Bell Star Helmet

Editor Score: 88.5%
Aesthetics 9.0/10
Protection 10/10
Value 9.0/10
Comfort/Fit 9.5/10
Quality/Design 8.0/10
Weight 8.5/10
Options/Selection 10/10
Innovation 8.0/10
Weather Suitability 8.5/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 8.0/10
Overall Score88.5/100

Bell has got four new Star helmets: Pro Star, custom-fit Star Carbon, Race Star, and the one under review here, the plain old Star. They range in price all the way from $1299.95 for the most expensive Pro Star to $499.95 for the Pace Orange/Black Star pictured. Compared to the others, the Star’s eye port is more oriented to upright riding than to peering out the top while tucked-in behind the bubble at Daytona. Though it’s of course a tad heavier than the more expensive Stars, it seems no heavier than a comparable premium helmet.

My personal noggin prefers the long oval shape of an Arai Signet Q or Shoei RF, and that seems to be the shape Bell adopted for this Star. Right out of the box, it was a bit tight to pull on over the old melon, but once in place it was snug yet way comfortable for its two-hour maiden run and has remained so for the month or two that I’ve been wearing it; it actually has a mm or two more room than I require at my horn roots and skull base, where many previous Bells have been just tooooo snug.

Solid colors, like this Matte Black or White, are $50 less at $449.95. The shell is a mix of Aramid, carbon fiber, and fiberglass, which Bell says has all the strength of carbon fiber in a less expensive helmet. It wears a Snell sticker in addition to a DOT one.

Solid colors, like this Matte Black or White, are $50 less at $449.95. The shell is a mix of Aramid, carbon fiber, and fiberglass, which Bell says has all the strength of carbon fiber in a less expensive helmet. It wears a Snell sticker in addition to a DOT one.

The 35mm cheek pads mine came with seem just right, though options are available. The ear pockets seem a bit larger than some, which is nice if your ears begin to squirm like mine do on long rides, or if you want to install speakers. Wire-frame glasses slide in easily enough, thicker-framed sunglasses require more finagling and temple gouging.

Your X-STATIC XT2 Silver Liner (professional copywriter at work) is easily removable and hand-washable, and said to be bacteria and odor-resistant. (It occurs to me that I have never once washed a helmet interior.)

Your X-STATIC XT2 Silver Liner (professional copywriter at work) is easily removable and hand-washable, and said to be bacteria and odor-resistant. (It occurs to me that I have never once washed a helmet interior.)

You get the typical closeable brow and chin vents with exhausts out the back, and the Star’s airflow is unremarkable; neither more nor less breezy than the typical full-face. My main criterion for a helmet is always comfort, and by that measure this Pro for me is a success.

Like most Bells over the years, its problems are in the details. I took the shield off when I first got it, for fun, and it took more than an hour of fiddling to figure out how to replace it. The shield comes off and the round black hinges that attach it to the helmet come off the shield, too. I can’t do the Rubik’s cube either, though, so it could be a personal problem. Once I figured it out, it works fine and makes sense… but it makes you wonder what was wrong with Bell’s old perfectly good mechanism where you can see and press one simple lever and snap the thing out? The new mechanism slides fore and aft a bit like a car seat as the shield travels open and shut, maybe so the shield can seal better than the previous one? That would be great, but this shield seals no quieter than before. Not that it’s particularly loud. Neither was the old one.

I wouldn’t want to change shields in the dark.

I wouldn’t want to change shields in the dark.

There’s a cracked position for damp or hot days, there are also Pinlock posts. We’re also curious why Bell put the visor tab, the thing you thumb to open and close it, in the middle of the shield instead of on the left like every other full face since Bell invented the first one? Do some riders use their brake hand to open and close their visor?

The little magnet in the end of the strap is a cool idea, but the one on my old Bell Revolver fell off while it was almost new, and I have tucked the strap away under my chin ever since. The one on my new Star fell off too. Amazingly, I found both halves while weedwacking and glued it back.

All minor issues and largely the complaints of a coddled journalist.

060616-bell-star-helmet-3

There is one hugely good thing about the Star, unobtainable on nearly all helmets (except some Shoeis far as I know) which completely negates the fiddly shield mechanism: The photochromatic Transitions shield (like the one on my Revolver Evo that’s the main reason for wearing it) are not yet available for the Star, but should be available “later this year” according to our Bell rep. It’s tremendously convenient to never have to change shields when the night catches you out.

With a Transitions shield snapped in the old eyeport, I would definitely give this one two big thumbs up. As she stands, I need both opposable thumbs and all my fingers and faculties to operate it. A really good helmet on the verge of being a great one but for a couple of details.

  • Tim Sawatzky

    I’m very curios to try this helmet on. I had previously read there were no speaker pockets for a com system, but here it seems there might be? Is that the case? I also read it is very quiet and “flows a ton of air”, but the author doesn’t give that impression. But I guess it’s compared to whatever he is used to.

    As for the shield tab being in the middle, I have always wanted that. Many times I need to open the shield stopped at a light holding the clutch and have to awkwardly reach around to open the shield. Having the tab in the middle would be great.

    • john burns

      Sure look like speaker pockets to me, sunk about 4mm lower than surrounding liner. The clutch thing never occurred to me, you learn something new every day.

      • Tim Sawatzky

        Thanks John, just curious what bike you were testing it on? I know some helmets react differently with upright riding, 3/4, or with a windscreen. Also are your comments about venting and noise relative to your personal helmets of the Aria and RF? I’m looking for a new lid, I just crash testes an RF-1100 (my head was fine, collar bone was not), and am wondering how this Star compares to an Aria Defiant and RF-1200.

        • john burns

          I wore it on several different bikes, faired and unfaired. Nice and comfy on all of them, no blusterier than my old RF1200 or Arai Signet Q – quieter than new Arai Corsair. For $500 compared to the $7-800 of those, I’d say it’s a great deal even if Transitions shield adds another $120. Made in China keeps cost down…

  • sfree1

    I lost the magnet on the strap on my old Revolver within days of buying it and found it stuck to the other magnet so I glued it on and it never came loose again. I have a 3-year-old Bell RS-1 and that magnet is still attached and is a great, very comfortable helmet. I also love the Transitions shield.
    I also have a Shuberth C3 Pro which has the worst shield I’ve ever used. It slams shut at anything above 30-40 mph, and even though it has tabs on both sides of the shield you can’t use just one to snap the shield closed as using one or the other skews the shield. You have to either stop and use both hands or reach directly across the shield and push it down from the top and if you wear glasses the force needed then jams them down onto the bridge of your nose. I wear the RS-1 much more often than the Schuberth even though I prefer a flip-up helmet. Makes me wonder who tests these things?

  • JMDonald

    My first full face helmet was a Bell. Not half as nice as this one. If I can’t read a tire review my second choice is almost always a helmet review.

  • Zach

    I sometimes use my right hand on my visor when I’m at a stop and still in gear. Right foot is on the rear brake. Do these have Bell’s flex liner deal, the thing that’s supposed to absorb rotational acceleration? Seems like a good idea.

  • GodWhomIsMike

    I hate how it is so difficult to fine solid color helmets. I have a Scorpion in solid high-viz. But, say you want a solid blue helmet, goodluck.

  • ducatirdr

    A Bell helmet fan with the new MX-9 Flex and previous Carbon Star’s I was looking forward to the new Race or Pro Star this year. I ended up getting the new X-Fouteen from Shoei for my current season race helmet. Sorry to hear that the upper end Bell Flex Star helmets are delayed. I LOVE the X-Fourteen. Super comfortable and solid colors.