Helmet Choice & Safety

How To Choose A Helmet And Wear It Correctly

Helmet twist by chin strap
Helmet side to side movement
Helmet front-back movement
Motorcycle riding has special personal hazards and no helmet can protect the head against all foreseeable high speed and low speed impacts. The protective capability of a helmet is difficult to measure at the time of purchase because there are untold number of accidents. A helmet can provide protection only to the extent that your head is covered with the helmet. However, the use of a well fitted, securely fastened helmet can minimize the risk of death or permanent impairment from head injury. For maximum head protection, the helmet must be of proper fit and the retention system must be securely fastened under the chin. Failure to have a proper fit and to securely fasten the helmet is dangerous as the helmet could come off in an accident resulting in severe head injury or death.
Before purchasing a helmet, please follow Step A all the way through Step D below carefully:

A. To determine proper fit.

1. Measure your head size. Pass a tape measure horizontally around your head at a height of about one inch (2.5cm) above your eyebrows that results in the largest measurement.

2. Select the helmet that is closest to your head size. As the helmet may not always exactly meet your head size and if your head measurement falls between two helmet sizes, first try on the small size.

B. Try the helmet on.

1. Expand the helmet opening with your hands, (see Diagram A) and slide your head into the helmet.

Pull the chin-straps only, not the chin strap covers. Pulling on the covers may rip them. If the helmet is not tight, it is too big for you. If you are unfamiliar with helmets you may be reluctant to pull down the helmet, which should feel tight. Even if you feel it is difficult to put it on, please use the smallest helmet possible. You should feel a snug fit.

C. Check for a proper fit. With the helmet on, go through the following checklist to determine whether the helmet is the correct size.

1. Check whether the helmet inner lining fits snugly all around your head.

2. Check whether the top pad presses closely on the top of your head.

3. Check whether the cheekpads are in contact with your cheeks.

4. Check to make sure there is no space around your brow under the inner lining, whereyou can insert your fingers.

5. Now, take hold of the helmet with a hand on each side. Without moving your head, try to move the helmet up and down, and side to side. You should feel the skin of your head and face being pulled as you try to move the helmet. If you can move the helmet around easily, it is too big. Try a smaller size.

D. Check the retention system and go through the following steps.

1. Fasten the chin strap as tight as possible without causing you pain (see diagram B). There must be no slack in the strap and it must be tight up against your chin.

2. With the chin strap secured, put your hands flat on the back of the helmet and try to push the helmet off by rotating it forward.

3. Next, put your hands on the front of the helmet above your forehead (or on the chin guard) and try to push the helmet off by rotating it toward the rear.

4. If the helmet starts to come off in either direction, do not use the helmet. Either the helmet is too large for you or the chin strap is not tightened enough.


Tightening the chin strap correctly is extremely important. Try to pull down on the chin strap with the tips of your fingers - if the strap is not up against your chin or loosens, you have not properly put the strap through the D rings. Start again (see Diagram B). If your chin strap is loose, the shock of an impact may knock your helmet off, leaving your head completely unprotected. Do not use a helmet that can be rolled off the head with the chin strap fastened, since it may come off in an accident, resulting in death or serious personal injuries.

D Ring: To securely fasten the D ring retention system, thread the end of the chinstrap through the D rings only as shown in diagram B and pull it tight against your throat. Clip the chin strap end hook on to the D ring as shown in diagram B to secure the loose end of the chin strap after securely fastening the chin strap. The only function of the chin strap end hook fitted on the end of the chin strap is to avoid fluttering of the end part of the chin strap.

1. Measurement

Measuring the head is a starting point for the entire sizing procedure. Due to varying shapes, heads that are apparently the same size when measured by a tape may not necessarily fit the same size helmet.

A small metal tape measure, or a cloth tape may be used to make your initial measurement.

The circumference of the head should be measured at a point approximately one inch above the eyebrows in front, and at a point in the back of the head that results in the largest possible measurement. Take several measurements, to make sure you have the largest one.

2. Try-On

Once you've determined your preliminary tape measurement, select the helmet that is closest in hat size to the tape measurement. If it is between sizes, round-up to the next largest size. Now try on your helmet.

If you are not familiar with helmets, you should use these instructions on the proper procedure for putting one on:
Helmet - Try it on!
A. Grasp the helmet by the chin straps, with the front of the helmet facing you and the top of the helmet facing down.

B. Place your thumbs on the inside surface of the straps and balance the helmet with your index fingers.

C. Spread the helmet apart with your hands, and slip it down over your head.
Helmets of different shapes go on differently. Sometimes, the front of the helmet must go on first; other times, the rear. If the helmet flops down on your head with no resistance, you have your first indication that it may be too large. Obviously, if it won't slide down over your head at all, it is too small.

Many people unfamiliar with helmets are reluctant to pull down if they meet resistance as the helmet goes on. To tell if it is really too small, or just snug going on you should continue the effort to get the helmet on. Only if the helmet is impossible to put on should you move up to the next size, as helmets that go on snug generally fit very well once on all the way.

Remember, most people will select a helmet that is too large for them. They will regret it later, because ill-fitting helmets are more likely to be noisy, windy and fatiguing to wear.

We have noted that some people have a tendency to wear a helmet perched on the backs of their heads, like hats. Be sure that the helmet is sitting squarely on your head. Use the location of the eyes in the eyeport of a full face model as a gauge.

The eyes should be approximately in the center, with the top edge of the liner padding just above the eyebrows.

3. Checking Horizontal and Vertical Movement

Now that you are wearing the helmet, use a mirror to look carefully at the way it fits. Check to see if the cheek pads are in contact with the cheeks. Is there excess pressure on the cheeks?

Look for gaps between the temples and the brow pad.

Check the back of the helmet where the neck roll (if the helmet has one) makes contact with the neck. Does it touch at all? Or is it pushing the helmet away at the rear, causing it to roll down over the eyes in front?
Helmet twist & roll!
After you have made your visual check, grab the helmet in your hands - one on either side - and try to rotate the helmet from side-to-side. Note any movement of the skin while doing this, as well as the amount of resistance to movement. Hold your head steady to do this.

Next check movement up and down, again noting skin movement and resistance. If in either test there was little or no skin movement, and/or the helmet moved very easily, the helmet is too large.

It is important to note here that you should think about the comfort of the helmet during the fitting process - with respect to comfort, pressure points, or anything else that will help you make the right sizing choice.

A properly fitted helmet will cause the skin to move as the helmet moves. And, it will feel to the wearer as if evenly distributed pressure is being continuously exerted around the head.

NOTE: Helmets are a little like shoes, in that they do break in a little. For this reason, the best attitude to have when fitting is that the helmet should be as tight fitting as you can stand to wear it - taking into consideration the length of time it will be worn.

For Example: A drag racer's helmet can be very tight, because it will only be worn for a few minutes at a time. On the other hand, a police officer, who wears a helmet for hours at a time is more concerned with comfort.

4. Retention Check

Now fasten the chin strap, so you can check it. After the strap has been tightly fastened, hold your head steady, and note that this test may be a little uncomfortable, but that it is very important. Reach over the top of the helmet, grabbing the bottom edge with your fingers. Then try to roll the helmet off your head. If it comes off, it is undoubtedly too large.

NOTE: Do not use a helmet that can be rolled off the head with the strap fastened! Try not to cause severe pain, but do give a good, strong pull on the helmet.


5. Pressure Point Check

Finally, unfasten the chin strap and remove the helmet. Immediately after the helmet has been removed, use a mirror to observe the coloration of the skin on the forehead and cheeks. A reddening of the skin in a small area may indicate a pressure point.

Pressure points sometimes are not noticed by the wearer until after several minutes, or even hours of wear. They sometimes cause headaches and are, at the least, uncomfortable.

If you notice a pressure point, note if you experienced discomfort in that area while wearing the helmet. If you can't remember, put the helmet back on for a few minutes, paying particular attention to the anticipated pressure point(s). If the pressure point discomfort continues, go to the next largest size, repeating steps three, four and five.

6. Confirming Proper Fit

One way to confirm your evaluation of proper fit is to try on helmets that are one size larger and one size smaller than the one you think is right. Keep in mind that people gravitate towards larger sizes.

Another way, is to wear the helmet around the store for a few minutes. This will allow any pressure points to show up.

No helmet can protect the user from all foreseeable impacts.
For maximum protection, a helmet must fit securely and should provide adequate peripheral vision.
The chin strap must be securely fastened.

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Kingston HOGĀ®, Chapter 9026 - Helmet Safety