The Sixer is a brand new addition to Bell's mountain bike helmet line, where it sits in the spot formerly occupied by the Super. The Super was a popular helmet, but advances in helmet technology meant that it was time for a fresh model to take its place. The Sixer picks up the torch with the extended rear coverage that's become the norm for all-mountain / trail helmets, along with 26 vents, integrated MIPS technology, goggle compatibility, and a removable camera or light mount.
Bell Sixer Details • 26 vents, 4 brow ports • MIPS liner • Removable light / camera mount • Adjustable visor • CE EN1078, CPSC Bicycle certified • Weight (actual): 410 grams • MSRP: $150 USD • www.bellhelmets.com, @BellBikeHelmets
There are nine color choices, ranging from the classic matte black to a flourescent green called 'Retina Sear.' Available in four sizes, from small to extra large, our medium helmet weighed in at 410 grams. MSRP: $150 USD.
The Sixer has 26 vents, along with 4 horizontal brow vents.
The Sixer is constructed with a polycarbonate shell that covers the entire exterior of the helmet. Underneath that shell is an EPS foam liner that uses Bell's 'Progressive Layering', where different densities of foam are used in order to better absorb a wider range of impacts - softer foam works best for slower speed impacts, while harder foam helps with the faster hits.
If you've done any helmet shopping recently, you're likely familiar with what a MIPS liner typically looks like – it's usually a thin sheet of yellow plastic that sits between a helmet's pads and foam, designed to allow enough movement to reduce the amount of rotational acceleration during an impact. We're seeing more and more technologies emerge with the same intention, but at the moment MIPS is the most prevalent.
How well that low-friction liner is integrated varies depending on the helmet make and model, but with the Sixer, Bell worked with MIPS to make the liner as unobtrusive as possible. I'd say they suceeded - the liner doesn't block any of the vents, or affect the fit in any way. In fact, unless you look close enough to notice the four elastomers that suspend the liner, the MIPS technology is nearly invisible.
Most riders probably don't spend much time thinking about the design of their helmet pads, but Bell put a little extra thought into the shape of the helmet's front pad. A rectangular portion of the padding extends towards the very front of the helmet – the idea is that it will pull sweat away from the brow, and if it does drip, it'll drip away from the rider, and not onto their face or glasses. Clever.
With the pads removed the elastomers that are attached to the MIPS liner are visible.
The forehead padding is designed to keep sweat from dripping into a rider's eyes.
There's a strip of grippy rubber at the back of the helmet to hold a goggle strap
Although I know plenty of riders who were fans, the Super was never my favorite helmet. It got the job done, but it always felt a little bulky on my head, and my big ears would touch the lower portion of the shell. With the Sixer, all of those issues have been addressed, and for my head shape the fit feels much, much better. There aren't any uncomfortable pressure points, and it's a helmet I can put on and forget about no matter how long the ride. The fit system at the back of the helmet is easy to access and adjust, with nice, positive detents between each position.
Even with a GoPro mounted to the top of the helmet there wasn't any unwanted shifting or wobbling – the position of the mount is far enough back that the overall balance of the helmet isn't affected that much. I did tighten down the rear dial a click or two to add a little extra security, but the comfort level still remained high. The mount itself is easy to remove when it's not in use, and it's also equipped with a reusable breakaway feature - if you hit a low hanging branch with your helmet or light you might need to go on a hunt to find where it flew off to, but the good news is that the impact shouldn't be as jarring to your head and neck.
When it comes to overall ventilation, the Sixer falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum – it doesn't feel quite as airy as the Specialized Ambush, one of the breeziest all-mountain helmets out there, but it's not quite as toasty as the Troy Lee A1. I was skeptical about that Sweat Guide padding, but it actually works quite well. Of course, it's still possible to have sweat drip down on those really steamy days, but that little tab did seem to help direct the flow of perspiration away from my face.
I used a variety of glasses while testing the Sixer, and didn't run into any fit issues – the arms all cleared the lower part of the helmet with room to spare. The same thing goes for goggles; they worked well, and the grippy material on the rear of the helmet helped make sure the strap never slipped out of place.
The only small quibble I have with the Sixer is there's not a really good way to stash sunglasses when they're not in use. I often climb with the arms of my sunglasses stuck into the rear vents of a helmet, but the vent position of the Sixer makes that a little tricky. There is a channel a little higher up on the shell that will work, but it's not quite as secure. It's a minor detail, but it is something to keep in mind.
The Sixer has no shortage of modern features, but it's the overall comfort that really makes it stand out. Yes, there are slightly lighter and airier options out there, but the Sixer's solid feel combined with its excellent fit and construction make it a very worthy choice for riders on the hunt for a new trail helmet.— Mike Kazimer