Gear: Bell Transitions photochromatic visor

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You’ve seen the ads for the glasses on TV for the last decade, so you know how this is supposed to work. Enter bright sunlight and they automatically darken. Once it’s dark out, they quickly go clear again. Like Transitions Lenses, the Bell Transitions visor is supposed to be the ultimate one-visor solution to every riding condition. Is it? And, more importantly, is it worth $120? We sent one to a reader to have it put through its paces.

Stephen Mears lives on Honolulu, where he transports himself via Buell 1125R.

“I wore the visor for a good two weeks of commuting and extra-curricular riding and am resolved to never take the thing off of my helmet,” Stephen tells us.

“Transition from from zero tint to full dark takes approximately 30 seconds,” which Stephen illustrates in this video.

“Rarely was the visor ever without some tint. It responds to over-cast conditions with a light tint, likewise while in canopied forest with frequent light/dark changes.”

YouTube Preview Image

Here’s Bell’s official video take on the visor. Currently the Transitions visor is only compatible with the Bell Star and Vortex helmets.

“Fully lit, eye scorchingly bright tropical sunlight doesn’t draw a deep tint out of the visor though, as it doesn’t achieve solid black tint at max, but it gets dark enough to satisfy my post-PRK light sensitivity. No fogging issues either.”

We asked Stephen if the visor responded to headlights or streetlamps at night. “At night there is no reaction to anything just like a normal clear visor. I’m pretty sure that only UV triggers the gradient change.”

“Overall, a good product that works pretty much like I’d want it to,” concludes Stephen. ““In fact, I want one of these for my other helmets…if it didn’t cost quite as much.”


  • Devin

    $120 on top of a premium helmet is a lot of bones for something a pair of shades could fix. And then you would have a pair of shades.

    I could see this being a good buy in a few years if it can be applied to most helmets for less dough.

    Sweet new gear for Steve though :)

    • Evan

      $120 isn’t that much more than 2 regular visors which a person may have (one tinted, one not). Also, sunglasses aren’t an option for everyone. I wear prescription glasses while I ride and don’t own prescription sunglasses. Even if I did, I don’t want to screw around with lugging two sets of glasses everywhere.

    • Tom

      The Vortex isn’t all that expensive, so the extra for the visor isn’t too bad. And you never have to deal with changing out visors any more.

    • Kyle

      Or you could get some MotoGP style tear offs.

  • Patrick

    The big question, Tunnels? How fast does it go from full tint to clear?

    • stempere

      If it works the same as the Lazer screen, it should take a bit longer (40secs from clear to dark, 1min from dark to clear for the Lazer).
      Firsts test of the lazer shows it works more like a polarized glass, rather than tinted, so tunnels don’t seem to be an issue.

    • smoke4ndmears

      Fast enough. The tint is never so deep that I worry about driving into a lit tunnel.

  • gaudette

    Make it for a shoei and I’d consider. Not gonna buy a new helmet just for this.

  • Hien

    Thanks for the video and review.

    I just purchased a Bell Star Cerwinske, with a dark mirror Visor.

    Great helmet so far compared to my Shoei X11.

    Just about to purchase a Photochromatic lense, yes, not cheap. 2 year warranty on the transitions visor, makes me feel a bit better.

    Leaving the house in the morning for work and coming home late evenings, should save from bringing a extra visor.

    My bell does fog up, PNW humidity will do that to any helmet.

    • Wes Siler

      Growing up commuting by bike in London I learned how to deal with visor fogging. It’s a two step process.

      1. Wear any helmet other than a Shoei. Jesus christ do they fog.

      2. Put a Fog City visor insert in. 100% effective and cheap.

  • nick

    Scorpion helmets have had this for a few years now. I had one, but I rarely ride at night, and I like a dark visor during the day.

  • Pat

    How bad would it suck to scratch a $120 shield?

  • Kyle

    There was some thing on engadget the other day about SOCOM operators testing glasses with LED tech in them that could instantly change the lens from light to dark. Like and on off switch. It’ll make its way down.

  • Johndo

    Still waiting for a visor like that to be made for my X-eleven. A company was supposed to produce some about 2 years ago, but it still seems to be at a stand still. Maybe financing is what’s holding them back. Anyways, I’m sure there’s a ton of money to make selling these visors…

  • Trev

    A Bell Star with a trans. visor, a Buell 1125R, and great weather?

    My dreams have to stop becoming other people’s reality, before I can ever become my reality.

  • miles_prower

    I’ve been wearing eyeglasses with Transition lenses for about a dozen years. Each new set of glasses I’ve gotten, the Transition tech has improved.

    One thing not mentioned in this article is how temperature affects the effect.

    With every set of Transition lenses I’ve ever owned (about 8 or so), the lenses turn MUCH darker in cold temps. When I ride my bicycle in Boston and NYC winters, the lenses go BLACK. In the summer, they NEVER go black — even when I’m out on the water under a cloudless sky.

    Because Stephen lives in Hawaii and only tried the Transition visor for two weeks, I doubt he noticed any temperature effect.

    • Devin

      I’ve noticed the same thing on regular trans lenses for everyday use when my old man had a pair a few years back. Basicaly, by the time it becomes an issue, 99% of people have put their bike away for the winter.

  • Steve

    Try the Akuma Phantom as well. I have had one for 8 months or so. The transitions works well enough. Not wonderful or glorious, but better than carrying around a spare visor all the time or getting caught out after dark with only a dark visor.

    Also the Phantom is amazingly light and comfortable. Now any other helmet feels like putting a 6 quart enameled iron dutch oven on my head.

    Tardy response, but I have been someplace warm with no internet for the past week.