How To: The 4 Factors For Choosing The Right Helmet

The 4 Factors For Choosing The Right Helmet

  • Shape
  • Size
  • Style
  • Safety Rating

***WARNING: Always CHOOSE to ride safely!***

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Choosing The Right Helmet

Choosing the right helmet can make all the difference in the world.

With that said, the selection process is no easy task.

We are going to take a look at the four major features that ensure that you get the best protection for a safe ride.

No, all helmet are not the same!

As we look a little deeper, you will understand the reason for that remark.

In addition, price does not always guarantee the best quality.

Sometimes, you are just buying a name or reputation.

There are numerous helmets in the low and mid price range that can provide protect just as good as a high dollar helmet.

We do not encourage impulse or tend purchasing.

Do your homework find the helmet that best fits your wallet, style, and head, of course.

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Cannot Image That Shape Is A Thing

Ordinarily when you see a rider, they are commonly wearing an oval-shaped bowl on their head.

Unless you were familiar, you would think they are all the same. right?

Well, your head shape plays an important role when sizing for a helmet.

The industry recognizes three types of head shapes:

  • Long Oval
  • Round Oval
  • Intermediate Oval

The long oval shape is described as having distance between your forehead and the back of the head.

More often than not, the head appears loose on the sides and feels tight from the forehead to the back of the head.

Next we have the round oval shape.

According to Helmets Advisor, “If your head shape looks round or identical to a football, consider your head shape as the round oval.”

This is when the head is wide and length are equal.

The third and final shape is the intermediate oval.

Around the world, the intermediate oval is recognized as the most common head shape.

The selection of helmets for the intermediate oval shape is far larger than the other two shapes.

Therefore, with this shape head finding a good fit should be rather easy.

Cardo Systems offers the following as a way to measure your head:

  1. Wrap the tape around the thickest part of your head. For most people, this will be right above your ears, approximately half an inch above your eyebrows.
  2. Measure your head circumference. It’s easiest and most accurate if someone else reads the tape.
  3. Take the measurement again, just to be safe. (“Measure twice, cut once,” as carpenters say.)
  4. Find a helmet sizing chart for a brand of helmets you’re interested in and determine your size.

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Choosing The Size Of Your Helmet

Choosing the size of your helmet goes hand-in-hand with the shape of your head.

Here is an example of a helmet sizing chart:

SizeHead measurementUS Hat size
XS207/8 – 213/865/8 – 67/8
S211/2 – 2267/8 – 71/8
M221/8 – 225/871/8 – 73/8
L223/4 – 231/473/8 – 75/8
XL233/8 – 237/875/8 – 77/8
XXL24 – 241/277/8 – 81/8
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Check The Styles Available To You

For all practical purposes, the types of helmets fall into 6 categories:

  • Full Face
  • Modular
  • Half
  • Open Face
  • Off Road
  • Dual Sport

The full-face helmet offers the most coverage around your head and neck.

For this reason, it is considered the safest type of motorcycle helmet to protect you from potential harm. 

When considering the full-face helmet design, only this type helmet can provide protection for your chin and jaw.

The modular helmet, known for its flip-up chin, is a combination of the full-face and 3/4 helmet.

The chin bar and visor both flip up to an open front helmet.

Modular helmets often weigh a bit more than the traditional full-face helmet because of the extra design hinge features of the flip-up front area. 

The half helmet provides protection for the top of the head only.

Although this helmet offers excellent airflow, it provides far less protection than the full-face, modular, or open face helmets.

Since there is no visor or face shield on the half helmet, eye protection is required.

Riding glasses or goggle are recommended.

The open face helmet, also known as the 3/4 helmet, covers the top back of the head, leaving the sides of the face unprotected.

Since there is no chin bar, this type helmet drastically reduces the rider’s safety.

Nonetheless, this type of helmet is popular amongst scooters, cafe racers, tourers, and cruisers.

Safety wise, the open face helmet is structurally equal to the full-face helmet.

The absence of the chin bar does not drastically diminish the protection.

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The Importance of Safety Ratings

The importance of the safety ratings for a helmet is not always associated with cost.

There are several organizations whose safety standard that helmet manufacturers follow:

  • Snell Foundation requirements
  • DOT (Department of Transportation)
  • European Safety Standard 22/05
  • Sharp (UK)

These safety requirements help to ensure that the quality of the helmets placed on the market.

For example, the Snell Foundation safety standards cover the following areas:

  • Impact Testing – controlled impacts to simulate different impact surfaces.
  • Positional Stability (Roll Off) Test – weight is connected via wire rope and dropped from a determined height.
  • Dynamic Retention Test – is tested by removing the 23 kg weight and applying a 38 kg mass in an abrupt guided fall.
  • Chin Bar Test – a 5 kg weight is dropped to hit the central portion of the chin bar.
  • Snell Penetration Test – a sharp-pointed 3-kg object is dropped from a prescribed height. 
  • Face Shield Penetration Test – the face shield (visor) is attached to a test helmet and shot along the centerline in three separate places with an air rifle.

Standard rating scores often vary between organization which is dependent upon the criteria and equipment used.

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How to Spot an Unsafe Helmet

The 4 Factors For Choosing The Right Helmet - Busted Helmet

Spotting an unsafe helmet is the first line of defense when purchasing a new or used helmet.

Opting to have a helmet that meet rigorous standards is an obvious requirement.

In the U.S., the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218 defines minimum levels of performance that helmets must meet to protect the head and brain in a crash.

In essence, these standards are the bare minimum as to what defines a safe helmet.

You should inspect your helmet regularly to ensure that it is safe to use.

Inspection includes checking the following:

  • Outer Shell
  • Impact Absorbing Liner
  • Padded Comfort Layer
  • Retention System/Chin Strap
  • Faceshield/Visor
  • Cheek Pads

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So that concludes our list of the 4 factors for choosing the right helmet on the market today.

We have discussed the shape, size, style, and safety ratings as the primary go to for evaluating a helmet.

Remember, the safety standard organization ensure good product is available on the market.

However, it is your responsibility to inspect you helmet to avoid risk.

If you have any question about the information listed here, go to the manufacturers’ websites for more detailed information.

And I close out by saying, we need what we need!

If we keep our minds right, we can keep our bodies tight!

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Join me and let us make sense of it all! We can do it together.

If you have not done so already, please read the previous topics to benefit from the information. 

Feel free to reach out in the space below. I welcome the opportunity to have a discussion with you.

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To your success and growth,


Founder of The Squirrelly Biker

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