Bike helmets Bike helmets

In New Zealand it is a legal requirement to wear a helmet when riding a bike. It is important to ensure that the helmet is in good condition, standards approved, the right size and is worn correctly.

To check a helmet condition

As well as being the law in New Zealand, it's a great idea to wear an undamaged, well fitting helmet when riding a bike. The helmet must be a certified bike helmet and not one designed for other sports such as skateboarding. Find out more details and information about riding gear.

It doesn't matter so much if the plastic shell of the helmet is scratched, but it's important to check the inside polystyrene.

Step 1: Hold the helmet so the inside faces up

Inside of the bike helmet facing up

Step 2: Work your way around the edges

Check the edges of the bike helmet

Step 3: Gently try to pull it apart to see if any cracks appear

Helmet gently being pulled apart for any cracks

If it is cracked, it will need to be replaced as helmets are designed to only absorb one impact, so in an accident, the helmet will not protect you as well as it should.

If the helmet is dropped, check it before wearing it again.

To correctly fit a helmet

Step 1: Two finger gap between your eyebrows and the helmet rim - Tighten the cage at the back (if the helmet has one)

Measure a two finger gap between your eyebrow and the helmet

Step 2: Slide the buckle up to sit beneath the earlobe on both sides

Helmet buckles placed under the earlobes

Step 3: Tighten the chin strap so there is a one finger gap

Measure one finger gap for the chin strap

Key points to remember

  • Every time you put your helmet on, spend time making sure the fit is correct. In an accident, if the helmet is not on correctly, or not done up, then it will not be as efficient at protecting your head.
  • Don't wear a hat or beanie underneath your helmet. These cause the helmet to not sit correctly, and in an accident, the hat will knock the helmet out of place so it doesn't protect you.
  • When purchasing a helmet for a child it's best to go for one that fits them at the time, rather than one that they will grow into. Helmets with rear retention systems will help with this as you can get a snug fit as their heads grow.
  • Be wary of buying a second hand helmet. Even if it looks okay, it may have been damaged. It's worth noting too that helmets do have a recommended shelf life of around 5 years which means even if they are not damaged, they should be replaced once they get that old.

Helmets are a secondary safety measure. They do not prevent collisions and should not be seen as a substitute for proper cycle safety training.

Incorrect example of a helmet worn with a loose chin strap and buckles
Incorrect example of a helmet worn with unfastened chin strap
Incorrect example of a helmet worn too far back on the head
Incorrect example of a helmet worn with a cap underneath

You may also be interested in: