Should A Helmet Move When You Shake Your Head?


The key purpose of wearing a bike helmet is for protection against impact. To effectively offer protection, a helmet must fit well and remain firmly positioned as you ride. That begs the question, should a helmet move when you shake your head? A well-fitted helmet offers a little snugness and also allows two fingers to fit in between the helmet shell and your eyebrow. So yes, a helmet should wiggle but only slightly.

A significant helmet movement might be an indication of a poorly fitted helmet, either due to oversizing or a poor strap and buckle system. Let’s discuss more about this

Understanding Helmet Fit


When you fit a helmet, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guide. The straps and buckles must be adjusted appropriately. Ensure that the chin strap is properly shaped to form a “Y” around the ears. To be sure you have secured the helmet well perform a fit check.

Try moving your head sideways and up and down. Does the helmet remain secure or does it feel loose? For the latter, you need to re-adjust the strap and buckle system for a snugger fit.

For a more comfortable feel, a well-fitted helmet should allow 2 fingers to pass through right under your eyebrows. If the helmet is too tight, you might experience a headache due to pressure points. Overall, a proper fit gives you more comfort while ensuring your safety, so you can enjoy peaceful rides.

What Causes Helmet Movement

So what factors would contribute to the helmet movement?

Incorrect Helmet Size

Almost all helmets retail with a detailed sizing chart provided by the manufacturers. To identify your ideal helmet size, measure your head circumference at the largest area and match these measurements on the sizing chart. A helmet that is too big might experience excessive movement despite tightening the buckle and strap system.

Uneven Padding

Some helmets have certain areas more padded than others. While such helmets work for certain head shapes, they might not work for you. Once you wear them you will realize some areas feel excessively tight while others feel loose. Other helmets suffer from worn-out padding or wrongly positioned padding. Consequently, such a helmet will experience significant movement when you shake your head.

Long Hair or Hairstyles

It’s obvious that unless well secured, long hair will affect the fit of your helmet. Read our detailed article on how to manage long hair with a cycling helmet here. Besides long hair, styles such as exaggerated buns, braids, and ponytails may also affect the helmet fit.

Similarly, using bulky hair accessories such as clips and scrunchies tends to push the helmet outward affecting the overall fit. In situations where you’re unable to downsize the hair volume, use a slightly bigger helmet.


 Helmet Age and Condition

Over time, synthesized materials, including those used to manufacture helmets, experience wear and tear. The most affected helmet parts are normally the padding and straps. The padding gets over-compressed while the straps over-stretch.

Helmets that are generally in poor condition, whether due to age or multiple impacts, might not offer an ideal fit. They tend to move a lot as you ride. It’s best to replace the worn-out parts or even replace the entire helmet if necessary.

Effects of Helmet Movement on Safety

Effects of Helmet Movement on Safety

Now that you understand what causes a helmet to move, should you be worried? Significant helmet movement as you ride can pose several risks including:

Compromised Protection

The main reason we wear helmets is for protection in case you fall or collide. Excessive movement when riding might shift your helmet position in a way that it’s no longer able to protect you against impact. The helmet might even fly off upon impact leaving your head exposed to injuries.

Stability Problems

When riding along challenging terrain or at very high speeds, maintaining stability is key. A shaky helmet compromises your balance as you struggle to maintain proper posture. This may distract your focus and set you off the trail. In addition, too much helmet movement might loosen the straps or unfasten them over time putting you at risk since the helmet can easily come off upon impact.

Poor Visibility

A helmet that keeps sliding could obstruct your vision or cause the vision attachments such as goggles and sunglasses to slide off leaving your eyes exposed. This can hamper your vision and consequently increase your risk of collisions.


A ride where you keep swinging your head to slide the helmet back in position might not only be very exhausting but also super uncomfortable. Moreover, excessive movement of the helmet may lead to skin irritation or the formation of uncomfortable pressure points. If you’re feeling unsettled and uncomfortable, your ability to quickly respond in the event of a situation may be compromised, potentially increasing your risk of accidents.

Addressing Helmet Movement

What is the ideal solution for a moving helmet? Obviously, you could start by addressing the root cause of the problem, right? However, sometimes replacing the entire helmet might be very costly. So what other options do you have?

  1. 1. Using adjustable straps

Properly adjusting your helmet straps and its retention systems will help you achieve a secure fit. Always ensure they are snug and comfortable.

  1. 2. Adding padding

Thanks to technology, modern helmets come with removable and customizable padding. If the fit is just not quite right, you can add or reduce the padding. Even a little addition or reduction makes a lot of difference in the helmet’s final fit.

  1. 3. Additional head attire

You could also try a head wrap or a helmet cap and feel the difference it makes in fit. When worn correctly, these additional attire still add to the comfort as they facilitate moisture wicking.

In Conclusion

So what do you think, should a helmet move when you shake your head? A slight helmet movement especially when you shake your head vigorously is expected. However, the movement should be minimal and shouldn’t affect its stability. This is to say, the helmet should not change position or suddenly feel loose after movement. It must always remain secure and comfortable throughout the ride irrespective of the riding conditions.

4 thoughts on “Should A Helmet Move When You Shake Your Head?”

  1. I’m new to cycling and safety equipment, and I found this article really informative. It makes sense that a helmet should fit well and not move excessively while riding. However, if a helmet does move more than it should, what can a cyclist do to address this issue without having to replace the entire helmet, which can be expensive? 

    Are there any simple adjustments or accessories that can help improve the fit and reduce helmet movement?

    • Hi, Skamalka, and thank you.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      If your bike helmet moves more than it should, ensuring a proper fit is crucial for safety.

      If you’re unsure about the fit, visit a local bike shop. They often have trained staff who can help ensure that your helmet fits correctly.

      Remember, a helmet that doesn’t fit properly can compromise your safety. It’s worth investing time to ensure a snug and secure fit. If, after trying these adjustments, the helmet still doesn’t fit well, it might be wise to consider purchasing a new one. Safety should always be a top priority.

      It’s great to hear about the benefit of the article, too.

      Don’t hesitate to contact me to help you with anything else or if you have any questions.

  2. This blog post provides a down-to-earth and appreciative insight into the importance of a well-fitted bike helmet. It’s clear that safety is the top priority here, and the explanation of why a helmet might move is helpful. I appreciate the practical tips on addressing helmet movement, such as adjusting straps and adding padding. Overall, it’s a valuable reminder of the importance of a snug yet comfortable fit for a safer and more enjoyable ride. Thanks for sharing this informative piece!

    • Hi, Rose, and thank you.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      It’s great to hear about the benefit of the article, too.

      Don’t hesitate to contact me to help you with anything else or if you have any questions.


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