So you want to start riding or reinvest in new gear? Selecting the helmet that best suits your needs is a great place to start. Most states in the U.S. have helmet laws requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Even if your state allows motorcyclists to decide whether a helmet is right for them, choosing to wear a helmet is the safer bet. According to the Advocates for Highway Road and Safety, always wearing a helmet is the best thing you can do to stay safe while riding because your head is the most vulnerable part of your body. Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by 69% and in case of a crash, can even reduce the risk of death by 42%. However, not all helmets offer the same protection. It’s easy to get distracted by choosing a cool color or finish, but focusing on finding the best protective helmet will help alleviate safety concerns and let you refocus on enjoying the open road.
Selecting a Style
Wearing almost any helmet is better than hitting the road without one, but exploring all your options is key to finding the helmet that works best for you. First things first, decide whether you’re looking for open-face, full-face, or modular. Open-face helmets offer protection around the back and sides of your head, but are less protective than other styles. They certainly capture a certain look and can offer a lower temperature than other styles, but lack the protection around your chin that some riders prefer. Full-face helmets are exactly what they sound like: a helmet that covers your entire head and face. Not only do full-face helmets provide protection to the sides, chin, and face, but they also keep out the elements. Road particles, rain, or dust won’t get in your eyes while riding wearing this style. If you’re looking for the safety of the chin bar offered by full-face helmets with the ease of the open-face, a modular helmet might be what you’re looking for. Modular helmets protect the sides of your head and include a chin bar to protect your face. They also often include a visor that can be flipped up without removing the helmet if you need to communicate with fellow riders at a rest stop. While the most protective option is the full-face helmet, choosing a helmet that you’ll happily wear while riding is the most important factor. Paying attention to features like ventilation, tinted shield visors, and removable lining for easy cleaning can help when choosing a helmet you’ll wear long-term.
Determine Your Head Shape
Unsurprisingly, paying attention to the shape of your head is important! Making sure you understand your head shape is the best way to ensure that your helmet feels comfortable while riding. In a world of one-size fits all hats and headgear, you might not have considered the shape of your head before now. Paying attention to the shape of your head rather than the shape of your face is step one. Most people fit into one of three shapes: round oval, long oval, and intermediate oval. Asking a friend to snap a picture of your head from above can help you visually determine which category best matches your dimensions. If you have long hair, tying it back can help prevent your hairstyle from obscuring the shape of your head. Next, grab a tape measure and have a friend measure the circumference of your head. The tape should lie above your eyebrows and circle back around the widest point of your head. Having this number handy can help when you’re comparing your measurements to the size charts provided by brands. Regardless of whether you think you clearly fall into one of the three shapes, confirming this assumption by trying on helmets is the best way to guarantee a good fit.
Check the Fit
Once you’ve selected a potential helmet based on the desired style and shape of your head, trying it on to check the fit is a no-brainer. While it’s possible to buy online, your best bet is to head over to a motorcycle supply store in person so you can try on a large range of options. Remember that passing the helmet over your head isn’t necessarily supposed to be comfortable. It should feel snug to your head and stay in place. Additionally, adjusting your ears might also be part of the process of trying on various styles. Instead, pay attention to how the helmet fits once it’s in place. If you’ve opted for a full-face style, you’ll probably feel the cheek pads pressing against your face. Test the fit by moving the chin around. While you could feel your cheeks shift, the helmet itself should stay snug without moving. If that’s a match, keep the helmet on for 10 or so to check the fit. Focus on whether you feel any pressure points on the side of your head at your temples or across your forehead. If these spots feel uncomfortable, this is a sign that the helmet isn’t suited to your head shape and that you might need to try a different one. If the helmet feels snug and comfortable, you’ve found a contender and you’re ready to ride!
How Much to Invest?
Deciding how much to pay for a motorcycle helmet is another factor on the table. You don’t want to get ripped off, but spending money on a good helmet is maybe one of the most essential elements of your motorcycle gear. Choosing the most expensive helmet isn’t necessarily the best option. Don’t skip over affordable brands by assuming they aren’t as safe as top-of-the-line helmets. Rather than focusing on the price, which is partially determined by the style aesthetic and branding, look at each helmet’s safety rating. Focusing on the safety rating rather than gravitating toward the cheapest or most expensive option is the best way to ensure that you’re making the right choice for you.
If you’ve found the right helmet, you’re ready to ride. Over time, your helmet will mold slightly to your head, further improving the feel and fit. That said, always remember that your helmet should still feel snug to your head. A loose fit is the best way to determine that a helmet is too big!
All that being said, the best helmet is the helmet you wear. Make sure you also wear your motorcycle earplugs to protect against hearing damage from wind noise. EARPEACE motorcycle earplugs are hearing protection designed to fit comfortable under any helmet.