Bell Race Star - Carbon
Bell’s Star Series helmets includes a comfy new internal structure designed to dissipate impact forces and also features a unique Bell 'Flex' impact safety system.
The carbon fibre you can see on the shell of the £599 Race Star is a good indication that this is one of Bell’s top-of-the-range road helmets. While carbon fibre is claimed to increase protection, I don’t think the graphics do much to make it safer but certainly more visible. For a few hundred pounds more you could get the Pro Star which has all the same features with the only difference being more advanced wide weave carbon which makes the helmet lighter as it uses less resin.
The new Race Star is a completely new helmet from the ground up.
The words ‘carbon’ and ‘fibre’ are usually linked to a drop in weight, but the Race Star weighs more than its competitors. The reason it weighs more is down to the new flex technology: There are more inner layers which add to the weight. My medium size is 1600g +/-50g.
Like Schuberth Bell offer two unique profiles for distinctly different types of riding, the Race View and the Street view. The race profile is used on the Pro Star and the Race Star, these are optimised for riding in the tuck position. Conversely the Street View is for a more upright position. The Race Star allows for 5 degree (5mm) rotational adjustment to increase the forward view angle.
The field of view on the helmet is good, Bell call their view Panavision. The helmet has a 5mm cutaway in the port on the lower sides which offers more side view. Very handy when carrying out over the shoulder 'life saver' checks. This feature is good for me in particular as I find the slightly elongated shape restricts turning my head when I am riding in a more aggressive riding position. I still have good peripheral vision I just can’t turn my head as far as I can with other race helmets. (this could be down to me having a larger shell than usual) I experience the same phenomenon with sports touring helmets when I am riding in a tuck position.
That said it feels like there is more protection and more buffer between the front of the helmet and my face if I were to scrape my face down the road.
The forward view offers more visibility over previous Star models. If you are looking for a helmet that offers the best forward vision in an aggressive riding position consider (the AGV Pista, Shoei X-Spirit 111 or Schuberth SR2)
The visor is an optical class 1 lens which gives your crystal clear vision no matter what type of road is in front of you. It comes Pinlock (race) ready and has a nice recess for the Pinlock. It also comes with tear off tabs. This is a nice touch on a standard visor. Operating the visor is simple and the large opening tab sits in the middle so easy to operate by both left and right handed riders. (the tab is bigger than the left hand tab on the original Star) It is really easy and fast to remove and replace the visor, (spring loaded) its all done on the touch of a button.
The visor opens without incremental positions; The visor seals up very well, and when caught in the rain, with the visor locked down, I was kept dry and fog-free.
This helmet features Bell’s ‘Flex’ technology – a protection system that’s made up of a three-layer impact liner designed to manage energy transfer so impact forces are prevented from reaching your head.
The core protection is made up using three layers designed to absorb impacts in different ways according to speed and features a mix of low-density polymer (called Expanded Polyolefin), expandable polypropylene and expanded polystyrene.
Alongside the layered structure is a rotational energy management system, intended to protect the brain from becoming injured from knocking against the inside of the skull, so when you take an impact in this helmet, there is a subtle movement between the inner and other layers which is designed to dissipate energy from an impact. It’s technology was developed off road and now that appearing in Bell’s road helmets.
So while all that stuff is nice to have, the big question is whether it’s comfortable and thanks to the cheek pads sitting against my face in just the right place, it is. When I tried on the medium my usual size the front of the helmet was pressed up against my chin, I went for a large shell and I tried a number of different thickness cheek pads, replacing for thicker ones gave me the optimal fit.
The layered construction has another advantage it sets the helmet up nicely for an adaptive fit. When you pull the helmet on the segmented construction conforms to the shape of your head making the helmet very comfortable.
There’s more cleverness with the cheek pads thanks to the magnetic ‘eject system’, which will allow a medical team to gently and safely remove the helmet after you are injured; because the pads are held in with magnets, they can be removed prior to the shell being taken off, so reducing the risk of neck injury. They also cool your cheeks as you ride, the cheek pads are made of a material that wicks moisture away giving a cooling sensation.
I often get hot and sweaty riding when I ride on track. Having well ventilated helmet is a great advantage. This lid features six of air intakes, all operated easily with gloves as the buttons are substantial and angular in design. There exhaust vents on the back that helps draw the air through. The high pressure over the top of the helmet pulls the air out. The layered internal system also helps with airflow because the air is able to move between the layers to contribute to the cooling effect.
The front airflow is effective and riding in cooler weather there was no misting inside the helmet.
The removable interior is made of anti microbial virus liner which is cooling, and inhibits bacterial growth so it means the interior shouldn’t get stinky.
The Race Star has a profile developed in the wind tunnel for reduced drag and stability, the helmet has that cut away feature with a spoiler on the back. This isn't too surprising considering the development. It’s comfortable at speed and thanks to the way the air flows over the shell, I didn’t feel the drag pulling my head back the airflow is stable It was refreshingly free from buffeting as well.
Fastening is taken care of with a D-ring fastener and the excess strap secures with a nice magnetic tab.
The Race Star price point is in the same ball park as the non carbon competitors. The price is good bearing in mind that this is a carbon with the new flex system.
A high quality helmet bag is supplied, it’s the sort of bag you might want to use as a fashion accessory. The Race Star also comes with a five-year warranty meaning if anything goes wrong with it, Bell will work with you to sort it out.
The graphics and carbon on the Race Star scream quality but the extra weight of the flex system is noticeable giving away 300g - its worth noting the base model Bell Star is 200g lighter than most of the big name competitors. Wearing the new helmet I did not feel the extra weight but it became apparent when holding in comparison. Compared with the Star the Race Star has greatly reduced noise, which was great when out on the track for a long period of time.
6 EPS liners - Extruded Polystyrene Liners
5 Shell sizes with custom fitting