The new Star MIPS is Bell’s latest attempt to improve protection for our brains, introducing the Swedish-engineered Multi-directional Impact Protection System to its popular street helmet.

Bell Helmets DOME R&D Lab Tour

The Bell Star MIPS supplants the regular Star in Bell’s line, and its primary feature is the MIPS liner that is designed to rotate slightly inside the helmet to reduce the amount of energy transferred to a rider’s brain. It’s connected to the EPS liner by four elastomeric bands to provide 10-15mm of movement in all directions, absorbing rotational-impact energy from angled impacts.

From the research we’ve seen, the MIPS system genuinely does reduce the effects of rotational energy on the brain, and Bell says its research indicates a 30% reduction in the energy affecting the brain. It’s truly one of the few innovations in helmet design over the past several decades and will certainly become more prevalent in helmets as time goes on. If you’re having a difficult time visualizing how MIPS works, take a look at the video below.

Helmet Tech: Reducing Rotational Brain Violence

The shell of the Star MIPS gets subtly revised from the older Star and retains its Tri-Matrix composite of fiberglass, Aramid and carbon fiber. It remains Snell, DOT, and ECE-certified. It joins the higher-end Race Star Flex and Pro Star Flex in Bell’s Star family of helmets.

The helmet provides many desirable features, such as removable and washable liners (woven with silver fibers to dry quickly and deter growth of odor-causing bacteria), channels in the padding to allow room for eyeglass arms, tool-less shield replacement, and integrated speaker pockets. The cheek-pads feature an emergency-removal system to more easily enable the helmet to be taken off an injured rider’s head. A magnet in the strap secures its so it doesn’t flop around at speed, a simpler arrangement than fussing with a small snap.

The Star MIPS starts at $470 for solid colors and up to $590 for graphics. The snazzy Isle Of Man graphics version I tested, which looks rich and expensive, retails for $530. A Panovision faceshield with Class 1 optics (which puts less strain on eyes and is distortion-free over the entire field of view) has a larger viewing area to increase visibility compared to the previous Star. Replacement shields start at $60 in clear or tinted.

Another feature of the Star line is Bell’s use of six shell sizes for its line that stretches from XS to XXL. Most helmet companies build fewer shell sizes and adjust interior room by adding or subtracting internal pad thicknesses. That method saves production costs, but it also has an effect on the overall weight of the helmets. Bell says a Medium-size Star MIPS weighs 1755 grams, about 3.87 pounds, a bit heavier than the ECE-certified Stars that don’t have to be built as robustly as our Snell-approved models.

The Star MIPS feels plush when pulled over a head, despite any negative preconceptions some might have about about products manufactured in China. I typically use an Extra-Small helmet size for a snug and secure fit, but Bell suggested a Small for me. It felt really nice on my head, but I could sense a bit of extra room next to my forehead.

The way a helmet fits on a head is a critical element. Bell describes its Star MIPS helmet as having an Intermediate Oval headshape, which I expected to closely align with the shape of my head. However, I noticed a bit of extra room in the forehead area and that the top of my skull didn’t fully sink into the liner. Bell’s rep Chris Killen (pictured) stepped into action, removing the small pad at the roof of the helmet and inserting it into the forehead liner, quickly creating a perfectly secure fit for my noggin. The helmet is also shipped with an extra pad that can be inserted where needed to ensure optimum fit.

Once properly fitted, I strapped it on and headed out onto Thunderhill Raceway, where Bell had invited us to sample its new lid. I was very pleased with the helmet’s stability at high speeds (more than 150 mph), and I was impressed with the shield’s wide range of visibility even when in a race tuck. The best compliment I can give is that I wasn’t giving the helmet sitting on my head any thought while railing around the track.

The Star MIPS is a really nice looking helmet that felt comfortable and stable during session after session at Thunderhill. I selected the light-smoke faceshield, which nicely tones down ambient light without dimming visibility as much as a heavily tinted shield.

Bell Star MIPS helmet

Editor Score: 87.25%
Aesthetics 9.0/10
Protection 10/10
Value 8.5/10
Comfort/Fit 9.0/10
Quality/Design 9.0/10
Weight 7.0/10
Options/Selection 9.0/10
Innovation 9.5/10
Weather Suitability 7.5/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 9.0/10
Overall Score87.5/100

Venting appears to be substantial, with closable intakes in the chin bar, brow and top of the helmet augmented by a closable exhaust port behind the crown area and mesh-screened ports below the rear spoiler. However, I’d describe the overall ventilation as merely adequate. Apparently, the MIPS liner constricts airflow circulating around a rider’s scalp. Street riders in hot climates might prefer to place the faceshield in its partially cracked position rather than snapping it closed.

Other than mediocre ventilation, I had absolutely no issues with the Star MIPS, both on the track at Thunderhill and later during street rides back home. The sweet Isle Of Man graphic version has received several compliments from fellow riders, and it feels plush and unobtrusive on my head. When adding in the additional protection from the MIPS liner, there is a lot of value here for a helmet that costs less than $500. I’d be happy to pull the Star MIPS on my head ahead of several pricier helmets in my closet.

  • Old MOron

    Two years ago I went to my local vendor to buy a helmet. The salesman pointed me to a Bell that cost something like $850 dollars. I laughed at him. “If I’m going to pay Arai prices, I’ll have an Arai. Thank you very much.”

    But these new MIPS helmets seem quite reasonable. And I’d like to have the MIPS protection. I still have a few years left in my current helmet, but I’ll defo look at Bell when the time comes.

    PS: I wonder why all of the EOM that sponsor MotoGP racers aren’t building MIPS helmets.

  • JMDGT

    A good helmet review is second only to a good tire review. I’m sold. Not only am I drawn to the idea of always having multiple bikes I also seem to want every new helmet worth a damn out there. Then again it is not a question of want. It is a question of need. I need this new helmet. Now I need to look for another new tire review. The sighs will be fixed in the next gen offering I bet.

    • Jason M.

      I’m always stoked for new moto safety equipment, this will get a hard look when it’s time to replace my current helmets.

      • JMDGT

        Until they fix the sighs I won’t be a buyer but the Isle of Man graphics are pretty cool. I won’t need a new helmet for a while. I’m hoping they improve it by th the time I do.

  • Allison Sullivan

    MIPS has been around in mountain bike helmets for a few years, glad to see it’s making it’s way to motorcycle helmets too.

    This helmet (in the IOM graphic) is on my list of “try on at the show” for January, I need a new lid this year. Good protection, nice graphics and a decent price.

  • Jason

    Why do some article have Facebook comments and others Disqus? I hope you aren’t making the mistake of switching to Facebook

  • Andrew Capone

    Nice review! I’ve got a Bell Qualifier in the IOM graphic, and it’s the best cheap helmet I’ve owned, and this one’s a winner. The Transitions shield is absolutely wonderful, won’t be without one ever again.

  • Old MOron

    Hey MOrons, we need a caption contest. I’ll start us off…

    “See, Kevin? This thing will cover about 85% of your mug.
    You’re wife will love it. You might even try wearing it to bed.”

    http://motorcycle.com.vsassets.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/111417-bell-star-MIPS-helmet-JoshSawyer_ThunderHill_Media_-f.jpg

  • Blair

    Transition face shield? It’s not even available

    • Kevin Duke

      News about this will apparently be arriving soon…