motorcycle helmet sizing: how to find the perfect fit

When it comes to protecting your noggin, you have to use your noodle. Play it smart and take the proper helmet-sizing steps before rushing headlong into a purchase. We'll show you how.

size matters: poor-fitting helmets put you at risk

Just about everyone agrees motorcycle helmets offer huge safety benefits. What's not as widely accepted (but should be) is the fact that only properly sized helmets let you reap them.

The risk of serious head injury and fatality spikes without a good fit. If your helmet's too big, you risk letting in noise and wind. Worse still, it could even come off in a crash. Too small, and your vision can be compromised or general discomfort could lead to costly distractions.

how to measure your head for a motorcycle helmet

Getting your hands on a comfortable (and safe) helmet is pretty easy. Here are the steps to take for proper motorcycle helmet sizing.

Turn to the tape measure

Measure the circumference of your head at its widest point (usually just above the eyebrows). If the measurement falls between 2 numbers, go with the larger one, and repeat the process a few times to make sure your result is consistent.

Once you know the circumference, simply look up your results in a helmet size chart like the one below (as per the Motorcycle Safety Foundation).

Inches Centimeters Helmet size
20 18 – 20 12 51 – 52 XX-Small
20 78 – 21 14 53 – 54 X-Small
21 58 – 22 55 – 56 Small
22 38 – 22 78 57 – 58 Medium
23 14 – 23 58 59 – 60 Large
24 – 24 38 61 – 62 X-Large
24 78 – 25 14 63 – 64 XX-Large

While these are just general guidelines — not a guarantee of the safest helmet for you — they should give you a solid idea of what to look for when shopping.

Learn your head shape

To further narrow down your ideal motorcycle helmet size, determine which of these 3 general categories your head shape falls under:

  • Oval — probably the most common head shape
  • Round — wider in the middle than the oval, like a bowling ball
  • Egg — wide at the top and narrower at the bottom

Some higher-end helmet makers may be able to contour an entire helmet to your head shape, ensuring minimal jostling during your ride. But even if that's not an option, knowing your head shape could still help you determine how thick you want the shell liners and cheek pads.

Try on as many helmets as you can (then a few more)

With your head shape and size in mind, experts at your nearest motorcycle shop should have no trouble pinpointing a style and fit. However, it's up to you to try on as many individual helmets as possible. Each will have its own quirks and only through trial and error can you find the ideal cap for your cranium.

before you buy: how a proper-fitting helmet should feel

Once you think you have a winner, run through this checklist to verify that your helmet feels just right.

  1. The helmet doesn't move when you shake your head.
  2. Your eyes are in the middle of the eye port.
  3. You feel a slight, even pressure all across your head.
  4. Cheek pads brush up against your cheeks without exerting uncomfortable pressure.
  5. There are no gaps between your temples and the brow pads.
  6. The face shield (if a full-face helmet) doesn't touch your nose or chin when you push on the chin piece.
  7. You can't slip off the helmet when the chin strap is securely fastened.
  8. The neck roll (if there is one) doesn't push the helmet away from the back of your neck.
  9. Upon removing the helmet, your head doesn't feel sore and there are no red spots.

insuring your bike and your gear

As experienced riders can attest, quality helmets cost a pretty penny. At Esurance, we'd never want financial worries to get in the way of having the safest ride possible.

Get your free motorcycle insurance quote to begin customizing a policy for both your bike and your protective gear.

Motorcycle helmet types
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