First Look: Bell Super Air R - A New Lightweight Full-Face Trail Helmet

Sep 3, 2019 at 17:35
by Mike Kazimer  

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.

Bell's Flex Spherical + MIPS system uses two layers of foam connected by elastomers that allow them to rotate independently during a crash.
Two metal clips and two buckles secure the chinbar to the helmet.

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.


  • 25 0
 I use my 3r every day and a 2r before that. Chinbar on and off 2 or 3 times a ride. Had several nasty crashes in which the chinbar saved my face. I will buy this helmet ready for next season or when I wreck my current one . I love the removable chinbar idea.
  • 4 0
 How do you carry the chin bar around when not using it on your ride?
  • 2 0
 @Ktron: I wear it around the neck. Works very well and hardly noticeable. Doesn't look like the Air R will allow that method though...
  • 11 0
 @Ktron: On the back of my hydration pack
  • 10 0
 @Ktron: I strap it to my hip pack and I don't even know it's there. Smile
  • 6 0
 i used the older 2r with chin bar for traveling, used the full face in the lift parks and normal helmet for trail riding, saved carrying two helmets around the world, this one does look like its got a bit more ventilation
  • 2 0
 What he said. Smile
  • 5 0
 This helmet looks very cool. I bought my Bell super R3 this year and I can't be more satisfied with it. It is super comfortable, lightweight, has good ventilation and nice features like gopro mount, etc. For uphills I simply strap chinbar onto my hip pack. Before that, I was carrying fullface helmet on my backpack on the uphills, but I hated that my head was not at all protected. You know, shit can happen also on uphills. So, I'm really fan of removable chinbar now. And I do believe that it is strong enough to protect my face.
  • 1 0
 It is strong enough. It's saved my face multiple times... one of those times required having to buy a crash replacement. It obviously isn't quite as strong as a DH certified version, but it's still very strong... and works.
  • 5 0
 The most important question is: Is it moulded on the Super 3R head mould or the one from the Super DH?

They are different and the S3R doesn't fit my head, but the SDH does.
  • 3 1
 Agreed. I used up a Super 2R last year and was super bummed (see what I did there) that the 3R didn’t fit at all. The DH is the most comfortable helmet I’ve ever had.
  • 3 0
 Just when I was pretty sure I wouldn’t consider another convertible helmet, this actually has me considering it. I’ve ever loved the fit and feel of my 2R and almost always stuck with my Smith half shell, but if this feels better I’d consider it a replacement for my half shell and then just have the full face option for most of my rides that involve one big climb and one big DH. The 2R was supposedly only not DH certified because of the penetration test, but was strong enough. If this is similar, I’d consider it for trail days of 1,500- 3,000 one last DH, if it’s comfortable for me.
  • 1 0
 I'm in the same boat.
  • 1 0
 My 2R has saved my bacon a few times and after my last crash needs replacement. But I hate how it collected sweat and then randomly dumped it in to my eyes and glasses. Does this have any sweat managment features? My next helmet must have this !
  • 2 0
 Wear a skull cap. It's more important than gloves, for me. Total game changer.
  • 2 0
 @Jaguar83: Or a simple headband. The Halo II works well.
  • 1 0
 @MtbSince84: Yep, have a Halo too. Good stuff.
  • 1 0
 I wish all helmets used Bells little sweat wicking patterning on the brow, I love it on my Sixer. I sweat like a mf and it REALLY does make a difference between sweat in your eyes or behind your glasses and it dripping just in front.
  • 1 0
 I use the Bell Super 2R MIPS with chin bar for occasional downhill biking. I'm not doing huge jumps or anything really gnarly, and I find the protection to be quite adequate. I recently had my first crash which had my face hit the ground, was totally protected by the chin bar, it didn't even hurt.
  • 1 1
 Still have the original Super 2R I bought years ago, at full price, that's way too tight on the temple - and way way way too tight on the cheeks (even with the extra pad removed). Wouldn't hate on it too much except for the fact that it went on super-mega blowout 75% off pricing right after I bought mine. Have been tempted by a couple Bell products since then but have a hard time letting go of my cash after paying up on that super uncomfortable first gen Super 2R.
  • 1 0
 That’s kinda the bike industry. Wait a few weeks/ months and find it on sale. Want it now, full price for you.
  • 1 0
 jeff the fit on the 3r is way different and better for more riders so I’ll bet u can find a good fit now. 2r was crap fit.

My 3r has taken a couple good hits this year and I’ll likely replace with this relatively soon (provided I like one of the color schemes).
  • 1 0
 @WasatchEnduro: Interesting, I actually really like the fit of the 2R... and most helmets don't fit me well (big head).
  • 1 0
 I too was hoping for a release of a light weight " enduro" helmet from bell. Similar to a Fox Proframe or Troy Lee Stage. Anyone know if this happening in the near future? Mike?
  • 1 1
 I've a met parachute, it's almost as light but she certified and well ventilated.
You can't remove the chin bar but who cares? It looks cooler with a chin bar. Most of the reason ppl want to remove it is not actually ventilation, is that they feel stupid. Which in itself isn't a great reason when you think about it. Same for the a frame and similar well vented helmets
  • 1 1
 Yeah, the chinguard is not there to replicate a full face downhill helmet. It's to add protection when descending. The idea (which the writer appears to have completely missed) is that you can have an open helmet for say CLIMBING, and then a full face for DESCENDING. So, if for example you're in the mountains climbing up 1200m, you might not want a full face on all of the time.. fairly simple concept.
  • 8 7
 The chin bar looks like it's made out of a thin plastic sheet. Is that really supposed to protect my face in the event of a crash?
  • 1 0
 Was thinking the same thing. Will hold of judgement until i can get a hands on impression of the chin bar.
  • 7 0
 The thinner plastic part you're seeing wraps around the helmet which should help reinforce it, and the front part has a layer of foam behind the plastic.
  • 3 0
 I assume it's fine for oblique impacts like rolling. Generally your head gets secondary impact )(your body/arms/legs get the first impact) and there's usually sliding/rolling involved. If it's a primary full stop impact a standard helmet isn't helping.
  • 3 0
 If it's at least as good as the 2R/3R chinbar, then yes, it does. Source: have smashed my face into rocks at high speed wearing the 3R. Needed a crash replacement (like any helmet), but my face was unscathed. Thanks Bell.
  • 4 3
 Plastic parts look a little cheap. I'm still leaning towards the Urge Gringo for a cheap convertible to replace my aging MET Parachute.
  • 1 0
 Get a bell super dh mate, by far the best convertable helmet! That urge looks horrific!
  • 2 1
 I don't see the purpose behind this. I own a Bell Super DH and find it light, breathable and easy to store the chinbar. Seems like a redundant product with less protection.
  • 2 0
 I have a Super 3R which I really like, but this looks like a serious upgrade.
  • 1 0
 I'm unable to find it on Bells website (Australian version). just curious on if it has been released yet or its just not available down under.
  • 1 0
 No Australian certification AS/NZS2063 is probably the answer. They can’t sell there without it.
  • 1 0
 What's general difference between super 3r, super dh and that new one?
I still use super2 lid, while looking for a new ff, and possibly with detachable chin..
  • 1 0
 wait, its one of if not the heaviest without and chin bar and one of if not the lightest with the chin bar??
  • 1 0
 It kinda looks like 2 helmets in 2. So instead of 2 helmets, it has all the same features in just, err 2.
  • 1 0
 How far from being dh certified does the 3r stand? Is it even close to passing dh certification?
  • 4 5
 I dont exactly understand the overall point of this helmet. I anticipated for a competition to the Fox Head Proframe and Dropframe helmets.
  • 23 0
 A 4 hour ride consisting of 80% singletracks and 20% black diamond lines.

...or, you know, the regular MTB ride when you don't live at a bike park
  • 1 0
 @f00bar: Yeah so why not just own the standard super that will protect your head better? Thats my point. I own a super. Love it. Although the chinbar does not work for my jaw. But yeah.
  • 3 0
 Thinking this is the redesign or replacement for the 3R.

I'm all over these kind of helmets (use the 3R) now. Pretty much all my rides consist of laps of single track and/or fire-road climbs followed by gnarly descents. Chin-bar off for the climb, chin-bar on for the descent. Rinse and repeat. Works great for me.

I'm not a fan of helmets like the Dropframe. They seem worst of both worlds to me... almost all the heat of a fullface without the protection of a chinbar... and you can never ride it as a half shell? But I get that, these days, lots of people have ditched packs and don't have somewhere to store a chin bar, so they get buy with these types of helmets.
  • 1 0
 Looks like a replacement to my Casco Viper MX.
  • 3 1
 Super ugly!
  • 2 0
 Yes! But now I can probably but a new Super 3r for cheap Smile
  • 1 0
 What’s the EWS / UCI stance on removable chin-bars?
  • 1 0
 Looks like the new met parachute xd
  • 1 0
 Without dh certificate??? no way!
  • 1 0
 Release date? It's not on the website.
  • 1 0
  • 1 2
 Wow. What an ugly and cheap looking helmet.
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