Just How Tight Should a Bike Helmet Be?
When you get a bike helmet, the top reason is for safety purposes. After all, if you could ride without a helmet and guarantee that you never have an accident, who would even wear a helmet? However, reality tells us that this will not be the case anytime soon. This is why it’s important to not only wear a helmet but also make sure that it is tight enough to stay on your head in all circumstances.
The reason that helmet tightness matters is because a helmet can stay on firmly while riding, but might come off when you get in an accident. As a result, wondering how tight your helmet should be is a noteworthy concern. It isn’t that hard to find the right level of tightness if you take certain things into consideration.
Check your sizing
The first thing you should look at when determining how tight a bike helmet should be is the size of the helmet itself. If you read our page which describes how to select the right helmet size, then you are ahead of the game. Just keep in mind that a helmet that is the right size (small, medium, or large) may still be too loose, depending on your head shape.
For example, you might be told to wear a large helmet since your head fits the size measurements. However, if the padding doesn’t rest tightly on all parts of your head, then you need to get a different helmet. If you are worried this might be the case, keep reading on.
The helmet should sit tightly without straps
When you put the helmet on your head, you shouldn’t have any space for twisting it around your head. If it is sized correctly, the helmet should stay on without the assistance of the chin strap when you move your head around. Try sliding your fingers between your head and where your head rests. If you can barely fit one, or none at all, then you should have a tight enough helmet.
However, if you can twist your helmet on your head or put fingers in your helmet space you should consider getting some extra padding, adjusting the tightness, or simply get a different helmet model. If the first couple helmets you try on are slightly too loose, remember that helmets come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so that everyone can use them.
When strapped, the helmet should be stuck
Once you finally fasten the chin straps, you should feel like you are locked into your helmet. Not only should the helmet be tight without straps, but also tight with the straps. When you put the straps on, make sure they are as tight as possible (without hurting yourself) so that when the G-forces of an accident propels you off your bike, the helmet will be the last thing that falls off your body.
You might lose loose things such as watches, glasses, or water bottles if you get into an accident, but your life is the last thing you want to risk. Since the head is one of the most common places for life-altering or ending injury, it is important that the straps keep the helmet on your head in all circumstances.
Stress test your helmet
If you are still unsure that your helmet will be tight enough, a great idea is to try a stress test. Although you might not go as far as running over your helmet with a car, try hitting it against the wall a couple times to see if it has any impact on the interior. Even though a helmet is tight enough, it is worthless if it caves in with a light impact. At the end of the day, strength during an impact is much more important than the tightness.
Another stress test specifically for tightness you might consider can be done from a motor vehicle. Ask somebody else to drive the car, and make sure they don’t mind using their brakes sharply. Speed up to the speed limit of your local area while wearing the helmet, and brake as fast as possible without compromising the vehicle or yourselves. Did the helmet fall off? If not, then it is likely tight enough to stay on during any sudden crashes at typical bike speeds.
Ask a professional
When you have an illness, there is never shame in paying a visit to the doctor. The same idea should be true for bike helmets. If you followed each of the above steps and are still concerned your helmet may be too loose, then there is no shame in asking someone at a bike shop. These people spend a large part of their daily lives solving this exact problem and will give you a professional opinion.
If you indeed have the wrong size, the nice thing about visiting a bike shop is that they will show you some alternative options. Worst case scenario, you may need to trade in your helmet for one that is tight enough. When you consider that this could end up saving your life down the road, it is time (and money) well spent.
Summary – How tight should a bike helmet be?
Any bicycle helmet that is brand new should be tight enough that you simply can’t tighten it anymore without sacrificing your comfort. If you purchase a helmet that is the right size, properly strap it on, and have it tested to make sure that it is strong and tight, you should have no problems.
However, if you are unsure that your helmet is tight enough, just take a visit to your local bike shop. If you tried each of the above things and you think it is tight enough, it probably is. However, it is always a good idea to receive a professional opinion from somebody who does this for a living and can see you in person.