Skratch customizes Custom 500

Dailies -


Combining his signature pin stripes with an air-brushed fish scale pattern, custom car builder Skratch painted a Custom 500 open face helmet for Bell. The helmet itself marks a return to Bell’s original helmet design of 1954, just here with modern materials and modern safety. The DOT-certified helmet weighs just 880g and features build quality that belies its $140.

“In my early 20s I started striping and painting the Bell 3/4 helmets—the mediums were small and tight, and had great form,” says Skratch. “You could always lay out some killer lines on the spine of the helmet, or panels on the sides. I liked to letter the top—‘Tim Barns – driver’—you know the style.”

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“When I was younger, I’d wear a Bell open-face for street racing. It came in handy the one time I made a ramp and jumped a ’78 Monte Carlo,” he continues. “I stuffed the car, broke my nose, sprained both hands, wrapped the steering wheel around the column and pushed the front clip into the doors. I also broke the windshield with my head…which—other than my nose—was fine since I had that Bell on.”

“He started with a silver metal flake base,” describes Bell’s creative director, Casey Potter. “He laid out some side panels and filled them with fish scales, then finished it off with some crazy red candy and pin striping. It turned out gorgeous—the colors are really rich and the paint has a deep texture to it.”


Five images in the gallery below, four of which are exclusive.

  • Emmet

    I love my Custom 500 helmet. It’s even better with a bubble visor!

  • motoguru

    Wait, I’m confused. Can we all buy the same “custom painted” helmet, or did he just paint one of them?

    • Wes Siler

      Call it “factory custom”

      • motoguru

        Perfect for all the kids riding on their Dork Customs.

  • holdingfast

    call it for some reason I thought the winner of the where’s HFL contest would get a Bell Custom 500 helmet.. ;)

    • Wes Siler

      Ha, we had one to give away, but no one wanted it!

      • holdingfast

        I wanted it! i thought I said that in my email back then…

  • stempere

    You would certainly look cool breaking your jaw in one.

  • aristurtle

    Now offering complete back-of-your-head protection!

  • parkwood60

    I get real tired of all the comments about how unsafe 3/4 helmets are. In all my years of riding I’ve never taken on on the chin. Even the time I rear ended a Sentra that cut me off and landed sprawled on the trunk, then sprawled on the road when he drove off, I’ve never had the front of my helmet hit anything. The one time I nearly broke my nose was off road when I stuffed the front end in a hole I didn’t see.

    A 3/4 helmet is “safe enough”. What’s safe enough? That means (in my opinion) in the majority of accidents that a helmet is actually going to save your life, the 3/4 is going to do the job. In the event you end up catapulted into a curb chin first, or going through someones windshield with your head the full face isn’t going to do much better then your chin because those are extremely violent accidents and you’re just as likely to break your neck.

    Now bicycle helmets, 1/2 helmets, and beanies seem to me to offer so little protection compared to my bare skull that you might as well wear nothing. 1/2 helmets are the worst because in the event of a impact there is going to be a sharp line where the edge of the helmet presses into your skull. After the edge of a pair of steel toe work boots broke my big toe in an accident, I can only imagine the 1/2 helmet taking off the top of your head.

    I don’t have anyone’s crash statistics but my own, but every time my head has hit the ground its been on one side or the other.

    • Steve

      I have totaled 2 helmets in 12 years. In both cases the chin bar saved me from months of eating all my meals through a straw. I used to keep them on a special shelf in the garage, a place of honor, where their scraped and banged chin bars looked down on me as mute reminder to always wear my helmet.

      • parkwood60

        The only crash statistic I can find online is a German study that found chin bar impact in 35% of accidents. Which, conversely, means 65% of accidents didn’t have it. I also found a study (Head injury in facial impact–a finite element analysis of helmet chin bar performance.)that said about full face helmets “…but a chin bar with only an outer shell and comfort foam offered inadequate protection. An energy-absorbing liner was essential to increase the protective performance of the chin bar and the liner density should be denser than that used in the cranial portion of the helmet.”

        I have several full face helmets, and I wouldn’t go on the freeway without one, or road race for that matter, but if your really want to stay safe you don’t ride a motorcycle.

    • aristurtle

      “I don’t have anyone’s crash statistics but my own”


      Statistically, the chinbar is the most impacted area of a motorcycle helmet. 35% of all head impacts in motorcycle accidents are chin impacts.

      Anyway, I’ve already fucked up my chin once because I apparently need to learn my lessons the hard way. I’m lucky I was only in a parking lot at the time. I don’t understand why anyone would go for a 3/4 helmet today. They aren’t significantly cheaper or lighter, so why bother?

      • motoguru

        “I don’t understand why anyone would go for a 3/4 helmet today.”

        Cuz they’re retro. Retro is the new fat tire, duh!

        • aristurtle

          Hey, wasn’t there a cool-looking retro full-face helmet in an article here a while back? What ever happened to that thing?

        • Devin

          I haven’t yet crashed a bike, but I have crashed numerous snowmobiles and had spills where I cracked my chin bar on the handlebars, the ground, etc.

          Helmets for me start at fullfaced, no exceptions.

      • Plotts

        I have a 3/4 helmet I use for running errands around the neighborhood on my scoot. For me it’s just easier to pull off and on and I can run into a convenient store without taking it off if I feel like it. I always wear my full-face on the motorcycle or if I am going for longer rides on my scooter. It all boils down to personal preference and what risk are you willing to take. It’s hard to argue that 3/4 is just as safe as full, that’s just silly, but in the end we all take the risks we choose.

        All that being said, I worked for a few years at a motorcycle training school and 9 out of 10 noobs, fall flat on their face (that’s a fact Jack), so a full face helmet allowed them to get up and move on with the day as opposed to spending the day at the Dentist.