Contemporary trail bikes are more capable than ever, making higher speeds much more easy to attain. It also means choosing to have a bit more protection is a prudent decision. Fortunately, helmet manufacturers have stepped up to fill the gap in the last few seasons with companies like Bell releasing models specifically to meet the increased demands of riders.
The Bell Super was created for this purpose. Featuring additional rear head coverage, the Super was intended for the rider seeking more reassurance. Unlike other helmets that came before it, Bell also took into account that higher speeds require additional eye protection, and created their GoggleGuide system to accommodate the use of Goggles.
When the helmet was released, I couldn’t wait to procure one through industry contacts and went out to buy one at retail.
What’s not to like? Was it the additional rear coverage or integrated GoPro mount? I’d be lying if I didn’t say the racing stripe didn’t influence this purchasing impulse, but it was the promise of goggle compatibility that really clinched it.
Not that I need to run goggles on my local trails. They’re actually kind of silly here really. On my favorite local descent, there is only about a minute of descending that calls for additional eye protection. Except my bikes keep wanting to be unleashed, and at top speeds, eye glasses just weren’t cutting it.
It was actually my last trip to Ashland, Oregon in the heat of summer that spurred this urge to find a helmet that played well with goggles. If you haven’t ridden Time Warp, you don’t know what you’re missing, but in the meantime know that while you’re blazing down the mountain at tear inducing high speeds. You also have a good amount of pedaling once you reach the end of the trail. That full face helmet, which seemed like such a good idea a few moments ago, is now a heavy weight on your shoulders and helping generate additional sweat.
At rest stops, instead of having to remove the goggles to put them around your neck, you can simply push the visor up, and rest your goggles on the brim.
This is the experience the Super was intended for: rides where a typical trail/ XC helmet is lacking, but you’re not sure you want or need the additional weight or protection of a full face. It works well with a variety of goggle models.
Sunglass compatibility was good for the most part, though we did have a few issues with a few sunglass models with long arms that would contact the area of the helmet behind your ears.
Goggle compatibility has been the driver for acquiring the helmet, but the additional protection over a lighter XC helmet has been reassuring. Unfortunately, I had the opportunity to test how well the helmet takes a hard impact a few short weeks after acquiring the helmet during a trip to San Luis Obispo. There weren’t a lot of trees along the trail, and somehow I managed to find the one tree branch that was a bit too low while following Ashland Mountain Adventure’s Bill Roussel down the trail. Bill went about six inches to the left and I was six inches or so to the right; apparently I didn’t speed jump/ tuck over a roller as much as I thought I did, resulting in what felt like a baseball bat smacking me across the top of my head.
Stunned, I pretty much fell on my side off to the right of the trail. When my my girlfriend Inga caught up to me, I was still on the ground sitting or lying there. Honestly, I can’t even remember.
Not only was the outside of the helmet dented, there were small cracks throughout the shell of the helmet. My Bell Super had quite possibly just saved my life, though at the moment I was more upset about my new helmet being destroyed, as well as the possibility I might be headed back to the chiropractor to deal with the aftermath.
The helmet had served its purpose, and served it quite well. Although I had taken a solid hit, I rode the rest of the way to the bottom. Having hit my head before, Inga drove us home, while I stayed on concussion watch. Amazingly I didn’t suffer any lasting damage or have any issues after taking the hit.
Even better, Niki at Bell took care of me really well after hearing about my experience, and helped me replace my helmet. I’m also now rocking the sweet Matte Titanium/ Red Bell Built Limited edition model, and it goes with my black and red motif I’ve been rocking on my new Nomad.
Although I still run my full face helmet when additional protection needs call for it, the best part of the Super is how versatile it is. It’s ventilated enough for long trail rides in the heat, but the extra protection is reassuring. The look and fit of the helmet works well for me, and that means I can leave my dirt jump helmet at home for sessions in the bike park or pump track, making packing for trips a lot easier.
I have a rounder shaped head, and find the medium fits me well, thanks to the shape of the shell, nicely formed padding and a solid retention system. In the past, I had to size up to a large in Giro models that were better suited for oval craniums. These days I avoid helmets with molds that favor narrow heads (I’m an Arai head in the moto world) as we now have a good amount of options on the market. Like shoes, you’re always best served trying a number of models, and making your final choices based on fit.
Like all quality contemporary helmets, there is a adjustment that can be dialed in to keep the helmet from moving around. The speed dial is a significant improvement over other systems I’ve used in the past. The best feature of the dial is being able to snug up the helmet before embarking a high speed jump line, or challenging section of trail. Once I’m back to pedaling model, I prefer to relax the adjustment a bit.
I’m a fan of the aesthetics of the helmet, and it is available in a number of colors, so finding a good match for your ride and kit shouldn’t be difficult. It should be noted that it does look big on small heads. Inga has a very small head, and the Super wasn’t a very good match for her.
The Super features a good number of vents (25) that I’ve found adequate for the most part. Although it’s not the best choice for long rides in warm weather, I never found myself regretting my choice to wear it.
It’s not a light weight helmet by any means with a listed weight of 390 grams. Although it is my go-to helmet for riding my long travel trail bikes, I often find myself wearing it on my lighter weight short travel rigs as well. (any time I wear knee protection I wear the Super) That said, if I’m headed out without knee pads on my hard tail or short travel rig and it’s hot I’ll run a lighter helmet.
Although I’m psyched on the option of running a GoPro on the mount, I honestly haven’t used it yet, as we haven’t shot a lot of POV video this season.
Check it out: Bell Super Helmet
Bell recently released a new iteration of the Super featuring MIPS technology, which means the Super v1.0 can be found on sale. Check out your local shop or check it out on Amazon. (affiliate link)
Specs via Bell
- Fusion In-Mold Microshell
- GoggleGuide Adjustable Visor System
- Integrated/Removable GoPro camera mount
- Internal Reinforcement
- Lightweight Buckle
- Lightweight Cam-lock Levers
- Lightweight webbing
- Overbrow Ventilation
- Registered Graphics
- Speed Dial Fit System
- X-Static Padding
- Listed weight: 390 grams
- 25 vents, 4 brow ports
- CPSC & CE EN1078 Certified