The most vital and adequate safety measure that motorcyclists can obtain is a helmet. There isn’t another piece of motorcycle equipment that provides more protection in the unfortunate event of a crash. For this reason alone, you shouldn’t buy a helmet based on its appearance or price, especially if you mean to purchase that helmet for your children.
Adult and youth riders should get the best tight-fitting, highly rated helmet possible. It may require a bit of research to understand the various helmet shapes, how to measure one, and the way it should fit the rider’s head.
This article covers some helmet sizing guidelines and essentials to help you choose the correct youth helmet for your kid, including shaping, sizing, and fitting. However, it may be ideal to know a bit about safety ratings before continuing.
In the United States, every helmet approved for use comes with a Department of Transportation (DOT) rating. Other ratings include the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and Snell, which tend to have more rigorous testing procedures.
Regardless, a helmet that only has one safety rating isn’t any less safe to use, but most would feel more comfortable giving their children a DOT and ECE certified helmet. Even so, the helmet you pick must feel comfortable, snug, tight-fitting, and, most importantly, wearing it must not inhibit your children’s range of motion or ability to operate a motorcycle safely.
An essential aspect to consider before determining helmet size is its shape. It plays a critical role in selecting a youth helmet that properly fits. After all, every helmet manufacturer makes them in a specific head shape. There are three primary types:
Manufacturers shape these helmets for a head that has similar side-to-side (ear to ear) and front-to-back (forehead to the back of the skull) measurements.
These are shaped for a head that has a slightly longer front-to-back than side-to-side measure. It’s the most common head shape, so most helmets fall into this category. Whenever you find a model that doesn’t specify its shape, it tends to be this one.
It’s shaped for a head with longer front-to-back than side-to-side.
Youth Helmet Sizing
Taking measurements for a helmet is relatively simple as it’s similar to looking for a hat that properly fits. The main difference is how the helmet fits over the youth rider’s head.
The best tool for this is a tape measure. It’s flexible enough so that you can wrap it around your kid’s head with ease. Moreover, the tape measure usually has proper increments marked in which let you get an accurate helmet size. Here are the steps to using it.
First, wrap the tape horizontally around the head, just above the ears and approximately half an inch above the eyebrows for most people.
Then, take the circumference measurement at the forehead and compare it to the sizing chart of the preferred helmet to select the right size. Every manufacturer has its helmet sizing guidelines, so you can’t rely on any helmet size chart you may find.
There are some cases where helmets don’t fit even after taking the correct measurements. It occasionally happens as the sizes can be slightly different, even for models of the same manufacturer. Nonetheless, most offer free exchanges if it doesn’t fit, so don’t worry.
Helmet Size Chart for Youth
Here is an excellent example of a helmet size chart you may see when choosing a helmet for your kid. It provides most of the information you need, which is often the hat size and head circumference for each helmet size in both inches and centimeters.
|YS||47cm – 48cm||18 1/2″ – 19″|
|YM||49cm – 50 cm||19 1/4″ – 19 3/4″|
|YL||51cm – 52cm||20″ – 20 1/2″|
Some manufacturers might only include one or the other, but that’s something that you can quickly solve by multiplying (in to cm) or dividing (cm to in) by 2.54. A Google search can also do the work for you.
Worn helmets should feel slightly tight and snug, with the interior contacting most of the head. However, it shouldn’t be too restrictive or cause any pain. Moreover, there shouldn’t be any place where the helmet puts more pressure than usual.
With time, helmets adapt to the owner’s head shape. They loosen a little and break in after 15-20 hours, but it shouldn’t reach the point where you can turn it from side to side while wearing it.
When first putting on a helmet, it should sit on the head evenly. The eye port’s upper edge must be above the eyebrows and provide enough peripheral vision.
One easy way to determine whether the helmet is a good fit is by putting a finger between its interior and the head while wearing it. If it fits easily, try a smaller helmet size. Some models allow riders to change cheek pads to get a better fit, but these are rare in youth helmets.
The helmet’s style is entirely up to you or your kid, as it does not influence the size. However, helmets with brighter colors make the rider easy to spot, so you may want to consider that. Also, the face shield shouldn’t obscure the vision.
The Bottom Line
Helmets with a good fit contribute to significantly safer and better riding experiences. If it doesn’t properly fit, it might cause pain, lead to dangerous situations, and not adequately protect the rider’s head. For these reasons, finding a tight and snug helmet is essential.
You can take the first step by getting a tape measure and horizontally wrapping it around the head at a point slightly above the ears. Afterward, compare it to any manufacturer’s size chart of your preferred helmet and select the size within the measurements. The tape can use either centimeters or inches, as most charts include both measurements.
If you spend enough time searching for a helmet with a proper fit, you can get a tight, snug helmet for your kid or even yourself. Helmets with the appropriate size might become significantly comfortable after they loosen up, making riding a bike a delightful and safe experience.