Helmet graphics needn’t be awful

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Do not adjust your TV set. What you’re looking at is not an optical illusion. That is a motorcycle helmet and it is wearing graphics, but nowhere to be seen are tribal ghost flame skulls, fruity stars or fake mud splashes. To achieve this feat of good taste, Bell has employed a trick known as “graphic design” to create a simple, but striking effect using simple, contrasting colors.

This particular design is known as “Emblem” and employs the typically wrong trick of splashing the company’s logo is 3-foot high letters across the side. In this case, Bell’s logo is simple enough that it doesn’t seem to diminish the look. The lines emphasize the RS-1’s contours, making it appear more angular and purposeful than the mid-price helmet does in plain colors.

“Emblem” also appears on the company’s flagship dirt helmet, the Moto-9.

Don’t worry flatbillers, brahs and the kind of people you see pairing speedhump-equipped jackets with mom jeans, Bell hasn’t forgotten about you either. The new “Cataclysm” and “Gearhead” schemes remain shockingly awful. Pair one with your tribal ghost skull flame R1 if you ever find yourself in need of looking like a special needs kid while riding a motorcycle.

  • Devin

    I still feel that you are letting them off too easy for having BELL across the sides of the helmet.

    For me, the manufaturer gets a small logo on the equipment somewhere and that’s it. I am not a walking billboard.

    They do have some nice designs that aren’t skulls in the gallery, I am just surprised you like these.

    • Dave H

      Agreed. I can’t stand a busy helmet with a bunch of stupid shit on it, but I also can’t abide these and Airoh helmets for turning the sides into a shouting proclamation of what brand helmet you chose to buy.

      • nick2ny

        Yup. how about NO logos.

        “Hey, where’d you get that helmet? I’ve been looking for something with no logos.”

        “It’s one of Bell’s new helmets, their 2013′s don’t have any logos at all. I think it’s pretty cool. It’s why I got one, actually. No barbed wier, no big Arai spot.”

        “That’s sweet, I’ll check em out. All my gear is covered in logos. Sitcker, embossed, stitched, it drives me nuts.”

        “Bell gear is made in China though, dunno if you’re okay with that.”

        “GOD, WTF is it with gear these days? Can’t I get a clean, Japanese / German / American made helmet with no logos on it? How about just a white, yellow, or black helmet, with nothing but the helmet? No nasa nuclear style faded logo, no hidden flames, just the helmet.”

    • Mitch

      Mmmmm…

      *You* are not a walking billboard, but racers are and always have been, in fact, the visual imagery and the idea of livery is permanent and storied component of motorsports. If nothing else, the garish logos and proud branding are a piece of the history of how these items came to be. So I’d say it actually goes way beyond simple ‘advertising’.

      That said, you are not wrong, and the need for more differentiated and more subtle designs is still there. I think some makers are offering up some interesting stuff and cool collaborations; compared to 10 years ago, there’s a lot more choice now.

      • Gene

        Ah, but the difference is the riders GET PAID to be a walking billboard. I don’t, and I resent paying to advertize the f*ck out of something.

        When I buy a jacket, one of the criteria is “how easy is it to seamrip all the logos?” – for example, Tourmaster has gone to impossible-to-remove embroidered logos.

        It’s one reason I no longer watch TV, I got tired of paying to watch commercials. That’s why I torrent BBC Sport for MotoGP, because they’re commercial-free.

      • Dave H

        That’s fine. Many racers are sponsored and have to be rolling advertisements for their gear, motorcycle manufacturer, etc. AGV Rossi rep helmets aren’t sold with Monster logos all over them like the ones he wears at races, and most manufacturers do a pretty good job of putting out helmets aping the design of racers lids without the requisite sponsor ads.

        I’m fine with a small logo over the visor that most manufacturers use, and honestly, if this was a simple graphic helmet without BELL in huge letters across the side, I’d probably be all for it. But that’s why I still stick with my solid color helmet.

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    For the love of god, can someone start producing moto equipment that doesn’t turn me into a rolling billboard. To pimp a logo that big while I ride, I’d expect Bell to pay ME.

    (edit: shit, what Devin said).

  • aristurtle

    I’m third-ing that “giant logos are not okay” sentiment. I’ll take one in a solid black (or maybe, as a change of pace, solid white), and only if that “Bell Helmets” oval on the side is a removable decal.

  • Dani Peral

    It would look great without the “bell” logo!! With it…hmmm i dont really like it.

  • Erik

    Me four re the logo

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

    On the bright side, I’ll just point out that Bell has outstanding customer service. It’s a double edged sword: I wish I didn’t know that, but I’m also glad that I do.

  • rohorn

    Did anybody actually look at the gallery before posting? I see 5 (Yes, folks, that’s right: Count ‘em: FIVE!!!!), with NO BIG LOGOS, including all white and all black!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W

      The solid color options don’t really apply to the overall topic of crappy helmet graphics. There’s only one design (with two color choices) that isn’t packin’ the super branding.

      If it weren’t for the branding on the featured graphic, it’d be outstanding. It’s striking, simple, and bold. The “Star” graphic is about as subtle as star graphics get.

  • Christopher

    The last paragraph has officially made me a lifelong fan of this website.

  • Matt

    Anyone else still having trouble viewing the galleries? Seems from the comments like there are some who can see ‘em! I really want to check out those Cataclysm and Gearhead designs. They sound right up my alley!

    Edit: Oh, wait. I get it. Those are for the people who aren’t cool. OK. Anyone want to buy a jacket with a speed hump or some mom jeans? Whichever you want, I’ll keep the other.

    • ike6116

      Nah, the galleries are bad and HFL should feel bad.

  • http://www.firstgenerationmotors.blogspot.com Emmet

    I’ve stopped paying attention to new models-is that R1 paint job factory?

    • Mitch

      It is. :(

      • Mr.Paynter

        God.Awful.

  • 80-watt Hamster

    People keep referencing mom jeans around here. WTF are mom jeans?

  • Martin

    The “S” logo above the visor on Scorpion helmets are affixed with adhesive. Remove, clean off the remaining glue, enjoy your logo free helmet.

    • Archer

      Same for any glossy single-color Arai. It’s just an easily removed sticker ferchrissake.

  • rohorn

    Just out of curiosity – how many want a plain helmet without branding – so they can stick a DC Shoe, edgy kick-ass energy drink, grenade sticker from whatever band it is I don’t listen to, cafe racer/bobber/chopper/streettracker shop you’ve probably never heard of, or some other “Look at me, I’m trendy!” branding sticker on it anyway?

    • tomwito

      Only cool people do that. Like me, I’m cool.

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    While I appreciate that HFL appreciates graphic design, I think it’s being a bit overplayed as some kind of crazy new invention or way of looking at the world. Almost lost my shit when the Icon livery was called the “the first modern race bike to ever feature graphic design.” A) It’s really silly to use the terms “first ever” caveated with “modern.” B) Even bad graphic design (i.e. every other race bike on the grid) is still graphic design.

    Maybe tone it down a bit in the interest of journalistic accuracy… perhaps “best graphic design” which is still an outrageous statement but at least defensible. Here are some useful adjectives for future use: most modern/tasteful/reserved/exciting/recognizable/innovative/inspired. FWIW, I happen to think MotoCsysz’s Segway livery was the best graphic design on a modern race bike. The blue on blue pinstriping was just stunning and I think a cleverer way to gain attention. For an analogous example, walk down the toothpaste aisle and figure out why Rembrandt packaging stands out against the NASCAR graphics of Crest and Colgate.

    Also, check out ruby for graphic design on helmets done well (or F!RST EV3RRRR, if you insist): http://www.ateliersruby.com/helmets

  • austin_2ride

    Are Bell motorcycle helmets still available at your local WalMart?
    Yeah there are plenty of “good” helmets out there but I value my skull enough that nothing other than an Arai will go on my head.

    • BMW11GS

      Please read this article if you have not already:

      http://www.westcoastweasels.com/archives/PDF/Blowing_the_Lid_Off.pdf

      It should be mandatory reading for all participants of a helmet safety discussion. Some very interesting conclusions contrary to expectations.

      • aristurtle

        Oh Jesus, not this bullshit again.

        Pretty much everything in that article about the Snell standards vs. the DOT (FMVSS) standard is factually incorrect. The biggest pile of bullshit is where it says that Snell allows for a 300G impact whereas DOT is limited to 250G. This is straight-up false, DOT has a 400G limit. (Which is sort of obvious when you remember that Snell was designed to be a superset of the infrequently-updated and poorly-enforced DOT standards; every Snell helmet meets DOT by definition, whereas there are edge cases in ECE that do not).

        The other main argument there is that a lower impact force limit (and, for the same size liner, a lower impact G rating from a softer liner always means a lower limit for the total energy dissapated) is always better because “if they’re going fast enough
        to go through all the energy management they’re dead anyhow”. Yeah, maybe if you’re not wearing any gear beyond a helmet, flip-flops, and cutoff shorts. Some of us are smarter than that.

        You can find the actual standards requirements online (links to DOT, Snell M2010, and ECE 22.05); they aren’t too technical for us geeks to understand.

  • tomwito

    You can complain all you want about stupid graphics on whatever but they are not going away. They probably out sell plain ones 10 to 1. And pretty much every model helmet made by every manufacture comes in a solid color. It’s all out there, just look for it.

  • Trev

    I know I am going to be waiting a long time for this, but it would be nice if Bell would offer the Star in plane White; with small/subtle logos.