back, but not on the sides (as the sides will bee too wide).
                          - If your head is more oval and the helmet you try on is narrow, you will feel the hotspots on the sides (assuming the helmet sizing is correct)

                          IOW (to reverse that) assuming the sizing is correct:
                          - Hotspots on the front and back and not on the sides mean that your head is a narrower shape than that helmet. Take it off and look for one with a narrower profile (I say narrowER because the helmet you are trying on could be a round shape, and you might need an intermediate oval, not necessarily a "narrow" shape)
                          - Hotspots on the sides only, mean your head is rounder than the helmet shape, and the sides of your head are being "pinched" by the narrowness of the helmet.

                          So, if you have hotspots on the front and back, if you switch to an Arai RX-Q, it may not necessarily solve your shape problems. Try an Arai Signet-Q, or a Shoei RF-1100, or a Shark

                          "a helmet that has been dropped should be replaced"

                          Not necessarily true. If the helmet is not loaded inside (it doesn't have a head or bowling ball in it), then a short drop from a bike's handle bars isn't going to damage the EPS liner or compromise the outer shell. I know this goes against what most people say, but if an UNloaded helmet is dropped from 3 feet and it riuns that EPS liner, then that EPS liner isn't going to help as much as you need it to when your head is in it and you high-side the bike. DItto with the shell integrity. But don't take my word for it. Check out what the guy from Arai says:

                          http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/extras...ts/index.shtml

                          The dropping part is at 7 minutes in, but watch the whole thing, it is excellent, and reinforces what was stated in the original post here.

                          Re: the sizing chart on WebBikeWorld:
                          It listed the Arai Signet-Q, Scorpion EXO-500, and EXO-700 all as slightly narrow, and the Shark RSI as narrow, and the Shoei Qwest and RF-1100 as narrow. I don't think this is right.

                          I have tried on all of these helmets in the past 2 weeks. The Signet-Q fit me very well. The Shark RSI fit me very well. The RF-1100 fit me very well. The Qwest was a little too round for me. ALL of the Scorpions not only ran small (I had to go XL in a Scorpion, whereas Shoei, Shark, Arai, Icon, and Speed & Strength I was a L), but all of he Scorpions were not a good fit at all. There was a noticeable gap on the sides, meaning that these were far rounder than narrow or slightly narrow. They are Intermediate Oval or rounder. The Arai RX-Q was too round for me (that chart shows it as slightly round), but it was not nearly as round as all 3 of those Scorpions. So, don't take that chart for gospel when ordering, unless the place has a good return and return shipping policy, or you can try one out locally.

                          BTW, you may not have been able to buy Arai online back when the guide was written, but you most certainly can now.

                          Also, wrt buying used. If the helmet has been used only once or twice, and you can ensure that it has never been dropped or crashed in, then it probably has LESS wear than one sitting on a shelf in a shop. But you do have to be careful. The Shark RSI I bought was used twice by the seller's wife before they had to get rid of their bike. When I bought it it looked brand new. What I mean by that is that I thoroughly inspected it, and there was literally not a single ding or scratch on the helmet (any drop or anything that would compromise the EPS would result in a scratch or a ding, unless the wearer was wearing it indoors and feel down hitting their head on a carpeted floor, which could compromise it). I asked if she wore hair products when wearing it. She does not (I have heard that certain hairspray and other products can have ill effects on the EPS). I removed the liner and fully inspected the EPS. The liner still smelled brand new as did the rest of the helmet (a washed and cleaned liner won't have that "new" smell anymore). The bag with the owners manual and breath guard had not even ever been opened. The helmet is black, so it is very easy to spot any scratches or dings. On graphics helmets its not that easy. As for any drops (possibly on carpet), see my comment above on a dropped helmet. Since no vendors here sell Shark helmets, it had to be ordered, which probably means that it hadn't been tried on 100 times in a store prior to purchase. I'm saying that it *IS* possible to buy a *used* helmet, but to find one that is actually worth spending the $$$ on because you can ensure it has not been compromised is very rare, or at least difficult to verify. While in general it is not a good idea at all to buy used, once in a while you can find something that is perfectly reasonable, and at least as safe as a store one (where you have no idea how many of those 100 people that tried it on beforehand had hairspray on, or dropped it and quickly put it back, or whatever).

                          I would like to add that the fitting guide otherwise, is excellent. The part about leaning your head forward and trying to push it off from behind is great advice that you really don't see very often or in sizing guides (it was in my Shark owner's manual though). The part about not using Rain-X I did not know, and is really great to know. This of course begs the question, with a couple of Rain-X competitors out there, is there any equivalent product that *IS* ok for a helmet faceshield? Anyone make one that is specific to helmets like that? Because I use Rain-X on my car and that stuff is just amazing on my windsheild. Otherwise, great, great post!

                          The thing that amazes me is HOW some people pick helmets. I was at my local Cycle Gear store this weekend. A woman was there looking for a new helmet and a leather jacket (track-style ones, not Harley-style ones). yet she wore shorts and sneakers on her bike, and was picking the helmet based upon the graphic design. She found, w/o trying any on, the helmet whose looks appealed to her the most, and then tried on one of those, proclaimed that it fit, and bought it. No regard to brand, safety certification, features, ventilation, etc. and she wore it for all of 2 seconds before she took it off and her wallet out. (shakes head).

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I've often thought the "perfect" thing for helmet manufacturers to do would be to provide cross-sectional templates of their various helmet sizes for each model. These could be printed out, and you could cut them out to get an APPROXIMATE fit - at least get within the correct manufacturer and/or model line for your head!

                            The final test is, of course, with the helmet ON you head. But, you can know in advance whether the helmet you have set your sights on comes close enough to consider.
                            Jeff

                            "Remember when being socially distant was a symptom of a potentially debilitating mental disorder, instead of a government mandate? C'mon, it was just a few weeks ago!"

                            "Modern Liberalism: The embodiment of an irrational fear of letting other people run their own lives."

                            '13 XT250
                            '10 ZG-1400 (operational again)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by brain21 View Post
                              ...The part about not using Rain-X I did not know, and is really great to know. This of course begs the question, with a couple of Rain-X competitors out there, is there any equivalent product that *IS* ok for a helmet faceshield?
                              I've been using Rain-X on helmet faceshields for 30 years. Shoei, Bell, AGV, Schuberth, Arai, never had any trouble with any of them. (Still probably a good idea to first test a corner though)

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