Motorcycles and bicycles are statistically involved in more accidents than other modes of transportation on the roads and can result in severe, life-threatening injuries. Wearing the proper safety equipment on your bike can be the difference between surviving an unfortunate motorcycle crash and ending up in a hospital bed for weeks or worse.

Wearing the right gear is essential, and that starts with wearing a helmet. However, not just any helmet will do. A helmet that doesn’t fit your head properly isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be unsafe.

Here are five tips for picking the right helmet for a safer ride.

Is it the Right Helmet for Your Type of Motorcycle or Bike?

Just as there are many types of bicycles and motorbikes, there are also many different styles of helmets available. However, not every helmet is beneficial for every ride. It is important that you select a helmet that is suitable for your bike.

The five main styles of helmets include open face, full face, modular, dirt, and ADV style helmets.

The open-face helmet is the least restrictive but also the least protective, with no chin or face covering. They are commonly used on cruisers and retro rides. Full face helmets are some of the most protective, but also have the least ventilation. They are common for street bikes. Modular helmets are like full-face helmets with extra features. Dirt style is for off-roading and is not always street qualified. ADV helmets are like a combination between dirt and a full-face helmet, good for both streets and off-road.

Have You Checked Your Measurements?

Not every helmet maker has the same sizing, so it is important to know the measurements and shape of your skull.

With those measurements in hand, look for a helmet that fits snuggly to your head without being uncomfortable.

Does the Helmet Have the Proper Certifications?

Before buying a helmet, check to see that it has been rated and certified by one or all of the following:

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Safety Equipment Institute (SEI)

Are the Straps Properly Adjusted?

In addition to making sure that the helmet sits properly on your head, you must ensure that the straps are properly fastened and adjusted.

The helmet should rest without a lean to one side. The straps should be tight, with room for no more than one finger between the strap and your chin. With the helmet securely fastened, shake your head about. Does the helmet shift a lot? Try tightening the straps.

Has the Helmet Survived a Previous Crash or Fall?

Some helmets are not designed to survive multiple impacts. If your helmet has survived a crash, it is wise to replace it.

Similarly, it is advisable that you do not purchase a used helmet you don’t know the history of.