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      02-18-2013, 10:39 AM   #1
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How tightly should a helmet fit?

I've been toying with tracking my car for a while and finally decided to give it a go. I was referred to a helmet store, and didn't realize it was a Simpson racing store, so that was all they sold. The salesperson was trying to sell me a helmet that I thought was too tight. It squeezed so hard on my lower jaw that I could hardly clamp my teeth together. Is this how all helmets are supposed to fit at the jawline? I didn't buy it and I'm looking at other helmets this week. Any input on fit would be great!

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      02-18-2013, 10:50 AM   #2
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If you have a vert, you may be limited in who will let you track the car without a roll bar fixed.

The helmet should be snug enough that the skin on your forehead moves when you move it up and down or left to right without the strap tightened. If this means that your jaw hurts, try a different model. Any "hotspots" will just get worse in the heat and excitement of driving. Some model have different pad sizes to make a mroe custom fit.

Also, you don't need to spend $800 on a helmet. It just needs to meet the current Snell safety requirements
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      02-18-2013, 11:22 AM   #3
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I believe Simpson has a sizing chart on their website. I would start there. Also, I was told the helmet should fit snug enough so when you grab the face guard and yank a bit it shouldn't move around too much.
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      02-18-2013, 02:27 PM   #4
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You should also wear them about 30 minutes before purchasing one. Any issues will pop up in that amount of time. Some helmets also have adjustments that can be made by swapping out the pads for different thicknesses. Don't skimp out on a skid lid, it's protecting the most important part of you!
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      02-18-2013, 02:34 PM   #5
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Like Purple said, try a different brand.

Back when I rode a motorcycle I went thru 5 helmets before I found one that fit perfectly. Each brand seems to have a slightly different shape. I found Bell and Shoei to be too narrow for my head and ended up with an Arai that I loved.

You might want to find a good motorcycle shop near you. They typically stock a decent collection of helmets and you can try them on. Also, don't be afraid to take it home and sit on the couch in it a bit to make sure you like it.

For the track it might be a little less critical than on a bike given the length a wear, etc, but it's still important that your helmet fit properly.

Don't feel like you need to spend $800, but also don't cheap out.
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      02-18-2013, 07:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiM3y View Post
If you have a vert, you may be limited in who will let you track the car without a roll bar fixed.

You are right about the vert. There are however a few groups that will allow me on the track!


The helmet should be snug enough that the skin on your forehead moves when you move it up and down or left to right without the strap tightened. If this means that your jaw hurts, try a different model. Any "hotspots" will just get worse in the heat and excitement of driving. Some model have different pad sizes to make a mroe custom fit.

Also, you don't need to spend $800 on a helmet. It just needs to meet the current Snell safety requirements
Thanks for the clarification on the fit...I will try what you suggest. I never thought about different pads either.

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Originally Posted by Purple Derple View Post
Different brand's have different shapes. It is best to find the brand that fits the shape of your head. The helmet should not move around on your head when you bob and turn your head without the chin strap fastened. If you find that your jaw hurts, it may be too tight on the sides of your head, in which case the helmet shape may be too narrow for your melon head. I have a big ol' round head and I find Bell helmets to fit comfortably. Try to find a helmet shop that carries different brands so you can try out the shapes.
Haha, I do have a melon head. I felt like I was still wearing that helmet for an hour after I took it off. I really went out looking for a Bell helmet as that's what another member suggested.


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Originally Posted by Bmw135er View Post
You should also wear them about 30 minutes before purchasing one. Any issues will pop up in that amount of time. Some helmets also have adjustments that can be made by swapping out the pads for different thicknesses. Don't skimp out on a skid lid, it's protecting the most important part of you!
By skid lid you mean helmet?

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Originally Posted by dmw16 View Post
Like Purple said, try a different brand.

Back when I rode a motorcycle I went thru 5 helmets before I found one that fit perfectly. Each brand seems to have a slightly different shape. I found Bell and Shoei to be too narrow for my head and ended up with an Arai that I loved.

You might want to find a good motorcycle shop near you. They typically stock a decent collection of helmets and you can try them on. Also, don't be afraid to take it home and sit on the couch in it a bit to make sure you like it.

For the track it might be a little less critical than on a bike given the length a wear, etc, but it's still important that your helmet fit properly.

Don't feel like you need to spend $800, but also don't cheap out.
I'm going to hit up a motorcycle shop this week. I only tried on the open face helmets as they were SO uncomfortable, I was sure I would die of claustrophobia in a full faced helmet. Hopefully, I will find a full faced helmet that's comfortable!

Thank you all so much for the information. It was really helpful!
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      02-18-2013, 09:58 PM   #7
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You are better off not going to a motorcycle shop - they sell motorcycle helmets which have a different spec to motorsport helmets. Some organizations do not permit motorcycle "M" helmets as they have a lower level of fire retardation ability than special application "SA" helmets. You should look/ask for a helmet with a "SA2010" sticker on the inside of the helmet, stuck on the shell underneath the padding. Motorcycle helmets will have a "M2010" sticker.

http://www.smf.org/cert

Oh, and a more expensive helmet may not necessarily be a safer one. You pay mostly for more advanced materials and widgets that make them lighter and more comfortable to wear. As long as they have a Snell certification, they have passed the minimum test standard to be acceptable for motorsports use. However, there will be models that exceed the minimum spec too!
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      02-19-2013, 10:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiM3y View Post
You are better off not going to a motorcycle shop - they sell motorcycle helmets which have a different spec to motorsport helmets. Some organizations do not permit motorcycle "M" helmets as they have a lower level of fire retardation ability than special application "SA" helmets. You should look/ask for a helmet with a "SA2010" sticker on the inside of the helmet, stuck on the shell underneath the padding. Motorcycle helmets will have a "M2010" sticker.
Thanks for putting that out. I didn't know that.

Are there race shops around? I ended up buying an SA2010 helmet online based off my motorcycle helmet sizing. I mainly suggested a motorcycle shop because they tend to be easier to find.
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      02-19-2013, 01:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Thanks for putting that out. I didn't know that.

Are there race shops around? I ended up buying an SA2010 helmet online based off my motorcycle helmet sizing. I mainly suggested a motorcycle shop because they tend to be easier to find.
I bought mine online from http://www.apexperformance.net/. They have a section on choosing a helmet.

They throw in a padded helmet bag and a cotton liner

I just guessed on size based on trying motorcycle helmets and ordered online with the confidence I could exchange if need be. I like these guys because you call and the owner answers!
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      02-21-2013, 06:52 PM   #10
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I went to a local motorcycle shop that carried a wide variety of helmets, and found that they all fit very differently, favoring different head shapes. I found an Arai I liked and bought that. It was fine for HPDE. The next year I started racing, which meant getting a HANS-ready SA helmet. As it turns out, Arai is pretty consistent across models, so I simply picked out online an Arai helmet in the same size, and when it arrived it fit perfectly.

A proper helmet should fit snug like a ski boot. But not snug like an iron mask!

A racer-engineer friend explained to me another difference between motorcycle helmets and SA helmets: motorcycle helmets are engineered primarily for The Big Impact and then keeping you safe while you skid along the pavement, while SA helmets are engineered for repeated impacts that can happen when bouncing around inside the cabin (e.g., smacking the rollbar a few times).

As for price, I always liked the question: How much is your head worth?
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      02-21-2013, 07:37 PM   #11
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I have learned so much from posting this question! I actually went out today to helmet shop. After the way the Simpson fit, I was really nervous to try a full face helmet for claustrophobic reasons. I found a great shop with a very knowledgable owner. I went in insisting I need a large...he smirked and finally got me into a small! I really liked the Arai GP-5W. It was actually comfortable. My next post should be about my first day at the track!
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      02-21-2013, 08:15 PM   #12
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SA and M standards

http://www.racinghelmetguide.com/aut...t-ratings.html
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      02-21-2013, 08:34 PM   #13
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OMG, I'm so confused!!
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      02-21-2013, 11:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadub View Post
I have learned so much from posting this question! I actually went out today to helmet shop. After the way the Simpson fit, I was really nervous to try a full face helmet for claustrophobic reasons. I found a great shop with a very knowledgable owner. I went in insisting I need a large...he smirked and finally got me into a small! I really liked the Arai GP-5W. It was actually comfortable. My next post should be about my first day at the track!
Congrats! I think that's the same helmet I got (albeit HANS-ready). Have fun at the track! Looking forward to your post!
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      02-22-2013, 09:52 AM   #15
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Looks good on you. Have fun out there!
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      02-22-2013, 10:11 AM   #16
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Congrats! I think that's the same helmet I got (albeit HANS-ready). Have fun at the track! Looking forward to your post!
I didn't think I could go wrong with an Arai. The best part was I didn't feel I needed to rip it off my head two seconds after putting it on. I will certainly post again after my first track day!

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Looks good on you. Have fun out there!
Thanks, I thought my hair and make up came out really well yesterday!
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      02-23-2013, 10:29 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bmw135er View Post
You should also wear them about 30 minutes before purchasing one. Any issues will pop up in that amount of time. Some helmets also have adjustments that can be made by swapping out the pads for different thicknesses. Don't skimp out on a skid lid, it's protecting the most important part of you!
+1
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Also, don't be afraid to take it home and sit on the couch in it a bit to make sure you like it.
Excellent advice. Is it weird that I sit at home on the couch wearing my helmet as I watch GrandAm races, Fifth Gear, and American Idol?
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I only tried on the open face helmets as they were SO uncomfortable, I was sure I would die of claustrophobia in a full faced helmet. Hopefully, I will find a full faced helmet that's comfortable!
Many people strongly recommend a full-face helmet for safety reasons. You'd be surprised by how much debris makes it into the cabin of the car through the open side windows during a trackday. It's not unusual to find bits of spent rubber from other cars in your back seat when the day is done. I've been whacked in the face by a hot chunk of rubber flying off of a car I was following closely. It didn't feel good. Came in through my open visor. I don't know that I would necessarily drive all the time with my visor lowered, but at least you get quite a bit more protection with a full-face helmet and open visor than you do an open-face helmet.
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As for price, I always liked the question: How much is your head worth?
Exactly. The saying goes, "If you have a $100 head, buy a $100 helmet."
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadub View Post
I have learned so much from posting this question! I actually went out today to helmet shop. After the way the Simpson fit, I was really nervous to try a full face helmet for claustrophobic reasons. I found a great shop with a very knowledgable owner. I went in insisting I need a large...he smirked and finally got me into a small! I really liked the Arai GP-5W. It was actually comfortable. My next post should be about my first day at the track!
Lookin' good! I have a GP-6S and I love it. It's reassuring when you go through tech at an HPDE event and the organizers just glance at your helmet and say, "Oh--an Arai? You're good!"
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I didn't think I could go wrong with an Arai. The best part was I didn't feel I needed to rip it off my head two seconds after putting it on. I will certainly post again after my first track day!

I thought my hair and make up came out really well yesterday!
Wow--I wouldn't have even thought of that. Add to your trackday checklist: No makeup today. Otherwise, your foundation is going to get all caked-on and nasty on your cheek pads and forehead padding.
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      02-23-2013, 11:14 AM   #18
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+1

Excellent advice. Is it weird that I sit at home on the couch wearing my helmet as I watch GrandAm races, Fifth Gear, and American Idol?


Clearly, I see nothing odd about this at all.



Many people strongly recommend a full-face helmet for safety reasons. You'd be surprised by how much debris makes it into the cabin of the car through the open side windows during a trackday. It's not unusual to find bits of spent rubber from other cars in your back seat when the day is done. I've been whacked in the face by a hot chunk of rubber flying off of a car I was following closely. It didn't feel good. Came in through my open visor. I don't know that I would necessarily drive all the time with my visor lowered, but at least you get quite a bit more protection with a full-face helmet and open visor than you do an open-face helmet.


I've read other stories about this, hence my decision to go full faced. Note to self......keep visor down.



Exactly. The saying goes, "If you have a $100 head, buy a $100 helmet."


I firmly believe that my melon is priceless.



Lookin' good! I have a GP-6S and I love it. It's reassuring when you go through tech at an HPDE event and the organizers just glance at your helmet and say, "Oh--an Arai? You're good!"
Wow--I wouldn't have even thought of that. Add to your trackday checklist: No makeup today. Otherwise, your foundation is going to get all caked-on and nasty on your cheek pads and forehead padding.


About the make-up...the padding on the Arai is removable and washable!



Here' another side note/question about me tracking. I was very ready to buy a set of Volk wheels for my baby (This way I figure if I screw up at the track, at least my car will look good while I'm doing it) which would require new tires as well. I still have good life on my current tires. I thought I'd hold off on the new wheels and tires until I have a few track sessions under my belt. This way, I can use the rubber still left on my stock tires and not burn up rubber on my new wheels yet. Does that make sense?
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      02-23-2013, 11:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Here' another side note/question about me tracking. I was very ready to buy a set of Volk wheels for my baby (This way I figure if I screw up at the track, at least my car will look good while I'm doing it) which would require new tires as well. I still have good life on my current tires. I thought I'd hold off on the new wheels and tires until I have a few track sessions under my belt. This way, I can use the rubber still left on my stock tires and not burn up rubber on my new wheels yet. Does that make sense?
Definitely makes sense. You can also get a better sense of the kind of setup you want. For example, I always preferred the square 18" setup with 275s, but to do that comfortably you need camber plates (which in the end will help your track tires last longer anyway). But you'll want better brake pads for tracking first before you give your tires more grip, making your brakes work even harder. (I used Hawk DTC-70s, which are very kind to your rotors but have great stopping power, even when baking hot late in the session.) It's all kind of a set of improvements.

Beyond that, best investment is in you in terms of seat time. Mod the driver before you mod the car! (And have fun!)
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      02-23-2013, 11:33 AM   #20
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Definitely makes sense. You can also get a better sense of the kind of setup you want. For example, I always preferred the square 18" setup with 275s, but to do that comfortably you need camber plates (which in the end will help your track tires last longer anyway). But you'll want better brake pads for tracking first before you give your tires more grip, making your brakes work even harder. (I used Hawk DTC-70s, which are very kind to your rotors but have great stopping power, even when baking hot late in the session.) It's all kind of a set of improvements.

Beyond that, best investment is in you in terms of seat time. Mod the driver before you mod the car! (And have fun!)

Thanks Ilis...you've been really kind and helpful through this whole post. However, before I do anything different with wheels/brakes/camber plates/square set up etc, I may contact you again to explain all that "Greek" you just through my way. My issue is I know the look I want for my car, but don't have a good understanding of the "mechanics" behind it. That's where this forum and friends on this forum have been super helpful. BTW, I used to own a ski house in Durango. CO has to be one of the most beautiful states ever!
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      02-23-2013, 12:16 PM   #21
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mamadub, happy to share what I know, such as it is. PM me anytime. And I agree about CO!
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      02-23-2013, 01:29 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Here' another side note/question about me tracking. I was very ready to buy a set of Volk wheels for my baby (This way I figure if I screw up at the track, at least my car will look good while I'm doing it) which would require new tires as well. I still have good life on my current tires. I thought I'd hold off on the new wheels and tires until I have a few track sessions under my belt. This way, I can use the rubber still left on my stock tires and not burn up rubber on my new wheels yet. Does that make sense?
Quote:
Originally Posted by llis View Post
Definitely makes sense. You can also get a better sense of the kind of setup you want. For example, I always preferred the square 18" setup with 275s, but to do that comfortably you need camber plates (which in the end will help your track tires last longer anyway). But you'll want better brake pads for tracking first before you give your tires more grip, making your brakes work even harder. (I used Hawk DTC-70s, which are very kind to your rotors but have great stopping power, even when baking hot late in the session.) It's all kind of a set of improvements.

Beyond that, best investment is in you in terms of seat time. Mod the driver before you mod the car! (And have fun!)
Good advice. Do some searching on here for basic track preparation. At the very least, go to the track with a good tire gauge, a torque wrench for your lugbolts (can be borrowed from a friendly fellow driver in the paddock), long pants and long-sleeve shirt, your shiny new helmet, and water/snacks. Also good idea to have your brake fluid changed over to something higher-temp and track-worthy, such as Ate Super Blue or Motul. Any decent speed shop should stock this fluid and be able to change it over for you. This is a basic, first safety step that you should do prior to getting into upgraded brake lines, pads, camber plates, etc.

As far as tires go, you have a lot of options and several ways to approach it:

1. Just go to the track on your stock wheels and tires, which works fine for starting out. Many people do this, especially at the beginning. Gives you a chance to see whether or not you like tracking and want to continue with it before you spend $2500+ on a set of track wheels and tires. I'm assuming you currently have something on the car that falls in the high performance category, like Michelin Pilot Sports or Continentals or Pirelli PZeros. I wouldn't recommend doing this on all-seasons.

2. Buy a new, dedicated set of track wheels and tires like the Apex ARC-8s or new EC-7s and Yokohama AD-08s or Hankook RS3s. If you know you're going to be going to the track with some regularity, this makes sense. This way you're not destroying your street tires on the track. Also, I think it's safer overall. We all end up getting a nail in a tire on the street from time to time, and we often just get the hole patched/plugged. This is perfectly fine and safe for street use, but I would NEVER use a tire that has been patched/plugged on the track. The speeds and stresses on the tire are just too great on the track for this to be safe. So with a dedicated set of track wheels/tires, you never have to worry about this. If you get a nail in your street tires and have them patched, fine. Your track tires are still intact.

3. Variation of above--get a new set of track wheels, but take your existing street tires off of your car, assuming they're of the high-perf variety, and have them put on the track wheels. Use this for your track setup, assuming the tires still have some tread left on them. That way you can learn on the used street tires. You would then buy a brand-new set of quality tires for street use to put on your stock, street wheels.

A caveat--when starting out, don't get fancy R-comp tires for the track. They grip really well, but they don't slide easily or break away gradually. They grip grip grip and then all of a sudden start sliding, which is a bad scenario when you're first learning. You need to learn how to slide and how to recover. Start with a quality street tire instead, like the Yoko AD08s or Hankook RS3s or Nitto NT05s.

And, another bit of advice--you'll find it's a very fun, supportive community at the track. People love to talk about their cars, ask you about your car, and offer tips and advice. Take it all in, but do your due diligence as well. Much of the advice you will get will be spot-on, but some things won't. Some people have some pretty wacky ideas, so if something seems silly or not right, don't listen. Research it more.

Listen to your instructor and have fun. This shouldn't be a problem, since most instructors say that women are much easier to teach than men. In this arena, women tend to listen to instruction much better and are overall much smoother with the controls. A lot of novice men come into this with a hot-shot, know-it-all attitude and frustrate their instructors. They also tend to be rough and ham-fisted.

Have a blast! I think you'll love it.
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