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.
Two and a half years ago, Bell Helmets set out to design and create its most advanced helmet yet, and with the new Pro Star, designed with input from Bell’s athletes around the world, Bell has expanded the Star line to include three models: the Star, the Race Star, and the Pro Star. Each getting progressively more expensive.
The MotoGP website is somewhat predictably promoting this week’s tilt between Movistar Yamaha tough guys Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi as “The Clash of the Titans.” Which, to an on-the-street local racing fan here, would naturally bring to mind Godzilla. If, in fact, the Motul Grand Prix of Japan gives us a replay of Mothra vs. Godzilla, I assume the indomitable lizard triumphs, suggesting that Rossi will play the role of Mothra. It is easy to envision Lorenzo on the top step this weekend, surrounded by Honda pilots, Rossi’s margin at the top of the 2015 heap vanishing in the haze.
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.
I’ve always been an admirer of customization but never a participant. A willing custom bike show attendee and armchair judge, but an owner of stock original bikes and equipment, like the ’75 CB400F in my garage that, besides some patina, looks the way it did some 39 years ago. Truth is, besides riding and performing basic maintenance, my motorcycles are lucky to get a bath more than once per year. Finding the wherewithal to customize the damn things, fugetaboutit. Too expensive. Too time consuming. Too … beyond my capacity to get unlazy.
A girlfriend from years ago – the one who instead of toasting bread then spreading peanut butter on top to create a warm, tasty snack, would microwave the combination long enough to molecularly change the Jif Chunky into a soupy, burnt mixture of glop oozing down the sides of a rubberized slice of Wonder – mistook another person for me.