How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet
Time invested in fitting a helmet pays big safety and comfort dividends, Australian Standard AS 2063 Bicycle Helmets is there for manufacturers to produce helmets that provide safety and comfort. Your helmet should have Australian Standards AS 2063 sticker inside.
Your objective: Snug, Level, Stable
You want the helmet to be comfortably touching the head all the way around, level and stable enough to resist even violent shakes or hard blows and stay in place. It should be as low on the head as possible to maximize side coverage, and held level on the head with the strap comfortably snug. Do not wear anything under the helmet that impedes the fit, such as caps and beanies. If you need to wear a cap get one that fits over the helmet or use the visor provided.
1. Adjust the fit pads or the adjustment ring
Most helmets come with extra foam fitting pads of different thicknesses to customize the fit. Fitting pads are too squishy to help manage energy in a crash. Their only function is to make the helmet fit better. For starters, you can usually remove the top pad entirely or use the thinnest ones. This lowers the helmet on the head, bringing its protection down further on the sides. It may reduce the flow of cooling air, but probably not enough to notice. Ideally buy a helmet that fits properly without having to fit thicker pads.
Adjust the side fit pads by using thicker pads if your head is narrow and there is a space, or add thicker pads in the back for shorter heads. You may also move pads around, particularly on the "corners" in the front and rear. Leaving some gaps will improve air flow. The pads should touch your head evenly all the way around, without making the fit too tight. The pads may compress slightly over time, but not much, so do not count on that to loosen the fit. The helmet should sit level on the head, with the front just above the eyebrows, or if the rider uses glasses, just above the frame of the glasses. If you walk into a wall, the helmet should hit before your nose does! Some helmets on the market use an adjustment at the protector fitted at the nape of neck rather than side pads for adjustment. These adjustments allow for finer fitting within sizes.
2. Adjust the straps
Place the helmet on and fasten the buckle. Make sure it is facing forward. You want to adjust it to the "Eye-Ear-Mouth" test. When you look upward the front rim should be barely visible to your eye. The Y of the side straps should meet just below your ear. The chin strap should be snug against the chin so that when you open your mouth very wide you feel the helmet pull down a little bit. With the helmet in position on your head, adjust the length of the rear (nape) straps, then the length of the front straps, to locate the Y fitting where the straps come together just under your ear. That may involve sliding the straps across the top of the helmet to get the length even on both sides. Then adjust the length of the chin strap so it is comfortably snug. If it cuts into the chin and is not comfortable, it is too tight. Now pay attention to the rear stabilizer if the helmet has one. It can keep the helmet from jiggling in normal use and make it feel more stable, but only a well-adjusted strap can keep it on in a crash. When you think the straps are about right, shake your head around violently. Then put your palm under the front edge and push up and back. Can you move the helmet more than an inch or so from level, exposing your bare forehead? Then you need to tighten the strap in front of your ear, and perhaps loosen the rear nape strap behind your ear. Again, the two straps should meet just below your ear. Now reach back and grab the back edge. Pull up. Can you move the helmet more than an inch? If so, tighten the nape strap. For a final check, look in a mirror or look at the wearer whose helmet you are fitting. Move the helmet side to side and front to back, watching the skin around the eyebrows. It should move slightly with the helmet. If it does not, the fit pads are probably too thin in front or back. When you are done, your helmet should be level, feel solid on your head and be comfortable. It should not bump on your glasses (if it does, tighten the nape strap). It should pass the eye-ear-mouth test. You should forget you are wearing it most of the time, just like a seat belt or a good pair of shoes. If it still does not fit that way, keep working with the straps and pads, or try another helmet.
3. Helmet condition
Helmets have a finite life. They don’t last forever. AS2063 does not specify recommended helmet life, however common sense will tell you when it needs replacement. You should replace your helmet if any of the following has occurred.
1) You have been involved in a accident resulting in the helmet contacting another surface.
2) The helmet appears damaged in any way.
3) The pads or webbing have deteriorated and the helmet is no longer a snug fit.
4) The AS sticker is missing.
5) It just plain smells bad