What are the most important checklist factors for a motorcycle helmet?

A motorcycle enthusiast wearing motocross helmet is taking a selfie

Buying a new helmet without knowledge of its anatomy and functionality is a difficult task for any rider. This knowledge would help to understand essential features of any motorcycle helmet and must be considered before buying the most suitable helmet. These are already being discussed in an article Unlocking the anatomy of the certified motorcycle helmet.

Fitment, safety standards and comfort are the important features of any motorcycle helmet. Therefore, these are discussed separately here.

Fitment

The safest helmet won’t do its job if it doesn’t fit right.

A safety standard approved helmet will complete the task only if it fits correctly.

Human heads vary in size and shape. The usual head shapes are round-oval (equally long front-to-back and side-to-side), intermediate oval (slightly longer front-to-back than side-to-side), and long oval (longer front-to-back than side-to-side). Most riders fall near the intermediate oval head shape. This understanding will help to choose from different helmets as manufacturers tend to break the helmet shapes according to these shapes only.

 

How to measure head circumference for a motorcycle helmet?

Measure the head circumference about an inch above the eyebrows and compare this measurement with the helmet size chart. All manufacturers have different sizing charts. If this measurement falls in between two sizes then try the smaller helmet first for proper fitment.

A Below mentioned table is an example of motorcycle helmet size according to head circumference.

Head circumference (Cm) Helmet size
53-54 XS
55-56 S
57-58 M
59-60 L
61-62 XL
63-64 XXL
65-66 XXXL

 

The helmet should be worn for a few minutes to check the fit. The top pad and the cheek pads should press snugly on the top of the head and the cheeks respectively. The tightened chin strip should not allow passing more than two fingers between the strap and the head. Also, the space between a helmet and the side of the temple should not allow passage to more than one finger.

Helmets must be as snug as possible as most helmets will break in after a little use. If the helmet is too loose, it will not protect as it can easily remove if an accident/impact would happen. Also, wearing a helmet too tight may give continuous pressure on bony prominences of the head and this might produce a chronic headache.

Here are a few tests to ensure proper fitment of the helmet.

Putting on the helmet

Roll the helmet on from front to back by holding the chin straps. A properly fitting helmet will take a little effort to put on due to resistance from the inner comfort paddings, and shouldn’t simply pull-up on.

Side to side movement

The helmet should not be able to move without the head movement while sliding the helmet side to side from the chin bar.

Up and down movement

The helmet should not move without the facial skin wanting to move with it by pushing from the sides of the helmet in an upward direction.

Back and forth movement

The helmet should not slide back and forth to touch the chin bar simply by pushing straight on.

Roll test

The helmet should not rotate while rolling the helmet forward off the head by placing one hand on the back of the helmet, and one on the chin bar.

Safety standards

Make sure your motorcycle helmet is certified for safety standards

For a helmet to be legitimately sold as a “motorcycle helmet” in the USA, it needs to pass a series of tests and trials to achieve the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) standard of safety. Snell Memorial Foundation, USA (Snell) which is not-for-profit, private foundation has also set motorcycle helmet safety standards.

All type of motorcycle helmet must bear at least a DOT certification decal. It does not need to meet Snell standards to be street legal as these are tougher voluntary helmet standards.

If a helmet comes with a high-quality face-shield, it will have DOT certification info molded into it. A Snell-certified helmet must have a Snell-certified face-shield.

Comfort

Fitment and safety are prime factors for any motorcycle helmet to choose. But comfort is equally important as a rider will be wearing a helmet for a long time.

Below are some essential features which make a motorcycle helmet more comfortable.

  • Comfortable inner lining with sufficient thickness
  • A firm seal around the ears
  • A thick neck roll to support the upper portion of the neck
  • An effective venting system with ability to operate them easily with gloves on
  • Chin strap fastener with an ability to secure the end of the strap for prevention of flapping strap.
  • Face-shield with the ability to operate easily with gloves on and to open slightly for prevention of fogging

Only properly fitted, certified motorcycle helmet is a good investment against brain injury!


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