Bell Bullitt Helmet

Editor Score: 82.0%
Aesthetics 10.0/10
Protection 7/10
Value 6/10
Comfort/Fit 9/10
Quality/Design 10/10
Weight 9.5/10
Options/Selection 9/10
Innovation 5/10
Weather Suitability 6.5/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 10/10
Overall Score82/100

History has a funny way of repeating itself, and as long as you wait long enough, what’s old will eventually become new again. Right now, we’re seeing that trend in motorcycling, as models like the Yamaha SR400Royal Enfield Continental GTBMW R nineT and Ducati Scrambler all pay homage to days gone by. Then, of course, you’ve got those who simply refuse to let go of the past, buying 30-plus year-old motorcycles and making them their own. Hell, even the verbiage is making a comeback. Cafe Racer, anyone? Vintage motorcycling may be popular these days, but there’s one aspect of the past that should remain in the history books: safety gear. Helmets, specifically.

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That’s where Chad Hodge comes in. A freelance industrial designer and vintage motorcycle customizer, Hodge’s search for a full face-helmet that he connected with turned up empty. So, for his senior industrial design thesis at the University of Cincinnati, he penned a helmet design of his own. He posted the design on Bubble Visor, a popular website for fans of vintage bikes and gear. There, he received plenty of comments, but nobody to help make the dream of turning his design into a road-legal reality. Then Bell stepped in and offered Hodge the opportunity. The rest, as they say, is history. That design became the Bell Bullitt.

Bell outfits the Bullitt with a clear bubble visor as standard equipment. Opt for a flat visor, like the dark smoke seen on our tester, and that’ll put you back $39.95.

Bell outfits the Bullitt with a clear bubble visor as standard equipment. Opt for a flat visor, like the dark smoke seen on our tester, and that’ll put you back $39.95.

Surprisingly, the final production version of the Bullitt hardly deviates from Hodge’s original design. Drawing heavy inspiration from the original Bell Star, the D.O.T.- and ECE-certified Bullitt can best be described as a clean, simple form. Apart from the tiny lip at the rear that serves as an exhaust vent, the form continues its curved profile from nearly every angle.

The Bullitt utilizes an ultra low-profile fiber-composite shell. Three different shells are used to accommodate the XS – 2XL range of sizing. From a fit standpoint, the Bullitt will best suit the intermediate-oval headform – slightly longer front to back than side to side. If that describes you, you’re in luck because the Bullitt’s interior is among the most luxurious I’ve sampled in any lid, retro-themed or otherwise. The anti-microbial micro-suede interior fabric and leather trim combine to give a classy look and feel. It even has that new car smell you’d find in luxury vehicles. Of course, it’s all removable and washable, too.

Take a peek inside the Bullitt and discover the lap of luxury, otherwise known as micro-suede with a dash of leather. Smells nice, too.

Take a peek inside the Bullitt and discover the lap of luxury, otherwise known as micro-suede with a dash of leather. Smells nice, too.

The double D-rings provide a secure closure, and a sturdy metal snap keeps the excess strap in place while riding. A convenient leather pull tab comes in handy when it’s time to loosen the straps. Bell does something cool by shipping the helmet with a clear bubble shield as standard. Tinted versions are also available, as are tinted or clear flat shields. Circular side pods are a classy design feature, but replacing shields requires a tool (a coin will work) to unscrew the pods. Once in, the shield ratchets to three different openings, and the clever Magnefusion closure system keeps the shield shut via a fairly strong magnet against the chinbar. Or, you can truly go old school and ditch the shield for a pair of sunglasses.

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Several different color patterns are available, including solid colors, matte and flake, but this Roland Sands Design “Viva” trim is my personal favorite. With a red, white and blue stripe running across the top and around the chinbar, its pearlescent ivory base color really pops in direct sunlight.

Bell’s Magnefusion shield closure system is simply a leather tab with a magnet on the other side of that button, but it works surprisingly well at keeping the lid from popping up at speed. The tab makes it easy to open and close the visor with gloved hands.

Bell’s Magnefusion shield closure system is simply a leather tab with a magnet on the other side of that button, but it works surprisingly well at keeping the lid from popping up at speed. The tab makes it easy to open and close the visor with gloved hands.

If you’re used to wearing contemporary full-face helmets like I am, the Bullitt feels largely similar except for the chin area. The chinbar isn’t as substantial as modern designs, giving it almost a three-quarter-helmet-like feel. Considering a helmet’s chinbar area is almost twice as likely to be the primary impact zone compared to any other area of a helmet, this skinny chinbar may be cause for concern for Bullitt buyers expecting full-face protection. However, it clearly provides a step up compared to open-face designs.

The benefactor of this small chinbar is the eyeport, which is huge and provides great field of vision. Four vents line the brow of the helmet, while a singular, closable chin vent rests down below. I wish I could comment as to their effectiveness, but I didn’t notice any appreciable airflow from the top, and the lack of a chin curtain means a steady flow of air enters the helmet from underneath.

Still, even at highway speeds, the Bullitt exhibits little buffeting. According to the scale at my local grocery store produce section, the Bullitt comes in just over 3 lbs., and it feels feather light on my head while riding.

It’s a match made in heaven, the Bullitt and the Ducati Scrambler. On the road, the Bullitt is quite nice. My only big complaint is the amount of air that enters the helmet from underneath.

It’s a match made in heaven, the Bullitt and the Ducati Scrambler. On the road, the Bullitt is quite nice. My only big complaint is the amount of air that enters the helmet from underneath.

All in all, I think Bell and Hodge have nailed it when it comes to a full-face lid for those looking for old-school cool with modern protection. Bell positions the Bullitt as a premium helmet (the interior helps justify the claim), and as such pricing starts at $399.95. The RSD Viva, seen here, will set you back $449.95. Visit www.bellhelmets.com for more information, or to order one of your own.

  • The_Fast_and_Furious_Gunrunner

    Why not just update the protection and interior of the original Star and release that? It has a more accurate vintage look where this one looks more like the first Shoei helmets that arrived here in the mid 70s

  • craig collins

    some advice: lose that that blatantly racist avatar.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Fast and Furious’ comment is accurate and insightful. His avatar is atrocious and offensive.

  • Joseph Christy

    Fast and Furious: join the 21st century you asshat

  • Old MOron

    Hey Trizzle, when you rode Ducati’s Scrambler, did you get your own ingenue, too?

    http://instagram.com/p/xAh3rAtcxU/

    • toomanycrayons

      Is a bubble -headed visor appropriate/inappropriate for an ingenue, or just the word ingenue?

      • Old MOron

        Huh? Trizzle says the lid is ECE certified, so I’ve got nothing against it.

        • toomanycrayons

          RE: “Huh?”

          I was just continuing on from the Avatar PC/sensitivity issues expressed above. I guess you don’t see “ingenue” as politically insensitive, then? Bubble visor/Bubbled-headed: ingenue? Never mind. How long ’til we get to ride up here again? Damn, January 3. It’s going to be a while by the looks of this freezing rain…

          • Old MOron

            Oh, I get it now. As I said, I have nothing against the helmet, so no bubble head insinuations from me. And as far as I know, the ingenue is a sympathetic character. I thought the young lady in the photo matched the description well:

            “Typically, the ingénue is beautiful, kind, gentle, sweet, virginal, and often naïve, in mental or emotional danger, or even physical danger, usually a target of The Cad…”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingenue_%28stock_character%29

            But what I really wanted to do was cast Troy in the role of the Cad!

  • JMDonald

    Back in the 70’s I bought my first full face Bell helmet. I had to save up for the thing. I think this modern version looks better. IMHO.

  • NorthShoreRider

    I own this helmet and put a full season on it so far. It’s very comfortable, and the visibility is unmatched except in a 3/4 lid. I have no visual obstructions whatsoever, which is a great feature in city traffic.

    My only real complaints are that the visor screws are a little short and come unscrewed readily, even with a touch of Locktite. I just check them before every ride to make sure they’re tight.

    Also, I have an extra visor in mirror silver for super bright days (it’s darker than the smoke by a shade or two). It doesn’t fit quit as well, and scratches the helmet when you open and close it.

    Otherwise, the helmet has been easy to wear, and live with on a daily basis. I’ve ridden in sweltering high 90’s and in rain and snow down to the 30’s. It’s a great lid, and looks phenomenal.

    It looks fantastic. All logos can be removed as they are just small stickers. Clean lines, I don’t feel like a walking billboard.

    Thanks, Bell, for taking a chance and making this great helmet. It’s improved my ride for sure.

  • Tim Sawatzky

    I love this helmet, but that price, yikes. For a helmet that venting is questionable and can’t be opened or closed? Not sure I can justify that. I wish they had gone a little less “premium” and a little more affordable. I love the Bell 500 because it looks cool and is affordable, but I want the protection of a full face. And I do wonder how much extra protection there is in that little chin bar.

  • Robotribe

    I really wanted this to be my next helmet. Personal style etc. in mind, this was to be the helmet for me. Sadly, this helmet in both my normal size (L) and also trying an XL, was the most ear-torturing helmet I’ve ever worn. Putting on the thing was painful enough for my ears, but trying to take it off was pure self-mutilation. I’ve owned Arai, KBC, and Scorpion helmets with no issues. I think the padded straps are the culprit because once it’s on it’s fine, room-wise. Those damn straps feel like your scraping your ears with sandpaper when the helmet goes on and off.

    Oh well; too bad for me and my particular head shape. That said, I’ve been wearing a Biltwell Gringo for my retro-inspired days and have one of the new ones with the attached visor (like the Bullit) on order.

  • rjfinva

    $400?????????????????????? Not me.

  • Colonel Matumbo

    Just love this lid!! Bell took a chance on a young Designer and built a high-end product.
    The Inside is brilliantly done. The colour choices are outstanding & the choices for shields is also quite impressive. The Price is in line with other high-end Helmet’s and a few Shekels less than my Schub-S2. Oh and people can see you smile too. That big opening is so nice…….And soon a full carbon vision. Bell doin it Right.