Club, Endurance and Isle of Man racer, been riding bikes since 1970 something, got the bug sitting on the back of my dad’s 400 Four. First ride was an Italjet followed by RM80 and YZ125 dirt bikes, current bikes range from agricultural to exotic. Writing about bikes for four years.
I have been testing the Bell 500 Chem Candy Mean Green helmet. I have a few dark moody open face helmets and was looking for a bright fun and currently trendy helmet. I was heading to Seattle to test the new 2017 touring Harley’s. As some of the bikes feature new candy custom paint options I thought it would be a good excuse to get a new helmet. I work on the theory of +1 for helmets, boots and bikes.
This is a modern day helmet with a 70’s retro look. Throwbacks and retro lids are nice, but nothing beats an original. Back in 1954 Bell founder Roy Richter formed his first helmet out of fibreglass and named it the “500.” Bell’s Custom 500 pays homage to Richter’s original design while adding modern protective technology to bring the design up-to-date.
BELL was founded in 1954 in California by Roy, he had a passion for racing. The name BELL simply comes for the fact that Roy's activities were housed in a small, garage-like facility in Bell, California. In 1957 they became a market leader in motor sport and started supplying law enforcement. In 64 they started selling to the wider biking community and in 68 the launched their first full face the Star. The first motorcycle helmets came in 71. The explosive growth of motorcycle use in the 70's required tripling capacity.
I have always had an affinity with Bell. When I got my first street legal bike in the 80’s (DT 50cc) the Bell Moto 3 was the aspirational helmet of choice.
Green has never been my favourite colour so my initial choice was the gold Tagger Flashback. The more I looked the more I liked the paint and the flowing lines of the Mean Green. When you run your hand over the paint you can feel the raised paint on the pin stripes it gives you a sense of quality.
Ok, I admit not everybody wants to ride around like me wearing a 70’s lairy colour scheme. Bell has a wide range of other designs with both matt and gloss finishes.
I've recently put the helmet through its paces and it’s seen its fair share of rain and has been knocked around quite a bit too - if I was selling this helmet on eBay I’d list it as ‘well used’. Despite my mistreatment it’s held up well, revealing no visible scratches or water marks on the gloss finish.
In the early years the shell was made from fibreglass the new 500 shell made as a composite fibreglass. So keeps some tradition but adding new technology and strength.
I can happily ride all day in the 500 it’s comfortable and a lot quieter than most open face helmets. If you add a screen / visor the further reduces wind noise. The helmet has 5 studs so have the choice of adding a 3 stud peak, flat or bubble screen. There is 5 stud wrap around option.
The low profile allows you to choose from a range of goggles that fit over the helmet, and it is wide enough across the eyes to fit goggles where you put the strap under. I tested both options and also found it comfortable wearing sunglasses. I tested glasses with flat and normal arms and found both comfortable. Some open face helmets really squeeze sunglass arms into your temples and your only choice are flat arms.
The shell is low profile to reduce drag and lift. When combined with the interior, which also follows these lines, the snug fit ensures the helmet is stable. I have tested a few open face helmets and found that the lift generated is very uncomfortable, particularly at motorway cruising speeds.
The lining feels great every time I put it on and gives the helmet the look and feel of a quality lid. There is a nice gap around the ears so you have the option to wear ear plugs or headphones in comfort.
The strap has a conventional D-ring fastening, which I like personally they feel safer than the ratchet fasteners.
(Before posting comments on sliding down the road on my face, its personal choice) If you are looking for an eye catching iconic helmet get down to a dealer or show and try one on.