The right helmet is a key factor in how much you enjoy riding your motorcycle. Many of us see bikes as a little rebellious and envision riding fast with the wind blowing through your hair. We’re not saying that that isn’t a great feeling, but your overall safety can allow you to enjoy the exhilaration of riding for years to come. Choosing the right motorcycle helmet is almost as difficult, and important, as choosing your motorcycle. You want to be sure that it will be comfortable for extended periods and that it provides the protection that you desire, and that your particular riding style may require.
There are many styles to choose from, but the basic types include:
- Half-helmet – This type really only protects the top of your head. While it does meet the legal requirements, it is not recommended for adequate head protection.
- Three-quarter helmet – This option covers the top, back and sides of your head down to your jawline. You can add to this protection with a pair of goggles or a snap-on face shield.
- Full-face helmet – This helmet covers your entire head and face. It offers protection across the front of your chin and has a moveable face shield to protect your eyes.
Your new helmet should be tight on your head, but not too tight. You want the padding to contact all of your head and around your face, but not put a lot of pressure on any particular spots.
To start out, use a tape measure to measure around the largest part of your head, generally just above your eyebrows and ears. Next, check a sizing chart, either online or at a local dealer, to determine what size range you should try on.
Test Fit the Helmet
When you’re trying on a new helmet, there are several areas to check to be sure that it will provide adequate protection and comfort.
- Secure the chin-strap and try to roll the helmet forward to take it off. If you can remove it with the strap tightened, try a smaller size.
- Again, tighten the chin strap and try to move the helmet from side to side. You shouldn’t feel any gaps, in fact, the skin on your head should move as you move the helmet.
- All of the pads around your face should touch the skin. On full-face helmets, push back on the chin protection. The face shield should not come in contact with your nose or chin.
- After wearing it for a few minutes, remove the helmet and look at your head for any red spots. These could indicate too tight of a fit that could create headaches and skin irritation.
Helmets can be quite expensive, so you want to take care of it. Only use mild detergents when cleaning your helmet. Chemicals and petroleum-based cleaners can damage the helmet and cause irritation to your skin and eyes.
If your helmet has been involved in an accident or any hard fall, the shell or shock-absorbing liner may have been damaged, and it should be replaced.
Don’t lose your head! A good helmet can offer years of service when you do your part in making smart choices in head protection.