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Choosing the correct motorcycle helmet.

Updated on September 11, 2015

How to measure your head for helmet size

Whether purchasing a helmet online or at a motorcycle superstore, you will have to know your head size. The helmet may feel comfortable when you try it on but a couple miles down the road you start to develop a headache or feel too compressed.

A helmet should push on your cheeks gently and be quite snug to tight. Once the strap is tightened you should not be able to pull the helmet off by lifting the front and pulling it back over your head. If the helmet does slip off backwards, then either the helmet is too large or the strap is not tight enough.

Helmets also will feel larger after a little while as the padding inside will compress and flatten with wear. This will cause the helmet to become loose and will shake on your head which is dangerous and negates the proper safety of the helmet to a degree.

If you have not measured your head when purchasing the helmet in store, feel on your forehead that you can almost get your pinky finger between the helmet and your forehead. This will ensure that you do not get compression headaches from a helmet that is too tight.

Measuring your head for helmet size is done from just above your brow and around the circumference of your head. Add half a finger width to the measurement to prevent helmet from being too tight and getting compression headaches.
The average helmet sizes are listed below:

  • XS 20 7/8 - 21 1/4 or 53 cm
  • sm 21 5/8 - 22 or 55 cm
  • m 22 3/8 - 22 3/4 or 57 cm
  • L 23 1/8 - 23 1/2 or 59 cm
  • xl 24 - 24 3/8 or 61 cm
  • 2xl 24 3/4 - 25 1/8 or 63 cm

Different helmet styles

Helmets come in a variety of styles to choose from and can reflect your personality as well as the bike you ride. It is always good to remember that a helmet is first and foremost there for protection. Buying a helmet because it is cheap is not acceptable. You should always buy the best you can afford. If you are involved in an accident, this is the main item that will save your life. getting scrapes and breaking bones will mend with time and are painful but will eventually heal. Brain damage or a cracked skull is almost always irreversible and bleeding on the brain can kill.

Stick to proper name brands or research the helmet before purchase. Ask around for advice. My last helmet purchase took me 2 months to decide on just to ensure I was happy as a helmet can last over 2 years, and that is a long time to be unhappy or just wasting money when you have to purchase a new one.

Full face helmet

Box360 Full face helmet poker edition
Box360 Full face helmet poker edition

Full face helmet

This is the most popular helmet. You will see this worn by any professional rider / racer and offer complete protection for the entire head. most suitable for the sports bike rider in terms of look. The rear of the helmet will normally have a bubble or lip on the back. This helps with air flow direction over the helmet and reduces wind noise found around the ears.

Normally fitted with top and front vents to allow air flow through which assists with the visor not fogging up when it is cold and kept closed. Another positive attribute is the fact that your chin is fully protected. Should you land head / face first, it is normally your chin that will scrape along the ground as it is our natural instinct to look up at the direction we are going.

Choose a popular brand.

It is best practice to choose your helmet from a well know brand. This ensures that your helmet has been tested well and meets high standards. Cheaper helmet brands do not have the money to test as often or as well and this hampers the quality when making the helmets.

Although cheaper helmets would work still, we are talking about an item that is there to save your life and you do not want to go cheap when safety is concerned.

The larger brands normally have very little air noise inside the helmet due to wind tunnel testing. The inside liners are normally removable and can be cleaned in a washing machine which is suggested due to natural oils from your head damaging the helmet insides.

Open face helmet

Seen worn by a lot of cruiser, chopper and Cafe Racer riders. Due to the open chin area, it is not quite as safe as the full face helmet but will allow for protection to the temples and skull protecting the brain. Should you land face first on the road, you will unfortunately have your jaw bone and chin open to scrapes which can be extremely painful. Chin straps that cover the bottom of your chin are available on certain makes and models which do offer some form of protection.

Many riders will opt to use a handkerchief or mouth covering cloth to stop dust from entering the mouth and nose and is great for adding some personal flair to your helmet.

Flip up helmet

Want the best of both worlds. Helmets can now come in full face with the chin section that is movable. The entire bottom of the helmet flips up giving the access and feel of the open face helmet. Simply lower the chin part down and you now have the safety of the full face helmet.

These are great if you often carry a pillion rider (someone on the back) as they can hear you more clearly when it is lifted up and you do not have a bluetooth or communication device on the helmet. Quickly gaining a lot of focus these helmets are now the preferred choice for cruisers such as the Honda goldwing or BMW GS where speeds are not very high and comfort is the main concern.

Helmet Poll

Do you purchase cheap helmets or prefer the more expensive brands.

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Moto Cross helmets

Moto cross helmets are exactly that. It is a full face helmet normally without the visor which is now swopped for goggles. They have a sun visor tip and used either by off road riders and enduro on/ off riders. Some sports bike riders do use them on occasion but due to excessive speeds that the average sports bike can do these days, the wind turbulence causes drag and it is not a very comfortable helmet at high speeds (120 mph +).

Final choices and when to change helmet

Hopefully this gives you more insight into which helmet choice will suit your needs best. Although helmets come in different shapes, color schemes and accessories. Always choose the helmet because of safety and never because it is cheapest.

Find the best fitting helmet in the correct size and do not just buy the first one that is there. You want to be happy with the purchase so if the motorcycle superstore does not have what you are looking for then either order or look elsewhere. Get the helmet for the correct application or use.

Periodically check your helmet for scratches and dents. Should there be any damage to the shell, the helmet must be replaced immediately. Any weakness or flaw will stop the helmet working correctly and is unsafe.

If your visor is badly scratched, these can be replaced separately normally. You can have a choice of a clear, smoked or tinted visor. If you are riding at night then do not use the tinted visor as it will affect visibility and that is an extreme danger. Cars driving without headlights or pedestrians walking into the road will be difficult to see at night with a tinted or smoked visor.

Ride safe.

Now that you have the correct helmet. Check out another hub to ensure you have all the correct riding gear to keep you safe.

Spirit Helmet with Bluetooth communication device

Spirit Helmet and Spirit communication device, Internal speakers and microphone.
Spirit Helmet and Spirit communication device, Internal speakers and microphone.


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