Bell Sixer Helmet - Review

Jan 16, 2018
by Mike Kazimer  
Bell Sixer review


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.


Bell Sixer review
Bell Sixer review
The Sixer has 26 vents, along with 4 horizontal brow vents.


Construction Details

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.

Bell Sixer review
With the pads removed the elastomers that are attached to the MIPS liner are visible.


Bell Sixer review
The forehead padding is designed to keep sweat from dripping into a rider's eyes.
Bell Sixer review
There's a strip of grippy rubber at the back of the helmet to hold a goggle strap


Performance

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.
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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.


Spot Mayhem review



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe 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







Must Read This Week

103 Comments

  • + 43
 Does this sixer come in a pack?
  • + 61
 Yeah, of 20, so you've got a twenty sixer!

#26aintdead
  • + 5
 We are gonna start this again?
  • + 5
 In a world of helmets that seem confused - I am looking at you fox (with the duckbill) and Urge Enduro matic, and many others.... Bell seems to get it right. Keep it up!
  • + 4
 @bensmercer: "Duckbills, woohoo!"
  • + 2
 @robaussie99: I want to upvote but there's 26 already
  • + 2
 @Ron-C: Love it.
  • + 40
 I have kind of a small head, I wish they made it 1.1mm skinnier...
  • + 7
 @aks2017 *1.01 mm skinnier
  • + 16
 Why is it that people care exactly the number of vents on a helmet? Are 20 vents automatically better than 10? It's not like they're all the same size and in the same location.
  • + 7
 I find 14.25 to be tge ideal number, almost half way between 10 and 20 but not quite. We could even try the same trick on spme wheels
  • + 4
 I have a spreadsheet of requirements for my next helmet and, along with 2 water bottle mounts (amongst other things like length of strap protruding from the clasp when fully adjusted) I also have a need for between 18 and 26 vents.

If it doesn't meet the full list then it's a no go for me.

If you give me 15 minutes, I'll upload the flow chart for you to help with your next helmet purchase.
  • + 9
 i prefer 28.99 vents tbh
  • + 1
 @cuban-b: +/- 0.05?
  • + 11
 It looks like a nice option for the price. I want it called the six six sixer with some devil flames on the side but you can't have everything.
  • + 9
 First of all let me tell you how happy I am that we are discussing helmet safety and not just the color or visor shape. Lets however look at the data. MIPS has 5 studies on their website. 3 discuss the dangers of oblique impacts to the head (kudos to them) and two concern testing motorcycle helmets for oblique impacts. The two studies use numerical modeling and dummy heads to conclude that thanks to slippage MIPS reduces rotational stresses.
The digital models and dummy heads did not simulate skin and hair in any way. In one instance they mention that the alloy head was covered with a viscoelastic rubber.
Even if we ignore the hair, the human scalp has a natural movement of up to several cm. How does MIPS work with that? Does it add up? Does it interfere?
In the absence of data I would say that putting an unproven system in every helmet on the market is premature.
Additionally we know from other studies that an increase in helmet weight and more importantly volume increases the risks of brain trauma dramatically. How do MIPS helmets fare in that area?

@mikekazimer: Could you please start asking helmet companies for more safety data? Why does only Leatt (to my knowlege) publish their certification data? As mentioned previously safety is the only reason why we wear helmets, maybe it should be given more focus.
  • + 0
 Agreed on helmet safety discussion but show me Peer reviewed "stamp" or I may as well trust Pfizers papers on how Zanax will cure my anxiety and make me happy for life
  • + 6
 @Konyp, one of the reasons most companies don't publish their raw data is due to the potential for lawsuits, especially in the US. When a rider is seriously injured, it's not uncommon for a helmet manufacturer to be sued, even if wasn't their fault. Putting out raw data that could potentially be interpreted incorrectly isn't worth the risk for most manufacturers. All helmets will list which certifications they meet or exceed, but usually that's the extent of the data available.

Is there room for improvement with the existing safety standards? Yes, and as I said before, work is being done to update them, although that type of update doesn't go that quickly.

Regarding the hair / MIPS debate: "“My hair does the same thing – why do I need MIPS?” That line pops up fairly regularly whenever a review of a MIPS-equipped helmet is posted, and it's a valid question. After all, if you press down on the top of your head and move your hand back and forth your scalp moves – it's easy to see why some riders would be skeptical. According to MIPS, they found that the amount of force that's put on the head during an impact prevents a rider's hair or scalp from doing much to reduce the amount of rotational energy. That's where that plastic slip plane comes in – it's designed to be effective even when subjected to the high forces generated during an impact." --- www.pinkbike.com/news/inside-mips-advancing-helmet-safety-2017.html
  • + 10
 @mikekazimer: Thank you for answering.
On their website they state the scalp helps "not to a substantive degree" but fail to back it with data. How did they test that? For me this is a potential warning signal for bad science.

Mips is a for profit company, currently suing POC over the usage of their own Spin inserts. All their claims should be validated in peer reviewed papers or they remain only anegdotes.

My main problem with Mips and similar technologies is that they may draw attention away from real improvements. Solutions provided by Leatt, Kali or 6D could potentially be much better but Mips gets all the exposure, possibly due to past involvement with the parent company of Bell.

With the current evidence Mips is just a cheap and easy method of making unfounded safety claims by helmet companies.

Of course I would love to be proven wrong.
  • + 4
 Pffft Mips, just tuck and roll
  • + 5
 @mikekazimer: I join @Konyp in his ask for more safety focused helmet reviews. I had 2 concussions wearing nice looking and very comfortable helmets from a very reputable company. Unfortunately they were pure styrofoam, which is not even meant to prevent concussions. Now I'm going to buy something more safety oriented because I sort of like my brain Wink
  • + 4
 I don't get why people are downvoting this. Don't you guys like your life? Or should I say, hello Bell and mips employees? Big Grin
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: or Monsanto when it comes to the toxicity of roundup
  • + 2
 @Slabrung: concussion is shit, I hope you're back to normal now.

It was a bit of a shocker when I got concussed a couple of years ago and took at least 3 months to get back to somewhere like normal.
  • + 4
 I used to have hair. Now I have MIPS. @36yearolds.
  • + 2
 @ermoldaker: my cases thankfully were less severe than yours, recovery to normal was rather a matter of weeks. 3 months sucks! I was not aware how nasty a concussion is before it happened. Stay safe mate Smile
  • + 2
 @Slabrung: my friend crashed into a tree at low speed, stupid little crash, side of the head bounced from the side of the tree. I think after 3 years he still isn't 100%. He claims Mips would have helped him. Like for huge portion of people, safety is an extremely touchy subject due to lack of data and huge emotional charge with plenty of what ifs, so it's rather hard to make a good judgment. I've been called stupid for saying I don't wear elbow pads , shin guards, ride DH clipped in and what not. It's really tragic to watch people get on the high horse of what is safe. I personally had only a mild concussion and the only thing I can blame is my lack of focus, riding despite being in state of sleep deprivation, huge stress at work, and... taking it easy. "I'll be careful" is a mother of crappy riding leading to quite bad fck ups...
  • + 3
 @mikekazimer: In the absence of raw data, at least some sort of industry standard crash rating system similar to the auto industry would be helpful. Today there is absolutely no way to compare the relative safety of helmets by any measure. A whole industry focused on safety but based on price points and perception!
  • + 2
 @palmermc83: Good point. Current safety certifications are totally outdated and binary - you pass or not. I understand that companies don't want to cash out significant amounts for changing this, but we as consumers should demand those changes.
  • + 12
 pffft, i only wear helmets with 29 vents.
  • + 34
 28.99 vents maybe.
  • + 5
 27.5 vents for me.
  • + 1
 1.125 vents
  • + 2
 I'll take mine with Venti vents....
  • + 4
 Holding out for the E-vents (just kidding helmet manufacturers, we don't really need E-vents)
  • + 1
 @Markjames428: we don't need e-vents, but HVAC helmets might be a step in the right direction
  • + 1
 @Markjames428: that reminds me when oakley(???) made ski goggles with little motorised fans to keep them fog-free, so ridiculous
  • + 9
 I guess Sam Hill should consider these as it has '4 brow ports'.
  • + 9
 I am going to buy twenty six of these. #sixeraintdead
  • + 10
 Surely you only need to buy twenty sixers?
  • + 3
 @hypno-newt: Nah, he already knows about the thirty two'sers coming out in 2019.
  • + 7
 Love my super, and I need to replace it this season and the sixer looks perfect.
  • + 2
 My super is still going strong but this will be top of the list as a replacement.
  • + 4
 If they do not publish the certification crash test data I will need to assume the helmet is inferior safety wise to anything Leatt makes (only company who does publish). Please remember that safety is the only reason we wear these hot and heavy devices.
  • + 1
 It intrigues me who downvotes a call for more transparency in safety data. Anyone?
  • + 0
 Actually if you checked out construction and test data you wouldn't wear anything but a 6D helmet!
  • + 1
 @MX298: I love 6D for their innovative approach, but they have not published any data to back their claims, nor do they have the certification test results on their website. Additionally their helmets are very heavy (over 500g for M/L) what is a proven risk factor for brain trauma.
  • + 0
 Problem with Leatt and 6D is how big they are. I just bought POC Coron and I am wondering whether I should have stayed with my TLD D2...
  • + 2
 @Konyp: I agree with you about size but just because it's light and small doesn't mean it's protective. I been around MX for awhile and see some messed up kids wearing cheap, lite, thin helmets! The problem is every crash is different and hard to measure but I got two boys that race and seen them walk away from some crazy crashes! Just buy and top end helmet that fits properly ! ! !
  • + 4
 @MX298: Light and small doesn't mean unsafe. Do you think that Kali makes unsafe helmets? Their dual certified DH lid is very light... especially when you compare it to similar Moto helmets. Yet it's safe and passes the certs.

Bell has the best test lab in the country at their hands. I guarantee you this helmet got smashed a lot of times before it was sent out for certification testing.
  • + 1
 @onemanarmy: I do not doubt they have great labs, but still they do not publish any valid studies.
Without data any claims of any company are just marketing banter.
  • + 3
 @Konyp: with all due respect, 99.9999999% of people cannot read and manage data... i’m with you on being sceptical towards MIPS but unless Kurzgesagt does a video on helmets and brain injury I won’t be getting any of it. Mips makes sense, but what makes even more sense is buying a quality helmet. And there is some serious crap sold with the yellow “I’m a good human being concerned about health of myself and my family” sticker. Practice skills in a relatively safe environment, crash there, so that when you go out there you are less likely to crash for real. Best helmet is unused one.

As to moralizing blokes, go change your helmet every two years or gtfo
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I guess you haven't tried Leatt otherwise you wouldn't write this. Their DBX 3.0 enduro is actually one of the lightest full faces out there.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: I had my worst crash (not the most spectacular but with worst consequences) 5 minutes from my house on a totally straightforward path. I admit it was raining and very slippery, but it was the safe environment you write about. Bottom line, you never know.
  • + 0
 @Slabrung: come on... that’s the don’t let the plane land on your head argument. Getting good at riding and getting in touch with your mental game is a good way of avoiding bangs. I want to do dirt and skatepark because I wasn’t feeling good on bike park jumps. I was doing them well but I knew that I was making educated guesses at what will happen and what I need to do. Then I look at some random Joeys flying around and I cringe. Then you listen to them talking in the lift and they think everything’s fine. Landing nose heavy on every jump and talking about trying World Cup jumps

You never know, but you can increase your chances. Relying on equipment is reliance on third party.

Anyways, bottom line is: don’t be careful, do the homework instead
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Agreed. Publishing too much data can just confuse people... and get the companies sued.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: I absolutely agree that practice and training increase your safety. I just wanted to say that even if you're doing all you can, you may still have a crash and no amount of training will change that. Otherwise we wouldn't need helmets. So if we get a helmet, we'd better chose something that protects more than less. That's it.
I think we agree here but the wording we used was not precise enough.

And BTW I also see some random dudes trying to jump on a local dirt park, sometimes it looks terrifying because they have no helmets, their feet come off the pedals when they land etc. Well, evolution in action.
  • + 3
 @onemanarmy: Exactly, let's just trust that the big companies put our best interest before their profits. Sound logical. No proof needed.
  • + 3
 @Konyp: Yep I agree. Its a bit like reviewing a bike without actually publishing any information about how it rides.
  • + 2
 @Slabrung: that was some excellent sarcasm
  • - 1
 @StackingItSince1991: oh for fks sake, they did publish lots of data... you just have to google it. And know how to interpret it... I’m happy Mips waved the flag about rotational forces, what I don’t like is the fear mongering they spread out all over the place, where the regular reaction is: helmet with mips - safe, without - unsafe, which is bollocks. And being around bike shops hearing what customers ask about, then buying/selling helmets for my own use is exactly what I am describing. @onemanarmy claims Mips is 20$ more, it Has nothing to do with the real world,, not only shops are discounting non mips helmets much more, the resale value of these is also lower. So we are dealing with what is effectively half price situation, where I gladly chose a helmet without Mips.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: comparing used prices or heavily discounted prices is pointless. Market to market and timing all drastically change that. Retail comparison...
  • + 1
 @onemanarmy: retail comparison is faulty as well, even though the error margin is smaller. The moment a batch of helmets arrives to the shop between may and August you can compare things. However in sale out period October-January you'll see non Mips helmets discounted more. Again I have seen salesman/ buyer talks first hand on numerous occasions and it look more or less like this: " - hello, I want a helmet, - hello, this one is cheap this one is expensive, - what is the difference? - This one has mips, which is (...) bla bla bla bla bla - is Bell a good company, compared to Poc? - Yes, Poc is luxurious brand which has good materials but it doesn't have MIPS and is more expensive even though it has no Mips" Client may eventually leave with the cheapest helmet with MIPS, full of badly shaped ventsand things sticking out of it promoting rotational force build up. Yaaaaay! The first thing my neighbor says to me after he bought a helmet to his 5 year old son: hey look I bought a helmet with Mips. It's good to have mips, isn't it?

Company like Kali gets out of their way taking into account all the safety issues they can think of, many other go MIPS - job done! Everyone's safe from rotational forces. So if you want to talk to me about helmet safety, name the MIPS as a cherry on the pie, not potentially life saving feature, because right now for average buyer having no time for own research, it's not much more than a label like "Fair trade". Yes it's better that it is fair trade than if it weren't but still, everything is complex. For instance the poliferation of detachable chin helmets in bike parks and on Enduro Races - is it as safe as a full on full face? No. Do people doing this care about having MIPS? most often than not: yes.

To sum up, my problem with the hype around this label is it takes the attention of average user ad the dude selling the helmet to him, from other important safety aspects.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: amen to this. Of course no one can know this for sure, but to me the main advantage of mips is that it is cheap to produce and doesn't require sophisticated material research. As opposed to what Kali and Leatt do. It's a quick fix for a problem "customers demand more safety, let's give them something we can produce cheap and fast and can explain in a way that an average Joe would think is OK." It probably works in some way, but if it works as advertised we will never know.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Yeah, you should have.
  • + 1
 @troyleedesigns: I wrecked my Coron. The question is D2 or D3? Big Grin
  • + 6
 So it has a CD player in the forehead.
  • + 1
 No landing pad for a drone though...
  • + 1
 So they took the giro helmet and moved around some of the air vents?
Is the bell super still on the market?
Because it is a great helmet, must better than the giro which is below average.
  • + 1
 I wish every manufacturer put Go pro mounts on helmets, I do a lot of night riding and putting one on a helmet not designed for it is a pain in the ass. (im looking at you fox)
  • + 4
 I already have a red helmet but the Doc said i’m Gonna be fine.
  • + 0
 The super is a wonderful helmet, but I can say for a fact that it had a few issues that I’m glad Bell is trying to address. It does seem, however, that looks weren’t the number 1 priority on either helmet.
  • + 5
 Right! I hate it! I hate innovation, and I hate change! Why don't they just keep making the old same helmets from 15 years ago, and same with my K2 bike! Ahhh! All this new stuff is crap! Gerrr!
  • + 2
 How do you guys ride on fallen leaves like that? It scares the sh** outta me just thinking about tearing another acl.
  • + 2
 It's actually a swamp underneath, all soft and squishy!
  • + 2
 Go on gravel parking lot and practice doing cutties. May take some practice on asphalt with pumping flat ground first. Use good tyres with soft compound and tread pattern giving predictable feel as the tyre is loosing grip, like Minion DHF Maxx Grip. Stay relaxed, stay loose, embrace the slide, smile Big Grin
  • + 1
 Wet leaves - really???
  • + 2
 Perfect. Just gotta wait til on sale 60% off to buy it.
  • + 1
 I'm just glad you don't have to charge any battery before use.
  • + 1
 I'm sorry I prefer 28.99 vents on my helmets.
  • + 1
 The super is like an old friend.
  • + 7
 It was always the ugly bipolar friend though.
  • + 0
 @bikeis4life: basically though...all helmets are ugly.
  • + 1
 So when does the adult version come out?
  • + 1
 Bell Sixer- the name has a nice ring to it
  • - 2
 That visor shape looks fugly. It's like a high-end helmet disguised as a low-end helmet. Brilliant! Then again, what Bell has ever looked good?
  • + 0
 I don't mind it. At least it's not a four foot long duck bill like some other brands. But maybe that's what you like.
  • + 1
 I think the red makes the visor look goofy. The full black version looks much better. I also don't like having a coloured visor in my line of sight. Black visors all-around please!
  • + 1
 @bogey: Good reason there. My helmets all have black. Never really thought about it though. Interesting.
  • + 0
 Shut up and #showmethecapra already @YTIndustries
  • + 0
 Thing looks like a #RedButt #Anusol
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