About equipment

Cycle helmets

The law requires you to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle (this includes any passengers you are carrying). We recommend all cyclists wear them. The most common cyclist injuries that cause death are head injuries, so protecting your head is important.

Buying a helmet

Use this checklist when choosing a helmet.

  • It suits the type of cycling you do.
  • The helmet is the right size and shape for your head. Don't buy a helmet that is too large and needs extra padding - it won't be safe.
  • It is brightly coloured or has a high visibility sticker on it.
  • The helmet is standards approved. One of the following stickers must be on the inside of the helmet.
S mark sticker Australian standard sticker The “E4” and “CE” marks may
S mark - complies with
NZS 2063:1996 and NZS 5439
Complies with standards
AS2063:1996 or AS 2063.2
The “E4” and “CE” marks may
indicate the helmet meets the
European Standard EN 1078
but they are not definitive. All
helmets must comply with
European Standard EN 1078.
Snell standard sticker  
Snell standard  
There is no one official label for US Consumer Produce Safety Commission compliant cycle helmets.
However, helmets that have been approved will have a label inside saying the helmet complies with the US Standard.

Adjusting the helmet

All cycle helmets have different straps. Read the instructions that come with the helmet or ask an expert at the shop.

Fitting method

  1. Loosen all the straps.
  2. Figure out which ends of the helmet are the front and back. Some helmets may be labelled with ‘front’ and ‘back’. Normally the front of the helmet is rounder and clear of straps.
Front view of helmet

Front view of helmet

  1. Place the helmet on your head and tilt it forward until the front of the helmet is two fingers width above your eyebrows.
  2. Adjust the dial (if fitted) on the straps at the back of the helmet - to fit the back of your head.
  3. Do up the buckle under your chin.
  4. Adjust all the straps so they tighten firmly. Every strap should be firm, but you should still be able to move your chin enough to talk. If the helmet has separate chin and nape (back) straps, also check that your ears sit in the middle of the V shape of the straps and that the straps meet just below each ear lobe.
  5. Give the helmet a wriggle - forwards, backwards and sideways to check it stays in place. If you can uncover the forehead, sides of the head or cover the eyes, it will need to be adjusted again. If it keeps happening, the helmet will be the wrong shape or size. You may be able to help it fit better by using foam adjuster pads, but if you have to put in very thick pads, it's probably too big.
Side view of helmet

Side view of helmet


Second-hand helmets are not recommended but if you are thinking of getting one, check it for cracks and make sure it has not been dropped, mistreated or involved in a crash. Check straps for wear and tear or fraying. Make sure the buckles work and that the helmet can still be adjusted.

Helmet check

Cycle helmets are designed to take only one hit so it's important to take good care of them. If the helmet is involved in a crash it will need to be replaced. If the helmet is dropped or mistreated it is also likely to need replacing. Check the helmet for the following every time it's used:

Wear and damage

Check the straps, fastenings, inner liner and outer shell. Discuss any wear and damage with an expert.


Give the helmet a wriggle to check its fit and, if necessary, adjust it.

Helmet position - your three-step-mission

Perform the three-step helmet position test below and adjust if necessary.

The following three steps can be carried out to check the position of the helmet.

  1. Check that your ears sit in the middle of the V shape of the straps.
  2. Make sure that the front of the helmet sits two fingers width above your eyebrows.
  3. Check that when the chin strap is done up, that just one finger can fit between your chin and the strap.

Three-step helmet check

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Last updated: 6 October 2014