News: Bell Helmets Launch Custom Fit Scanning

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Bell Helmets Custom Fit Scanning

Bell Helmets is preparing to launch a new digital process that will record data about an individual’s head and based upon that information the company will create a custom-fit designed motorcycle helmet.

The process, which was created and developed last year, will, according to Bell, ultimately offer riders a better fitting and potentially a safer helmet.

This year is the 60th anniversary of Bell Helmets and the California-based company is now preparing to commercialize its new custom-fit motorcycle helmet process by demonstrating it at a series of motorcycle events across the U.S. this year.

The process involves a Bell technician using a scanning wand to circle an individual’s head. A three-dimensional image of a person’s skull is generated by a computer in about 30 seconds. From that digital data, Bell can make a custom-fit helmet just for you – that process takes around three hours – and it will then send you the finished custom-fit helmet in four to six weeks.

Bell says the digital imaging process can result in as much as a 40% energy reduction to a person’s head and the digital imaging is so precise  that custom-fit helmets can be  manufactured less expensively than before as they use less foam lining.

However, while Bell has reduced the costs for the helmet manufacturing process by using fewer materials, the scanning service will add extra dollars to your final bill. Currently Bell is estimating that a custom-fit for one of its Star helmets will cost around $999, or $899 for a Moto-9. These helmets currently retail for $649 and $549 respectively, meaning the new custom service is going to cost $350 a helmet.

Bell Helmets Custom Scanning

Bell plans to showcase this new technology at five or six motorcycle events this year to demonstrate how it works. They will scan potential customer’s heads for free, whether they want to buy a new helmet or not, and will then keep the data on file for the future if they choose to buy a Bell helmet.

The company is also considering setting up the scanners at 20 retail stores across the U.S. towards the end of this year. Although Bell doesn’t have its own outlets, it’s hoping to work with its existing dealers to create special areas in stores. At present the custom-fit scanning capability is only available for motorcycle helmets, but eventually Bell says it could be developed for other kinds of protective headgear such as bicycles.

  • Justin McClintock

    So it saves Bell money…which they then charge a significant premium for. I realize they have to pay for the equipment somehow, but that just seems a little backwards. Anyway, at least the technology seems pretty cool. I do wonder how well it handles hair though. Especially for folks with really thick hair.

    • imprezive

      First of all you don’t price something on how much it costs you to make, you price on how much the market is willing to pay. So it doesn’t matter if it’s cheaper for Bell because it’s more value they are selling to the consumer. Second just because it’s cheaper to manufacture you still have to pay for the equipment and IT systems, pay for the technician to use it, pay for maintenance of all the extra equipment, and you lose manufacturing efficiencies because it’s a one off. I have no doubt it costs Bell more to sell you a custom fit one than an off the shelf.

    • charlie

      I saw a video on it. I think you’re supposed to wear a skullcap to press your hair down so it can get the form of your head better.

    • Chris Optional Freeman

      no it would cost bell more $$$ as they have to create 1-off helmets instead of cranking them out by whatever manufacturing process they use for whichever helmet. and as the trend goes, better convenience = more $$$. The shell would not have to be optimized as many think, the shell is about 1-1.5 inches from the head, where the foam that actually transfer’s the energy would be important to optimize. if the closest shell shape and size is the base, an optimized rigid foam cut would greatly increase comfort and safety.

  • Nathan Stanley

    While it save money on material cost, I’d expect overall cost to be higher on the basis of individual production instead of batch production. The premium is nothing to over look, but for someone with a oddly shaped head like myself, I see it as reasonable for the added comfort and protection.

    • dinoSnake

      I seriously doubt that Bell will be using a custom shell – I’m sure such a proposal would mean that Bell would have to create new molds for each and every person. I bet you that Bell is simply using CNC milling of the EPS foam liner inside a standard shell, with the CNC custom modified for each measurement.

  • Jack Meoph

    One day, in the future, your whole body will be scanned, and your one-piece, form fitted, Omnisuit™ will be whooshed out of the vent in the motorcycle apparel kiosk into your no longer amazed waiting hands.

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    I dont see me buying this until my particular peripheral vision is also optimized. This is an amazing next step that we all dreamed of but didnt know when it was coming.

    What will be interesting is how dot, ece, and snell test one-off helmets.

    This should be awesome for children too, with their tiny lumpy heads.

    I just cant imagine them making custom shell sizes, shields, or, helmet liners just yet.

  • Doug Herbert

    So I left a comment on this story earlier today, and now my comment is gone! Why are comments being deleted? I don’t think it was anything offensive…

    • Jack Meoph

      Yeah, mine was deleted out of the CE II thread. Obviously one of the mods grandmothers got into their account.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    This is a pretty big breakthrough in helmet design if the 40% energy reduction numbers are correct. Right now you can spend way over $1k and not have any helmet that promises that type of added safety. The outside of the shell would not have to change that much if you think about it. Most people will fit into a standard size category such as s, m, l, xl, so it stand to reason just fine tuning the material a little isn’t that large an expense.

    Hopefully if this is works the price will begin to drops as other companies start to offer similar products.

  • Michael Howard

    To paraphrase Bell’s ad campaign from the 70′s, if you don’t have a $999 head, don’t wear a $999 helmet. ;)

  • http://turnerart.la/ Justin Turner

    Finally. Next step is to let the head scan dictate the shell shape. The custom fit is nice, but lighter and smaller helmets are what I’m waiting for.

  • Chris Optional Freeman

    i can buy 2 Arais for that….

  • Piglet2010

    The custom fit lid may use less foam, but that is a very small part of the total cost. Manufacturing time will be more, and there will also be special handling and (individual) shipping.

  • eddi

    I’d be happy if they used the scanner to help select the best fit on a standard helmet. Better yet sell scanners to the stores and use the results for other helmet brands. Although for now, I expect the scanners are too pricey for a small shop. Or maybe even a big one.

    • daveinva

      This. As much as I’d love a custom helmet (but not a Bell… talk to me when Shoei, Arai or Schuberth start doing this), one would think you’d get almost as good results with stock factory helmets and a scan to fit. e.g. “Looks like your head is this shape, you should check out this Nolan here, it’ll fit your ears…”

      If I were, say, Revzilla, I’d develop this tech and partner with dealers– offer the scan, then order (at a discount) through the dealer if they don’t have a helmet in stock that you’re happy with.

  • William Connor

    If had not spent roughly $1200 on two helmets this year to replace my old ones I would sign up now. Safer and better fitment, heck yeah. Now it needs to expand to a helmet I would like. They really should have built this around the race and the a touring helmet. Those are the people that will pay the premium money.

  • Matt Sanders

    I really like this idea, but I’m afraid I won’t be near a scanner. Colorado doesn’t have year round riding or a GP Circuit, so it tends to miss out out stuff like this.

    I’d like to know more about the scanners they are using. I wonder if it would be possible to create an App for Kinect on Xbox 360 or Xbox One to do the scanning. Might be a cheap and easy way to get custom scans. I know the kinect has been used to do 3d modeling in 3d printers and to import faces into games.

    • Avboden

      I guarantee you’ll find it somewhere in Colorado. If it’s high end, it exists there. My guess would be Erico motorsports.

  • Zack Crowther

    This is so cool. I my RS-1 would be very interested in a custom fit helmet. I love that technology has made something crazy expensive within reach. Hopefully the custom fit means they can use different sized shells for each size rather than one for M/L etc.