Your helmet must not be too tight or smaller to make your riding safe and comfortable. Similarly, it should not be also too loose or bigger leading to many problems including motorcycle crashes. You need to use a safety-certified helmet that perfectly fits your head which means neither small nor big to ensure protection, especially in accidents. Remember, motorcycle accidents are common on American roads and they tend to be more disastrous than other accidents like car, truck, or bus accidents.
As per a study by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-NHTSA, 48728 riders died due to motorcycle crashes from 2008 to 2017. This comes to around 4800 fatalities per year which is 14% of the total deaths in all types of accidents including bus, truck, and car accidents. Maximum deaths due to motorcycle accidents usually happen due to head or brain injuries and an appropriate and fit helmet can protect your life in accidents.
The same NHTSA statistics further reveal that in 2015 as many as 1772 people saved their life due to helmets and 740 people would not have died if they wore helmets. Similarly, CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) claims that 1859 people survived because of the helmet in 2016 and an additional 802 people could save their life if they wore helmets.
So, helmets are crucial especially for riders who frequently ride long distances regularly. You should never compromise or ignore a small problem in your helmet saying “a bit tight is okay” or “can manage with a bit lose”. Adding to this, wearing a small helmet is not a small or minor problem but can be a big mistake that can cause a major motorcycle accident. Know everything associated with motorcycle helmets and how to ensure whether your helmet is too small or too tight below.
What Happens if Your Helmet is Too Small or Tight or Too Loose?
A helmet that is intended to protect you can be the reason for an accident if it is too tight or small and too big or loose. The helmet is good in terms of providing safety, especially in accidents when it snugly fits your head. Similarly, a snugly fit helmet can provide you with a comfortable riding experience. You can say a helmet is too small when you feel too tight while wearing it. Following are the things that usually happen when you wear a too tight or too small or a too big or too loose helmet.
- A too small or too tight helmet is uncomfortable to wear and riding with a too-small helmet can divert your attention leading to accidents.
- A too-small helmet leads to blurred vision which is potentially dangerous for riding.
- A too tight or small helmet causes constant pressure around your cheek and you may feel a pushing sensation on the cheeks by the liner.
- Your ears get folded when you wear a too-small helmet that is not only uncomfortable but also blocks the hearing capacity in your ear.
- A too-small helmet will not allow you to move your head comfortably sideways or up and down. So, it will be painful for you to keep your head without any movement for a long time while riding a long distance. Secondly, your head should be flexible enough to move sideways and up and down to ride safely. It is potentially risky when you are not able to move your head comfortably while riding.
- You will notice red marks on your forehead when you wear a too-tight helmet. This will lead to headaches, forehead and cheek pain, and fatigue.
- Wearing a too-small helmet leads to suffocating and unpleasant sensations. You should never ride when you feel suffocated and uncomfortable.
- On the other hand, a too loose or big helmet is also potentially dangerous as it may move around and can blind you while riding. Similarly, an oversized helmet can any moment fall off or fall apart during a crash and fail to protect you. A loose helmet can also allow a lot of air into the helmet through the openings and create a lot of noise.
How to Know a Helmet is Too Small While Buying One?
A retailer or a salesman always tells you that the helmet perfectly fits you from his or her business point of view. Human heads are different in shape and size and so also helmets in size, shape, and designs. Remember, helmet manufacturers, do not make customized helmets that can perfectly fit your head. So, the only way to make sure that the helmet fits your head is by wearing it. Ensure the following things before you buy a helmet to determine the helmet is not too small for you.
- Take a tape and ask one of your friends to measure your head. You can also measure your head yourself in front of a mirror. There are primarily three different types of heads (1) round oval, (2) long oval, and (3) intermediate oval heads. Once you know the type of head you have, ask the retailer to show you the same type of helmet.
- Helmet sizes of all brands are usually calculated in inches or cm. Note down the size of your head while measuring your head both in cm and inches. Ask the salesman to show you the size of the helmets that are the same as your head size while choosing the helmet in the market.
- Ask the retailer to allow you to test the helmet by wearing it. Assess the fitness of the helmet by wearing it and ensuring the following things.
- The cheek pads of the helmet have to rest on your cheeks comfortably.
- Test the helmet by pushing the chin piece in the case of full-face helmets. The face shield must not touch the nose and chin.
- The neck roll of the helmet (if it has a neck roll as some helmets do not come with a neck roll) should not push against the neck but sit pleasantly at the backside of your neck.
- Examine the pressure points and see if they are comfortable. Similarly, tighten the chin strap and see that one or two of your fingers fit in between the strap and your throat or chin. Despite this gap between the strap and throat, you should feel tighter enough when you fasten the chin strap. Now, smoothly try to roll the helmet off the head by slightly leaning forward. A perfectly fit helmet should not move.
- Similarly, shake your head and move your head sideways and up and down. The helmet should not move around when you do this. Rather, the helmet should move with your skin.
- You should not feel tight around your forehead and near the brows but there should not be any room in between the helmet and your forehead. Check with your forehead and eyebrows after wearing the helmet for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you find red spots on the forehead or near the eyebrows then this helmet is too small for you.
- Wear the helmet at least for half an hour. Do not just sit quietly while wearing the helmet for half an hour. Watch the TV, read anything like newspapers or magazines, move around with the helmet on your head. If you start feeling uncomfortable, headache, or painful, or anything uneasy, then this may be a too tight or small helmet for you.
- Remember, all new helmets initially feel a bit tighter but fit you after a while and as you continue using them. However, you must not choose a too-tight helmet thinking that it will lose after you use it for a while. It may not lose as expected and may not fit even if you use it if you choose a too tight and small helmet.
Also read: How To Make a Motorcycle Helmet Quieter?
Can You Lose a Helmet to Fit Your Head?
The first thing to determine a perfect fit helmet while buying a helmet is by ensuring its type and size matching to the shape and size of your head. However, if you anyway choose a helmet which you feel a bit tighter but not too small, then try the following.
- Helmets Break-in Over Time: All motorcycle helmets break in overtime and you should not be worried if you do not feel over-tight. Wear the helmet and roam around the house and garden, watch TV or do anything like reading books, etc. The helmet will get used to the shape and size of your head. Similarly, the padding of the helmet will also adjust with your head over time. However, within an hour or two you should feel that the helmet is getting accustomed to your head. In fact, a new helmet usually loses up to 20% after fifteen to twenty hours of riding. If the pain and pressure points still persist and it continues hurting your cheek along with the headache and red spots on the forehead, then it is a too-small helmet for you.
- Swap the Inner Lining and Cheek Pads: Some helmets come with the feature of swapping the cheek pads and inner lining. You can make use of this feature and lose the helmet by swapping the inner lining and cheek pads. However, you need to be careful while swapping the cheek pads and inner lining so that they are not too loose.
- You may be Mistaken While Putting it on and Pulling it Out: Wearing a helmet is often tricky and you may get confused about its size if you pull it out from the wrong direction. Pulling out the helmet from the back of your head is easier than pulling it out from your forehead. Ultimately, you may feel tighter when you pull out the helmet from the wrong side of the forehead. So, the helmet you thought was tighter or smaller may not be the same if you put it from the smallest part of your head and pull it out from the biggest part.
A too small or tight as well as a loose or big helmet is potentially risky and not at all safe for you while riding. You should be careful of the size and shape of the helmet while buying the helmet and ensure that it perfectly fits the size and shape of your head. Remember, a perfect fit helmet can save your life whereas an inappropriate helmet can contribute to more injuries even death in an accident.