Helmet fit - too tight or too loose? which is better - Star Motorcycle Forums: Star Raider, V-Max, V-Star, Road-Star Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Helmet fit - too tight or too loose? which is better

I bought two Nolan N104 "modular" helmets. One in a Large for my 60cm head. It feels a little tight (not painful) - but a L is supposed to be the correct size for me.

And the second Nolan N104 is for wife. Her head is a little smaller at 58cm, so I got her a medium (correct according to Nolan sizing chart).

So I had her try on my helmet and her's. She says my helmet (L) is too big - she feels some movement, and her helmet (M) is tight. There is no other choice in the Nolan line (no size between a M and a L).

I thought about returning the medium and getting myself an XL (I have not tried on an XL so I don't know if it would be better or not) - then wife moves up to the L and I go with XL, but if the L feels loose on her head, that is probably the wrong size for her. I can still return the M but not the L. Maybe both sizes are correct for us but since neither of has worn a helmet in the last decade, it will just take some getting use to.

So the question is - are helmets generally a little on the tight side when new, and if so, will they tend to get a little looser over time - or should I expect a perfect fit right out of the box?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 01:43 PM
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yes yes yes!

A new helmet that is the right size will feel tight for a while. Esp a full face helmet with cheek pads.

Put the helmet on with the strap pulled snug - if you can twist it sideways till your nose almost hits the side of the face opening, or if you can pull it forwards halfway off your head, its too big.

For some helmets you can get smaller cheek pads to get something like a half size smaller feel.


The normal inclination for a random person walking into a motorcycle shop and trying on helmets is to get one that is one size or more too big. Its not a hat, and if its too big and pulls half off your head in an accident it will be worse than nothing.

It will break in after a while, and you will also get use to it after a few hundred miles of riding.

The head measurement charts for each helmet company are usually pretty close. The other variation is that some are better for people with more oval shaped heads, and some for a more rounded head.

This is one of those things that is better dealt with in a motorcycle/gear store. It can be hard to get the right size and shape helmet online, unless you already have one and are buying the same helmet.

Last edited by KCW; 02-06-2018 at 01:47 PM.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 02:03 PM
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Maybe the Nolan isn't the right shape to fit your head. I have a large head with an oval shape and have found that most AFX, KGB, HJC and Shoei helmets fit me well whereas most Arai helmets don't. My present helmet, which is a Speed And Strength SS1700 modular, is supposed to be for round heads but it seems to fit me well enough. Not as comfortable as all my others since the S&S gets a little uncomfortable near the ears after wearing it a few hours but it's getting better over time... maybe it's reshaping my head. And yes, they all start out tight but eventually loosen up with wear.
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Last edited by Diogenes415; 02-06-2018 at 02:06 PM.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! That's what I was hoping to hear. I feel better now.
I'm sitting at home wearing my helmet. Like Diogenes said - its either loosening up or reshaping my head now as I type.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 06:13 PM
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Yes, a little tight at the beginning is correct. The other thing I've done with the last few helmets I bought, take my glasses and Bluetooth. I always take both my regular and prescription sunglasses. Some helmets are friendly to glasses and others not. I've used a Uclear Bluetooth for several years and take the speakers to test fit. My experience is some helmets are better than others for speaker use. My current helmets are 2 HJC and 1 Speed and Strength. Remember I commute daily and the interior of the helmets gets funky pretty quick. I'm always pulling the lining out and cleaning it. Takes a few days to dry 100% so reason for multiple helmets. My wife has a Hawk helmet, pretty pink graphics, that fits her well. Yes, helmets can be great for one and not another. We wear the same size helmet but the Hawk doesn't work for me. You should have seen my wife laughing at me when I tried her "pretty pink" helmet. That's why I always go to a brick and mortar location to test, then sometimes go home and order online. One thing I've found is most places will price match, or at least get close, to make the sale. I would rather support a local business.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 07:57 PM
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Since this is turning into a helmet thread, I have to tell you about the deal I got last year. I decide to get a carbon fiber helmet, looked around and googled. Liked what I saw in the HJC RPHA carbon composite helmets, and this website came up in a google search:

MotorcycleGear.com (the new name of New Enough) :: Motorcycle Jackets, Helmets, Gloves, Boots, Luggage, Parts and More!

The RPHA helmets normally sell for $250 to $350 or more depending on the paint, and they had a couple old model year (new old stock) helmets for $120.

I took a chance buying the size I thought I need from a website, and lucked out - it fits perfectly. I doubt I will ever see a carbon fiber helmet anywhere new for $120 again, but they still have some pretty good prices on close-out sales.

Bottom line, the carbon fiber helmet is at least a pound lighter than my old HJC modular flip up helmet, and the difference it makes on your head is very noticeable.

I know you just bought new helmets, but for all the other people that end up reading this thread someday - if you are looking for a new helmet you will not be sorry you spent a bit more for carbon fiber.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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I was going to get the HJC RPHA - it has very good reviews but I didn't want to spend over $300. In the end, you'll see if you read this entire post, I spent that much anyways.

I had narrowed my choices down to a couple of helmets based on reviews of "modular" helmets. The HJC SYS-Max, CL-MAX2, IS-MAX2. I went down to Cycle Gear to try them out but they only had the CL-MAX2 in my size. So I tried it on. It has the drop down sun shade. There is a "slider" on the top to drop it. When I went to put the visor back up, before the sales guy could stop me, I tried to slide the lever the other way (I should have pushed down on the lever/button to release the sunshade) and the slide button broke off. So I knew then that that helmet wouldn't last long with me.

I decided I'm going to need to be the $300 plus range (mid-price) to get a quality helmet. These modular helmets have a lot of parts, so quality is more important than with a full face or 3/4. IMO.

So researching in this price range I read a lot about how nice the Nolan and Shoei helmets were. Just about every helmet review either gave the Nolan and Shoei and Schuberth great marks, or they compared the helmet they were testing to the Nolan, Shoei and Schuberth. So i started looking for the best prices, and I saw a great deal on Amazon for the N104 (under $290) on closeout sale (as the N104 is being replaced by the N104 EVO) so I took a chance and ordered the Nolan without trying it on.

I'm also adding the communication system. It was a plus that Nolan has a good system designed to fit their helmets (the N-Com B5).

So I started this thread concerned that I may have selected the wrong size - but now I'm satisfied that it will work out just fine.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-06-2018, 08:55 PM
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I think the modular helmet I bought 5 years ago is an HJC CL-MAX2. I have very wide eyes (3 inch IPD) and at the time I had somewhat big (wide) glasses. I could not get my glasses on with a full faced helmet, so the sales guy had me try the flip-up, and that worked great. Liked the helmet for 4 years, liked being able to flip it up to talk to people, see gas pumps better, and of all the stupid things, to be able to spit when stopped at red light and you cough up something nasty at 7 in the morning...

It had that flip down sun-glasses visor thing, I only used it a few times. I almost always wear prescription polarized sunglasses, so that was just extra weight on my head.

Since then I have gotten smaller glasses and thought Id give the full face helmet another try, and got the RPHA. It takes a bit of fishing sometimes to get the temples in thru the opening with the helmet on - I was almost tempted to bend them out straight so they would slide over my ears, but I got use to it after a bit. Only problem now... several times I have tried to take my helmet off and forgot to take off my glasses first: OUCH!

A few months ago I got hearing aids, and quickly discovered I can wear them or my glasses, but not both with my helmet. Don't need to wear hearing aids while riding anyway, in fact on long rides I often wear ear plugs, so its not a problem.

Its funny, I had a Honda 175 street bike in 1978 when I lived in Florida. Buying a helmet was trivial - just went to Sears or Kmart, picked out a color I liked in a size that seemed right, they were about $25. After a few months I bought a 2nd one that I kept strapped on the back of the seat so someone could ride with me. Never even thought that my spare helmet might not fit the other person properly. Things were much simpler then. If you could squish it on your head, pull the strap on tight and we're good!
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 12:08 AM
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i don't believe a helmet should feel "tight" or "loose". i think a better term is snug. it should feel comfortable to wear without being able to move it around. and as for it feeling tight but getting less so over time, i haven't found this to be true for myself. to my best recollection, my helmets have always felt pretty much the same from the first time i put them on until the last. but i've only worn skid lids, so that may be the difference. 3/4 and full helmets probably have more foam which probably wears down somewhat over time as they conform to the shape of your head.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-07-2018, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by KCW View Post
I think the modular helmet I bought 5 years ago is an HJC CL-MAX2. I have very wide eyes (3 inch IPD) and at the time I had somewhat big (wide) glasses. I could not get my glasses on with a full faced helmet, so the sales guy had me try the flip-up, and that worked great. Liked the helmet for 4 years, liked being able to flip it up to talk to people, see gas pumps better, and of all the stupid things, to be able to spit when stopped at red light and you cough up something nasty at 7 in the morning...
These are pretty much all of the reasons I went with a modular this time around. I'm actually amazed at how convenient the modular system is and of course it's ECE rated. I'm also blown away with how inexpensive helmets are nowadays considering the features that are available. The first good full face helmet I bought for myself was a Shoei in the 80s for about $280, my S&S modular was $100, granted it was 1/2 price because it's safety yellow but still. The Shoei's biggest (only) feature was a 'quick detach' face shield which was nowhere near as quick as what's available now but sure beat the concrete-weight 3/4 helmet with the snap on bubble face shield I started with. It seems those old 'retro' helmets are back in style with the younger crowd... like vinyl records... I don't get it.
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