How do I not love this helmet? Let me count the ways. Sticking your head into it is like sticking it into a high school girl’s purse; the soft liner offers almost no resistance until you come to the much-more-solid EPS liner. It’s extremely comfy while you’re sitting still, like wearing a hollowed-out sponge, but the liner gives up all resistance once you’re rolling and meet a little aerodynamic drag. The liner is removable and washable; too bad it’s not removable and replaceable with a better liner. What do I know? The Eliminator carries the ECE 22.05 sticker as well as of course DOT, so it passed somebody’s tests.
The Eliminator is well-ventilated with vents that are unclosable, including the huge opening your head goes into, four slits on the chinbar, and nine round holes on top that look like .22-caliber cartridges might seal them nicely. A bunch of golf tees might look cool for those into body piercing, or Mad Max reenactors.
Get going above about 70 mph, and the car helmet-derived shape is so un-slippery you might as well be in an industrial washing machine on Agitate. Faster than that, if you’re not behind a big fairing, the Eliminator has the lift of a Piper Cub approaching rotation speed and about the same decibel level if you were hanging out the plane window like a dog. There are round indentations in the liner for speakers, but they’re not going to be big enough for the floorstanding Cerwin-Vegas you’d need to overcome the noise of the air coming in the bottom of the helmet and around the flat faceshield. If you never go faster than about 60 mph, you might be okay.
The faceshield itself opens and closes with the mechanical precision of a rusted chicken-coop hinge. There are no detents save for Wide Open and Locked Shut, and if you’re going down the road not locked shut, be prepared for wide open to happen when you least expect it, as the shield occasionally flies suddenly open. Be sure it’s locked if you’ll be riding through any swarms of locusts or hailstorms. (In this respect, the Eliminator is better than the bubble shield my son bought for his Biltwell Gringo a while ago; the first time he turned his head to the side at speed, that shield blew clean off and was lost under the wheels of the 55 freeway.)
The Bell’s faceshield is at least held firmly in place by a big ol’ hex-head screw at each side, and you can adjust its ease of up-and-down by tightening another pair of smaller hex heads. You’ll need to carry around a 6 and a 2.5mm Allen wrench.
The downside of locking the shield, though, is that unlocking it to get some air when you stop would be better achieved with a tactical nuke than with your left thumb; prying the unlock tab outward requires approximately 850 pounds of force and will develop your left thumb musculature. Sometimes, in a nod to Stoicism, I just leave the shield closed and take a moment to remember our steamed-up forefathers in the original Bell Stars, with shields that didn’t open at all.
How much would you expect to pay for all this high-tech comfort and functionality? What, $469.95? That’s the suggested retail. Seems like a lot for this throwback to the `60s. Bell makes some very, very nice helmets; this isn’t one of them.
The very similar above-mentioned Biltwell Gringo S, which comes with a flip-up faceshield, sells for roughly half that. I wore it once, also, before returning it to the shelf, but if this is the style helmet you want (and lots of people do!), have at it. There’s a lot to be said for suffering a little when you’re young, so you can appreciate the finer things in life when you’re a little more mature.
At the end of the day, the Eliminator is far better than no helmet at all.
Gloss White or Matt Black, MSRP $469.95
XS to 3XL, using 3 shell sizes and 5 EPS liner sizes
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