Comfort and Sizing: what to look out for in your new helmet
The first thing you need to know about getting the right motorcycle helmet, is that having a comfortable helmet that’s the right size is really, really important.
Not only does it mean it’ll make you happy when you’re riding, but it’ll mean your helmet’s working at its optimal level – and that means it’ll give you better protection in an accident and have more chance of absorbing an impact.
So, what should I look out for (in relation to helmet comfort and sizing) when I’m in the market for a new helmet?
Check our helmet fitting guide for everything you need to look out for. But essentially, you need your helmet to be tightish but not too tight, without any pressure points.
And remember, when you first buy a helmet, it’ll feel nice and tight but will loosen up slightly after you’ve used it a few times.
So, you need to get a helmet that fits right. That means, if you buy your new helmet over the internet, make sure you buy from a retailer who’ll give you a return with no questions asked – that way if the size isn’t right, you can easily return it for one that’s bang on.
Of course – all our recommended retailers do this (hint, hint)
If you wear glasses while riding, you’ll need a helmet that can accommodate your glasses’ stems. If your helmet doesn’t it makes putting glasses on/off really annoying and the stems can dig into the side of your head when riding.
Fortunately, where folks tell us a helmet works well with glasses or where a helmet has glasses grooves in the cheek pads, we’ll let you know and put that helmet in our ‘helmets that work well with glasses‘ section. Hurray!
They used to be rare and only found in expensive helmets, but most helmets these days have comfort linings inside that can be (relatively) easily removed so you can wash them.
Most tend to use plastic studs to secure the lining in place (one or two use studs and magnets) so you just need to carefully pull the poppers out and the lining can be hand washed – and often machine washed. But check the user guide for your helmet before you do.
There’s lots of names and acronmys used for the weird and wonderful sounding materials used in helmets these days.
CoolMax, Hydradry, Interpower; you’ll find them all used in helmets. Which is fine and there’s lots of R&D money gone into these technical fabrics.
But most helmet linings are moisture wicking and antibacterial these days – and they’re also pretty comfortable. Here’s some of the fabrics you’ll find used inside helmets:
CoolMax is one of the most common fabrics used inside lots of different makes of helmets (Kabuto, AGV, Nexx, etc.). It’s a polyester fabric designed to be moisture wicking and breathable – and in pulling moisture away from your head, keep your head cooler, hence the name.
Dri-Lex is sometimes found in AGV helmets. It’s a moisture wicking material made by Faytex that also has a nice, soft feel and decent abrasion resistance.
Hydradry is a breathable and moisture wicking material used inside Icon helmets.
Interpower is a fabric treatment found inside some Suomy helmets that’s designed to reduce the contact points between the skin and fabric thereby reducing moisture build-up.
KwikWick 2 is the name Scorpion Exo gives to the linings of many of their helmets. It’s a nice soft material that wicks sweat away from the skin, is hypoallergenic and machine washable.
Max Dry is a high quality and comfortable moisture wicking fabric used by Shoei. They claim it absorbs and dissipates sweat twice as fast as nylon interiors.
Nylex is sometimes used inside HJC comfort liners and is just a trade name for a man-made fibre. It makes for comfy liners tho. Sometimes they refer to bioceramic Nylex but there’s no word on why you should want a bioceramic material in there or how it improves things.
Oko-Tex 100 is again sometimes found in Schuberths. This is an international certification program that ensures a fabric isn’t harmful to the end user – so stipulates certain manufacturing processes and materials aren’t used. So if you’ve particularly sensitive skin, then this might be good for you.
Polygiene is found inside some HJC helmets. It’s designed to reduce odour by stopping bacterial growth using tiny amounts of silver chloride in its fabrics. The treatment should last the lifespan of the helmet.
Ritmo is a cooling, moisture wicking material used by AGV to cover some of their cheekpads.
ShinyTex is sometimes found inside Schuberth helmets – but as far as we can find, it’s just the name of a Chinese textile company that makes the fabric!
Shalimar isn’t an 80’s RnB band – it is in fact a warm, napped material a bit like velour from an ’80s car seat and used inside AGVs.
SuperCool is HJCs comfy, moisture wicking and antibacterial fabric designed to pull sweat away from your head and keep you not just cool but SuperCool.
Virus Cool Jade is a name you might see associated with Bell helmets. Cool Jade linings are apparently laced with jade, designed to reduce skin surface temp by up to 10 degrees (f) so it’s there to keep your head really cool. Virus is the name of the company that makes the fabric.
X-Mart is a fabric that’s designed to wick-away moisture and is also hypo-allergenic. It’s used inside some Nexx helmets.
X-static XT2 silver liner is also a Bell Helmets name, this time it’s for their lining that contains silver thread. Essentially, silver has antimicrobial properties so weaving thin silver thread into a fabric imparts those properties – keeping bacteria at bay and reducing odours. Other makers use silver thread too, so if you see the word silver involved, this is probably what they’re referring to.