With long travel – enduro style trail bikes being as popular as ever, riders are pushing the limits a bit further on day their day to day bikes. While actually out on a race course, a great deal of enduro racers opt for a light weight half lid on the climbing stages and switch to a full face on the descents. This isn’t exactly practical for most of us weekend warriors. However, the increased speed and inherent risk that has come from the improved capability of the current crop of trail bikes necessitates all day helmets with more coverage.
The helmet sector seemed to develop a bit slowly in terms of producing half lids that are ideal for heavier duty trail riding. One of the more promising helmets on the short list of offerings is the Bell Super. We recently got our hands on one for some real world testing and we are quite pleased with how it cradled our noggin. Boasting 25 vents, 4 brow ports and a host of other unique standout features including a removable GoPro mount and goggle strap retaining clips, the Super provides plenty of talking points.
Specs are as follow
Weight : 390 Grams
Retail : $125 USD
Sizes : S/M/L
With over 60 years of experience and an incredible reputation, it’s no surprise that Bell is synonymous with safety. The first thing we noticed (and appreciated) about the Super is the added material that drops down and cradles the back of the head. Along with that was it’s secure and brilliantly executed retention system. After all, what good is a helmet with that doesn’t stay put in the event that things go awry?
The construction in all regards was top notch and indicates this helmet is in it for the long haul. Durable straps and high grade hardware, plus a sturdy visor were warmly welcomed. The abundance of vents were indicative of nice airflow and heat management. Last but not least – how does it look? The overall shape and profile of the helmet looks nice and the matte finish garnished with a simple, singular racing stripe was a clean touch that wasn’t too plain, but conversely – wasn’t too busy or garish. Now let’s see how it fared out on the trail.
This is a tricky area to judge, but we feel Bell have done their homework. It’s common knowledge that craniums come in all shapes and sizes. We don’t envy the task that helmet makers bear when they attempt to make a lid in only 3 sizes that works with even the most wonky skulls on the planet. Although fit is always a very personal thing, well regarded manufacturers do their homework and know how to accommodate a wide range of customers. In this regard Bell has done an excellent job. While we only had one rider truly test the helmet as it would be a bit gross to pass it around, a few of us tried the Super on when it arrived and were very impressed. The TAG closure system is simple and logical. It’s easy to adjust with one hand, and didn’t pinch or irritate us at all. It did it’s job whether we ran glasses or goggles, and cradled us nicely. The straps were logically placed, easy to adjust and didn’t slip or shift around.
Without feeling excessively bulky by any means, we were happy with the Super’s thick airy pads in certain sections where a little more cushion was a good thing. In an effort to keep the air moving, the other bits of the padded liner were thinner where they weren’t as critical in softening the contact points. On even the longest sweatiest rides – and trust us, our tester doesn’t exactly “run dry” if you know what we mean – this lid did an excellent job of handling the excess sweat. We never had issues with moisture getting in our eyes or glasses. The liner seemed to absorb and channel sweat nicely without ever feeling like a full sponge. We think this could be due slightly in part to the 4 ports above the eyebrows that help redirect airflow between the actual shell and the pads. It also likely wicks well simply due to the fact that the liner is made from high grade materials and is well designed. Lastly – after a few washes, our liner showed no signs of degradation and continued to adhere to the helmet nicely upon reinstalling it.
Bell has done an excellent job with the size of and amount of vents featured on the Super, but it isn’t always just a more/bigger is better thing…What also comes in to play is how those vents are laid out and how the profile of the helmet and the visor work with them to manage airflow. On hot summer days in Southern California we found the Super to run pretty cool. While we’ve adorned helmets that have definitely had less of a presence and weren’t quite as warm, it isn’t fair to stack those helmets up against the Super. This helmet offers much more protection, and thus due to the added material will naturally hold in a bit more heat. That said – a helmet of this nature is much safer and more confidence inspiring than your average XC lid, which is really about on par with a road helmet with a visor stuck to it. So yes, overall we think the super did a fine job of keeping us cool. Especially when you consider that it doesn’t necessitate lugging a DH helmet around on a backpack.
Fortunately, we didn’t experience and serious tumbles that resulted in any direct contact with the ground. While an event like that would actually provide us with some clout in terms of real world testing on a helmet, we’re quite happy to let Bell gather that data and work out the R&D in a lab. We are confident in Bell’s place in the helmet world as the leader in safety. The additional coverage and stouter profile of the helmet is just the icing on the cake that’s indicates it’s user will remain protected to the highest degree possible.
In summary, this is an excellent helmet through and through. After a few months of use all over Southern California, we’ve realized why this lid is a mainstay in the heavy duty half lid market. We can’t find anything in particular to pick apart or criticize. It kept us fairly cool and dry, all the while feeling quite comfortable while rested on our head. It didn’t move around excessively and was easy to adjust on the fly – gloved or not. We have no doubt it would keep us safe in the event of a crash as well. This lid is totally a winner in our book.
For more information on the check out the super on Bell’s Website