Getting a new helmet is very similar to getting new shoes—you need to find the perfect fit and break it in. Fortunately, breaking in a helmet typically takes less time than breaking in shoes. So, how long does it take to break in a helmet?
A helmet can take 15 to 20 hours of wearing it to break in, during which it can loosen up by about 20 percent of its original size. Once it has broken in, it should fit snugly yet comfortably, not too tight or too loose.
There are also two other tricks you can use to make your helmet break in faster, which is what I’m going to discuss here. So, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s take a few minutes to learn how to choose the right helmet size and how to break it in more quickly. But first, it’s worth considering having some cleaning products at hand, as they may come in handy during this journey toward helmet perfection.
|Why I Like It
|Muc-Off Helmet Cleaning Kit
|682 ml (23 fl oz)
|Includes helmet, visor and goggle cleaners, foam fresh, anti-fog, & microfiber cloth
|RevZilla | Amazon
|Molecule Helmet Care Kit
|118 ml (4 fl oz)
|Includes anti-fog, cleaner polish, refresh, & rain repellent
|Motul Helmet Clean
|250 ml (8.45 fl oz)
|Excellent bug softener with no residue
|RevZilla | Amazon
|Motorex Helmet Care Spray
|200 ml (6.76 fl oz)
|Pleasant odor with lasting results
|RevZilla | Amazon
|Tub O' Towels Multi-Surface Wipes
|Heavy-duty quick cleaning wipes
|AmazonBasics Microfiber Cloth
|Best Microfiber Cloth
|Pack of 24
How Long Does a Helmet Take to Break In?
The easiest way to break in your helmet, and the way most people do, is to wear it for enough time, so it starts to settle in and take into the shape of your head. As you wear it for enough time, the foam will continue to deflate, wear, and reshape to fit the curves of your face and head.
Wearing your new helmet for 15 to 20 hours may seem like a daunting task, but you don’t really have to be riding while wearing your new helmet.
When I get a new helmet and want to break it in, I will usually just wear it and walk around the house in it to get some hours in.
Try wearing your helmet for an hour every day while you’re working or doing mundane tasks.
Do It Gradually
Breaking in your motorcycle helmet should also be done gradually. I know you are excited to have the new helmet and want to start wearing it right away for hours to start riding with it in no time, but that’s not how it should be done.
Start with just 10-15 minutes on the first day, then increase it to 20, then to 30, and so on. Wearing it for an hour on the first day will only give you a headache and will not make the difference you think it will.
How to Break in Your Helmet More Quickly? How Long Does a Helmet Take to Break In?
Let’s say you have a ride coming up and need your new helmet to be comfortable for this ride; there are a few ways that can accelerate the process of breaking in your new helmet.
The foam of your helmet will respond more quickly to more weights, so you can try to remove the foam lining and place it under some weighted items.
Make sure the weights have a smooth surface so as not to cause any irregularities in the foam’s surface, as this will make wearing the helmet extremely uncomfortable later.
You can soak a towel in cold water, wring it out, and put it on the padding inside your helmet to help the padding dry out more quickly.
When you are drying your helmet after, make sure to do an excellent job of drying it completely and then wear it for an hour or more.
Needless to say, neither of these methods are alternative to simply wearing the helmet as you still must do that, so it starts to conform to your head and face. But these methods can cut down the time needed by quite a bit.
You should also make sure not to use too much weight or too much water, as you don’t want to break in your helmet too much and make it looser than you need it to be.
How Much Difference Does Breaking in a Helmet Make?
Your new helmet will loosen up by 20% after it’s broken in. If you get a helmet that just fits perfectly from the get-go, it will turn into a loose one after it’s broken in.
Of course, this is not a rule that applies to all helmets, but it’s one to keep in mind, especially if you are buying it online or from an inexperienced salesman.
How to Choose the Right Helmet Size?
Getting a helmet that’s the right size for you can make a huge difference in your riding experience and safety. A helmet that’s too big will not be very safe, and a helmet that’s too tight can give you a headache and cause other problems on its own.
So, here is your handy guide to getting the right helmet for you:
Choose the Right Place to Buy It
Experienced salespeople can save you a lot of time and energy by guiding you through the process. They will have an updated stock and know what they are made of, how long they will take to break in, and how much the fit changes after being broken in.
They will also recommend certain models that fit the shape of your head’s size and shape better.
If you don’t know the shops in your area very well, check out what other riders say about them in groups and forums before you go and check them out yourself. You can start by checking out our guide to the best 12 affordable helmets that are worth every penny.
Know the Size of Your Head
Most good shops will measure your head for you, but what if you are buying online? In this case, you will have to do the sizing yourself.
Here is how to quickly measure your head for a helmet:
- Find the part of your head with the largest circumference
- Wrap a tape measure around this part
- Check the size
There are other methods of getting the size of your head, though, and some brands will have specific instructions on getting the right measurements to match their charts, so check their page for instructions carefully.
Fit Over Style
There are a few different styles of helmets and endless stylings to choose from, but the most important thing to remember is that fit is the most crucial factor when choosing a helmet. Don’t be fooled by marketing.
The helmet serves a function, and that is to keep you safe, so it must be the right fit to do an excellent job of protecting your head, and this is more important than anything else.
Try As Many as You Need
Some shy people will think that they are somehow annoying the salesperson if they try too many helmets, but you are not. Try on as many helmets as you need until you find the right one.
No one is rushing you, and this is a major decision that you should give the time it needs.
You should wear the helmets exactly the same way you will when riding with them. If you have accessories that you will add, try the helmets with them. If you wear something under the helmet, try them with them on as well.
Shake It (Your Head)
Wear the helmet and then shake your head. The helmet should not move around when you do, and if it does, it’s too big.
If you have someone with you in the store, like an assistant or a friend, they will also be able to spot if there is an issue on the outside. If not, try to do this in front of a mirror.
Smile and Chew Gum (Seriously)
Your facial muscles should be able to move easily when wearing the helmet, so try things like smiling and chewing gum. Your cheeks should feel the helmet but not be squeezed by it too much.
If you can’t comfortably smile, chew gum, or talk while wearing the helmet, it’s too tight. Of course, the helmet is not a good fit if it obstructs your vision.
Test the Best One for 30 Minutes
After finding a helmet you like, wear it for about 30 minutes in the store. Take this time to learn more about the gear they have in store or check out the newest bikes that you think you can afford but certainly can’t.
If you need to take it off in those 30 minutes or get a headache or red marks after taking it off, the helmet is the wrong size. We have a guide on how tight a helmet should feel here that you should check out.
Do Helmets Loosen Over Time?
Helmets loosen up with time by about 20% after about 20 hours of use. After which, they will keep loosening up with time as wear and tear starts to take its toll on it, but after the initial breaking-in, it will not be this dramatic of a change this quickly again.
Michael’s Summary and Conclusion
Breaking in your new helmet is easy. You just need to wear it for 30-60 minutes every day for about two weeks. Once broken in, the helmet’s size from the inside will drop by about 20%, and it should be comfortably snug against your face and head.
I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!
FAQs — I Have The Answers!
Q: How Long Does It Take to Break in a Helmet?
Breaking in a helmet typically takes around 15 to 20 hours of wear. During this time, the helmet can loosen up by approximately 20 percent of its original size. Once broken in, it should provide a snug yet comfortable fit, striking the right balance between not being too tight or too loose
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, corporate, and nonprofit organizations:
- United States Department of Transportation
- United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
- NSW Government