Five years ago, Bell introduced the Super 2R, opening the doors for a new generation of lightweight full-face helmets. Rather than being aimed at downhillers and Rampage hopefuls, that helmet, and the Super 3R that followed, was designed for trail riders who wanted a little more protection. That remains the case with the new Super Air R, which is lighter than ever, even with the addition of Bell's Flex Spherical + MIPS technology, which is designed to reduce the impact forces that reach the brain during a crash.
The Super Air R is priced at $275 USD. It's also available as a half shell for $225, giving riders the option of starting with that version and then purchasing the chinbar separately at a later date if they're so inclined.
Super Air R Details
• Removable chinbar
• Flex Spherical + MIPS
• Integrated breakaway camera mount
• Sizes: S, M, L
• Weight: 676 grams, 421 grams w/out chinbar (medium)
• CPSC Bicycle, CE EN1078 certified
• MSRP: $275 USD w/ chinbar, $225 without
The helmet can be purchased without the chinbar; in that case it's called the Super Air. Add the chinbar, and it becomes the Super Air R.Tech Details
The Super Air uses what Bell call Flex Spherical + MIPS, a design that uses two separate layers of foam connected by elastomers that allow the two layers 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. EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam is used for that outer layer in order to deal with high-speed impacts, while softer EPP (expanded polypropylene) foam sits closer to the rider's head to help with slower speed impacts
The chinbar now attaches with two buckles (the Super 2R had three latches) that are located at the back of the helmet. A metal hook slots in on each side near the wearer's temples, and then the rear buckles are snapped into place. It takes some practice, and it can be a little tricky to attach the chinbar with the helmet still on, but there is a nice and positive 'clack' when the hooks and then the buckles pop into place. There's also the fact the helmet doesn't look abnormal when worn without the chin bar, which isn't always the case with this type of helmet. On its own, there's not much about the Super Air that gives it away as being able to convert into a full face.
Ventilation is delivered by 18 vents, along with four more vents on the chinbar and ports over the forehead that are meant to channel air over the top of a rider's head. In addition, the helmet's padding is designed to direct sweat forward, away from the helmet, so that it doesn't end up in eyeballs and sunglasses. The fit is adjusted by a ratcheting dial at the back of the head, which can also be moved vertically into one of three positions.
Other details include a three-position visor, an integrated breakaway camera mount for holding a GoPro or similar device, and a strip of grippy rubber at the back of the helmet to prevent goggle straps from slipping.
Keep in mind that the Super Air R isn't certified to the ASTM F1952 DH standard – it's a helmet aimed at trail riders rather than DH and enduro racers. Bell already offers the Super DH to suit the needs of riders who want a DH-certified convertible full face.
Personally, if I'm putting on a full-face helmet it means that I'm planning on venturing into some properly wild terrain, and it's unlikely that I'd choose a non-DH certified helmet for those adventures. However, for riders that want additional security for their everyday trail rides, this could fit the bill. Purchasing the Super R without the chinbar is also a very viable option - I have a few rides in with the helmet in that configuration, and I've been impressed with the level of ventilation and comfort it delivers.