Lesson learned: Don't settle.
Hi, everyone. My name is Janaki, and my head is apparently quite round. Kind of like Charlie Brown, only with a lot more hair. In a land where most heads can be comfortably, snugly protected by long or intermediate oval helmets, this fact makes it hard to find a comfortable helmet that also fits correctly. This used to be a big problem for me—but not anymore.
You see, fellow riders, I finally found the right helmet for me. I’m going to tell you about it, but first, I’m going to tell you about all the not-quite-right choices I settled for along the way. See, back when I first started riding about 15 years ago, I had no idea that helmets were made with specific head shapes in mind. More importantly, I had no idea what my own head shape was. These were things I had yet to learn at that time, and didn’t even know that I didn’t know. You know? Ah, beginner’s mind.
So there I was, at a local dealer that had a huge gear showroom and a bunch of different brands of helmets to try, all with different styles. I probably tried everything full-face that wasn’t an MX helmet, possibly even more than once.
There were problems with almost all of them, and it took over three hours. I started defaulting to a size L when reaching for new lids to try—not because they fit perfectly, but because they were the least uncomfortable. They had the virtue of not introducing weird pressure points anywhere on my head just from trying them on.
Eventually, after much frustration and the eventual onset of retail fatigue, I settled on a KBC the shop was clearancing because it was the last one, and they were no longer planning to carry the brand. It was silver, size L, and I don’t remember the model name. I do remember that it had no box, had been on display in the showroom, and the shop sent me home with a Fox helmet sock because they couldn’t find the KBC one that went with it.
It wasn’t bad, but even with my inexperience, I could tell it was a little looser than it should have been. I dealt with it, because any helmet is better than no helmet, right? I rode with this helmet for at least a year or so. Then I got an Icon Mainframe. It fit quite a bit better! I retired the KBC altogether because the Mainframe fit so well.
An Added Layer Of Challenge: The Eyeglass/Helmet Conundrum
I’ve worn glasses all my adult life. I also definitely noticed that when I turned my head to do head checks, that helmet would displace my glasses slightly. Of course, this made it difficult to see. I figured this was just the price I had to pay as a glasses-wearer, and was not proved wrong by years of subsequent helmets that did exactly the same thing. Models and manufacturers didn’t seem to matter, which further solidified my impression that it was just a universal glasses/helmet problem.
My most recent just-OK helmet was an Icon Airframe. I had convinced myself that I liked it, because I would only start to get a weird pressure point over my forehead after very long rides. It still had that glasses-displacement thing when I did head checks, but I tolerated it. I even crashed in it and it protected my head well, so I definitely can’t complain.
After the KBC experience, I did learn about head shapes, and started seeking out helmets that were geared towards round heads. This list from WebBikeWorld is a decent rough guide to get you in the right neighborhood if you’re just starting to dial in your perfect helmet fit. Over the years, if you name a manufacturer that sells in the US, I've probably tried one of their helmets. Most of the time, AGVs and Schuberths and Nolans fit just as uncomfortably as HJCs. Most Shoeis are physically painful for me to put on.
It took a long time to find a helmet that fits both snugly and securely, but with no uncomfortable pressure points. I think I’ve finally found the perfect helmet for my head—and it only took fifteen years. Ugh.
It is a Suomy Speedstar, which I purchased with my own money, and which was not provided for any kind of review purpose. The fit is as close to perfect as I’ve found for my very round head. The truly magical part is, head checks are such a breeze now! There is no eyeglass displacement when I turn my head, and peripheral visibility is the best I’ve had in any helmet I’ve ever put on my head. It feels snug and secure, and like it’s cradling my head.
Airflow in and around the helmet is fantastic, and even without the pinlock shield, I’m already not having huge fog problems. I can’t wait to see how the already-minimal fog situation improves when I install the pinlock, since I have it but haven’t put it in yet. I’ve already had it out on a very long ride over the weekend, so I’m pretty confident that it’s the most well-fitting helmet I’ve ever found for my head.
If you also have a less-common head shape, don’t convince yourself that you need to settle for something that doesn’t fit right, or that compromises your safety by impeding your vision in any direction, even if it seems minor. Learn from my mistakes, do research, and find the lid that fits you just right. Here’s hoping your perfect-lid-finding journey is much shorter than mine.