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Why remove your helmet at a service station?

Triumph Bonneville fuel economy rules service station fuel economy

Australian service stations can legally refuse to serve you fuel if you don’t remove your helmet, yet very few provide anywhere safe for you to place your helmet while you fill up.

The owners say it’s for safety reasons, but really it’s so you don’t ride off without paying, which is happening more frequently. In the US, most gas stations require you to pay first, but then, most have credit card facilities at the pump and very few do in Australia!

If you feel offended by the lack of trust, you only have the thieves to thank for this get-tough attitude.

You can argue about open-face and flip-up motorcycle helmets providing facial identification for their cameras, but the owners have the final say as it’s private property, even though there is no law prohibiting the use of a fuel pump while wearing a helmet.

If you are offended, you should politely protest about drivers not removing their caps, sunglasses or even religious headwear, then refuse to use their service station, post about it on social media and move on.

Avoid filling your motorcycle with ethanol fuel

If you look around, there are still some servos that let you use the pump without taking off your helmet, especially if you have an open-face or flip-up helmet.

I’ve found one near me that does; probably because they now know me. Country servos are also more forgiving.

However, if you do remove your helmet as many do simply for the rest, good luck finding anywhere safe and clean to place it while filling up.

Helmets cost from a few hundred dollars up to more than $1000 and the last thing you want to do is leave them in a place where they can get dirty, filled with petrol fumes or fall and get damaged. 

The most convenient place would be on top of the bowser, but most bowser tops these days have small advertising signs on top of them preventing you from placing your helmet there.

Nowhere to place your helmet on the top of the bowser at a service station
Nowhere to place your helmet on the top of the bowser at a service station

Not every bike has a place to safely place your helmet. They can and often do roll off seats and placing them on the mirrors can indent the internal foam.

Often riders are forced to place their helmet on top of a bin or on the ground. However, we suggest you buy a big carabiner or one of these helmet hooks so you can quickly and safely fasten your helmet to your bike.

If “service” stations can’t offer that simple “service” of providing somewhere to put your helmet, they shouldn’t be called a service station or they should, at least, allow you to leave your helmet on.

  1. I don’t mind removing my helmet. I usually fill up at the local Shell service station, and they have new bowsers with plenty of room to sit my helmet.

    The thing that is annoying is the $1.06 for petrol, that is cheap! Need those prices up here in Townsville.

  2. If they want to refuse service because I don’t take off my helmet.
    That’s fine.
    But don’t refuse to take my money at the checkout until I take off my helmet
    .As far as I’m concerned if they in the building start the fuel flowing while I’m holding the nozzle in my tank then service has been agreed to.
    Even if I have my helmet still on.
    They can’t then say I have to remove my helmet to pay.
    Imagine asking for a bottle of water in the servo. They hand it too you then ask you remove your helmet to pay for it. Same thing.

  3. I am starting to get a bit uptight about so called service stations. I can’t say I have ever been hassled about taking my helmet off but I have been hassled several times about dismounting before refueling. Apparently the service station is concerned about my safety (God luv um). I do agree that places to put helmets and helmet visor cleaning stations would be far more beneficial then this other needless crap.

    1. I’ve worked servo’s and there are two good reasons to dismount before filling: 1. If for some reason your fueling up starts a fire, you’re going to jump off and fuel is going too spill everywhere and kaboom goes the fireball including you. 2. If the bike is stable on the stand, it’s less likely to have any mishaps before the cap goes back on. Just saying,,,,

  4. Ok, most times that I pull into a servo, I’m going to be having a break, have a smoke, stretch out the old bod, so happy to remove the lid. But there are times, particularly when on the way to work in the morning when I’m not so happy to remove it.

    I don’t wish to start up some religious hatred, intolerance crap, however if its about equality, then why are women of middle eastern origin not asked to remove their head dress, and Indian men not asked to remove theirs. My shark evoline helmet in the open mode, exposes enough to identify me. With all the techno CCTV dotted around most servo’s they have my rego.

    Oh that’s right, its because they can claim it as part of their right to exercise their chosen religion, yes? Silly me.
    Well if it’s got anything to do with equality, motorcycling is my religion, if they don’t want my money I’m happy to oblige and go somewhere else.

    Hippocratic B/S at it’s very best.

    1. I wrote to Caltex CEO on having to remove your helmet at service stations, replied saying it was a security thing and it was their policy to do so. I also included that certain Middle Eastern people do not take their head gear off and could be a security risk, it’s ok for religious purpose was stated, if one group of people are allowed to wear total head coverings and motorcycleists have to remove helmets it is discrimination to one group and not the other if one removes their helmets so should the others to be fair.

    2. Whether people believe this or not, I don’t care, but I stopped for fuel on a winter’s morning only to be asked to remove my helmet. I told the bloke that I would not because it would take me five minutes to take my winter head and neck gear off and put it back on again, so I just held out the money and asked him if he wanted to take it. This is in SW Sydney btw. So reluctantly he took it, and at that instant – no word of a lie – three women got out of a Tarago wearing full black burqas and walked in. “What about them?” I asked. He did not reply. And before anyone says this is a race thing on my part, the servo I usually use is run by an Islamic guy who is always very polite and never asks me to take my helmet off. As far as I’m concerned, one law for all, no exceptions.

  5. I don’t like having to take my helmet off either and I would think that number plates are sufficient identification to deal with non-payers. But I’m not that fussed about lack of places to put my helmet down, heck most places you stop don’t have such facilities so what do you do? I put mine on the ground, it seems to work quite well 🙂

    1. Hi Andrew,
      If you put your helmet n the ground, make sure there is no fuel, oil or creepy crawlies. The former two will damage your helmet and make it smell and the latter might cause an accident down the road if they make themselves known!

  6. I have never had any problem with leaving it on my seat when my bum was not on it! This is making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  7. It depends in my case if i am in a hurry my helmet stays on full stop no if’s or buts.
    I had a argument in the city (Sydney) one time so i just stood there while the other customers(about 6) were waiting behind i had my money in my hand and just stood there till the cashier took it.
    i just love the country people are more open and understand.

  8. I’ve had an attendant at one of my local servos refuse to start the pump until I removed my helmet (which is a flip open touring type) even though I had previously filled up there plenty of times wearing the exact same helmet. When I asked her what the problem was, as she (and the cameras) could see my face, she said they needed to see hair colouring as well in case of an incident.

    Now, I have a Helmet Hook and don’t even bother trying to get away with leaving it on. I just take it off my head and hang it on the hook conveniently hanging from my bar end. Easy. No greasy mess from the ground and no risk of having my helmet fall off the bike.

    Yes, I sell the helmet hook, but this is not a sales pitch, it really is a handy little thing. I was promoting them well before I ended up selling them. Check them out, I am sure you will agree it is incredibly handy once you start using one.

      1. Hi Mark. It certainly is pretty handy.
        I can definitely send you some to give away, do a review on, etc.
        Send me a quick email with how many you want and a postal address and I will get on to it.
        Bill 🙂

    1. Hi Bill, I bought one of your helmet hooks.. Best handy little device I ever got. I also hang my jacket with my helmet by the coat hook raps nicely around the helmet it locks the whole thing up.
      Back pack bags.. yeap I hang it by the top handle keeps it off the ground 🙂

  9. just the number plate works fine for a speed cameras
    just returned from victoria and looking at the difference
    in fuel prices to qld , i reckon the biggest thieves are on the other
    side of the cash register

    1. Yeah, I would love nothing more than pay, with contact less payment prior to pumping. Trouble is when I have tried to do it they take a refundable 100 authorisation on the credit card that will take up to a week to be removed. And this is only if they have it turned on (most don’t).

  10. Another question worth asking is how come service stations are allowed to use the police
    as de-facto security staff?, I bet if one of the supermarkets had one operator stuck in a booth
    with all its goods stuck out on the street, with instructions to call the police if anyone pinched
    They would be told to get their own security real quick. In fact it is illegal for private citizens to even
    leave their car unlocked ,or us to leave the key in the ignition. Fact is that apart from being screwed by their
    cartel behaviour our taxes are being used to compensate for their lack of security and improve their bottom line

    1. Excellent points & insight pete. If only it were mainstream awareness rather than the illusion that it all is.

  11. This is a bug bear for me. If you want me to remove my flip face, then put a sign at the bowser, not 25m away on the front door.

    Now I recently took this to the anti-descrimination commission. If the servo operator asks you to remove your helmet as a security issue, whatever, tell them to bugger off. If your helmet was on when they reset the bowser, they accepted your custom. All they can do is refuse to take you payment. Having your wallet in hand helps here. Ask them if “they are refusing to take your payment?” If they say yes, leave. They just gave you free fuel.

    Now you come unstuck when they say that they feel threatened. This is the technical description of an assualt. At this point, suck it up, take off your helmet and pay up, the police about to get involved, and while you haven’t done anything wrong, the LEO’s will be as pissed at you as the service station attendant for wasting their time.

    Now there is an interesting clause here. If the service station attendant asks you to remove it for security issues, ask them if they believe your going to rob them. If they respond “maybe”, and providing you don’t look like aSi s of Anarchy number one fan, they have technically breeched the anti-discrimination act for stereotyping you as a murderering robbing 1%er. If your dressed like a power ranger on your cafe racer, they have a hard case to make. Politely point out they they have just breeched the anti-des rumination act and could you have their name to lodge a complaint, or would they like to just accept your payment and part ways?

    If you push the issue with a helmet that doesn’t obscure your face, you’ll usually find by the time it reaches the state manager, the site manager got a kicking. Respect the service station operators decision if they have a sign on the bowser, simply ride away to the next one. Remember they aren’t in the right the moment they reset that bowser if your wearing your helmet, however, sometimes it’s simply not worth arguing with someone on minimum wage.

    1. As an ex console operator I can tell you that there are times that you don’t feel safe… with good reason. In 5 years I was never held up but others at my workplace were. Bikers coming in with their helmet on made me feel particularly uneasy even with other customers in the shop. Late at night I would not allow them to get petrol without first taking off their helmet… and I was occasionally abused for doing so. We all know almost all motorbike riders are not a problem. But I do wonder whether I turned away the riders who could have been.
      Like another poster has already written, just take the helmet off, help the console operator feel safe, and there is no problem.

  12. I don’t care one way or the other, but it does piss me off when i get told to remove my helmet and a postie pulls up along side me and fills his postie bike up with his helmet ON!

  13. You can’t be serious with this? Life’s tough when you winge about insignificant things like this.
    If this is really a problem to you then it’s probably time to give up riding bikes and drive a car instead, that’s going to solve this whole problem for you ………

  14. Bone domes & skid lids…personally I would love it if I could simply just shove all the dirty notes & coins I stuff in my bike pants through the small glass bubble window the puppets on strings behind them breathe behind. I nearly always have the exact weight ready in my hot little hand to give over. Jeez…I wish rules weren’t based on the lowest common demoninators in society.

  15. I rarely remove my helmet when filling up or paying and the 2 servos I use know me very well so I guess its not going to be a problem. When I’m touring I usually find I remove it anyway as I need a break. But yes finding a somewhere to place your helmet is difficult most times

  16. Not sure what’s happening with your posts? It says this article was posted on 16 September 2016, however there are comments from back in March and April 2016?

    1. Hi OzHonda,
      This article was originally posted early this year, but has been updated with further information.
      We have more than 3000 articles on this website, and occasionally we update them with new details as they become available to keep our readers updated.

      1. Hi Mark,

        Understand. I thought I read this article before and then noticed the comments from awhile ago and double-checked the dates and thought I was going crazy, haha.

  17. A place to put your helmet? Oh come on!
    I agree with Ken; surely the cleanest place to put your helmet is on your seat. 😀

    One thing I don’t like is the grotty diesel-soaked concrete around those pumps. In the UK there are “stand off” mats that largely prevent your boots/shoes coming in contact with diesel.

    I accept having to remove my helmet, but the day I see a woman with a face covering being served, the lid goes straight back on.

  18. I have a flip up helmet and mostly don’t have a problem.
    I flip it open upon dismounting and if they’ve turned on the bowser I fill the tank then proceed towards the building with my wallet in hand so they can see I have full intentions of paying.

    I did have an issue with the BP servo at “Officer” (Victoria) recently though. I waited and waited for the operator to turn on the bowser but nothing…I looked over at the building and there was the operator gesturing at me through the window.
    He must have gave up as he eventually turned on the pump.
    When I went to pay he told me I needed to remove my helmet next time. I countered with “Surely you can see my face with the helmet flipped up?”
    He said it doesn’t matter, it’s BP policy for helmets to be removed.
    Funnily enough that is the only BP servo I’ve had an issue with…

  19. So i can walk in wearing a burka and pay but not a helmet.
    I’m gunna carry a burka now and put it on when i go to pay.
    Yeah wear a burka instead of a helmet,
    Oh F@@k! were all going loony pass the medication.

  20. I usually just look at them and mouth the words “sorry can’t hear you I have earplugs in”
    By the time they make you understand what they are saying, the transaction is done and you ride off with another victory against repression!

  21. At a Caltex in Townsville on my scooter I filled with a few dollars and they turned it off midway. I was looking around retrying when young girl came out and told me to take off my helmet to continue. Said “Well you shouldn’t have started?” She was sorry but boy oh boy were the older women inside quite aggro. Told them that they were the only servo in QLD to make me remove my helmet, ever. True. They did not at any stage apologise for stuffing me around and kept telling me it was the law for me to remove my helmet. “All others are breaking the law” they insisted. Why I’m on this blog… Has the law changed or were these staff fibbin?

    1. Hi Kau,
      There is no law, but as it’s private property they can close to serve you or not.
      However, some may say that by starting the bowers they entered into a contract to serve you.

  22. I don’t mind taking off my helmet when its clearly signed. DH behind the counter yells out “take your Helmet off”. When i approached him after felling up, I said where’s your sign? As I’ve always taken off to pay for petrol but never been asked in my 10 years of riding to take off before fueling up. What ticked me off was the DH disputing that it was clearly signed…. Just kindly advise him when safe to do so “take off your helmet” and check your signs……..

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