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Choosing The Best Harley-Davidson Helmet & How To Fit It Properly

Posted by Dan Novit

Aug 7, 2019 4:22:05 PM

Your helmet may not be doing it's job- and you may not even realize it.

If you've started researching for your new motorcycle helmet- or maybe even your first motorcycle helmet- you may have stumbled into a helpless and overwhelming state of information-overload.

You're likely realizing that there's so much more to this purchasing decision than a sleek design and a comfortable fit. Take a look at each of the life-critical components of a Harley-Davidson® helmet, illustrated below:

Screen Shot 2019-08-07 at 1.36.36 PM

1. Rigid outer shell distributes force of impact and resists penetration.

2. EPS Impact-Absorbing Liner crushes to absorb energy of impact. Amount of EPS lining depends on outer-shell material and overall shell size.

3. Comfort Padding, plus Retention System, helps keep helmet in place and provides cushion between outer shell and head.


4. Retention System for safety. Always fasten while riding.

Why Is A Proper Helmet Fit So Important?

When you experience an impact (while you're wearing your helmet, of course), your helmets liner is designed to absorb this impact and reduce the trauma to your head. If it's too loose- even if it feels just right- you're leaving empty space between your head and the liner that'll be just enough to smash your skull into the liner, rather than having that force absorbed by it. Of course, if it's too tight, that'll just be downright uncomfortable. A well-fitted motorcycle helmet will prevent both of these scenarios, and you'll be significantly increasing your chances of a favorable outcome after an impact.

Maybe now you're even more stressed out than before about making this decision- but we're here to help.

We've got 5 steps that are sure to help relieve some of that stress:

  1. Choose a helmet style.
  2. Determine your size.
  3. Try the helmet on.
  4. Ensure a proper fit.
  5. Replace on a schedule.

1. Choose a helmet style

As you've probably already noticed, there's an overwhelming amount of helmets out the market. So, let's take a look at the primary helmet categories so you can approach the decision process with a bit more confidence.

Modular Helmets

Modular and full face helmets are similar in many ways. They both cover your head and face completely, but there are some notable differences.

Man wearing a harley davidson modular helmet

Modular helmets typically come equipped with a hinged design, which locks into place. This will give you the flexibility to easily swing your chinbar and faceshield up with the simple push of a button. This gives you, the rider, quick and easy access to your face, without having to completely remove it like you would with a one-piece, full face helmet.

The nice thing about modulars- unlike many full face helmets- is that they're usually designed to allow a refreshing flow of air in and out of the helmet, helping you to keep cool on those hot summer rides.

In addition, this type of helmet proves especially convenient for riders who wear glasses. If you've ever tried to slip on a full face helmet while wearing glasses, you know it's not fun to fumble your glasses into place and forcefully cram them back to your ears. Modular helmets allow you slip on the helmet like an open face helmet, gently adjust your glasses and flip down the face shield. Poof- magic.

Full Face Helmets

With a full face helmet, you have a one-piece unit that fully encloses your head. There's a face shield to protect your facial extremities, as well as an attached chinbar that sits at the bottom of your face.

man wearing a harley davidson full face helmet

While this type of helmet doesn't typically doesn't offer the refreshing airflow, like the modular helmet, they're built for the highest level of impact protection.

Your decision to choose a modular helmet vs. a full face helmet may just come down to your comfort and safety preferences.

Check out the latest helmet styles available NOW at Southside Harley

See NEW Helmets Available Now


Open Face/Three-Quarter Helmets

Think of open face helmets as modulars, minus the face shield and chin bar. Your face is fully exposed and accessible, while the rest of your skull and the back of your head are encased within the shell.

man riding an orange harley davidson motorcycle and wearing a half face helmetWith an open face helmet, you'll experience the most airflow, but your face is left vulnerable to the elements and foreign objects you may encounter out on the road. For this reason, many riders who opt for open face helmets may also choose accessories to aid in protecting areas of their face, such as goggles, a balaclava, or even just a bandana to protect your mouth.

Open face helmets are usually a less expensive option, which makes them a popular choice among both new and experienced riders.

Again, the choice comes down to comfort and safety preferences. But, if you're new to the sport, ask any experienced rider and they'll tell you that it doesn't feel good to get smacked in the face with a June bug, a rock, or even a raindrop at 70mph. So please do something to protect your face!

Half Helmets

woman wearing a harley davidson half motorcycle helmet

There's not much of a difference between half helmets and open face helmets. In fact, they're sometimes just classified as open face. This type of helmet is going to be the least restrictive and will protect the minimum surface area of your head. Your face is exposed, just like the open face style described above, but now you're removing protection from the back of your upper-neck and head. Think of it as half an eggshell slapped on the top of your head.

That's not to say you shouldn't opt for a half helmet, but do note that this style is the least protective option- so be certain that it's the right choice for you.

2. Determine Your Size

This may be more challenging than it sounds, as each helmet manufacturer or brand will have slightly differing sizing measurements. To get a general idea of what your size range you may be in, take a look at this Helmet Sizing Chart for a few of the most popular brands you may find at your local dealership. However, we'll always recommend coming in for a fitting before you make a purchase or order any helmet online.

3. Try The Helmet On

As you dive deeper into your helmet exploration, you may notice that some helmets just don't feel as comfortable as others. That's normal. You may go in to this process with a preferred helmet style in mind, but the truth is that everyone's head is inherently different in size, shape and dimension. That means you'll just need to accept that your first choice of helmet simply may not fit correctly. It could be how it's designed; it could be the brand; it could be the abnormal shape of your noggin. Don't get discouraged, just keep exploring and try out different styles and models.

4. Check for proper fit

Once you've found a helmet that feels comfortable, there's a helmet-fitting process that will help you determine if it's going to perform as it should, in the event of an incident. It's not enough to just feel comfortable.

We recommend downloading our official "Motorcycle Helmet Fitting Pocket Guide" for detailed instructions. You can print it out or simply take a screenshot so you can bring your guide with you as you search for that perfect helmet.

Download Helmet Fitting Pocket Guide

5. Replace On A Schedule



Interior protective elements, such as helmet liners and eps structures (impact absorbing layer), deteriorate over time and lose effectiveness in safety, comfort and fit. This is crucial to be aware of because you may not physically see this deterioration.man wearing a dirty harley davidson motorcycle helmet

Helmets that show dents in the shell or fraying of the straps should be replaced immediately!


Did you get all that? It's okay if you didn't- save this page as a resource and you'll have everything you need to get started in your hunt for the right motorcycle helmet! Make sure you download your Helmet Fitting Pocket Guide, and come on in to Southside Harley. We're always here to address your concerns and will happily help you along to get you fitted properly for that new helmet. Ride safe and ride on!

Topics: Riding Gear

Tips For Riding A Motorcycle With A Passanger

Posted by Hannah Kirkland

Aug 6, 2019 9:49:10 AM

Two-up riding, or riding with a passenger, takes skill. It may be tempting to just have your riding partner hop on the back of your bike and take off, but in reality there is much more to it than that. Here’s some advice from us at Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson for both the rider and their passenger. two up 2.jpg

What the rider should know:

Even someone small will affect how much weight is on the bike, so it’s important to be aware of how your motorcycle handles with the additional weight. Kathy Schulteti, General Manager of ISSHD says, "The main thing is for the rider to be aware of the added weight stopping and turning". Start off with short trips to get used to the added weight. Turns will need slightly more effort, getting up to speed with take more time, and stopping will require braking sooner. It sounds like common sense, but riders can overlook these simple steps to ensure a safer ride.

Adjust your bike’s rear suspension when you add the extra weight of your passenger to avoid from bottoming out. You will also need to increase your tire pressure. Call our Service Experts for help.

What the passenger should know:

Have clear means of communicating with the rider. Know when you’re going to stop, how long the ride will be. Do you know what types of roads you will be encountering? Roads that wind and twist, or flat land? It’s important to have expectations of the trip, so that you will know how to respond.

Two up.jpgAs a passenger, you should always make sure that you are securely on the bike. You can do this by holding on to the rider, but making sure you are not limiting their motions or ability to maneuver the bike. Having a backrest is the best way to secure yourself on the bike. You can lean back on the backrest, relax and enjoy the ride.

One of the MOST important things to know as a passenger is don't get on or off the bike without the rider telling you it's okay to do so. The rider must brace for the bike movement and pressure you put on the passenger pegs in order to keep the bike balanced and upright.

The main component of being the passenger is to take your rider’s lead. Schulteti says, "The most critical thing is the stillness of the passenger. The passenger is the one who can cause problems, so just relax and let your body move with the bike". Don't resist. She also stresses that you should never put your feet down as a passenger, just let the rider handle that.

Though riding season may be coming to an end, it’s always important to know the skills needed for two-up riding. Whether you’re the passenger or the rider, familiarizing yourself with these tips will make for a smoother ride. If you are planning a road trip yet this season, check out our blog posts about Indiana's Best Motorcycle Routes and our Road Trip Tips. You can also stop in to Indianapolis Southside H-D at any time and ask us questions.

Request a Service Appointment!

Topics: Road Trip, Passenger, Two Up Riding

How To Clean Your Harley-Davidson Motorcycle

Posted by Sherry Long

Apr 4, 2019 12:10:09 PM

motorcycle cleaning products

Icleaning productsndianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson offers lots of great tips, tricks, and advice for keeping your prized possession looking as shiny as the day you first rode it home.

What you need to clean your Harley Davidson:

  • Wash mitt
  • Microfiber detailing cloth
  • Softstrips
  • Soft detailing pad
  • Wheel & spoke brush
  • Softcloth
  • Soft drying towel
  • HOG Blaster motorcycle dryer

Essential Harley Davidson Cleaning

  • Wheel & tire cleaner
  • Sunwash concentrate
  • Bug remover
  • Harley Glaze polish & sealant
  • Harley Black
Prepare your motorcycle for a thorough wash


The Wash Process

1.      Cool Down

      • Don’t start cleaning until your motorcycle is cool to the touch.
      • Cold water can damage a hot bike.


      • Rinse your bike with clean water from the bottom up.
      • Do you have the proper cleaning and detailing supplies on hand?


3.      Wheels & Tires

      • Rinse your wheels and tires, making sure to wet all surfaces with clean water.
      • Spray on wheel & tire cleaner andwait one minute.How to properly wash your Harley-Davidson motorcycle
      • Clean the wheels with your soft detailing pad or your wheel & spoke brush.
      • Rinse well.

The Wash

      • Use two clean buckets; one for cleaning and one for rinsing.
      • Pour Sunwash concentrate into one bucket and fill with water.
      • Fill your second bucket with just clean water.
      • Soak your wash mitt in the bucket with Sunwash solution.
      • Wash all bike surfaces; start at the top and work your way down.
      • Use Harley’s bug remover to easily clean away those caked-on insects.
      • Rinse all bike surfaces; start at the bottom and work your way up.harley davidson cleaning products
      • Finish with a final top down rinse.

How to properly wash your Harley-Davidson motorcycle








drying resized 600


Drying the Motorcycle

      • Use your soft drying towel on all bike surfaces.
      • For faster, more effectivedrying, use the HOG Blaster motorcycle dryer.
      • Dampen your towel in the bucket of clean water, and wring out any excess water.
      • Wipe across the entire bike surface.
      • Wring out the towel often and continue wiping until your bike is completely dry.


How to properly polish your Harley-Davidson motorcycle


 6.      Polish & Seal

        • Remember that a well-maintained Harley repels dust, dirt, bugs, and dirty water.
        • Use Harley Glaze polish & sealant with your softcloth ormicrofiber detailing cloth and follow the bottle instructions.
        • A softcloth is an absolute must for buffing your bike.

Add Harley Black to Tires


Harley-Davidson motorcycles are incredible machines that give you many years of riding pleasure. Also, they’re valuable investments that are worth caring for properly. Proper Harley Davidson care will increase your riding pleasure and, ultimately, help retain your bike’s value. Want to protect your bike for the long run? Check out these special protective products exclusively from H-D: 

Harley Glaze poly sealant
Windshield water repellant
Leather protectant
Harley Preserve bare aluminum protectant wipes

harley davidson cleaning tips

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How to properly wash your Harley-Davidson motorcycle | A workshop at Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson

Topics: Maintaining Your Bike, harley davidson