Review by Dave Trumpore // Photos by Gary Perkin and Dave Trumpore
The Super is Bell's flagship open face helmet aimed at trail bike enthusiasts and Enduro racers. It provides additional coverage to key points of the head compared to the typical XC helmet but seeks to do so without sacrificing weight or airflow. I stuck one on my head for four rough weeks in Chile to find out what it's made of.
Bell Super Helmet Highlights
- CE EN1078 and CPSC Bicycle certifications
- 25 vents with 4 Overbrow ports
- Fusion in-mold microshell construction with internal reinforcement
- Lightweight buckle
- Lightweight cam-lock levers
- Lightweight webbing
- Speed Dial fit system
- GoggleGuide adjustable visor system
- Integrated/Removable GoPro camera mount
- Colors: Red/Black, Matte Black, Bright Green, White/Silver Web, Matte Titanium, Taylor Reeve Afterparty, Blue/Green Moto, and Black/White Star
- Sizes: S, M, L
- Weight: 13.8-ounces (390 grams)
- Price: $125
Out of the box it is immediately obvious that the Bell Super is significantly larger than many of the typical open face helmets on the market. There is a considerable amount of material covering the back of the head and the temples, but without a noticeable gain in weight. In fact it feels much lighter than it looks and much of that has to do with the clever layout of the massive air vents.
Fitting the helmet to my noggin was quick and easy, and I did not find myself needing to add or take away padding on the inside to achieve a secure fit. The pads are soft and comfortable giving the helmet an airy feeling while resting on top of the head. Bell's retention system provides plenty of adjustment range and feels solid which is reassuring.
A removable GoPro mount is included with the helmet. It fits securely into one of the many vents and is designed to break away during a crash, reducing the likelihood of a rotational injury.
On The Trail
I decided to give this helmet a bit of a trial by fire so to speak, as the day after it arrived I headed down to Chile for the Andes Pacifico Enduro. I can't think of a better testing ground than the brutally hot and dusty Andes mountains over four long days on rough and gnarly terrain.
In these conditions the greatest attributes of this helmet shined. Those being the light weight and the fantastic airflow. I did experience some sweat dripping down onto my face and sunglasses, but only on the slowest of climbs or long hike-a-bike sections where there was little or no air flowing. [Editor's note: In a separate test of this helmet we've found that most of your sweat is channeled to the sides of your face before dripping, which is quite nice, though a few drops do make their way through.]
Keep in mind that the temperatures were pushing 100-degrees Fahrenheit (almost 38-degrees Celsius) at the height of the day, and I found it was actually cooler to keep the helmet on than to take it off while hiking or standing about waiting for the stages to start, something I have not encountered with another helmet as of yet. Once moving, even at a casual pace, airflow is superb and the rider's head stays cool and dry.
There is definitely an added feeling of confidence from all of the extra coverage, especially around the temples and the back of the head. You almost get the sensation that you have a full face on, especially when adding goggles if that's your thing.
On the topic of goggles, they work pretty well with the Super thanks to the flatter backside. When you're not using them, simply rotate the visor up and there's enough room to keep them on your head and out of the way. Those who prefer to go visor-less can install some optional "goggle wings" that will also hold them in place when not in use.
Being a dedicated Vital tester, I couldn't do a proper helmet review without a few crash tests, and on more than one occasion I found myself in the Chilean dirt and rocks. One time in particular it was straight to the side of the head, and I was quite thankful for that added material above and around the ear.
Things That Could Be Improved
The only thing I really didn't like about the Super was its bulkiness, and while I enjoyed the added protection and surface area, I thought some of it was a bit too much. The thickness of the shell at the forehead meant it was constantly present in my field of vision, and often times I found my self reaching up to move the visor out of the way only to realize it was the front of the helmet that was in view. Additionally there is quite a bit of padding in and around the temples and this made putting sunglasses on a two hand job, or a multi-stage process. I often take my glasses off on long climbs to keep sweat off them and it was hard to get them back in place. I would also like to see some feature added to keep sunglasses secure on the helmet when not wearing them. Bell has this feature for goggles on the Super but nothing for sunglasses.
Long Term Durability
Spending four intense weeks in South America did a number on this helmet, but with a quick and easy wash of the pads the inside was just like new again. The exterior was a bit of a letdown though as the finish quickly began to show a lot of scratches and scuffs, some right through the paint. But other than these cosmetic issues I really would have no concerns about putting this helmet through the wringer all season long.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Bell Super is a great helmet for the aggressive trail rider, and does a better job than most of bridging the gap between a full face and an open face XC helmet. The added coverage at a minimal weight penalty makes you forget that it's on your head even on the longest of days, and air flow and ventilation is some of the best I have ridden. It may not be the prettiest or flashiest helmet out there, which could be good or bad depending on your taste, but for $125 you sure do get a lot of helmet - more than your money's worth. After having this helmet on my head all day almost every day for four weeks straight, I'm sold.
Visit www.bellhelmets.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Dave Trumpore’s 20-year riding career has seen him sling a leg over the best and the worst the mountain bike industry has produced during that time. From Junior Expert XC in his early racing days to Pro DH from 1998-2009, a handful of World Cup finals take pride of place on Dave’s resume. Not being the biggest guy out there he has a smooth style focused on carrying speed rather than smashing his way down the trail. He has always taken a very technical approach to bike setup, in particular with suspension and brakes. After trading number plates for a camera, Dave can now be found chasing the fastest riders on the planet when he’s not out racking up thousands of feet climbing and descending while exploring the vast high alpine trail networks of the Rocky Mountains.