Over the past few years, the industry has seen a major shift towards the all capable trail bike. The mythical 5″ or 6″ travel quiver killer that gets rallied like a downhill bike and climbs like a carbon XC rig. But what about the other gear that gets you there?
While many companies are busy relabeling products “Enduro,” or adding improved rearward coverage, Bell Helmets took a careful look at the needs of modern trail riders and produced a remarkable new helmet – the Super. Designed for people who pedal, rally, and sometimes race, this new helmet has more innovation built in than your average new 650B wonder bike.
Starting with protection, Bell chose to give the new lid lots of rearward coverage and more above the ear protection than any other helmet we’ve tried. To compensate for all the heat that extra reckless confidence, er protection, may generate, they’ve added twenty five vents.
The large visor is adjustable and offers good protection from the sun but can also be retracted far enough to stash goggles below. For those too cool for a visor, Bell includes goggle clips in the box so you can securely stash your goggles.
The helmet retention mechanism has a three point adjustment system that changes where the helmet sits on your forehead.
Over the brow, a series of four vents help funnel air directly to your forehead. A feature also found on the carbon Bell Full 9 Full Face.
Soft anti-bacterial padding lines the interior of the helmet. The company claims the X-Static Pads, which are used by NASA Astronauts and US Special Forces, will eliminate odors permanently. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anyone brave enough to sniff the inside of the Super to verify that claim.
One of the vents can be converted to a GoPro mount using an included plastic piece, which straps into Velcro tabs located under the helmet padding. Be careful when swapping the piece in and out, because you could easily detach the adhesive holding the Velcro backing onto the helmet.
Personally, the only thing hindering the Bell Super’s on trail performance is this Ed Hardy meets Affliction inspired graphic. If mountain biking were a fashion show, I would never have left my house with the review helmet on my head. Luckily, the helmet is available in a variety of other colors, including plain black.
On the Trail
The Bell sizing chart placed me in a size small based on my hat size, which fit perfectly. The fit isn’t quite as comfortable as my Kali Avita Carbon, but it ventilates better than anything short of a full-on XC helmet. After a few rides switching between helmets, the Bell is easily the most protective and well ventilated brain bucket I’ve ever worn.
Throw a GoPro on the top of the helmet (or more realistically in my case – a light) and the weight doesn’t overwhelm the retention system. Unlike some helmets which tend to sag or bob when night riding with a light mounted, the Super stayed put firmly, which we have to credit to the excellent helmet retention system. We’d love to see Bell offer something like a blank version of their Go Pro mount (like this), so that users can attach their preferred mounts.
As a prescription wearing four eyed freak, I found that my normal glasses and sun protection were unencumbered by the helmet shell, but the big draw of the Super is it’s goggle compatibility. The helmet worked flawlessly with numerous goggle combinations and the racing inspired goggle stash was perfect for climbing and breaks during both wet and dusty adventures. Some will inevitably make a snide comment about wearing a half lid and goggles, but nothings worse than having to slow down because your eyes are watering.
The biggest benefit to the goggle stash was the gigantic visor that tops the helmet. During early morning rides or late evening descents, the visor could be stowed up for maximum visibility, and smashed down to protect from those harsh lingering rays. The Super’s visor offers 30 degrees of adjustment, twice that of a popular helmet like the Giro Xen.
While many of the Bell’s innovations come in the form of goggle management or POV integration, features targeted specifically towards (and much appreciated by) the racerboy crowd, anyone who likes to get out there and rally will appreciate the new Super. At 390 grams, the helmet is roughly 50 grams heavier than most of it’s competitors, but the incredible ventilation and excellent coverage put this half lid in a CAT of it’s own.
You can pick one up at your local LBS for $125.