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Helmets and head shapes

Old 11-05-19, 02:31 PM
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iamLefty
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Helmets and head shapes

Iím hunting for a new helmet and read somewhere that not only size but the head shape is also important. Iím more of an oval-shaped, and am currently using a Trek helmet which fits right and is due for a replacement. Iíve read an article and some forum posts, and these brands were mentioned as either for round-shaped or oval/narrow shaped.

Round-shaped: Giro

Oval-shaped: Bontrager, Specialized, Limar

Those of you who have tried Bell and Lazer, could you please post here what head shape they fit better. They are some of my options. Feel free to add other brands youíve tried. Iím sure this will be helpful not only to me, but to others as well. Wondering though why helmet brands donít include this info.
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Old 11-05-19, 05:53 PM
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I ran into this a few years ago when I had a Giro helmet and my son couldn't get a good fit in a Giro and ended up with a Bell, which is a little odd since Giro and Bell had the same ownership. Offhand, Giro, Louis Garneau and Specialized fit my more or less oval head, Bell and Cannondale for his rounder head.
I've seen the same thing with motorcycle helmets, Shoei fit me perfectly, Arai needed a size larger and AGV and Bieffe wouldn't fit me at all.
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Old 11-06-19, 02:48 AM
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I have an oval shaped head and find that my current Giro helmet isn't a great fit - which is a shame as I bought a couple of pad kits so that I could keep it going for a few years. Once upon a time helmets used to come with some thicker pads that you could put in the sides to allow for different head shapes.
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Old 11-06-19, 09:19 AM
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Another + for a LBS--where a helmet can be tried on to see if it fits. You can still get aftermarket helmet pads: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=bicycle+h...ref=nb_sb_noss But I suspect most would rather have the helmet fit to start with, rather than trying to "make it fit"-I know I do. I've never tried it, but I wonder if you could contact a helmet mfr. and ask them about helmet shape-or measurements of inner length and width?
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Old 11-06-19, 01:00 PM
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I recently bought a Bell Z20 and it fits really well. I've had good luck with other Bell helmets in the past.

I think my head is more round than oval, but also not sure how people really determine this. A few years ago I bought a Giro helmet online from Performance Bike, it didn't fit at all so I took it into the store, and the salesman suggested I try a Kali brand helmet, which he said is better for round heads. That helmet fit great, so... I guess I'm round?
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Old 11-06-19, 02:25 PM
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Go MIPS or POC's "Spin" system and it'll be moot. The harness conforms to pretty much any skull shape. Slight differences in the shape of the helmet itself won't matter, unless it's a non-MIPS type helmet -- those harnesses don't conform as easily.

Right now Bike Gallery in Portland is offering the Bell Formula MIPS for $39 -- that's about half the price I paid in summer 2018. Well worth it. The fit, finish and attention to detail are extraordinary for that price. Unlike many sub-$100 helmets, the Formula MIPS has a hard polycarbonate shell laminate covering the soft EPS crushable foam under the lid where it doesn't even show. My POC Omne Air Spin lacks that feature and cost more.

More important is overall fit. Check user reports carefully for fit. Bell and Giro run true to size. POC seems to vary. My skull measures 59cm (23-3/16"), which usually falls between medium and large. I can wear Bell helmets in medium or large. My Bell Solar was a large, and my Bell Formula MIPS is medium. Both fit fine. I considered the Bell Z20 and would have ordered a medium.

But the POC was tricky. They decided against paying the licensing fee for MIPS and came up with their own system which they dubbed "SPIN". It's simpler and mostly relies on some minimalist gel pads covered in a soft, comfortable velvety material. I ordered an Omne Air Spin and the user reviews on sizing were all over the place. Some users claimed it ran smaller than nominal size. I figured I'd want a little more space for a knit cap in winter so I ordered the large. It fits fine but I could easily have worn a medium and still had room for a thin knit cap under it.
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Old 11-06-19, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by iamLefty View Post
Iím hunting for a new helmet and read somewhere that not only size but the head shape is also important.
If only there were local bike shops where a someone could actually try on various brands and models to see what fits...
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Old 11-06-19, 03:05 PM
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I would not assume that just because one model by a company fits a certain shaped head that others will as well. Truth is, you just don't know what will fit you well without trying it on. You can get lucky buying online and getting a great fit but I don't think your odds will be improved much if any by a generalization of how a brand fits someone else.

When it comes to helmets and shoes, I will pay the extra money and buy from a shop that is willing to carry some stock in the hope that they will continue to do so.
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Old 11-06-19, 03:13 PM
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Anyone know the best helmet for a head that comes to a point at the top?

Asking for a friend. Really. Not about me at all. I swear. Really. Not me. At all.
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Old 11-06-19, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
If only there were local bike shops where a someone could actually try on various brands and models to see what fits...
If only there was a place on the internet where people could post questions about people's experiences with different kinds of equipment......
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Old 11-06-19, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Anyone know the best helmet for a head that comes to a point at the top?

Asking for a friend. Really. Not about me at all. I swear. Really. Not me. At all.
Zipp makes 'em in micro sizes.
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Old 11-06-19, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
If only there were local bike shops where a someone could actually try on various brands and models to see what fits...
You mean a LBS where they're not even remotely brand loyal and carry ALL the different makes and models to choose from??
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Old 11-07-19, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
If only there were local bike shops where a someone could actually try on various brands and models to see what fits...
Iím shopping online. No size available in local bikeshops near me. Otherwise i wouldnít be asking here. Also bikeshops here donít have many models to choose from.
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Old 11-07-19, 02:56 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Go MIPS or POC's "Spin" system and it'll be moot. The harness conforms to pretty much any skull shape.
My Giro helmet is a MIPS one, which is one of the reasons I bought it. I can't really see how the harness makes any difference.
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Old 11-07-19, 09:09 AM
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I love shopping at my LBS and support them as much as I can, but I also totally get why people buy things like helmets, shoes, clothing online.

MSRP on a Bell Z20 MIPS is $215.
This same helmet is on Amazon Prime with 2-day shipping/free returns for $80.
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Old 11-07-19, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by one4smoke View Post
You mean a LBS where they're not even remotely brand loyal and carry ALL the different makes and models to choose from??
You might have to visit more than one shop, if you want to try ALL the brands. I know I had to. Coincidentally, I sometimes visit multiple shoe shops when I need a pair of shoes that fit my feet, and I've been to more than one store looking for a suit that fit. But isn't it nice to try something on and know immediately that it will or won't work? No need to involve UPS and you get to support a local shop at the same time.

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Old 11-07-19, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jgwilliams View Post
My Giro helmet is a MIPS one, which is one of the reasons I bought it. I can't really see how the harness makes any difference.
That may depend on the overall helmet and harness design. I'd need to dig my old Bell non-MIPS helmet out of the bottom of the closet to photograph and compare with the newer Bell with MIPS and the POC with SPIN.

With the latter two, especially the POC, the helmet shell doesn't dictate the fit. The harness conforms to the head regardless of shape. They use the gel pads partly for comfort, partly to minimize friction so the helmet shell moves in relation to impacts while the harness keeps the helmet on the noggin.

The differences between Bell MIPS and non-MIPS are fairly subtle, mostly in the harness. With my older non-MIPS Bell, the harness doesn't come down as far, especially over the temporal and occipital region. The harness and helmet move together. With MIPS the harness comes down a little farther, especially on the temporal region, and tends to stay put while the helmet moves around the harness.

With POC the difference is more noticeable. The harness comes down significantly farther over the temporal and occipital regions. There's relatively less direct contact between the inner shell of the helmet and the head. The slick, soft fabric covered gel pads assist slippage to reduce friction, so the hard helmet moves while the harness retains the helmet -- very important if there's a second or third impact, which I've seen in a crash this year.

Those Bell MIPS and, in particular, POC system conform well to different skull shapes so the oval vs oblong (or, in my case, Frankenstein skull -- squared at the top with high forehead) aren't much of an issue.
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