A look inside Bell Helmets February 9, 2010 By Wes Siler Tweet This is probably the simplest explanation of the new Snell M2010 helmet safety standard we’ve yet seen, combined with a look inside the design process at Bell Helmets. Make sure you check out the prototype of James Stewart’s new lid. > via VitalMX Beatpusher If by “simplest” you mean worst you nailed it. Where exactly was the explination?! They should have shown the $50 Bell helmet you can purchase at WalMart being tested. Cameron Baum Do they even still make Bell helmets? I thought Walmart just bought the rights to the iconic sticker to put on their bicycle helmets imported from China. Since I don’t buy helmets from Walmart I haven’t been paying attention to the Bell™ brand since sometime around 1985. pdub what’s with the drum & bass circa 1995 soundtrack? Is a soundtrack necessary? I guess we can dance & watch product testing at the same time. travis really, why are we so mean now. any real need for these coments? im sorry but dam, they have a 3d printer! those are cool as hell and yes the drop test and the pen. test is part of the snell procedure im guessing Cameron Baum Mean? It’s just the facts of life. Ir’s called credibility -and Bell no haz it anni moar. Back in the 70′s & even 80′s they were THE NAME in helmets -but after all but disappearing and selling their name to Walmart to put on cheap junk bicycle helmets they have pissed that NAME away. Now it stands for garbage. K-Mart could start making high-tech motorcycle helmets but it wouldn’t matter how good they were because it would take many years to build up any credibility to that marque before I (or most people) would abandon our Shoei and Arai helmets for a K-Mart one. I feel the same way about Bell. It looks like they might be trying to actually redeem their name -but I’m not going to put my head in a $50 helmet -or even a $50 helmet that they are trying to sell for as much as $150. To me, it’s still a $50 helmet and will be until they prove otherwise. Don’t ask me to be the guinea pig to help them prove it either. Until then, Bell = Walmart junk. http://www.urbanrider.co.uk Urban Rider Bell AMERICA = Walmart junk. In Europe, Bell is a completely different entity, Italian owned. They make some gorgeous helmets. http://www.helmetsuperstore.co.uk/Bell-Jet-R-T-Replica-1961-White-Black-Orange_AQRZZ.aspx Lacy For those who think Bell is only a sticker affixed to flimsy Walmart helmets, please take a look at the Bell Star: http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2008/03/bell-pins-hopes-for-reinvigora.html It’s a great helmet, but Bell hasn’t done enough in the advertising realm to fix their reputation. http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler We were fairly impressed with the Star, but still found its quality to be a bit lacking: http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2009/08/gear-bell-star-helmet.html David P. Preconceived notions, much? The new Bell helmets (at least full-face street helmets, I haven’t looked into the dirt or half ones) are actually doing very well in most reviews I’ve seen. The design and build quality seems to be top notch, and passing both DOT and Snell certifications means it’s a safe, durable helmet- a far cry from the cheap walmart crap from 10, even 5 years ago. If it’s just the Bell NAME or the logo on the helmet that’s throwing you off, put a sticker on it and you won’t be able to tell a difference between that helmet and one from the other big names on the market. (Even better, one of my all-time favorite designs doesn’t even HAVE Bell logos on it:) Check out the HelmetHarbor and WebBikeWorld reviews on the Bell Star: http://www.helmetharbor.com/Products/ProductDetails.cfm/Search/Results/ProductID/475915 http://www.webbikeworld.com/r2/motorcycle-helmet/bell-star/index.htm I agree that Bell has had some issues in the past, but I’m not letting preconceived notions taint my opinion of what actually seems to be a very well-made, safe, durable product. Helmut You don’t want a Bell helmet from Wal-Mart? Then DON’T BUY ONE. Any helmet not made in China is expensive (ie Shoei and Arai). Global economic reality. Every manufacturer trying to compete is sourcing everything they can get away with in “low-cost” countries: China, India, and to some extent, Mexico. Cameron Baum Helmut, I sure as heck won’t be buying one. But I feel a little sorry for anyone who does. I don’t buy baby food or helmets made in China. Some of their other stuff is OK -but there are some things are just a bit more important than that. While I don’t want to feed my baby melamine, or get my head squished, I’ll make sure that my Helmets, my Cars, and my Motorcycles are made in Japan. I love my Shoei TZ-R, and wouldn’t put anything less than that on my head. I guess if you have a $50 head you can put a $50 Bell™ POS on it -there are lots of harleyfags out there riding around with novelty half ping-pong balls on their head with fake DOT stickers on them, so you can’t be worse than that in a Bell™. As for Cars and Motorcycles, if the first letter of the VIN# doesn’t start with J I’m not buying it. I feel the same way about what I put on my head while riding a motorcycle. But it’s a free world. Buy what you like and what you can afford. ;) http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com davin penetrator. Hiwatt Scott God, I hate helmet snobs. Bell has had one of the most comprehensive helmet lineups of any manufacturer for the last 5 decades, from bicycle helmets all the way up to top levels of professional racing. That “$50 head” argument is soooo last century. The availability of outstanding, yet reasonably priced helmets today is spectacular. But hey, if paying 5 times the price for a helmet that passes the same tests as the budget models do makes you sleep better at night, have at it. It’s all the same wind. shinigami You people seem ignorant of the fact that Bell was combined with Easton Sports (you know, the baseball bat and hockey people) a few years ago- with design in California and access to Easton technology and designers, Bell’s a far cry from the junk they sold a few years ago. They’re under the same corporate umbrella as Ridell (sport helmets) and Gyro (bike helmets). I agree they need to do more to make this a lot more clear. http://www.bellpowersports.com Don @ Bell Hi all, my name is Don and I actually work for Bell in Scotts Valley, Calif…I thought I’d chime in with some correct information. In general I don’t have a problem with people expressing their opinions–regardless of whether or not I agree with it. Wes’ review of the Star, for instance, I think is off the mark, but he tried the helmet and those are his opinions and I can live with that. What I do have issue with is people who purport to have facts when in reality they are talking out of their posteriors. So just to clear things up a bit, here are the facts: 1) Bell Helmets in the US are made by Bell Powersports, part of Easton-Bell Sports, the US company who makes sporting goods under the Easton (hockey, baseball, cycling, motocross), Giro (cycling and snowsports), Riddell (football) and Bell (motorcycle, auto racing and bicycle). We are not owned nor licensed by any retailer. 2) Bell no longer sells any motorcycle helmets in Walmart. That was handled by another division and ceased more than three years ago. 3) All current Bell helmets are designed, prototyped and tested in the facility one floor below where I am typing this note in Scotts Valley, California USA. 4) Bell likely employs more people in the US than any helmet manufacturer. 5) Most Bell motorcycle helmets are produced in Asia–like everyone else’s. We make some auto racing helmets here and they cost in the range of $3,000. I wish we lived in a system where US production of motorcycle helmets was economically feasible in the US but we don’t. 6) Our company-wide Quality Assurance is a global enterprise that is cooperatively operated by dedicated company employees (not the factories) in our Scotts Valley, Van Nuys CA, Rantoul IL and Hong Kong offices. 7) In our quest to make the best helmets at every price point, we break more helmets in our lab here than many companies make in a year. That’s in addition to what’s required for DOT and Snell testing. We also use destructive testing during the design process in order to make helmets that perform optimally. 8) As someone pointed out Bell Europe is run by an Italian company and is not part of Bell in the US. I hope that clears things up a bit. Thanks, Don http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Thanks for contributing Don. http://www.facebook.com/todd.brackett.7 Todd Brackett Hi Don, When you say Asia do you mean China? Not all nations on the continent have equal standards of quality production, this is why I ride a Suzuki and not a Chinese knock-off. Companies like Arai do not build helmets in Japan because of cheap labor; in fact their incomes are comparable to our own. Arai builds helmets in Japan because they have a highly skilled workforce which is obsessed with quality/new technology and they know that some sectors of the market are willing to pay for that. I am glad to hear that Bell still employs some domestic workers in R&D, Marketing, etc. but if your folks are capable of these jobs than why can’t they also produce the helmets? Why is it that US companies cannot build a quality helmet without doing it in China? Bell used to dominate this industry and you did with innovative quality products. If Harley-Davidson shut down their domestic production and set up shop in Shanghai do you think that their customers would still spend $20K for one of their bikes? I would love to support an American company but I do not want to spend $400 for a Chinese helmet. I am not here wasting my time to put Bell and other US-based companies down, I just wish that your leadership would listen to customers who think like I do. Please let me know if I am off base somewhere, -Todd BigTed Bell may have some cheap stuff, but I’ve had a couple of their Moto-8 lids now. Best fit for my head. Excellent quality and comfort too. I’ve crashed one on the street riding my ‘tard and am still here to talk about it. Oh, since then my crash on my first Moto-8 I’ve gone ahead and bought one of their “skate” lids for BMX park riding and one of their full face MTB lids for down hill. Excellent protection. Thanks Bell! Cameron Baum Great info Don, it is nice to see that Bell™ is attempting to reverse their image issue. You have your work cut out for you as the company put itself in a huge image hole in the years preceeding your efforts. I used to be a big supporter of Bell™ helmets back in the day and wouldn’t buy anything else. That day is long gone. Maybe some day I’ll buy another Bell™ but there will have to be a lot more incentives for me to jump ship. Maybe when I start to see Shoei sell $39 plastic junk helmets at Walmart or on the shelf next to the Kymko Chinese junk motorcycles/scooters at Pep Boys I will feel it is time for me to move on and look for something else. But it’s my head -I expect more out of the company that I trust to protect it. meatspin Bell star helmets are awesome. beatpusher Don point #4 should be removed since you do not know that for a fact. Also point #7 should be removed it is untrue and speculative. Or just edit it and explain exactly how many are destroyed. Otherwise, thanks for explaining. Oh yeah, there is a Black Bell helmet for sale at the Wal-Mart near my house. http://www.youtube.com/Bikedesignbenelux Thomas Vannieuwenborg @beatpusher Get a life… Cameron Baum Vannie, ‘pusher’s got a point. Can’t argue with Truth. Alan Vocelka FYI The company started in 1923 as Bell Auto Parts in Bell, California.1 It produced its first race car helmets in 1954. The Bell Helmet Company was formed as a division of Bell Auto Parts in 1956. It introduced a bicycle helmet in 1975. In 1980 the company was merged with Riddell to form Bell-Riddell Inc. In 1991, Bell-Riddell’s motorcycle division was sold and became Bell Helmets, Inc. The remaining company was renamed Bell Sports, Inc. In 1999, the auto racing division was sold and split into two separate companies called Bell Racing Company (North America) and Bell Racing Europe (Europe, Asia and Africa). Bell Sports reacquired Bell Helmets in 2002, creating Bell Powersports.3 In 2005, it reacquired Bell Racing Company,4 and was itself merged into Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. in 2006.5 Bell Racing Europe remains an independent company, manufacturing motorsports helmets for applications including all-terrain vehicles, karting and Formula One. Kaye Just take a look at all the different models: http://www.compacc.com/Bell A far cry from $50 Wal-Mart quality helmets.