Lowering your helmet maximizes side coverage, but it
may impair vision. You want the front of the helmet one-finger width above your eyebrows. When you look upward,
the front edge of your helmet should barely be visible.
CUSHION YOUR HELMET
There is a good chance that your helmet came with a
thicker set of sizing pads. You can use these to fine-tune
the fit. We say “fine-tune” because the shape of the liner is
the most important factor in finding the proper fit. Don’t try
to mask a poor-fitting helmet by using extra fit pads. Keep
searching until you find a helmet with a liner that likes the
shape of your head.
REPLACE THE PADS
Sizing pads absorb sweat and mud and break down
over time. Change the pads a couple of times over the
summer. It keeps the helmet fresh and tighter-fitting.
TIGHTEN IT UP, PART ONE
The side retention straps are the most misunderstood
helmet adjustment—and the most important. These are
the straps that will keep your helmet in place if you ever
have to use it.
The side retention straps need to form a Y just below
your ear. Every helmet requires a slightly different way
of dialing in this adjustment, so you have to refer to the
owner’s manual if you can’t figure out the adjustment
piece (and you’re supposed to read the manual anyway).
TIGHTEN IT UP, PART TWO
The strap that runs under your jaw needs to be adjusted
so that it is snug without being uncomfortable. When you
yawn, the helmet should pull down on your head. Wearing
it hockey-style, with the strap hanging under your jaw,
greatly reduces the helmet’s effectiveness.
TIGHTEN IT UP, PART THREE
The side retention straps should not need much
adjustment once set correctly, but you need to check the
tension of the strap under your jaw often. Your helmet
straps may stretch (or shrink) over time. Changes in your
weight will also affect how the helmet fits. Get in the habit
of checking the tension once a month.
STOP AND GO BACK TO THE START
If you can’t snap and unsnap your helmet with your eyes
closed and your riding gloves on, you need to practice.
Helmet snaps are easy to use compared to the D-rings
of old, but each one has its own nuance. You must be an
expert at taking your helmet on and off. If we continued
to have trouble operating the retention-strap snap on a
helmet, we would switch helmets.
Most helmets have a rear stabilizer feature. This keeps
the helmet from rocking as you are banging through rock
gardens or bouncing over braking bumps. That is all this
feature is designed to do. The stabilizer alone does not
offer adequate helmet retention. The retention straps have
to be adjusted and secured if your helmet is going to stay
on your head.
The helmet should be level, snug and comfortable.
SHAKE IT UP NOW, BABY
Once you have everything adjusted properly, shake your
head. Try to tip the helmet forward, and then try to tip it
backward. If the helmet moves more than an inch from its
proper level position, the straps need to be tightened.
USE IT AND LOSE IT
We hope you don’t have to use your helmet, but if you
do, it should be replaced. The liner is designed to collapse
during an impact to absorb energy. It doesn’t spring back.
If you hit your helmet, it did its job and will not be able to
do it as well the next time. ■
Bicycle helmets come in many different styles, shapes and
prices. The best helmet is the one that not only fits your
budget, but more importantly, your head properly.
Helmets like the Troy Lee Designs A1 reflect the latest trend
of the increased temple and occipital lobe coverage makes
sense for trail riders or commuters.