Bell Super Review
Bell have been around for 60 years this year, in that time they have made helmets for riders like James Stewart and Aaron Gwin. Countless top riders all over the world have donned their protection when it comes to the flag dropping or clock ticking down.
After a while making lids that missed the mark on style Bell came back and hit the bullseye with the Super. Bell pulled out the Super in 2013 and haven’t looked back, with a new Super2 on the way and the Super 2R, the first helmet with a removable chin guard to actually look good things are looking good for the brand from Illinois. We get a lot of kit through the doors at Dirt and one solid stamp of approval is if the team pick it up and don’t want to give it back.
The Super has been one such helmet, Steve Jones has been using/abusing a Super for months now as has James McKnight and I have been giving one a go for three or four months. So after all this abuse why are there always a couple of them kicking around the back of the Dirt van?
Bell might have been making helmets for a long time but visually this is a departure from the long vented, road lid with a peak style we have seen before. The Super has a low slung rear which makes sense for a lot of reasons. The main one being protection, we are riding bikes that are more capable than ever of covering ground fast, we are all going quicker. Just look at the racers in the EWS and you will see that trial and enduro bikes are quick. Those boys and girls wear full face lids mainly but us lot monkeying about of a weekend on the same bikes will benefit from some added protection. After all, the back of your head houses some pretty useful bits of your brain, best to keep it under wraps.
The construction of this lid is well thought out with a high quality finish, it doesn’t quite feel like the liquid In Mold system Bern use but this more traditional use of foam injected into a Polycarbonate shell feels solid. The peak is full adjustable, it can be pushed right back from the field of vision or brought down to block sunlight.
We’ve been using this helmet in all sorts of weather. A quick wipe and chucking the pads in the washing machine every now and then keeps things looking and smelling good and it’s holding up well. At a penny under £100 you might think this is a lot for a trail lid but when you look at the POC Trabec at just over £150 and the Troy Lee A1 around the same the Bell Super starts to make more sense.
Bell have now released the Super 2R that integrates their new chin guard to give you a full face helmet based on this trail shape and for us it’s the best looking design of it’s sort after some epic fails from other manufacturers in the past. Here’s the details on the Super and the main reasons why we keep using it.
The Super has 25 vents and four ‘ports’ over the brow that send air between the polystyrene inner shell and the foam padding. Being a bit of a sweater when it comes to riding a lot this is a welcome addition. It’s something you probably won’t notice until you pull on another lid but it really does make a difference to how hot your bounce gets.
PADDING AND FIT
As we are all blessed with different shaped heads so getting the right fit can be a challenge, every manufacturer has their own way of adapting a standard shell size. Bell call theirs the TAG fit system, it’s simple roller that tightens a central ratchet pulling the internal cage onto your head. With a finger placed in the rear vent all this can be done with your thumb meaning one handed operation. You can adjust it once pedalling and it’s just a neat touch if you are busy getting ready to ride.
The internal padding is concentrated at the front and top of the helmet which makes sense as the retention system tightens your head forwards. Decent soft padding is more cushioned than some helmets that have minimal strips of foam, overall it’s a snug fit once comfortably tight.
The Dirt patented ‘headbanger test’ was passed too. Basically put a helmet on, do up the retention system but not the strap then go for a few quick Status Quo style headbangs to see if it stays put. The Super didn’t budge!
Admittedly there isn’t really a paragraph’s worth of info on helmet straps but the Super has straps that start pretty low on your head, it’s a deep helmet that drops behind your ears meaning shorter straps. Simple clips move the straps for and aft to suit your chin and neck and everything is secured with a simple pinch buckle. Wait on, think that’s a paragraph about straps…
The Super has a couple of features that we haven’t had the need to use but are worth mentioning. The GoPro mount slots into the central vent at the front of the helmet and uses a velcro strap to hold it in place. The mount works but it does feel a little far forward and when you have a camera in the waterproof case the added weight is more noticeable than a central mount. That said it’s a neat feature and it’s simple to fit your camera to.
The other one is more contentious! Bell supply two goggle strap retainers that fit under the screws for the peak. This basically means you can lift the goggles off your face and under the peak when you don’t need them. Useful maybe but in practice it’s easier to pull your goggles down and flip them round your neck but it might be handy for some folk. It’s a style issue we know but whatever your take on big eye shields and trail lids this one works well with plenty of space and a good amount of surface for a strap to grip.
After giving the Super some decent stick over the last few months it’s a Dirt consensus that this is a top helmet. The additional protection round the back is welcome and the easily adjusted retention system combined with good padding and great ventilation means you can ride all day in comfort.
We will be getting hold of a Super2 and Super2R soon and when they land we will let you know how they fair but for now here’s the details if you want to get hold of one.
Zyro UK 01325 741 200