Ben from MTBStrengthFactory is race testing some enduro prime-cuts for us this season. He’ll hammer them throughout his training season and through a year of UK Gravity Enduro Series races. Here’s what he thinks of his new Bell helmet:
What is it and why might you want one?
- Bell Super 2R full face helmet with removable chin bar
- UK Gravity Enduro approved
- Weight: 694g
- Vents: 23 on the helmet, 6 on the chin bar
- Certifications: CPSC Bicycle, CE EN1078
The idea is that you ride to the top of your local hill wearing a normal open-face helmet with the chin guard in or on your pack. Once at the top you can click the chin guard on in 3 easy steps (we will see!) and tear back down the trails at mach 10 safe in the knowledge that you have the additional protection of a full-face in case you run out of talent.
It’s aimed at the ‘All-Mountain’ and ‘Enduro’ crowds which, to me, means mountain bikers who like to ride up and down hills and want a bit more protection and security on the way down. It is particularly relevant to Enduro racers with the change of rules at the UK Gravity Enduro that now state: “A helmet with either a fixed or removable chin piece will be mandatory on all stages, Saturday and Sunday”.
It means that you can carry one helmet rather than two, and should offer better comfort and ventilation than a conventional full-face helmet for the climbs. For me, the concept is great and it offers me the solution that I need for racing the UKGE series as well as a round of the EWS and a few smaller, local races for good measure.
Style and comfort..?
First impression? It’s light at only 694 grams and feels good quality, which it should at £150. In full-face mode I actually think it looks pretty decent, not as cool as a shiny Troy Lee D3, but still a million times better than the old Met Parachute which was the helmet equivalent of Ratboy’s left foot after the World Champs.
As a trail helmet without the chin attachment it just looks like a normal, contemporary helmet. It’s basically a Bell Super (with some extra bits) which is a really popular helmet that you see out on the trails a lot.
First ride? Better make it steep and tech. And crash.
I first wore the Bell to ride steep, technical trails in South Wales. It was frickin’ freezing that morning with hard, frosty trails and ice in the puddles. As I spun along a fast fire-road I became acquainted with one of the helmet’s features called ‘Over-brow ventilation’. This feature was working without a doubt and I quickly developed an ice-cream headache as the icy air was efficiently channeled under my peak and directly onto my forehead. I guess I’ll be glad of this in summer!
At the top of the climb I clipped the chin guard on easily and without having to take off my winter gloves. I had practiced at home, but it really is easy. This is where I encountered my first problem though. As you fit the chin guard the cheek pads foul the helmet straps, making the forward strap either pass in front of the pad, changing the strap tension and fit, or it goes over the pad, rubbing your face. I tried adjusting the straps so that they ran nicely in full-face mode, but this meant that the straps ran over my ears instead of in front of them in trail mode. I’ve got plenty of time to fiddle with this before race season though…
Once on and properly adjusted, the helmet feels secure and you do feel like you are wearing a proper full-face, just better vented and nice and light. It doesn’t squeeze your head and face quite as firmly as some full faces but still feels secure, especially with goggles on to help hold everything in place.
Running out of talent
In the name of thorough testing I did have a pretty big over the bars (see earlier comment about running out of talent) in a rocky gulley scuffing the helmet on the floor quite lightly. Whilst this wouldn’t have meant a trip to the dentist had I been wearing a trail helmet, it did show me that the helmet fitted well and coped well with a crash.
First impressions then?
Generally, very good. It’s light-weight, it’s comfortable, it’s simple to use and it looks good. It’s also well vented and kept my head safe as I ran out of traction and talent. The issue with the straps needs some thought, but it hasn’t spoiled the helmet for me. Let’s see how it fares over the rest of the winter … and in my first big race at the UK Gravity Enduro Series!