For a lot of helmets I’ve owned (and currently still do own), there seems to be a direct relationship between feel and fugliness – or the “F-factor”. Whilst not being one to worry much about the fugly component, in the real world it is an important feature. When you’re riding past people, the camera, or doing a helmet check at transition, you want to look good. Triathletes are like that. But over multiple hours on the bike, you want to be comfortable – it has to fit well and usually be well ventilated. At the mostly pointy end of the field, you also want you’re lid to be aerodynamic, to shave valuable seconds off your bike split.
I’m not going to even try to comment on the speed factor of this helmet, for reasons accurately reflected in my username. So for the scoop on the aerodynamics, shoot over to the Bell page. But when it comes to the real F-Factor, I’m a self-proclaimed expert. So here goes.
First questions first – what was my reason for looking at this helmet? Purely and simply, it was the visor. I have been really keen to try a helmet with a visor for IM and 70.3 events. I have trouble with sunnies – either giving me a headache, sliding down my nose, bumping my helmet or fogging up. Possibly I have a weird shaped noggin/nose. However all the other visor’d helmets I looked at aren’t cheap, and I wasn’t keen on taking the chance. At full price, the Bell Star Pro also goes for $399, so at the higher end of the price spectrum. But fortuitously, BikeBug had them on an awesome sale, so it seemed like a great chance.
My first dilemma was sizing. This can be an issue when ordering online, and in typical fashion, my noggin was right on the cusp, measuring 59 (M was 56-59 and L was 59-62). Last time this happened I ordered the smaller size, which ended up just being on its limits. This time I went up, and was very happy with the result. There’s room to cinch it up good and snug, and obviously room to loosen it if my head gets any bigger (wink wink).
The dial adjuster on the back is easy to use and pretty standard in helmets now. It’s a nice deep helmet and it cradled my head nicely – not moving around or with any pressure points. It really is one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve worn. I trialled it on the road, off road, and on my commute and it was almost like it wasn’t there. Light, fitted well, didn’t shift.
One unique feature of this helmet is the closable vents. The website says that when closed, the helmet is on a par with other aero helmets – possibly even better. But they can also serve to keep your head a bit warmer at the start of the bike leg with wet hair. When open, the helmet is meant to vent well, sucking air through the vents under the brim, and thus doing away with the non-aero openings typically on the front of a helmet. The slider was easy to use, although it did feel a bit “cheap plasticky”.
Plenty of ventilation with the vents open.
I’ve never really been one to feel the subtleties of more or fewer vents, owing to my rather large boof of curly hair. So I was a bit sceptical of being able to give a review of the closable vents. Nonetheless, I made sure I wet my hair before I rode to work on an unexpectedly cool morning – all in the interests of science! Even with my hair, I did notice a difference between vents open and closed. I can imagine that for those with shorter haircuts this would be more significant and really make a difference between keeping warmer on a cool day, or cooler on a warm day. You obviously lose some of the aero benefits of the helmet with the vents open though.
So now for the all important issue of the visor. First off, I used the helmet with my regular sunnies and there were no problems at all – no bumping uglies, so to speak. So if the visor isn’t your cup of tea, you haven’t “lost the lot”. It could also come in handy if you need to wear prescription glasses, as there is plenty of room behind to actually have both glasses AND the visor going at the same time. (see below)
Lots of room for glasses
Side view of the Bell
Front on, the Bell cuts a mean figure
Unlike a lot of other visors, this one looks quite small. It doesn’t wrap around, and as a result lets a lot of air around your face. I’m not sure how much this compromises the “aero-ness” compared to other wrap around visors, but it did mean plenty of ventilation which would be good for a hot ride. Not so good for a cold ride though, when there is plenty of chilly air whipping past your eyeballs.
The visor is easily removable from it’s little slot and the magnet means it can be stuck on the outside of your helmet – making it safer to store or carry. And as for that, the helmet comes with 2 soft bags – one for the helmet and a second smaller one for the visor, so you can stash it safely without getting scratched.
The visor when not in use.
All up, for what I want, I’d give it a 8/10. I was after a visor-ed helmet that was comfortable to wear, and this fits the bill. My only improvements would be to make the visor a little bigger, and then put a few little slots at the top of the visor to still allow good ventilation.
But I like it!
Gnome obviously doesn't find the fit to his liking.
Editors Note: "Turtle" Purchased the Bell helmet with her own hard earned cash, and prior to Bike Bug becoming a site sponsor.