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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

6 Tips For Riding Your Motorcycle In The Cold

Posted by Dan Novit

Oct 17, 2018 4:20:41 PM


Indiana weather can sometimes be tricky to predict, but this morning was a dreadful reminder that colder weather is most certainly on the way. For many motorcyclists, this first annual encounter with the morning frost can often mean that it's time to start thinking about sending the baby into hibernation until spring rolls around. But still, there are quite a few riders out there who aren't ready to submit to the winter wrath quite yet- and it's A-okay to keep riding through the season, as long as it's done safely. 

The Cold, Hard Truth.MC-Snow-300

First, we need to acknowledge the dangers and risks associated with riding in the cold. If you've ever journeyed out into the brisk, fall breeze unprepared, you were likely quick to regret not tuning in to Fox59 that morning for the weather. Not only is riding in the cold extremely uncomfortable without proper gear, but your body and mind are also at a significant disadvantage when your body temperature drops. Even if you think you're feeling good, colder temperatures will often result in:

  • Shivering
  • Slower reaction times
  • Impaired judgement
  • Low energy
  • Stiff joints and muscles

All of which make you a hazard to yourself and others out on the road. Of course, the last thing we, at Southside Harley, would ever want to do is discourage anyone from riding. So, with enthusiastic support for our die-hard riders out there, we've thoughtfully assembled a list of riding tips that will help you stay safe and warm, should you choose to motor through the bitter days ahead.

Tips For Riding Safely In The Cold

1. Choose Your Underwear Wisely

Wearing thermal underwear will help your body retain heat in all the places that matter. This will help you stay warm without the need to layer on several additional pieces of clothing that may restrict your body's movement while riding. We recommend The Harley-Davidson® FXRG Base Layer Pant and Base Layer Tee. These under-layers from the FXRG Collection were designed with some pretty incredible smart technology that actually help to regulate your body's temperature.

Check out the video for more information about the FXRG Under Layer:

See the full FXRG Collection for HERE (in-store availability may vary)

2. Invest In The Gear That Matters

Sometimes there are benefits to spending a few extra bucks on good quality gear that is actually designed for riding. You can throw on your thick, toasty pair of snow-blowing gloves, but will your hands and fingers be nimble enough to operate your controls?

Treating yourself to a proper riding jacket will also help make those cold rides quite a bit easier. The material you choose for your jacket is typically a matter of preference. Some riders will say that a waterproof, textile jacket will be your best bet to keep you warm without restricting your movements. But Harley-Davidson has introduced some pretty wicked innovations to their leather jackets which make them a mentionable option, as well.

Check out some of the recommended cold weather gear we've got in stock at Southside Harley!


close up of  water plastic bottles on  white background with clipping path3. Stay Hydrated

Unlike the summer time, we don't always thirst for water when it's cold outside. That can become a problem if we don't recognize that our bodies still need water to function at 100%. Make sure you drink plenty of water before and during your ride. 

4. Skip The Morning Joe

Coffee is a great way to start a crisp, winter morning- but not necessarily if you're planning on riding. It may hit the spot and warm your spirits, but drinks like coffee increase your blood flow to the skin to make you feel warmer, but you're actually losing body heat. Best to stick with water or drinks with electrolytes to keep you truly hydrated for the ride. Waitress making cup of coffee in cafx92xA9

5. Eat Like A Champ

Because our metabolism slows down when it's cold, our body begins to shiver to generate heat inside of us. Eating hardy, nutritional foods will keep you warm while calories are burned. Foods with anti-oxidants and immune-boosting properties will help you feel warm while you ride. While eating hot foods make you feel warm in the moment, a piece of fruit can be just as beneficial, if not more.

Delicious prepared and decorated food on table in restaurant

6. Stop Frequently

If you're planning on being on the road for a while, make sure to make plenty of stops to warm yourself up. Taking breaks will give you the chance to stretch out and get the blood flowing through your body again. Take this time for a quick self-assessment of how your fingers and toes are feeling. If you can, try to stop at rest stops along your route to use hand dryers in the restrooms to warm your fingers. 

You May Spend More, But It Won't Cost As Much

In the end, making the decision to ride through the winter- or at least for some colder months- takes a bit of preparation and, yes, perhaps a little bit of money. But your rides will be much more tolerable and- dare we say- enjoyable. By committing to a few upfront expenses and inconveniences, you're actually investing in the safety of yourself and others out on the road- and that's something we can all afford.






Topics: Riding Gear, Indiana Riding, harley davidson

Motorcycle Road Trip Tips You Can't Leave Home Without

Posted by Hannah Kirkland

Aug 4, 2017 1:45:21 PM

It’s summertime and the ridin’ is easy. If you’re going on a road trip or just headed out for a long weekend, then what and how to pack your bike is probably on your mind. Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson wants to help you take the guesswork out of packing so that you can get to your destination easier and safer. 

road trip blog 1.jpg


You want your bike’s added weight to be as low as possible. If you are deciding whether or not to take something with you, think about cost. If it’s something affordable that will be available for purchase at your destination, then that is something to consider instead of bringing it with you. In addition to adding the least amount of weight possible, it is also important to keep your bike balanced. Small weight differences of 5-10 pounds on one side can make for an exhausting trip. Keep the added weight close to the bike’s center of gravity, which is low and toward the tank. Make sure you don’t block the airflow to the engine. You may need to adjust your tire’s air pressure depending on the amount of extra weight.


What to Bring:road trip blog 2.jpg

Rolling clothes takes up less space than folding, and large zipper-lock bags work well when storing them. Zipper-lock bags can also be used for a number of other items such as toiletries, cash, credit cards, and tools. Try to bring tools that are multi-purpose as opposed to one-use items. Lighter is always better, so if you have access to a washer and/or dryer where you are staying, plan to use it and pack accordingly! Put your emergency items and other items that you may need to get to quickly in one saddlebag, and your overnight things in the other. 



It’s also important to do a “dry run” before you begin your journey. Pack up everything as you would if you were leaving, but take a short ride (1-2 hours) and see if adjustments are needed. Southside H-D wants to make your summer trips as easy as possible, that’s why you can stop in 7 days a week and talk to our Parts & Accessories department about the newest Harley-Davidson luggage for your bike.

premium touring bag.jpg      heritage softail leather touring bags.jpg  imgres-1.jpg


Be Weather Aware:

Lastly, you may never know what kind of weather you will encounter if you’re on the road for a long period of time. Southside H-D has all your rain wear and high-visibility needs. Come in and talk to anyone in our MotorClothes department who can supply you with knowledge to make the right riding gear purchases.

Harley-Davidson has a checklist of essentials and extras for long trips, as well. Regardless of your destination, Indy Southside has you covered. We hope these road trip tips get you roll. Ride on!

Topics: Riding Gear, Road Trip, Packing