Bell Bullitt Helmet Review

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

What's old is cool again

Photos by Milagro, Siahaan

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 SR400, Royal Enfield Continental GT, BMW 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.

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

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 for more information, or to order one of your own.


Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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2 of 10 comments
  • Robotribe Robotribe on Jan 05, 2015

    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 Rjfinva on Jan 06, 2015

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