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Helmet Fit Guidelines...

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 2:52 pm
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.

helmet age?

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:52 pm
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?

JJ

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:59 am
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

Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:51 am
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

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 3:46 pm
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.


Mike.

Posted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 9:38 am
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.

Posted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 4:18 pm
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

http://www.buffwear.com/

Posted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 7:09 pm
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.

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 9:36 am
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.

Pam

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 10:46 am
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

Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:29 pm
by archanis
in my experience with sales reps of all kinds, about 70% don't have the product (bike, helmet, ext) and the knoledge of what its realy good for. the best way to avoid things like "this one offers less protection, but look how shiney it is" you HAVE to do your own research. if you leave it up to the sales rep to guide you through anything, you will be decked out in the most painfull gear imaginable. but man will you be sparkly and broke ;)

remember to take everthing a shop owner says with a grain of salt, and compair it with your own research. shop around, and definently try before you buy. i have some experience with helmets and i have to say that liners are the way to go. nothing sucks worse than having to replace a helmet after 8 months because the insides are oily and nasty. you know that moldy sock smell? helmet liners avoid that.

avoid the shopkeeps glitter, and you should do fine.

Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:54 am
by Kim
This article is pretty lengthy but very interesting. Helmet safety reviews.

http://motorcyclistonline.com/gearbox/m ... et_review/

Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:41 pm
by Lion_Lady
Candy750 wrote: Thank you - one question.

I have a full face, modular (opens at the chin). How - if these regularly fail the roll test - do youknow it fits? Or did you mean you can't apply this test to a modular?....
Because of the way modulars are constructed, the 'push off test' doesn't apply.
Candy750 wrote: I am going at lunch time to look at a new helmet. Should I avoid the modular? I def want to keep full face, but do love the chin opening convenience....
It is up to you. First see if you can get one that fits well by the rest of the guidelines. I haven't found one yet that fits MY head.

Another note: With the additional hardware on the outside, modular helmets seem to get a LOT of wind noise.

Oh, and DO NOT RIDE with the chin bar up. EVER. They are almost more dangerous like this than not wearing a helmet at all.

P

my helmet buying experience

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 1:39 pm
by CO_Tim
Excellent post on page 1 LionLady!

My experience buying a helmet:
* most shops don't take returns. Since damage isn't always visible I don't blame them. But all will let you walk around the store with the helmet on for 30 min. while you shop for other stuff. Even 5 min. will give you a good idea if it fits or not.
* If they start with the expensive helmets (Arai/Shoei/Suomy), claiming that your head is worth the $500 price tag, just leave. Fit is most important, not cost. So start with cheaper brands and work your way up. I tried on many many helmets, and passed up the $72 HJC bargain and the cool $500 Shoei because a $180 helmet fit me the best.
* A few shops will let you take the helmet for a spin around the block. so ask.
* some shops will do exchanges. This is only useful if they carry many brands. The shop I got mine at (Performance Cycles) had 6 or 7 brands, very helpful if your head is hard to fit.
* Most (all?) mail order shops accept returns. So you could order 4-5 helmets at once and return the ones that don't fit. Check their return policy first! Once you factor in shipping costs it's usually cheaper and easier to buy at a store.
* My head is very oval, and the KBC Force RR fits me very well. Nothing else came close. Hard to pull on/off, but super comfy once it's in place.
* Personally I think it's unethical to ask a salesperson to help you find a helmet that fits and then buy it somewhere else.

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 9:22 pm
by Lion_Lady
Candy750 wrote:No NEVER! Cannot ride with chin bar open! Gosh! Wouldn't ever consider it! Every one I know has a shorty and at stop lights, likes to "talk". I like the mod to be able to easily lift up and talk, as well as if getting gas at pay at the pump, etc. But I don't need that extra 30% of my head exposed.
Amazing but true: I swear that at least 60% of the folks I know who have modular helmets REGULARLY ride with the chin bar UP. :frusty: One of them ended up with a nearly broken jaw and black eye when his bike hit something and he did a face plant into the edge of his windscreen.

I mean, just buy a 3/4 helmet and save yourself some $$.

P

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:00 pm
by Crash
iav8 wrote:
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.
I use a bandana as a liner. Doesn't result in a tight fit, is inexpensive and in hot weather I can soak it in water and the evaporation effect cools me down.

In the spring and fall when the temperature is near freezing I wear a spandex balaclava.

Its easy to pop either one in the wash and it keeps the helmet from getting smelly.

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:18 pm
by Crash
totalmotorcycle wrote: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.


Mike.
CE22.05 is the European standard. There is considerable controversy between SNELL and the European standards people as to which standard is the best. I don't think the CE standard is accepted in the US but I don't know for sure. In Canada the CE standard is not recognized but the British Standards Institution is. The BSI standard is essentially the CE22.05 standard. Canada, like the US, also accepts the SNELL and DOT standard.

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:30 am
by Lion_Lady
iav8 wrote:
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.
If you go shoe shopping, you usually bring along the socks you'll most likely be wearing with those shoes, right? Same with wearing a helmet liner.

That said, if you did your initial fitting without any type of liner, you can still start wearing one. The helmet will feel a bit 'snugger' for a time, but then you won't notice it.

Look for one of the seamless types, like BUFF. They're a tube of thin knitted fabric. I've got like 6 of them, including one with reflective tape on it for added visibility at night.

Check out their website: http://www.buffusa.com/ The site even has a 'how to wear a Buff' video clip.

Pam

Posted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:30 pm
by CycleNewb
Koss wrote:
BlueBomber wrote:
MonkeyMaw wrote:Went to my local Yami shop to try on some lids. After reading the Motorcyclist article "Blowing The Lid Off" I knew I wanted a DOT-rated helmet, not a SNELL.
A) You do realize that every SNELL helmet is also a DOT rated helmet right?

B) The non-SNELL helmets that did so well didn't FAIL the SNELL test..they just haven't been tested. SNELL doesn't buy a bunch of helmets and test them. The company has to give the helmets to SNELL. This requires a couple grand worth of helmets, and potential slight modifications per the SNELL requirements.

Conclusion: A SNELL approved helmet is never a bad choice. Bottom line. But a non-SNELL doesn't make it a bad choice at all!

You'll note that the DOT approves 3/4 quarter and open helmets, while SNELL doesn't.

\/\/
Hrm, those are some good points.
The "blowing the lid" test was testing the amount of Gs transferred to the head, rather than how strong a hit the outer shell could tolerate. At that standard, many snell helmets transmitted more Gs to the head, which made it less effective in protecting the brain from trauma. In other words, it tested the foam inside, not the shell.

Getting back on topic, which pertains to fit and not certifications, I ordered the Z1R strike helmet (XL) based on the stellar results of that test, and I am unsure about it's fit.

I've had it on for about 45 minutes, while ebaying and whatnot and it seems OK. I feel a little more pressure on the forehead then anywhere else, and it fails the roll test mentioned.

I assume this means that my head is the wrong shape for this helmet, since it's a bear to get on and then it feels tight in some spots and loose in others?

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 12:29 pm
by Koss
This Z1R Strike helmt review says it has a more of an earth head shape. Meaning its wider at the sides of your head than the front and back of the head.

You can see how they describe the shapes of heads Here.

Helmets fit better after some time to wear in. The interior padding tries to conform to the head. But I would still suggest, if your able, to return the helmet for one that fits your head better. I assume that if the helmet dosn't fit properly, its going to transfer more force to where you feel the pressure points... or painful areas on your head.