Getting the proper fit

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor

Im often asked what helmet I prefer to wear. Well, I wear several different brands of helmets on a regular basis mostly Arai, Shoei, Icon, and Harley-Davidson. Occasionally, youll see me in a half shell because Im doing a photo shoot and like to be sure you can tell theres a woman riding the bike. But I always wear a helmet and when Im on long rides, Ill choose a full face if the bike does not have a windshield or if its very cold out. Most often I prefer a 3/4 helmet with face shield because I like the open feeling it provides. The Arai SZ/Ram III is my favorite 3/4 helmet. Dont ask me how it got that name. I dont know.

The Arai SZ/Ram III looks good on. It does not look like it#39;s sitting on top of my head.

Youll see me wearing this helmet a lot on my test rides. You can still tell its a woman underneath because you can see my smile – and on my test rides its important my readers can see its a woman. Im on my second SZ/Ram III because I like this helmet that much. Bottom line is, this helmet is very comfortable and it feels sturdy on my head without squishing my head or cheeks. I never have a problem with the helmet buffeting because its planted on my head.

Wearing the SZ/Ram III while test riding Harley-Davidson#39;s CVO models.

It doesnt feel too heavy or wobbly – probably because Ive ensured that I have a proper fit. Arai insists its retailers properly fit an Arai helmet when selling to a customer. (See “Getting the Right Helmet Fit” below.) If a helmet does not fit you correctly, it cant protect you like it was designed to do in the event of an accident. So Arai takes great measures to make sure its customers get fitted properly. When a helmet fits the right way, it doesnt move around your head and cant be pushed forward easily when applying pressure to the back of the helmet by the nape of the neck. The cheek pads must also fit properly.

Wearing the SZ/Ram III while test riding the Victory Vision.

Arai researchers spend a lot of time on helmet construction and impact resistance theres a reason why you see a lot of the top motorcycle and automobile racers wearing an Arai helmet – so I feel comfortable that my SZ/Ram III will protect me as much as a 3/4 helmet could should I go down. I know a 3/4 does not protect the front of your face as much as a full-face Im well aware of that.

I thought about going through all the finer points of the helmet listed on its spec sheet but you can find that out on Arais Web site at For most people, helmet fitment is all about comfort and protection – and this helmet does it for me. I can pop out the liners inside when they get sweaty and smelly and clean them. I can also change out the face shield easily if I want a darker tint. There are plenty of vents on the helmet and on the face shield itself by the eyebrows to dissipate heat and condensation.

The SZ/Ram III runs about $440 – yes, I know thats not cheap. But a helmet to me is really good insurance and worth every penny, especially when I know Im buying the best. As they say, you get what you pay for and that is never more evident than in helmet construction. To learn more about Arai, visit

Getting The Right Helmet Fit
We watched as an authorized helmet fitter, Kelly, fits customer Nikki on picking the right size for her Arai helmet. While this is Arais method for achieving proper fit, these steps should be used when fitting any brand of helmet. Click on the images to make them larger.

Step 1: The widest point of the head is measured just above the brow bone. That measurement corresponds with a helmet size indicated in a guidebook Arai supplies its dealers.
Step 2: The fitter then removes the cheek pads because what#39;s important is how the helmet fits on top of your head, not cheeks at this point. Keeping the cheek pads in can distract from how the helmet really feels on your head.
Step 3: Nikki then tries on the helmet without the cheek pads in place. She needs to be able to feel the helmet snugly all around the crown of her head without pressure points. The top of the padding should sit right at her eyebrows or right above them. It should not be in the middle of her forehead or at her hairline.
Step 4: Once the correct helmet size is determined, the fitter will then figure out what size cheek pads to pop into place.
Step 5: Nikki then puts the helmet back on with the cheek pads in place. The helmet should not move around, but it should also not be so tight that she has chipmunk cheeks. Kelly says what you want are “slightly chubby” cheeks.
Step 6: This is the sign of a bad fit. You don#39;t want to be able to push the helmet forward sliding up on your head.

4 thoughts on PRODUCT REVIEW: Arai SZ/Ram III Helmet

  1. I see so many people walk out of the dealership where I work with an ill-fitting helmet because it’s on sale, or they think it looks cute. Get a good fit and a good helmet, because there are no do-overs in motorcycling.

    Also, to Leta Wos (posting dated 1/27/09): if you don't find your size, be vocal and ask. Harley-Davidson makes almost all their items in woman's plus sizes, but most dealerships you'll have to ask them to order them. I think it's because plus size women don't think they can walk into a dealership and find a jacket that will fit them, but you can.

  2. I have to agree with Leta. I've had limited success buying helmets. A BMW dealership in Tucson was great, but the rest of the places I've been to have been so-so. One dealership went so far as to ignore me every time I tried to ask for assistance. I left after an hour and haven't been back. Another place had a few very, very pink helmets that would fit women, and none fit me (nor did I want a pink helmet). Another dealer didn't stock anything that fit women, but I could order something. None of the dealerships that I went to ever measured my head, and none offer any kind of fitting.

    Thankfully my husband is very helmet conscious and was extremely diligent when I bought my first helmet (making sure I knew how it should fit, where it should fit, etc.)

  3. When we fit a helmet, we also do one extra sizing test — we have the customer hold the helmet on both sides — firmly. Then, ask them to try to turn their head as though they're looking at the interior side of the helmet. If they can move that much, regardless of the other fit tests being passed, it's a no go! The helmet needs to feel as though it's a part of your entire head, not something stuck on it.

  4. Great article, problem is, I've never seen a “fitter” in any of the stores, let alone being able to select custom cheek pads for proper fit. You're lucky to walk into any store and find a decent selection of “women's” helmets in multiple styles and sizes to try. Forget online purchasing, what with return shipping and restocking fees.

    Sure do wish some of these dealers would step up and start offering more of a selection of clothing and protective gear for women riders (including those of us with full figures), but with the current economy, I don't see that happening for awhile.

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