Safe and Snug: How to Properly Fit a Bike Helmet

A quick guide to finding and fitting your helmet to keep you safe

Riding a bicycle may seem like a piece of cake, but accidents can happen, and are sometimes unpreventable. That’s why as a bicyclist, we need to do all we can to protect ourselves when out on the road or trail. And the first step towards protecting yourself is wearing a helmet.

A helmet can be the difference between life and death. It may sound extreme, but your head is very fragile, and also holds something very important, your brain. Without a brain, well, you remember how hard it was for the scarecrow in Wizard of Oz.

Related: Urban Helmets Take Hits in Safety Testing

Buying the right helmet can be tough though. You want to look stylish yet keep your head safe. The most important thing to finding a good helmet, is finding the right fit. Cool colors and designs are great, but a properly fit bicycle helmet is the most important element.

Helmets vary in sizes, and shapes, but the easiest way to tell if it fits you correctly is by trying on the helmet and following these steps:

1. Try on different sizes. Usually helmets will come in S, M, L, XL. Try on a couple sizes till you find the one that fits most snugly without being uncomfortable. If there is a little bit of space make sure that the helmet comes with sizing/fit pads.

2. Adjust the ring or fit pads. Fit pads can be inserted to make the helmet more snug. Make sure the helmet doesn’t rock side to side and that it is covering all parts of the head comfortable, side coverage and forehead coverage. Some helmets use a fitting ring instead of side pads. You can tighten and loosen the ring until it feels stable.

3. Adjust the straps. Center the buckle on your chin, and make sure the straps form a V-shape on both sides. Fasten the buckle on your straps and make sure that the front is covering your forehead (the helmet should sit about two fingers above eyebrows) . Then unbuckle and adjust the straps so that the helmet is positioned securely. The surefire way to knowing you found the proper strap lengths is by using the Eye, Ear, and Mouth tests developed by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

EYES- You should see the very edge of your helmet when you look up past your eyebrows.

EARS- The straps should meet right under your ear lobes to form a Y.

MOUTH- The strap should be loose enough so you can breathe and insert a finger between the buckle and your skin, but tight enough that if you drop your jaw (as in yawn) you can feel the helmet pull down on the top of your head.

Make sure that your helmet feels great, but most importantly feels safe. Many states and local jurisdictions have individual helmet laws. Find out what the laws are in your neighborhood, but despite the rule, wearing a helmet is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Click here to find out if bike helmet laws are overrated

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