Helmet Fit Guidelines...

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Lion_Lady
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Helmet Fit Guidelines...

#1 Unread post by Lion_Lady »

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 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 Buff or 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. Fasten the chin strap snugly (so you can just get one finger underneath): Tilt your chin down to your chest 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 or size helmet.

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 retired/replaced EVERY five years, or at a maximum of seven years from date of manufacture (month/year usually imprinted on chinstrap 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.

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. Use only cleaners made for plastics to clean your face shield. Products such as Rain-X and Windex contain amonia and may cause the plastic to discolor and become brittle.

Happy riding and stay safe!! LL

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:

Image

Note that the FOREHEAD and JAW are the two areas in double digits percentage wise.
Last edited by Lion_Lady on Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:50 am, edited 6 times in total.
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JJ
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helmet age?

#2 Unread post by JJ »

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 chinstrap or on label inside).
I've been riding for a few years now and heard that with modern plastics there should be no need to replace helmets unless damaged.
(I think Cycle Canada)

Is there a web site I can go to to reveiw the age thing?

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#3 Unread post by Lion_Lady »

It isn't the plastics that detiorate so much as the liner and padding inside. Body oils and heat, etc. effect it. That compresses with wear and cannot do what it did when new to protect.

I do know, Arai will not provide service or any parts for a helmet 5 years old or older. Most manufacturers will not either.

Think about it: The compilation of continuous use, little drops, heat, cold, etc. The visor gets tiny scratches from bugs and rocks.

P
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#4 Unread post by Nibblet99 »

Hurrah, I was waiting for this one to be re-posted, as I feel the advice is hard to fnd, and invaluable...

as far as helmets go, If I could safely say that I've never knocked my helmet, aciddently headbutted a garage door, put it down upside down so the surface gains scratches/imperfections, etc. I would consider changing my helmet every 5 years. But because I can't, I aim to replace mine every 1-2 years. Why take chances?

As far as I'm concerned, everytime you fill the bike up, you should stick a couple of pound/dollars in a jar, when you have collected enough to buy a new helmet, do it
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#5 Unread post by totalmotorcycle »

Very helpful post!

I would like to add anyway buy a NEW unused motorcycle helmet with DOT (or better) rating. Do not buy a used or unknown helmet as this is your life you are entrusting to that piece of safety gear.

I would also strongly recommend a FULL FACE helmet over ALL other types. I had a high speed motorcycle accident a few years ago and thank god that I was wearing a full face helmet as I still have my original jaw and teeth.

Also there are different safety standards for helments.

DOT = Department of Transportation. Consider this the MINIMUM in safety protection and standards.

SNELL = An independant and unbiased test lab that tests DOT helmets to higher standards.

I know there is a European standard as well that is just as good if not better than SNELL, but I can't remember it right now (too long of a day). But I would suggest buying a SNELL or (European Standard) as then you KNOW you are getting a good quality helmet for your head.


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#6 Unread post by iav8 »

This is where using a full service shop is worth it. They should encourage you to wear the helmet for some time before buying.
So far, we have been to two shops trying on helmets. Neither one offered any of your valuable advice :?. At one shop we were quickly handed of to the "kid" when it was evident that we were there to look at the helmets sitting next to that $20,000 bike. These shops should encourage everyone - especially the young apprentice sales people - to know how to help the new people make a good helmet choice. It seems like the easiest way to win over a beginner customer.

You referred to a helmet liner. I have read that these can also be useful in protecting the helmet liner for stinky sweat. If the helmet already fits snug, might the extra lining make it too tight? Of course, the shops we visited did not mention the possiblity of using a liner so we didn't try fitting with one.
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#7 Unread post by Lion_Lady »

I have a Sliks liner and two different versions of the 'tube sock' kind - a wide tube of stretchy fabric (BUFF is one brand name) that can be worn in at least 10 different configurations.

I use a liner to keep my helmet from getting icky AND to make it easier to get my snug fitting helmet on/off over my triple-pierced ears.

The fabric of a helmet liner is thin enough that it should NOT greatly effect the fit of your helmet. The nice thing is that they go in the wash much easier than the helmet can be cleaned.

Pam

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Last edited by Lion_Lady on Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#8 Unread post by kyle »

I thought most of the higher dollar helmets had removable liners?

I know my old Scorpion helmet did, and my new Fulmer helmet does, also. Unsnap 'em and chuck 'em in the washer.
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#9 Unread post by Lion_Lady »

Yeah, I could take out the liner of my Arai, BUT if I don't have to, why do it, when there is an inexpensive alternative...

You can't put the helmet liner in the dryer... would be just my luck that it would be still damp and I'd wanna ride.

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#10 Unread post by iwannadie »

Lion_Lady wrote:Yeah, I could take out the liner of my Arai, BUT if I don't have to, why do it, when there is an inexpensive alternative...

You can't put the helmet liner in the dryer... would be just my luck that it would be still damp and I'd wanna ride.

Pam
a damp helmet liner would be heaven here in the desert, cant imagine how nice and cool that would really feel. i like to get my clothes wet then ride ; p
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