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The Bell Super: A helmet meant for the specialists

  • By Spencer Powlison
  • Published May. 9, 2013
  • Updated Jul. 30, 2014 at 6:44 PM EDT

How many bikes are in your garage? Some folks are minimalists, with little impetus to dabble in other disciplines, let alone sub-disciplines, while others have a townie, rain bike, race bike, and a time trial bike — and that’s just for riding on the road.

What about you? The Bell Super helmet is designed with a very specific rider in mind, and for some, this is exciting, but for others, it might be a little confusing.

What is an enduro helmet?

It didn’t take long for established bike companies to dive into the enduro mountain bike bonanza. Count Bell among those offering a helmet geared towards this type of rider. Compared with the ubiquitous POC Trabec, it’s $25 cheaper at $125, yet it is 50 grams heavier, coming in at 390g. Bell differentiates the Super from conventional mountain bike offerings with a few key features, most of them geared towards goggles. Yes, the sort of thing you’d wear skiing. Goggles on a bike ride will seem foreign to many riders, but more on that later.

Bell has gone all in with the Super. The helmet’s temple design specifically interfaces with a pair of goggles, combined with the GoggleGuide visor, which helps keep the strap in place. Heading up a long climb? Pivot the visor up and there’s room above your brow for the goggles. Speaking of which, the helmet has Overbrow ventilation to keep sweaty foreheads cool, which also plays nice with goggles, improving ventilation.

Beyond goggle-centric features, the Super has extended back of the head protection like many helmets of this ilk, anti-microbial X-Static helmet padding, and a Go-Pro mount. This last feature is especially slick — it fits into the middle helmet vent and attaches with an internal Velcro strap. If Kodak Courage gets the best of you, the mount breaks free when you hit the dirt to avoid damaging the camera or, more importantly, your neck.

Out of the box

The Super is unapologetically designed to work best with goggles. As soon as we put on this green lid, it was a tight squeeze to fit our Smith PivLocks inside the temples. We’ve also been told that the Super doesn’t play nice with Oakley Radars. However, we found casual sunglasses with flat temples to fit well. Whether or not you’re bold enough to rock Wayfarers on a ride, try before you buy to ensure your glasses fit this helmet’s shape.

Go with goggles – Oakley Airbrake

Ever wondered what it felt like in the 1980s to be the first guy to rock an aero helmet in the local time trial series? Throw on a pair of goggles for the average mountain bike ride and you’ll get a taste.

It’s clear why dedicated enduro racers prefer goggles. The level of protection and wind shielding on fast descents is unmatched, even by an enormous pair of wraparound sunglasses that major leaguers sport in spring training. For anyone cursed with a pair of contact lenses, you’ll find that goggles provide your eyes with a safe, happy cocoon free of dust, wind, bugs, and other trail detritus.

While goggles have many advantages, we found a few drawbacks. When combined with Oakley Airbrakes, the Super rode a bit high on the head, and it applied slight pressure on the nose bridge. Also, when the goggles were propped up on the helmet beneath the visor, some peripheral vision was lost while grinding up steep climbs with our head down. Nevertheless, these minor fit quibbles were outweighed by Oakley’s excellent coverage and optics that we enjoyed when the trail pointed down.

Are you a specialist?

Every group of riders has a guy or gal who loves to specialize. They have a quiver of bikes, particular hydration packs for longer rides, road- and mountain-specific eyewear, and on and on. Maybe you’re this person, or maybe you want to be this person. In any case, the Super is made for a specific purpose, and it does that well. Few open-face mountain bike helmets are made for goggles.

This helmet makes a lot of sense when your rides have clearly defined climbing and descending portions. The average mountain biker in Florida (yes, there are great trails in the Sunshine State) will not do well with goggles. However, if you’re grinding up a long climb in Colorado, Oregon, or Vermont and then blazing down miles of descent, you might want to give the Super — and goggles — a shot.

Pros: Purpose-built for goggles. Comfortable fit and adequate ventilation. Slick Go-Pro mount

Cons: Not as light or cool as a traditional helmet, incompatible with certain sunglasses, designed for a specific style of riding

The Lowdown: If you have a pair of goggles and a Go-Pro to pair with the Super, you’re probably getting stoked. If you like to keep it simple, adding a specialized helmet to your wardrobe won’t do much for you.

FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech / Mountain / MTB TAGS:

Spencer Powlison

Spencer Powlison

When it comes to bike racing, Spencer is a jack-of-all-trades. He loves pinning on a number, whether it’s in a local criterium, a mountain bike enduro, a cyclocross national championship, or a gran fondo. Name any cycling discipline, and more likely than not, Spencer has ridden or raced it. He has been lucky enough to work in the bike industry for the majority of his adult life, from his time turning wrenches in a Vermont bike shop to his five-year tenure at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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