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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After noticing that my current helmet's foam lining is turning to dust, I've been shopping for a new helmet.
In a pinch, I went and dug out a few of my older helmets and those aren't in any better shape.
I bought my last helmet about 20 years ago.
A trip to the nearest dealer with a decent helmet selection got me nowhere. I've always worn a size large with no issues. I've always just grabbed what caught my eye off the shelf with no fit issues but things have changed. Like my last four helmets, I'm looking for a full face helmet. I tried on helmets from 7 or 8 different brands and helmets priced anywhere from $120 to $600 but every one had a major fit issue. I find myself trying on size 3XL helmets and not being able to stand having them on my head for more than a few seconds.
Its either they're too tight around the lower jaw, or they're pressed against my mouth real hard. I've tried round oval and long oval sizes but none seem to work. The best so far was and HJC CL16, but its tight on the sides digging into my jaw.
What I noticed is that the new helmets ride higher on my head than did my old helmets, I find that my chin is below the helmet on most or just barely covered.
My head measurement is 62 cm at the widest. By those measurements I should be looking at an XL helmet but I've yet to be able to even get a size XL on my head, let alone see how it feels.

About 35 years ago I bought my first full face helmet, made by Bieffe, the dealer had it on clearance. I remember trying it on and it being a bit tight in the sides, he took a measurement, then took the new helmet and stuck it on a metal head form back in the shop. It heated up the helmet a bit and 'sized' the helmet to fit. The head form had various inflatable areas that would 'size' the helmet. It got the helmet hot but not so hot you couldn't touch it. Maybe 120 degrees tops. It heated the shell up via hot air from the outside. He pulled the helmet off the stand after giving it a long blast of air to cool it and it fit like a glove ever since. It didn't stretch the helmet, it just tweaked it a bit on the sides ever so slightly I've still got it, although its liner is nothing but a rag these days with lots of rotted foam dust falling out of it.

I've not seen any such thing since, and that dealer is long gone. Those old helmets were likely plain fiberglass but it worked. It was the only time I ever saw that done, all of my other helmets were off the shelf and fit fine.

Did something change in how they mark or size helmets these days?
I certainly don't remember having the choice of 'round oval or long oval' 20 years ago.
 

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Maybe contact one of the major helmet manufactures and explain your problem. I do know that helmets fit tighter today than they used to, most of that with the padding they use. Some have different thickness padding you can exchange. Good luck.
 

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I assume you are trying fullface helmets. Have you tried modulars? I notice my modular gets much tighter when I close it. I doubt seriously if I could put the same size full face helmet on. Worth a try if you haven't already.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So far I've not found a modular that even comes close to fitting.
The HJC CL16 is the best so far, but it puts so much pressure on the sides of my face it hurts my teeth and jaw.
Speaking is nearly impossible with it on. It seems the higher dollar helmets are worse.

I prefer a full face helmet, especially in the winter but do have a few older open face helmets but those are from the 70's.
I did try a few cheaper open face helmets but couldn't even get an XL on my head.
I also notice that most of the brands I was always used to years ago are gone with the exception of Bell. I didn's see names like Grant, Bieffe, Simpson, or Vetter any more. The top brand seemed to be Shoei, with a long list of new names I've not seen before. Gmax, Duke, Fuel, Bilt, THH, HJC, and AFX were a few I saw.

I actually had better luck finding an offroad style or MX helmt that fit but they were still tight around my jaw.

What really surprised me is that in every brand I had to go two or three sizes larger than I used to buy. My current helmets are L and XL, now I'm trying on 3xl and looking maybe at a 4xl but not finding them. The problem is to get one that fits well enough that its not painfully tight on the sides, the top is loose.

My current bike came with an old German style half helmet that the guy said he bought in the early 90's, its marked medium inside. I tried a new one of the same style and couldn't even get an XL to sit right on my head. The lid was shorter front to back than the old one by about an inch or more even though its a larger size.

I see several size charts that list the circumference size and a hat size, my head measures 8 1/4, and my head measures 62 cm. Two measurements that don't match up. The helmet charts relate a hat size of 8 1/4 to a 3xl or 4xl, yet most call 62cm an xl. I've not even been able to get my head into an xl in a new helmet. I've probably tried 40 or 50 different models and sizes.
 

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I find that a full is impossible to get on. A modular works much better. You can remove some of the padding on the jaw area if you want. That area doesn't need the padding as much as the rest of the head. You still have the shell protecting your lower face.

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Another issue with new helmets is they seem to have more wind noise. I think the extra padding makes them wider at the bottom, and that is where the noise comes from.
For some folks a Shoie fits better than most other brands. Arai also prefers some heads.
I think I have an HJC.

UK
 

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Another issue with new helmets is they seem to have more wind noise. I think the extra padding makes them wider at the bottom, and that is where the noise comes from.
For some folks a Shoie fits better than most other brands. Arai also prefers some heads.
I think I have an HJC.

UK
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One of the problems is you can't tell if a brand is "your" brand or not (in fit) unless you try them on. I have never been to a shop where they've had Shoei or Arai in stock in a size for me. So if I can't try one on, I'll never buy one. You'd think every manufacturer would put one of each size in each store not to sell but to demo.

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The helmet I picked up in 2003 was a Shoei in medium so when (after saving up) I went looking for a new one
it was going to be another Shoei. The first week in Jan I started looking and trying on different models - most
medium shell sizes didn't fit even the Shoei models. The way they all were made is different than back around that time
frame I discovered with some research. The shells for the helmets with the different material used and with "wind tunnel testing"
results in different shapes - go figure right. I ended up having to get a large size and I have always used a medium. I ended up
with a Shoei RF 1200 in large - yes it's pretty snug but I'm sure after using it that it should loosen up and fit nicely.
Good luck with your search!!
 

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And again another problem: Some of the snug fitting helmets will be loose after one year, while others fit about the same many years later.

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The problem is that I've not yet found one I can even stand for a few minutes, let alone buy it and let it 'break in'.
The best so far is the HJC CL16, the CL17 was too tight.
One big problem is that most shops don't have the larger sizes, most only have small, medium, and large and a few have XL.
They won't order anything without it being prepaid and at that point its yours. If that's what I have to do I'll just buy it online for a lot less.
I may try ordering the HJC CL16 and either try modifying the cheek pads or try a trick an old guy taught me years ago.
You take an inflatable ball, one of those smaller vinyl beach balls they sell in Walmart or similar and let the air out enough to get it inside the helmet. Then you inflate it with some extra padding where you need the pressure to be relieved then let it sit like that for a few days. I hate to have to go that way but it may be my only option.

Around here I find most shops have Shoei, but I haven't seen any Arai helmets. There are lots of cheap chinese helmets that are priced about double what they are online though.
I wanted to try a Bell full face but couldn't find a full face large enough to even get it on my head. I saw a few good reviews about the Bell Qualifier and its affordable.
I keep seeing a lot of cheap helmets, and a small selection of better helmets, most of which are set up with communication systems in them.
I'm not too concerned with weight, anything I buy is likely lighter than what I've got now.
I like the visibility of an open face but having seen a few bad crashes with open face helmets, I'm pretty much set on a full face.

I like the idea of the modular helmet but haven't seen one yet that fits, there's been very few in the shops around here to choose from and most seem to be pretty tight around the face when closed up.
I'm not sure if they just aren't stocked up for the season around here yet or if this is as good as it gets in selection. Its been years since I've been to a dealer for anything. My last and only new bike was in 1988, (a Yamaha XT600). Since then everything has been used or put together from swap meets from basket cases.
Right now I'm working on another 1400 Intruder that was left sit with only 350 original miles on it.
None of the original dealers are still around, its all big multi brand stores these days, which I would think should mean more selection but I guess not.
I worked in a Honda shop years ago, they didn't stock a lot of brands but what they did stock, they kept in all sizes through the line. What I find is that they have x brand in one or two sizes and another in another size or two, and maybe one or two larger helmets. One dealer flat out told me they don't stock many helmets since all people do is come in and try them on to see what they need to order online.
 

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I find myself trying on size 3XL helmets and not being able to stand having them on my head for more than a few seconds.
A 20 year old XL helmet with disintegrating lining will probably be bigger than a new 3XL :smile:

My head measurement is 62 cm at the widest. By those measurements I should be looking at an XL helmet but I've yet to be able to even get a size XL on my head, let alone see how it feels.
My head is just a shade over 62cm. This puts me at the threshold between XL and 2XL. When I try on new helmets,
the 2XL is usually the most comfortable fit. I always opt for the XL and accept the fact that it may take a while
to break in. My four year old Shoei is now gloriously comfortable, it was a bit tight when new. My two year old
Scorpion is still a 'snug' fit.

Did something change in how they mark or size helmets these days?
Most of them are reasonably accurate in terms of head diameter. There are differences
in head shape and some variation in size between brands and models.

I certainly don't remember having the choice of 'round oval or long oval' 20 years ago.
I can remember a time when any helmet that would go over your head was close
enough. Closing the chinstrap was optional too.

I know that many riders prefer to wear a helmet that is one or more
sizes too big. If you haven't seen it yet, have a look at the Jay Leno
Arai helmet video on YouTube.
 

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I was in a bike shop today killing time waiting for the ferry. Tried a medium Bell that was too tight, and could not reach the large.
So I went to the clothing rack and tried on new jackets. All large and over $200. The arms were too tight on all of them. They fit around the chest and waist okay. I dropped the pair of rain pants when I looked at the price.
Short version. Try on everything. When did boots blow past $400. My Army boots, and my decent rubber boots, both cost $95.

UK
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
A 20 year old XL helmet with disintegrating lining will probably be bigger than a new 3XL :smile:
The problem I'm having is that even with a modern 3xl, I have trouble even getting my head into the helmet. I find that I'm pulling so hard on the straps that I'm flexing the outer shell almost an inch just to get the thing over my head.


My head is just a shade over 62cm. This puts me at the threshold between XL and 2XL. When I try on new helmets,
the 2XL is usually the most comfortable fit. I always opt for the XL and accept the fact that it may take a while
to break in. My four year old Shoei is now gloriously comfortable, it was a bit tight when new. My two year old
Scorpion is still a 'snug' fit.
I bought an HJC CL16 the other day, its a 2xl. Its really tight, but I'm trying the inflated beach ball trick to loose it up a bit. The way it is now I'd pass out before I got to the first intersection on the bike. Its mainly tight in the cheek and jaw area, the rest isn't as bad. For now, I didn't see any other option other than wear the dry rotted old helmet. It was the only helmet I tried that didn't feel like my whole head was in a vise.

I also pulled the liner out of my old Bieffe helmet, I had a roll of 1/4" thick poly foam here and some contact adhesive so I gave it a try.
I worked the liner out around the edges, laid the liner inside out around an old plastic bowl and cleaned off all the old foam, I then cut and glued new foam backing to the original cloth. Once all back together and glued in place, it feels as good as new. The inner shell and cheek pads were fine. That helmet is over 35 years old but was a Snell 85 rated model by Bieffe. I likely won't use it unless I needed it in a pinch but its as comfortable now as when I first got it. That helmet is a large.


Most of them are reasonably accurate in terms of head diameter. There are differences
in head shape and some variation in size between brands and models.

I can remember a time when any helmet that would go over your head was close
enough. Closing the chinstrap was optional too.

I know that many riders prefer to wear a helmet that is one or more
sizes too big. If you haven't seen it yet, have a look at the Jay Leno
Arai helmet video on YouTube.
I've seen that video, the problem is around here none of the shops I've been to stock the extra size pads and none have had any Arai helmets in any style I'd want to own. Most seemed geared more for the sport bike riders.

I did try a few Scorpion helmets, including a modular that wasn't too bad but the fit of the main helmet didn't match the fit of the face section.
The problem with the Scorpion helmet was that a large fit my well with the helmet open, but I couldn't even come close to closing the front section. No one had anything larger than an XL and that wasn't much better.

What I'm noticing is that even with a helmet that fits on my head, my face is pressed hard against the front of the helmet, hard enough that my teeth hurt and talking is almost impossible. On my older helmets, I can get a finger or two between my chin and the helmet. On the new models, my chin is smashed hard against the front of the helmet or actually exposed on some. On my old Bieffe helmet, the chin area is completely covered, and there's a lot of room in the front center of the helmet in the mouth area, on the new helmets that space is gone and my chin is often barely covered or exposed by a half inch or so. On the HJC that I bought, I can push the helmet down a bit against the padding to get a better fit, so we'll see how it feels after a day or two with a ball inflated inside. (The ball doesn't get inflated hard, just enough to put some pressure on the liner.).

I have to say that all this talk about a helmet breaking in is kind of new to me, I don't think I've ever bought a helmet that had to be broken in to be tolerable.
My THH full face was tight at first but never painful. Its about the same now but softens up a bit after its been on a bit in warm weather. Forget it if the weather is cold, the padding might as well be tire rubber. But that too has issues with face clearance up front. So much so that talking with the helmet on is not an option. In its defense, I bought that helmet to wear in the summer when I usually shave my head bald and loose the beard. It was never meant to be a cold weather helmet.

Something I'm not understanding about helmet sizes is the three basic types, round oval, intermediate oval, and long oval?

Does this mean the helmet is longer front to back or top to bottom?

I've tried on all three and really didn't see much difference. They're all tight in the face area.

I was told by a few that Shoei would be a likely fit but so far I've not even found one that I can get my head into. Its as if the base of the helmet is 2" too small for my head.

What it feels like to me is that the helmet isn't down far enough on my head, the top of my head isn't seated against the top of the helmet without a lot of force downward on most. I find my nose hitting the bottom of the face shield opening and my chin exposed with the straps almost unable to reach around to close. This is not the case on the older helmets, they fit just fine. I am noticing that were the older helmets had only a single open layer of foam at the top, the new helmets have a basket of padding stitched closed as part of the removable liner.

A few weeks ago, when I said to myself its time for a new lid, I certainly didn't figure it was going to take this long and this much legwork to find a helmet.
I've spent more in gas driving around than the helmet will cost in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I was in a bike shop today killing time waiting for the ferry. Tried a medium Bell that was too tight, and could not reach the large.
So I went to the clothing rack and tried on new jackets. All large and over $200. The arms were too tight on all of them. They fit around the chest and waist okay. I dropped the pair of rain pants when I looked at the price.
Short version. Try on everything. When did boots blow past $400. My Army boots, and my decent rubber boots, both cost $95.

UK
I hear what your saying, a few of the shops here aren't bashful price wise, many are more than double the price of what I can buy the same helmet online for. A few are even higher than that. Many are even well above suggested list price. I guess they're trying to make up for a slow winter?
There's actually a quite a few newer shops that opened up around here lately but none have any serious inventory. Especially in helmets. Riding gear is limited to offroad protective gear for MX riders.
Most shops are about 90% offroad bikes. The closest dealer with any selection is in another state, about an hour from me. There's a few smaller dealers but they have almost no selection in on road gear and bikes.
There's a few riding gear only shops but again, those are either geared totally toward HD or toward dirt bike riders.
I'm also looking for a new jacket, I'm guessing that's going to be an online purchase since all I've seen so far is either fancy color matched sport bike suits or black leather jackets. I want something lighter for warmer weather than the leather jacket I've got now that's got a bad zipper and lots of wear.
I'm a full believer in all the gear all the time but at my size and being a fat old man, I've never been able to find or afford the proper protection that works for me. I didn't see a single pair of riding pants in a 52 waist 34 inseam or a 4xl jacket for sale in all my hunting over the past few weeks. Or a single pair of quadruple wide size 15 boots either.
 

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You might try Revzilla. You get one free exchange if it doesn't fit but you can keep returning until you get one that does. You have to pay for shipping though at that point. But I'd talk to them and let them give you their best shot at getting something that would work. And maybe they can get different pads in whatever one they suggest. I did it one time just to see how close they could get but it wasn't even close. So I just sent it back and got my money back. It's a hassle but worth a shot if you can afford to have some money tied up for a bit.
 

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I think you will find that all newer helmets will fit tighter than older helmets did. I believe safety studies showed the older helmets moved on the head to much and therefore did not protect like they were designed because they moved under crash conditions. If you look at professional race drivers you will see their cheeks pushed in while in their helmets and indentations in their face when they take them off. The helmet pads are designed to keep the helmet in place in case of an accident.


If you can find a helmet that fits your head but is tight in the cheeks, find out if they have exchangeable pads. If they do, buy a set and then you can trim them until the fit is comfortable. But remember it is tight for a reason. Good luck.
 

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Have you tried an Arai Signet X? They are the LONG OVAL shape, longer and less round and might fit your head shape better. I had to wear a 3x or 4x in other helmets so that my head wasn't squeezed front to back, my Arai I wear an XL. It was tight when i got it but after a week it fit perfectly. 50,000 miles later I'm still very happy with it.
Your in NJ? Where? Have you tried a cycle gear store? They usually stock a LOT of helmets to try on and some of the stores have trained fitting experts.. I was fitted in the Edison store and the guy there was very good...he looked at my head, picked the right lid, and then convinced me to buy it a size tighter than I would have chosen..and he was right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
What I'm finding so far is that the helmets with different size cheek pads don't fit me well enough otherwise or their way too expensive. I asked about different size liners but no one stocked them. The HJC would benefit from cheek pads about half as thick. The way they are now they hurt my teeth and lower jaw on the sides. I've got a dodge ball inflated half way out of the helmet right now to compress those pads some. It seems to be working as the rest of the helmet fits better after only a day of being compressed that way.

I'm sure its not the best idea to make one fit but its better than nothing at this point.

What concerns me is that I'm likely not seeing all that's out there because the local dealers don't stock many helmets.

The one dealer told me to try on a particular helmet he thought was a good fit, but it was super tight on my jaw and face. So much so I couldn't speak, and my lips were smashed against the front.
I need a helmet with a longer face section or its not going to be tolerable for very long.
I realize the new helmets might be safer but if its going to be this uncomfortable, I'll have to go with an open face helmet. I can't be riding all day with my face jammed against the helmet like that. Besides, if my jaw is sitting below the front of the helmet, there isn't much sense in having a full face model in the first place.

The one shop measured my head, told me I needed an XL helmet and he pulled a Bell Qualifier off the shelf in XL. I looked at it, tried to get it over my head and it wasn't happening. He then pulled the liner out and said maybe someone put the wrong size liner in it. With the liner out, I picked up the helmet and tried it on and with no liner in it, it was still super tight on my face and hard to get on. The upper head area was loose, but the face was still too tight even without any liner.

Several things made me go with the HJC for now, first off was the price, they let me have it for $45 because it was discontinued and a solid color, which they said doesn't sell very well, second, it had the largest opening around the bottom in the shell itself and the second largest face shield opening. third, it takes a standard face shield size shared with many models, meaning that I'll likely still be able to find a replacement shield a few years down the road, but if I can make it fit me right, I'll go ahead and order a half dozen or so extras to have on hand.
and last, its Snell certified not just DOT, hopefully meaning its been really tested. The fact that its all black and matches two of my bikes didn't hurt either but in reality, I'm not against just taking a can of spray paint to a new helmet either to make it match or to lose the ugly graphics some come with. (There's just something about riding a clean looking cruiser or touring bike with a florescent green or multi colored lid that just never looked right to me).

I still want a better helmet and will keep looking, I don't see the HJC being comfortable enough in the end for long trips, and its a bit heavy compared to some of the better lids I looked at.
What surprised me most was that two of the largest dealers I stopped at, including one yesterday, had very small helmet selections compared to the number of bikes they had on the floor. But again, most were dirt bike helmets or radical looking aero type sport bike helmets. One dealer had 7 brands on the marquis, but only one of two of each on the showroom floor, and a ton of high mileage used bikes, but only about 20 helmets on display, each attached to a cord with a locking head insert inside to prevent anyone from trying one on without first getting a salesman to unlock it.
When the first three didn't fit, the guy said he was going to lunch, its all we have. He recommended a half helmet saying its what we sell to those who are hard to fit.

I was also surprised to see that the open face helmets are priced as high or close to as high as most full face models.

Years ago I never had any trouble, I always just went down to the local store, even Kmart or such and bought a helmet. I think I paid $22 for a new Grant back in the late 70's, and bought a 'cheap' white model for $14 as a loaner/passenger helmet. I saw a helmet in Walmart the other day, about 8 hours from here, for $35 but all they had was small, med. and large. A similar open face at the few dealers I've been to have been closer to $100.
 

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Here's a suggestion from a newbie to this forum. I recently needed a better fitting helmet and purchased one from Revzilla. It did not fit, and Revzilla offered free return shipping and returned my purchase price. I bought three helmets from them; the last one fit fairly well and I kept it. I'd suggest calling them and discussing the issues you have been having. They do require that returned helmets be pristine with all stickers and tags attached and in new condition.

I remember buying helmets in the 70's that included assorted sizes and thicknesses of pads you could mix and match in the helmet to make it comfortable.

If a helmet abrades my forehead or squeezes the sides of my face so hard it hurts, I will not wear it. Maybe helmet design has gone too far in the direction of absolute maximum safety and too far away from the comfort required to make possible wearing a helmet for hours at a time?
 

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I suppose for anyone not being able to make the helmet of their choice fit is to go down the line. First try the full face. Too hard to get on? Go to the modular. Hits you in the mouth? Go to the open face. Still too tight on the cheeks? Then you are just stuck with a half helmet. The half is still better than a do-rag.

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