How to Measure Helmet Size for Motorcycle Safety: A Complete Guide

Choosing the right motorcycle helmet isn’t just about style; it’s about safety and comfort. A helmet that fits well can make all the difference in protecting your head during a ride. If you’re unsure how to measure your helmet size, you’re not alone.

Key Takeaways

  • Importance of Proper Helmet Fit: A well-fitting motorcycle helmet is crucial for safety and comfort, reducing the risk of head injuries and ensuring a more pleasant riding experience.
  • Measuring Techniques: Use a flexible measuring tape to measure the circumference of your head, placed about 1 inch above your eyebrows, or use a string and ruler as an alternative method.
  • Helmet Shape and Size: Consider head shape (round, oval, or intermediate) and use manufacturer-specific size charts to find the perfect helmet size.
  • Helmet Retention Systems: Properly adjust and check the helmet’s retention system (chin straps) to ensure the helmet stays in place during rides.
  • Avoid Common Measurement Mistakes: Use a flexible tape, measure the correct part of your head, account for hair, and avoid rounding measurements to ensure an accurate fit.
  • Try Before You Buy: Always try on the helmet to ensure it fits snugly without pressure points and provides maximum protection and comfort.

Understanding Helmet Sizing for Motorcycles

Why Proper Helmet Fit Matters

Proper helmet fit ensures maximum safety during motorcycle rides. A well-fitting helmet stays in place during an impact, reducing the risk of head injuries. It also provides comfort for long rides, preventing pressure points and discomfort. Helmets that are too loose can move around, reducing their protective effectiveness. Conversely, helmets that are too tight can cause headaches and distract you from the road.

Key Measurements for Helmet Sizing

Accurate measurements are essential for selecting the right helmet size. Use a flexible measuring tape to measure the circumference of your head. Place the tape about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above your eyebrows and wrap it around the widest part of your head, including the back.

Compare your head circumference to the helmet manufacturer’s size chart to determine your size. For instance, a head circumference of 22 inches (56 cm) typically falls under a medium size in many brands. Remember that sizes may vary across different brands, so always refer to the specific chart provided by the manufacturer.

Consider the helmet’s shape, as head shapes can be round, oval, or intermediate. Pick a helmet that matches your head shape for the best fit. Many brands offer various shapes to accommodate different head contours, so look for these options when selecting your helmet.

Following these steps helps ensure you find a helmet that provides optimal protection and comfort.

Tools and Techniques to Measure Helmet Size

Using a Measuring Tape

Using a measuring tape, position it around your head, just above your eyebrows and ears, to measure the circumference. Ensure the tape remains level and snug but not too tight. Record this measurement in centimeters or inches. This measurement gives you an accurate base to match against helmet size charts provided by manufacturers. Consistently use a soft measuring tape designed for body measurements to maintain accuracy.

Alternative Measurement Tools

If you don’t have a measuring tape, use a piece of string and a ruler. Wrap the string around your head in the same manner as the measuring tape. Mark the point where the string meets and measure this length with a ruler. This method serves as a reliable alternative and ensures you can still obtain an accurate head circumference. Consider using a flexible tailor’s tape or a printable helmet sizing chart for different, yet precise, measurement options.

Selecting the Right Helmet Model

Different Helmet Types and Fits

Different helmet types and fits cater to varied riding styles and preferences. Full-face helmets provide comprehensive protection, covering the entire head and face. They are ideal for high-speed riding and long-distance travel. Open-face helmets, covering only the top and sides of the head, offer a broader field of vision but less protection. Modular helmets combine features of both full-face and open-face models, allowing riders the flexibility to flip up the chin bar.

Impact of Helmet Shape on Size

Helmet shape significantly impacts sizing accuracy. Helmets usually come in three shapes: round, intermediate oval, and long oval. Round shape suits heads with equal width and length dimensions. Intermediate oval is the most common, fitting heads slightly longer front-to-back. Long oval shape fits heads longer front-to-back compared to the width. Correctly identifying your head shape ensures the helmet fits snugly without pressure points, enhancing both safety and comfort.

Tips for a Perfect Helmet Fit

Adjusting Pads and Liners

Achieving a perfect helmet fit involves properly adjusting pads and liners. Helmet pads should contour to your head’s unique shape for a snug fit. If the pads feel too tight, replace them with thinner options; conversely, use thicker pads to improve fit if they’re too loose. Liners are crucial for comfort and safety. Ensure the liner sits evenly atop your head without creating pressure points. Many helmets come with removable and washable liners, making maintenance easier.

The Role of Helmet Retention Systems

Helmet retention systems are integral to a secure fit. These systems, often in the form of chin straps, keep the helmet in place during rides. A properly fastened chin strap should allow no more than two fingers to fit between the strap and your chin. Some helmets feature quick-release mechanisms for easy removal. Always check the retention system for proper functionality before each ride, as it ensures your helmet won’t shift in case of an impact.

Common Mistakes When Measuring Helmet Size

Ensuring a proper helmet fit is crucial for both safety and comfort. However, several common mistakes can undermine this process.

Using Incorrect Measuring Tools

Using a hard measuring tape or ruler can result in inaccurate measurements. Opt for a flexible tailor’s tape to measure the head circumference. This ensures you get a more accurate reading that conforms to the shape of the head.

Measuring at the Wrong Location

Measuring the wrong part of the head can lead to an ill-fitting helmet. Always measure the widest part, typically just above the eyebrows and around the back of the head.

Ignoring Helmet Shape

Helmet shape matters as much as size. Choose between round oval, intermediate oval, or long oval shapes depending on your head’s profile. Ignoring this aspect can result in discomfort and poor helmet performance.

Not Accounting for Hair

Hair can affect the fit of your helmet. If you have long or thick hair, factor it into your measurements. Tie your hair the way you’ll wear it under the helmet to get an accurate measurement.

Rounding Measurements

Rounding your measurements up or down can compromise helmet fit. Use exact measurements to find the best possible size. Helmets that are too loose or too tight won’t offer optimal protection.

Skipping the Fit Test

Purchasing a helmet based only on measurements without trying it on can be a mistake. Always try the helmet on to ensure it fits snugly without pressure points. Wear it for several minutes to check comfort.

Confusing Helmet Sizes Between Brands

Different brands may have slight variations in sizing. Check the sizing chart specific to the brand you’re interested in. Don’t assume the same size fits across different manufacturers.

Neglecting to Re-measure

Head size can change over time due to various factors. Re-measure your head every time you purchase a new helmet to ensure it still fits properly. Don’t rely on old measurements.

Avoid these common mistakes to ensure a helmet that provides maximum protection and comfort. Accurate measurements and thoughtful considerations are essential steps in selecting the right motorcycle helmet.


Choosing the right motorcycle helmet size is essential for your safety and comfort on the road. By paying attention to accurate measurements, considering helmet shape, and avoiding common mistakes, you can ensure a proper fit. Always re-measure periodically and try on different brands to find the perfect match. Remember, a well-fitted helmet is a crucial investment in your riding experience and overall safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to select a helmet based on safety and comfort rather than style?

Choosing a helmet based on safety and comfort ensures optimal protection and comfort during rides, reducing the risk of injury in case of an accident.

What are the key measurements for selecting a motorcycle helmet?

Key measurements include head circumference, helmet shape (round, oval, intermediate oval), and cheek pad thickness for a snug fit.

How should I measure my head for a helmet?

Use a flexible measuring tape to measure the circumference of your head just above the eyebrows and ears, ensuring the tape stays level.

What tools are necessary for accurate helmet sizing?

A flexible tape measure and a mirror can help you precisely measure your head circumference and shape.

What are common mistakes in measuring helmet size?

Common mistakes include using incorrect tools, measuring the wrong location, ignoring helmet shape, and not accounting for hair or padded liners.

How should I account for my hairstyle when measuring helmet size?

Measure your head with your usual hairstyle to ensure a consistent fit. If you frequently change styles, remeasure with each change.

Why is it important not to round measurements when sizing a helmet?

Rounding measurements can lead to a poor fit, compromising comfort and safety. Always use exact measurements for accuracy.

What is the importance of the fit test when selecting a helmet?

The fit test ensures the helmet fits snugly without being too tight, confirming it won’t move or cause discomfort during rides.

Do helmet sizes vary between brands?

Yes, helmet sizes may vary between brands. Always refer to the specific brand’s sizing chart and measure accordingly.

How often should I re-measure my head for helmet sizing?

Re-measure your head annually or whenever you notice significant changes, such as weight loss, haircuts, or new hair growth.

By following these guidelines and using accurate measurements, you can select a motorcycle helmet that provides the best protection and comfort.