Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet:
The short version

helmet fitting image

Summary: A short version of our instructions for fitting a helmet.

Helmets are not hats! They must be level on your head and strapped on securely to be protective in a crash. You want the helmet to be level on the head, with the fitting pads inside touching all the way around and the strap comfortably snug.

If your helmet is a Bell True Fit, skip to Adjust the Chin Strap.

First, adjust the fit pads or ring

Most helmets come with extra foam fitting pads to customize the fit. You can usually remove the top pad or use a thin one there to lower the helmet on the head, bringing its protection down further on the sides. Use thicker pads on the side if your head is narrow and there is a space, or add thicker pads in the back for rounder heads. Move pads around to touch your head evenly all the way around. If you have a "one size fits all" model with a fitting ring instead, just adjust the fit by tightening the ring if needed.

Then, Adjust the Side Straps

Put the helmet on, level on your head. Adjust the rear (nape) straps, then the front straps, to locate the Y fitting where the straps come together just under your ear. You may have to slide the straps across the top of the helmet to get them even on both sides.

Finally, Adjust the Chin Strap

Adjust the chin strap so it is comfortably snug. Now adjust the rear stabilizer if the helmet has one.

Are you done?

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. Now reach back and pull up on the back edge. Can you move the helmet more than an inch? If so, tighten the nape strap. 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). If it still does not fit that way, keep working with the straps and pads, or try another helmet.

More Resources on Fit

Our pamphlet on fitting helmets is available here as a Word file or a .pdf format file. You can save it to disk, print it out in Word, another word processor or any Acrobat reader available free from Adobe) and photocopy it for non-profit use. Or contact us and send us the postal mailing address where we can send you a paper copy to reproduce. We can't mail it on paper to your email address! We send a high resolution printout on heavy flat paper for photocopying.