Bell Star Helmet Review

 

This is a review I wrote for the Bell Star Helmet in 2011. The Star is an amazing helmet and I’ve crashed twice wearing these helmets where my head has hit the ground at over 100mph. Despite the speed and high impact sustained by the helmets, the helmets stayed in tact and displayed surprisingly little collision damage. I have long been impressed with the Bell helmet brand and Bell helmets have been in use by my family for 30 years. I absolutely trust my racing performance and safety Bell helmets and I won’t wear anything else; I currently wear the Bell Star Carbon Laguna Airtrix road helmet and the Moto-9 dirt helmet.

 

The Bell helmets website can be found here: http://www.bellhelmets.com/

 

My original article publication can be found here on the Bay Area Rider’s Forum, Bell Star Review, which has been viewed 700 times.

 

I’ve been very impressed lately by several products and I wanted to take the time to review them here on BARF. I recognize this forum as a large and diverse motorcycle enthusiast group and hope that both manufacturers and potential customers will find value in my initial impression and experience with these products.

There are many fantastic helmets on the market today and I think it’s hard to go wrong when you are purchasing a higher end helmet from a known manufacturer. Unfortunately, we all know that a top quality helmet can cost $800 and be rendered useless as soon as your head touches the ground in a simple low side. We also know that $800 helmet is stamped with the same DOT / ANSI certification as a helmet in the $300 range, but cost and quality are an important balancing act – especially when it comes to your brain.

Last year I decided to retire my aging Shoei X-11 race helmet (manufacturer date in 2007 and several years of racing & trackdays) and my girlfriend’s Suomy Vector. I strongly considered several major manufacturers including Bell, Shoei, Suomy, Arai, Vemar and HJC. My priorities were straight forward in my helmet selection: safety (construction and materials), cost, airflow and lastly styling. Noise was not a factor as airflow and cooling are a tradeoff for a louder helmet. These were my priorities and in my opinion, doing some research prior to making your helmet selection will help you to obtain the correct product for your application and a product that fits your needs.

After trying on quite a few helmets and researching helmet construction materials (it also helps that my girlfriend was a Moto USA & Cycle Gear trained helmet salesperson) I focused on Bell Helmets. This focus was based on Bell’s outstanding construction materials (composite shell), reasonable cost, Bell’s Velocity Flow ventilation system and several choices for helmet graphics. In addition, Bell Helmets have been involved in the motorcycle industry for decades; I can remember my dad’s Bell Helmet hung over the grip of his Bultaco dirt bike and I remember that all the fast guys in the TBSA (TrailBike Sportsman’s Association) wore Bell Helmets.

First Impression:

When my shipment from Bell arrived, I felt like Santa paid a visit, even if the presents were charged to my Visa card. The Cerwinski graphic helmets were packed in the Bell Helmet bag that comes with the helmet purchase. I was very impressed with the helmet bag as it was made of thick nylon material with a soft liner and well constructed. The bag also has with several pockets and my first thought was “a rider designed this” based on the helmet bag’s functionality. The helmets were clean, smelled fresh and had no fingerprints on them at all. This probably isn’t a big deal but if you buy a helmet off the rack at a store, this isn’t always the case. The graphics are high quality underneath a quality clear coat without any defects or blemishes.

First Experience:

I put on my new helmet before I even took the tag off the chin strap or removed the sticker from the wind screen. The helmet fit fantastic, slid on and off my head with ease and was very comfortable. The wind screen operates freely without the “clunky” feeling I’ve found with lower cost helmets. The chin strap is also comfortable, well placed and has a magnetic end to hold the strap on place. I found this was a particularly outstanding detail, as my Shoei X-11 has no retaining device at all and my Arai street helmet has a plastic button design. Bell’s magnet holds the strap in place and doesn’t require much effort or thought to use. I changed the windscreen for a mirrored version and found that replacement took less than 1 minute without even reading the directions. This was very refreshing in comparison to the design of the Arai (removing side plates) and my girlfriend’s Suomy (a difficult experience). The Bell system looks a lot like the Shoei design but in my opinon was a faster and easier change. The Bell also sports an aggressive aerodynamic rear section that I hoped would stabilize my head at high speed. The helmet felt light and strong and knowing the quality construction was a definite confidence boost. Needless to say, I was excited to try the helmet!

Sizing:

Seems to be very standard. Apparently there was a lot of research used to design this helmet and webBikeWorld.com has more details in the review of the helmet. I wear a medium, ordered a medium and I was very happy. My girlfriend wears a small, I ordered a small and the helmet fit her properly and comfortably as well. I understand that no helmet is a “one size fits all” so trying on a few helmets will probably help to make sure you are purchasing a product you’ll be happy with.

On to the races!

If I haven’t already mentioned that I was excited to actually wear the Bell, I was. I would have taken the helmet out for a spin on my street bike, but just didn’t have time prior to heading to ButtonWillow Raceway for the first round of the AFM season. I always wear earplugs on track to protect what hearing I have left and to cut wind noise and I was happy to find the helmet didn’t interfere with simple earplugs. The chin strap and magnetic attachment worked flawlessly and I found the strap easily adjusted even with racing gloves. The vents of the helmet work well and block or allow airflow depending on how many vents are open or closed. I was impressed with the lack of noise I somewhat expected from the amount of airflow and venting in the helmet. I noticed the helmet did not fog during colder sessions and during slight drizzle before the track being shut down. The airflow was impressive and I believe that will be a huge benefit for street riders and commuters alike. I noticed my head was stable at speed despite fair wind conditions and the aerodynamics of the helmet were very comparable to my X-11.

Conclusion:

This helmet rocks and I love it. I’ve worn the helmet for a total of 3 days during practice and races and so far I’m impressed. A few months will be telling as I ride at several trackdays a month with Pacific Track Time and at the AFM races and the helmets will see plenty of use during the coming season. I am interested to find if the helmet continues to be stable on the high speed straight at Thunderhill and if the air flow helps with heat dissipation during those stifling summer days. While I am using the Bell Helmet specifically for racing, I believe the design features will lend well to street riders and commuters alike. The quality construction materials, overall fit, finish and appearance make this helmet a steal at $600 and I highly recommend it.

Tim Scarrott

 

Bell Star Carbon Laguna Airtrix

StarCarbonAirtrixLagunaP