I was very excited to hear about Bell Helmet’s return into the motorcycle arena a few years back. They worked with a friend of mine in Santa Cruz and that spread into the instructor pool with Keiwgin’s at the track for more product testing over the course of a few years. The latest progress is to develop a machine that can 3D model your head so that you can have a custom fit helmet! No, you don’t need to sit still in a vice for an hour. Their technology allows the scan to be done in a fraction of that hour!
This year I will be wearing a Bell helmet at track days and race events and working with them for product testing. The helmet I chose is a blue and white Star model. When I first put the helmet on the fit was quite different to other helmet that I have (Nexx, Scorpion and Arai and HJC). The helmet has much more space inside it and that’s not something I’m used too. What does that mean? You can feel the gaps between the pad and the body of the helmet and you feel that the chin bar and windshield are away from your face. I like that awareness as it tells me how much padding and protection is in this helmet. You really need to put the helmet on and off a few times to feel what I mean.
I also like the membrane that sits under your chin to keep the air from rushing inside the helmet. This membrane also overlaps with the cheek pads to ensure that very little air accelerates into the helmet. The fastening process is easy enough and the pad under the chin strap are separated by about 10mm, so there’s very little skin exposed to the strap. The D rings accept the strap easily and instead of a push button clip, Bell decided to use a magnet. Very innovative indeed and a really nice idea to get rid of that really annoying snap button that can cause no end of frustration with gloves on! I choose to spend time wearing any new to me helmet long before I get into a riding situation so that most importantly, my eyes and peripheral vision calibrate to the viewing environment both from an inside the helmet point of view seeing the bits and pieces of the helmet itself, then the field of vision as to how much you can see easily and where the peripheral vision gets cut off. I made the mistake of rushing that last year and that mistake nearly cost me a bike and a hospital visit as my field of vision wasn’t calibrated and I had much more vision than I realized. Guess what happened – turned in way past the normal “spot” on the track (far too late), ran off and almost hit a wall.
I felt very comfortable with the helmet and went out on my Bandit 1250 for a ride. I always wear ear plugs but for the test, I chose to ride without them first, then put them in 50 miles later.
The little lip on the visor is perfectly sized and shaped for gloves to actuate and feel. The first notch is just enough distance to allow air into the helmet. There are 12 very small incremental steps next before the large final opening step so you have a lot of adjustment range for the helmet if you want the visor open. The intuitive visor lock on the left side is also very easy to use, Nice…… I love the SOLFX visor that is reactive to light so I will not be changing my visor for day and night riding. Yippee!!!!!
With no ear plugs the helmet seemed to have a fair degree of wind noise. I swapped to the Arai, then Scorpion then HJC for comparative purposes. The wind noise did seem to be in the middle between the brands and not too much to be annoying. As the ride went on to reach 100 miles, the Bell seemed to settle around my head and I did not develop any pressure points. Putting the ear plugs in I essentially forgot about the Bell on my head, so it would appear there’s no reason to change out the interior (very quick and simple with this brand).
The street ride served its purpose prior to the race weekend so I took to the track with my vision fully calibrated. I settled into practice and got down to work. I didn’t have any peripheral vision incidents from riders passing me or me passing them and moving over, so the calibration was successful. After a second 20 minute practice I felt as though I was ready to go and attack the track – again, no major vision impairments at all. That gave me the confidence to race with the Bell and “letting go” of new equipment is critical in ensuring that you can focus on racing and nothing else!
I’m looking forward to evaluating if this is the right fitment for my head – there’s nothing better than validating that what you have is perfect!
AFM 250 Superbike – 1st
450 Superbike: 2nd by two bike lengths…..