How To Properly Fit A Motorcycle Helmet

Take the hammer away from the helmet!

Helmet fit for women
"My boyfriend has suggested using a knife to trim the parts of the helmet liner that are pressing on my head or turning the helmet upside down and whacking the high spots with the handle of a hammer."Kevin Wing

Question: My boyfriend got me a helmet last year for my birthday. On our first trip of this year's riding season I quickly discovered my new helmet is a pain. It puts too much pressure on my forehead and on the back of my head. After about 30 minutes on the road I was very uncomfortable. He told me not to worry and that the helmet would "break in."

Over the next few rides the pain only got worse. The helmet just doesn't fit me, despite several reviews I saw online praising its fit and comfort. My boyfriend has suggested using a knife to trim the parts of the helmet liner that are pressing on my head or turning the helmet upside down and whacking the high spots with the handle of a hammer. Neither of these seems safe to me. Is there any way to make this helmet fit? Sheryl Burchard / Atlanta, GA

Got tech questions that need ANSWERS?

Answer: Take that hammer away from your boyfriend, and tell him you'll use it on him if he touches your helmet with it. The liner's job is to absorb impact energy in a crash; removing material from it, or compressing it in one spot, compromises it for its primary task.

The solution isn't to modify the helmet but instead to return it for one that fits. Some helmet manufacturers use a single head form—a stand-in for the human head—to determine the shape and fit of their liners, while others offer several choices to fit different head shapes. Revzilla has a page on its website that explains how Intermediate (the most common head shape) differs from Long Oval (less common) and Round (the least common). Click on the page for any full-face helmet and then click on the head-shape graphic.

Our advice is to go to a shop that stocks several brands and try them on until you find one without the pressure points your current lid has. Remember, too, that online comments about fit don't matter if you don't know what shape the poster's head is. Helmets are like shoes—you should try them on before you buy.