Premium Member Bruce Thee wrote us the other day about a recent experience he had with a new helmet: “I have a long oval-shaped head (the term is used for motorcycle helmet sizing). I recently tried a Kask bike helmet, and even a helmet a full size and a half over my circumference was too small. Because so many of us order stuff online anymore it would be really helpful to have an idea of the shape designed into the helmet molds of various manufacturers/models. I’d be able to avoid the try-and-return drill by not wasting time and shipping on round helmets.”
Bruce’s idea is a good one, and it points out an issue that extends well beyond lids: Unfortunately, the sizing of some cycling clothing and gear that we need every time out – helmets, shoes, gloves, etc. – varies from brand to brand, and sometimes region to region.
How many of us have bought – online – shoes, helmets, jerseys, etc., and been forced to return them or stick them in the back of the closet, never to be used?
Like Bruce, I’m willing to bet most roadies have a few experiences of wildly varying sizing among their gear. I know I do. I’ve tried, and failed, to buy shoes online (once, never again). And I once bought a jersey in Europe from an Italian maker in size XL (the only time I wear a L, even, is in a tight-fitting race cut. Otherwise, I’m a M).
And when the RBR Review Crew earlier this year did a roundup test of MIPS helmets, we had to do some swapping because some just didn’t fit well on some of our testers.
The upshot of the wild variability in the sizing and fit of cycling gear is this:
- Some things like helmets and shoes have to be tried on prior to purchasing.
- Paying a few dollars more for something at your LBS or other retail store will help you avoid the frustration and hassle of returning items and being forced to start over.
- If you do purchase something online, just make sure you know the company’s return policy to avoid being forced to set up your own eBay site to get rid of all your ill-fitting gear.
- Most brands’ sizing remains fairly consistent over time, so make sure that you note your preferred sizing from brand to brand. Save the tags, make a computer file, use an app, whatever works for you.
- But keep in mind that even within a brand, fit is often different across a product range. Pearl Izumi is a perfect example: its typical three levels of product (Select, Elite, and P.R.O.) get progressively snugger as you go up the line.
If you have an idea for a QT, fire away. We’re always looking for good info we can share with fellow roadies. We would love to hear from you with any suggestions you have. Contact us by clicking Quick Tips Ideas.
—John Marsh & The RBR Team