Bell Launches 3 New Helmets for 2018 - First Look

Aug 14, 2017
by Mike Kazimer  


Bell deserves credit for ushering in the new wave of convertible helmets when they introduced the Super 2R back in 2014. Although that helmet wasn't DH certified, it did attract the attention of riders looking for more protection than a half shell, and who didn't want the bulk and lack of ventilation that typically accompany a traditional full face.

The Super DH is the evolution of that original design, with notable improvements including ASTM 1952 DH certification, and a new version of MIPS called MIPS Spherical. When it becomes available in mid-December the Super DH will retail for $300. Claimed weight for a size medium is 850 grams.

Bell Super DH Details

• MIPS Spherical
• Removable chinbar
• ASTM 1952-DH certified
• Size: S, M, L
• Colors: Six color options
• Weight: 850 grams (size M, claimed)
• MSRP: $300 USD
www.bellhelmets.com

Bell Super DH Photo Bell Paris Gore
Bell Super DH Photo Bell Paris Gore

Bell Super DH Photo Bell Paris Gore
Bell Super DH Photo Bell Paris Gore


Design

The Super DH is constructed like a sandwich, with two different densities of foam stacked on top of each other, and a MIPS slip plane in between, a design called MIPS Spherical. The harder foam is found immediately under the shell, and the softer foam sits closer to the rider's head.

That inner layer of foam, which has the MIPS slip plane on top of it, 'floats' on elastomers, which allows the two layers of the helmet to move independently. The idea is that during a crash the outer layer is able to rotate enough to help dissipate a portion of the impact force, reducing the amount of stress that reaches the brain.
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There are helmets out there from other brands that are designed to achieve a similar goal – 6D comes to mind – but on the Super DH it feels like takes less effort for the two layers to move independently. Put the helmet on, crank up some Pantera, and when you're headbanging you can actually feel the outer shell move a little bit while the inner portion stays securely around your head.


Bell Super DH Photo Bell Paris Gore
A ratcheting dial is used to fine tune the helmet's fit.
Bell Super DH Photo Bell Paris Gore
The magnetic buckle is much quicker and easier to operate than the typical D-ring system.


All the safety features in the world don't mean anything if a helmet is uncomfortable to wear, which is why Bell created a new head form to design the Super DH around, with the goal of creating a helmet that would fit a wide range of head shapes. There's also a new retention system called the Float Fit DH, which uses a ratcheting dial at the back of the helmet to fine tune the fit. Other niceties include an adjustable visor that can be raised enough to fit goggles underneath, an integrated breakaway camera mount, and a section of padding over the forehead that's meant to help keep sweat from dripping into your eyes or goggles.

Three latches hold the chin bar on – one at each side, and one at the back of the helmet. It's not hard to remove or install the chin bar, but it does take a little practice, and sometimes it can be hard to tell if everything is done up correctly without taking the helmet off. I'd say the Giro Switchblade is slightly easier to operate, but the advantage with the Super DH is that the resulting half shell has much better ventilation, largely due to the fact that it doesn't cover a rider's ears.


Bell Super DH Photo Bell Paris Gore
Bryn Atkinson dives into Whistler's Top of the World Trail.


Ride Impressions

I only have a few days of riding with the Super DH so far, but those days include multiple long, hot climbs, and descents down trails some of Whistler's roughest trails, trails that are even more jarring than usual due to a dry, hot summer. As far as fit goes, the Super DH felt much more comfortable on my head than the Super ever did. On my oval-shaped dome the Super always seemed to push in just a little too much for my liking at two points on each side of my forehead, but with the Super DH this wasn't the case – it wraps around much more comfortably. Even when it's configured as a full face, the ventilation provided by the Super DH is impressive - I was able to feel the air flow over the back of my head, and the opening on the chin bar is large enough that even it doesn't feel like your hot breath if being directed straight back at you.

Did I notice the two portions of the helmet moving independently when I was riding? Nope – everything felt snug and secure. Remember, in most instances, no matter how choppy the trail, your head remains amazingly still as you're plummeting down the fall line. That's why helmet cam footage looks so much smoother than a chest mounted camera – your neck serves as a gimbal to keep your head from flopping from side to side.

Overall, the Super DH is an impressive addition to the convertible helmet category, with an excellent fit and cutting edge impact protection. I'll be putting more time in on it over the next few months, but so far my first impressions are very positive.


Bell Sixer
The Bell Sixer will be released this November...
Bell 4Forty
...And the 4Forty will come out in October.

Bell Sixer and 4Forty

Along with the Super DH, Bell also introduced two other helmets, the Sixer and the 4Forty. The Sixer is a completely new helmet, and will be replacing the Super that Bell debuted back in 2013. It has the extended rear coverage that's become near-standard on most all-mountain helmets these days, and has a grand total of 26 vents. Although the number of vents is a metric that's often used to compare one helmet to another, according to Bell, just because a helmet has a large number of vents doesn't always mean that it will have good ventilation. There needs to be a clear path for the air to enter and exit – it's that airflow that helps keep things cool.

The $150 Sixer is equipped with MIPS, but the system has been integrated into the fit system, which helps the helmet to sit closer to a rider's head. A strip of rubber at the back of the helmet helps keep goggle straps from slipping out of place, and the integrated breakaway camera mount means that if your YouTube antics take a sudden turn towards the '10 Worst Crashes' side of things the camera will pop off, rather than acting like a lever and potentially causing additional injuries.

The 4 Forty isn't quite as full-featured as the Sixer – it doesn't have as many vents, and there's no integrated camera mount, but it also has a more wallet friendly price of $95 for the MIPS-equipped version. There's an adjustable visor, which is a feature that often gets scrapped in less-expensive lids, and uses Bell's Float Fit retention system. Weight for the MIPS-version is a claimed 380 grams for a size medium.






Photos: Bell / Paris Gore


85 Comments

  • + 55
 Yes! I'm glad they realized having the chinbar a different colour was an awful look, these look amazing!
  • + 4
 Sweat pad is a nice touch too, works well in my Urge helmets
  • + 32
 @src248: I find a brow sweat pad great for the first hour or so of a ride, then it reaches saturation point and people flock from miles around to witness the magnificent Timagra Falls as salty saline cascades down my forehead onto my Oakleys.
  • + 2
 @bigtim: EXACTLY!
  • + 0
 @bigtim: even in the lightest roadie lids with the best vents my rad still does this 1 hour in. So much so that one of mates actually drank the huge amount after one decent... sick puppy...
  • + 2
 @cunning-linguist: I've had to start wearing a buff under my helmet on the hot days. The main part gets soaked pretty quickly but the extra fabric hang off the back of my neck a bit. As the rear fabric dries it pulls more water from the top. I feel I look pretty funny but the damn thing is the only solution for me to wear a helmet without killing my eyes.
  • + 3
 @zidaen: yeah why does sweat need to be the same as dot 4 for your eyes eh!!! Enough of it and my eyes look like I've been cracked out all weekend!!
  • + 2
 @zidaen: You should check out the halo band - I'm a convert. It uses a rubber "gutter" at the front that pushes the sweat back behind your ears where it doesn't run into your eyes. You can't even tell you're wearing one under your helmet.
  • + 1
 @plyawn: will try one of these out. My Urge helmet only gets used in the winter because of of this
  • + 1
 @cunning-linguist: Try the Giro Synthe: they finally figured out that padding is the enemy of vision in helmet design, & did away with all but a minimalist grid across the brow. Holds very little sweat, which can be "purged" & eliminated with a single push & wipe of the glove.
@bigtim: Nail on the head! Pads in MTB helmets have been getting bigger & spongier in recent years: those marketing half-shells & convertible "enduro" helmets clearly wish to pander to DH / Moto crowd who associate more padding w/ greater comfort. Problem is, if you actually stick your head in that sort of barcalounger & pedal it for more than 5 minutes, you've got ... Timagra Falls!
  • + 2
 @cunning-linguist: Lazer sell a rubber like material for their brows that directs sweat away from your forehead, works wonders for me who sweats like a champion after 5 minutes of pedalling
  • + 1
 @doe222: cheers chap, I'll look it up!
  • + 12
 Does anyone actually use these removable chinbar helmets for Enduro? Live broadcast of the EWS didn't show many of the riders there wearing such helmets.

Suspect it's just people who want a full face for park days, then wear a half face the rest of the time.
  • + 49
 I used one in the EWS today. Does that count? And I definitely wasn't the only one.
  • + 3
 When the WC are full gas they prefer DH lids, rude does use the switchblade
  • + 6
 @mikekazimer: interesting. Did you use one of these? Which one did you use? Does EWS require a helmet for liaison stages?

Think this helmet solves my problem, want a new trail helmet and do the occasional park day where I want a full face. But not enough laps to justify a stand alone full face. Switchblade was pretty likely, but hard ears just doesn't seem to make sense as a regular trail helmet.
  • + 29
 @bonfire, yep, I used the Super DH. Helmets were required for liaison stages, and full faces were mandatory, even during practice.

For some transfers I kept the chin bar on, while on longer ones I took it off and looped it around my handlebar. Bell mentioned that they're working on some sort of bike mount for the chin bar, but it's not quite ready yet.
  • + 4
 @mikekazimer: rad.

Thanks for insight.
  • + 2
 Am I weird for riding around in my DH lid all day? Did a couple of 8 hour rides wearing my Rampage Pro, just with the goggle off for ventilation and I never felt uncomfortable..
  • + 2
 @bonkywonky: No dude would not call that "weird" but at least around here, that would be....different Smile

@bonfire Where I live and ride it's hot (southeastern US) and our climbs are big and descents nasty. A removable chinbar helmet is absolutely rad here. I've been on a Super 2R for a longtime, full intentions on replacing it with this Super DH. At least until now though, when manu's are getting serious about safety on these removeable chinbar models, a EWS course probably warranted a full blown full face even if that meant carrying it on your back. The Super 2R chinbar is really just an abrasion resistant thing. Not going to take a face to a tree like a TLD D2 would. Not even close.
  • + 1
 @bonfire: I wonder if you have ever had a nasty OTB situation during trail riding. I can definitely justify a full face helmet in all my rides. Or perhaps I'm crushing too much?
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer: A mechanism to clip the chinbar onto would be clutch. It fits well on my Osprey backpack, but I've gotta remove my backpack, which adds a couple different steps to the process. If I'm using my hip-pack then the chinbar stays during the entire ride, which sorta defeats the purpose.
  • + 12
 A bike mounted chin bar might just be the most enduro thing that has ever been conceived.
  • + 9
 Literally just bought a Super 3r, damn.
  • + 39
 Just sort yourself out a massive crash so it needs replacing. Simples.
  • + 3
 send it back?
  • + 1
 @bigtim: ironically I did just that on Monday but was wearing my other helmet!
  • + 0
 And now my month old mips tld is already outdated...new mips spherical..conehead
  • + 2
 bought the super 3r, 3 months ago. regretting it now xD oh well, it'll serve me well anyway
  • + 1
 I got one a couple months ago, at first I was bummed but then I looked at the release date, I wouldnt get a chance to use it for half a year. I'm fine with paying $120 less and using it now than waiting until next year.
  • + 1
 Same! But happy with the purchase as i needed it now and not later. Always going to happen like that..
  • + 4
 From my (and some friends') experience after the first couple of rides no one puts on and off the chin protector during the rides. It is either on or off which means that if you already have a open helmet and a full face one you don't need a convertible one. If however you are looking to buy a new helmet it would make sense to consider one of these if you can accept the price.
  • + 1
 The usefulness to me is that I can commute and mountain bike with the same helmet. I usually leave the lower on during the whole ride, unless I'm faced with an extended climb without any trail riding on the way up. I too find that I don't want to deploy the chinbar when I get to the top, its just another step that I'd rather avoid by wearing it all the way up and down.
  • + 7
 But the real question is, is it more Enduro than a Switchblade?
  • + 4
 Is that even possible?
  • + 10
 It will be once Bell releases a bike mount for the chinbar for during transfer stages....
  • + 5
 Interesting. I'm very happy with the Fox Proframe, but this lid seems a neat solution.
  • + 2
 Glad to hear you are happy with your purchase, this will more than likely be my new helmet as well.
How is the venting feel? I ride with a Specialized Deviant has good flow but that Fox looks like it would out vent my Deviant.
  • + 7
 Yup Proframe is amazing. Venting is insane. No need for removable chin bar.
  • + 2
 @LCW1: Awesome! now if I can just get past that magnetic buckle and the thin strap.
Any thoughts or issue's that you may have come across with those two.
  • + 2
 @1armbandit: magnetic buckle is incredible. have it on a ski helmet and its easy to use and rock-solid
  • + 1
 @1armbandit: magnetic buckle is awesome. Actually crashed my brains (literally) out last week and got concussed. Helmet trashed but I'm OK. Getting another one. Magnetic buckle worked. Plus is has MIPS too.
  • - 1
 That helmet will never touch my head.
  • + 2
 @mikekazimer: "One item that I wasn’t keen on was the use of a magnetic Fidlock buckle to secure the chinstrap. It’s heavy, bulky and prone to loosening on rough tracks."
This is from Bikeradars first impressions on the super DH. Disagree?
  • + 2
 www.bhsi.org/mips.htm

Worth a read regarding mips. They also have a great article debunking myths concerning eps and it's lifespan.

Anyways, love that this style of helmet is popular now. It's great having so many good options, in case you know, you happen to think Bell helmets aren't the most attractive
  • + 4
 Even as a DH rider this genuinely looks like a decent option so if i can ever be bothered to buy another trail bike again i don't have to store 2 helmets.
  • + 1
 So removeable chinbar Super goes away?

I really liked it for my kids, we all love the confidence (and reduced dad-stress) a chinbar gives, but they really don't need a full dh lid.

Gonna have to scoop some medium closeouts!
  • + 1
 This isnt replacing the 3r. Its in addition to it.
  • + 1
 Just got this helmet and it's very nice. One thing, it sits low at the sides and back. I like that feeling - much nicer than the Giro Montaro I tried out - which is feature rich but with massive ear clearance - and the correct size felt perched to me.
This fits more like the Giro Chronicle to me, and better than the Bell Super 3r for me I think - although that fit fine (just not as deep and head hugging as the Giro Chronicle).

One thing though - those side bits that go down in front of your ears (which makes it look a bit like an Army helmet, although I don't mind), means you have more limited shades options.

Some Oakley active/lifestyle frames fit fine.
The Oakley Flak 2.0 - with has thicker stems - just fits, with a few millimetres.

However for me the Oakley Radar EV - which has thicker stems - didn't fit.
As it has to pass under the bits that come down the sides in front of your ears like sideburns.

That likely rules out the Oakley RadarLock, JawBreaker and other thick stemmed shades.
So it seems you're limited to "helmet friendly" shades - as in the ones that work with combat helmets, lol.

So just googles or lifestyle/active frames - no roadie shades - guess that suits me fine.

But worth bearing in mind.

Also no channel for Google straps - and no rubberised vent at the back to hold a goggle strap in place - which the Giro Montaro has.

Seems a bit of an oversight for such a feature rich and new helmet.

Perhaps that would make it too much of a kitchen sink affair, but I do like niche all in old products - and this seems the best of the lot.

Funnily, the clasps are actually smaller and more plastic than the Bell Super 3R. Bit fiddly and hard to release as quite small and tight. They sit rather flush.
  • + 2
 Looks a good bit better than the super 3r,thats for sure. And it's super safe. Not quite as enduro as the switchblade in halfshell mode though...
  • + 0
 I've been poking around looking for additional "color ways" on the Super DH... man are they all ugly and very 90's looking.

Except for maybe the desert tan and black, but I don't want a black helmet in the southwest during the summer.

Bell, please offer some colors that are a little less weird!
  • + 1
 They are.
  • + 2
 It also doubles up as a Duracell battery fancy dress costume:
www.bellhelmets.com/bellsports/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/bell-super-dh-mtb-helmet.png
Very versatile.
  • + 3
 I'm still deciding whether to get this or the Fox Proframe.
  • + 1
 This. Proframe has no option to go without the chinbar.
  • + 2
 @YouHadMeAtDrugs: Funny thing I just bought the Proframe a few hours ago, lol. The Chinbar ventilation seems pretty good though I have to give a real test soon
  • + 1
 @carfreak2000: I've had three 2Rs (kept breaking them...) and currently have been riding the Proframe since it came out this spring. Definitely prefer the proframe, although I do hang it over the bars for fire road climbs on hot days.
  • + 3
 Does it work with a neck brace?
  • + 2
 Just bought a Full 9 but I'll be picking this up for Christmas to use on the ESC and Cliff Enduro series.
  • + 2
 Best looking convertible helmet. Far and away.
  • + 3
 Finally! Wink
  • + 2
 I am so on the fence with this removable chin guard
  • + 1
 the Sixer visor position..WTF, come on Bell...why is it always pulled down, this ain't Europe!!
  • + 1
 the target customer probably for those who always ride trails n little time on bike parks....
  • + 1
 Just sit back and wait for this Kali enduro lid and a rumour of a new met parachute?
  • + 4
 I emailed Kali about the Invader and they basically told me: "no idea when it is coming, but it is coming". So I am not holding my breath....
  • + 1
 December is just around the corner. Hopefully i can try one out before i decide to buy.
  • + 2
 Wow, these look Super!
  • + 1
 Nice! Look soooo much better than the 2 and 3R
  • + 1
 Looks a bit more integrated in FF mode, but not really different at all in HF mode to me. Still has 'The Mouse and His Motorcycle' look about it...
  • + 2
 great looking!!
  • + 1
 Yet another brand of helmets that won't fit my 64-65cm head ... Frown
  • + 1
 Bell 2R does fit my big 63 head
  • + 1
 @Trailstunter: Only S, M, L sizes, going up to 62cm. I may have considered this helmet, but I guess not...
  • + 1
 @Ploutre: well I fit it and have space left so.....try it on...
  • + 1
 Try one on. Or try a 3r. I wore a size large 2r. Medium 3r fits me.
  • + 1
 Any idea when the super DH will be available?
  • + 1
 December
  • + 1
 And the dial strap is just to weak of a system for me thank you.
  • + 5
 The dial is for fine tuning the fit. Its not a strap to secure the helmet on your head. It sounds like you are confusing it with a retention feature which it isn't.
  • + 1
 @midschool: No confusion here the old style Deviant and most other helmets use this dial for fine tuning, in my opinion it's garbage and is usually the first to break in crash from what I have seen personally and would not put tha that system on my head.
  • + 0
 That system was designed in house at bell. Its not some crappy ots system provided by the chinese manufacturer as many otger helmets. If youre complaining about this then complain about all fit systems. Then go by a full dh lid without one.
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