At one time back there in the mists of time, a Bell helmet was the motorcycle helmet to have. If Bell didn’t invent the full-face helmet, they did have the first one everybody wanted. Things changed, the brand was sold, quality became poor or inconsistent, and those of us lucky enough to have our druthers started wearing Shoeis, Arais and other expensive foreign lids.
Ahh, it seems like that’s about to change or maybe already has. I got my head into a new Star a couple months ago, and found a lot to like – especially the fit, which is the most important thing in any helmet. But that base-model Star is one of three; its sibling lids the Pro Star and Race Star will hit the market soon, and Bell reps Zach Kadletz and Rob Salcedo (on the left in the photo above with EiC Duke) were good enough to drop by and fill us in on some of those helmets details.
Mainly, Bell is out to once again establish itself as the high-end helmet manufacturer; the Pro Star starts at $1199.95, the Race Star at $699.95. The difference between those two is that the Pro Star’s shell is made of TeXtreme carbon-fiber, a lighter, cutting-edge c-f weave that makes the Pro 120 grams lighter than the Race Star’s conventional carbon shell. High school (parking lot) math tells us that’s 4.3 ounces or a bit more than a quarter-pound, which is a significant weight/aerodynamic savings especially if you’re Josh Herrin or Cameron Beaubier, Bell-sponsored racers.
Both of those high-end Stars use a different liner than the base Star; the new “Flex” system was introduced on Bell’s Moto 9 two years ago. The deal here is that instead of one thick layer of EPS – expanded polystyrene, the styrofoamy liner in the base Star – the two high-end Stars use three thinner layers: The outer one is normal EPS, the middle one is a softer material Bell calls EPP (expanded polypropylene), and the one closest to your skull is softer still, EPO (expanded polyolefin). Together they work together to absorb impacts, and the two softer layers even have a bit of rebound ability; they actually spring back after a hit.
The Flex liner also provides a really good fit, what Bell calls an “adaptive fit.” The shell itself is a really good shape as I discovered in my earlier review, and the fact that it’s produced in five sizes means everybody gets the best possible fit. In fact, Bell claims the Flex three-layer liner takes the new Stars partway toward the fit provided by its Custom Fit program, where it scans the buyer’s head using a 3D scanner. (Bell is also working on a trick new way to expand Custom Fit via a much simplified scanning system.)
Furthermore, those three layers of liner provide a bit of MIPS effect, as in the helmet is able to rotate on the skull a bit when there’s an impact. Most motorcycle crashes, we’re told, involve a skidding hit as opposed to just a flat one, and the ability of the helmet to rotate a small amount helps absorb that energy and better protect the coconut. Bell, which claims it has the biggest helmet testing lab in North America, says the Flex liner performs extremely well against conventional helmets.
But wait, that’s not all!! The channels within and between the lining layers are said to provide improved ventilation (and I learned about the removable plug in the chin bar of my Star, which lets it breathe much better now).
Then you’ve got your Panovision eyeport, which is a bit wider for better peripheral vision (maybe Marquez would be better able to not ram people if he had it?), and the Stars all boast Class-1 optics in their thicker-than-average faceshields. A Transitions photo-reactive shield will cost an extra $129. The base Star and the other two share the same shield, but the eyeport in the Race and Pro Stars are angled slightly more upward for improved peripheral race-track visibility.
In short, if you were thinking about treating a loved one (or yourself) to a new high-end helmet, you might want to hold off another month until the Pro Star and Race Star are available. These are sweet lids, and more are on the way says Rob Salcedo. Stay tuned for official MO test results.
For more information, visit BellHelmets.com.