Youth helmets are generally engineered for children up to the age of 13. In some instances, your child may not fit into a youth model helmet. In this scenario, it is okay to select the next size larger adult helmet that meets the following fitment criteria.
1. Choose a helmet that has been specifically designed for a youth head size and head mass. Youth head mass is generally smaller and lighter than an adult head, so it is important that the helmet was developed with the lighter headform mass to have the best possible brain protection when called upon.
2. Measure your son or daughter’s head circumference to get their proper helmet size. With a cloth tape measure, or a piece of string, measure the circumference around the largest diameter area of their head. This should be about 1” above their brow and over the top of the ears. This measurement is your helmet size in a numerical value, which will fall into a range something like, (49cm-50cm) (50cm-51cm) (51cm-52cm) (52cm-53cm). Then refer to the manufacturers stated size chart and pick the smallest size helmet that should fit based on the measurement taken.
3. Next, check the fitment by trying on the helmet in the pre-determined size. One tip that may ease this process is to remove the cheek pads first. This will allow the helmet to go on and off much easier. Sometimes with younger children, they grow impatient with the sizing process and will tell you that it’s good, when in fact it may not be right. Take your time and get it right. Your dealer can assist you here as well.
4. Put the helmet on and check these distinct areas for proper fit of the headliner. The helmet should fit down snugly over the top of their head with the comfort liner foam compressing for a secure fit. There should be no gaps behind the ears or around the back of the head. The helmet’s upper eyeport area should be roughly centered on the brow leaving adequate room for goggles.
5. Then, remove the helmet and install the cheek pads and have them put the helmet on again. Have your son or daughter do it this time as they have to learn the process of spreading the chinstrap and pulling the helmet on to securely position it correctly. Check the fit again:
A. Behind the ears there should be not more than about one finger’s clearance on either side. The lower neck roll pad should be snug against the neck.
B. At the back of the head, not more than the thickness of one finger should be able to slip up into the helmet between the pads and the head. If you can easily fit 3 or 4 fingers up there, go to the next smaller head liner or fit size. This is important as a helmet that is too big could be forced to roll off forward in a crash event.
C. Confirm the cheek pad fitment. Cheek pads should be firm and snug to the face, but not too tight to cause discomfort. Cheek pad size and fit can be adjusted separately from the top comfort liner padding in most quality helmets.
6. Adjust the chinstrap in place and snug it to the chin with not more than a one finger clearance between the strap and the underside of the jaw. Too loose of a chinstrap will compromise the security of the helmet. Try to displace the helmet forward and backward, up and down to make sure that the helmet is properly fit and comfortable on your child. You should see the helmet liner taking their skin with it as you try to move the helmet in place. This indicates a proper fit and there should be no hot spots. Adjust accordingly if too loose or tight.
7. Now have your son or daughter fit their goggles over the helmet as they normally would. Goggles should fit comfortably inside the eyeport and be centered on their face without pinching the nose or compromising any eyesight. If the goggle is not seated on their face, you might need to try a different goggle or adjust the goggle strap tension.
8. Never select a larger size helmet to allow your child to “grow into it” as a cost saving measure. A helmet designed for a larger head will be too loose and highly unsafe. Helmets are like any other type of safety equipment and should be properly fit to achieve maximum safety performance.
9. Helmets are consumable safety products designed to crush internally during a crash event of moderate to severe circumstance. The EPS liner will crush to absorb kinetic energy and work to prevent injury or concussion to the child. In this instance, the helmet is damaged and will never be capable of providing the same level of protection. It should be replaced immediately, or rebuilt if that service if offered by the manufacturer. Never allow your son or daughter to ride in a damaged helmet.
10. Never buy a used helmet. You have no idea of its history and detecting damage to the EPS takes experience and a trained eye. Your dealer, or the manufacturer can assist you with determining if your helmet has been compromised.