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From Monster to Mouse–Bell Helmets. REVIEW OF BELL REVOLVER HELMET

October 21, 2011

Once upon a time, Bell Helmets were the GOLD standard in helmets.  The company started in 1923 as Bell Auto Parts in Bell, California. The first racing helmets were produced in 1954 in California by Roy Richter, a passionate enthusiast of auto racing.  Roy perceived the need for safety in the auto racing field and moved to put products in place to serve that need. The name BELL simply comes for the fact that Roy’s activities were housed in a small, garage-like facility in Bell, California.

Since that time, the company has merged, been sold, merged, and been sold again.  Over the last few years Bell has tried to become competitive again in the Motorcycle helmet world by producing what Bell called a flagship model – the Bell Star.  Packed with features and something like 80 individual parts it was supposed to revitalize the brand and put Bell into the fray against the likes of Shoei and Arai.

Unfortunately for Bell, the Star, by all accounts, was a flop.  Shortly thereafter the Star began appearing on-line heavily discounted and quickly disappeared from motorcycle magazine advertising and shelves.  Like Rodney Dangerfield, Bell just can’t “get no respect” 

Which brings us to the review of Bell’s most current offering the Bell Revolver.  It’s a flip up helmet with a “sport bike” shape.  Interestingly, it was introduced to much promotion and media (similar to the Star) and almost immediately thereafter went into the helmet close out section of on-line gear sellers and retailers. 



Convenience meets confidence with Bell’s all-new Revolver modular helmet. By harnessing the design horsepower of the marquee Bell Star and the extensive R&D know-how of Bell’s Santa Cruz, Calif. engineering team, we’ve made a flip-up that’s as beautiful as it is functional.

One look and it’s easy to see the family resemblance—the new school shaping and contours that are the signature of the S

(as well as the value-minded Vortex and new mid-line RS-1) are clearly evident and functional in the Revolver.

Like its siblings, the Revolver features Bell’s Velocity Flow Ventilation system to usher cooling air through the helmet. The system’s use of precisely-placed flow separator combined with its truncated shape make for an inherently stable aerodynamic signature.

The Revolver includes modular-specific features like the integrated internal Sun Shade—a short, dark shield independent of the main shield—which drops down with the flick of a lever to fight bright sunlight. A robust, easy-to-actuate button opens the Revolver’s mechanism allowing the chin bar to flip up.

The helmet also uses the world’s quickest, easiest-to-use shield changing system—Bell’s Click Release—allowing the option of more than a dozen tints, including the astounding Transitions SOLFX photochromic shield.

  • WEIGHT: 1750 G





If you can get one for free like I did, it’s great.  Other than that, I would spend no more than $50.00 and from the looks of things on-line, that’s not too far away.  WHY do you want a flip up helmet?  Well, you can take a drink, scratch you nose, have a normal conversation with the State Trooper “No, I was not aware that I was doing 68 MPH over the posted limit” and if you are so inclined, smoke cigarettes whilst passing school buses and mini-vans.  Or sit in Starbucks, helmet firmly planted on your noggin, sipping your beverage, emulating some Politizi in Italy.  There are many, many reasons to wear one, but I can’t find any bearded, Roadcrafter clad BMW riders to ask.  Why is it that BMW’s, flip-up helmets and beards go together?  Weird.

This was my first flip up helmet.  I would never buy one as a primary use helmet.  It’s merely DOT rated and there I just don’t think I want to put my life on the line with a helmet that is not SNELL certified.  That being said, there are a few nice things about the helmet. 

It’s HEAVY.  Really, heavy.  Which helps in the wind, as it just sort of sits there not moving much.  I’m sure that on an multi-day ride you would be calling up any Shoei or Arai dealers via computer and buying yourself a new helmet.  Around town, or for a few hours in the saddle it’s nice.  Longer than that, garbage time.

It’s NOISY.  Really, really, really noisy.  Screaming, howling, resonating, L-O-U-D.  Forget about this unless you have ear plugs.  A mile ride test without ear plugs was enough to make me absolutely hate it.  WITH earplugs in, it’s fine.  With earplugs of 32 db noise killing capability, it seems quiet and had no issues.

It’ COMFORTABLE, no, really.  It’s almost cushy.  There is a ton of padding in the helmet and plenty of room around your ears for speakers and a communication system.  The padding is very nice and apparently Antibacterial.

The FLIP DOWN SUN VISOR is a joke.  Sunglasses you get at a gas station or dollar store are better.  The visor itself is flimsy, cheap and did I say flimsy and cheap?  Really, they just tossed this gizmo in and did not spend one cent on quality or optics.  Is it better than nothing?  A little bit, but not by much. 

The BREATH GUARD is a torture device.  That little bugger was so intent on sawing my nose in half, that twenty minutes into the ride, I ripped it out and tossed it into traffic.

The VISOR itself is ok.  But it is not “the fastest to change in the industry” The optical clarity leaves much to be desired and the quality was mid-level at best.  The one thing that I did really like about the visor mechanism.  Was that it seemed to have a limitless adjustability.  Instead of clicking, it had sort of a friction adjustment.  Where it did not work was when almost fully closed.  Then the visor reverted to pre-determined “clicks” for adjustment. 

The FLIP UP part was fine.  The release is on the chin and unlocks smoothly.  Closing the helmet was not as smooth and sometimes needed both hands to get it shut properly.  Not more to say, it opens and closes. 

MINOR THINGS – the chin strap end is secured with a small magnetic attachment.  You just put the end of the strap on up to the helmet fastener and it stays there.  Venting is good.  The opening and closing of the vent ports is typically cheap.  They don’t have the quality feel you get with an Arai or Shoei.  Then again they are not as poorly executed as those in an HJC or other $1.00 head type helmets.

Would I recommend it?  Yes, if you want a flip up, and IF you did not spend more than $50.00 on it, AND if it’s not your primary lid, and you ONLY ride it to the grocery store, mall, Starbucks, etc. AND if you keep your speeds under 30 MPH – you get the idea.  As a touring or primary helmet?  NOOOOOOOOO Way. 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2012 2:59 pm

    I agree completely. My main helmet is a Shoei RF1100 and I bought the Revolver during Christmas (for 89 bucks) to see if I liked a flip-up. The idea is very good but the Bell feels cheap. I think it’s too noisy even with plugs and the magnet strap holder is a great idea, just not well executed. The magnet is just not strong enough and when it comes loose in the wind, your strap now has a weighted end that really gets your attention. The vent closure doodads are like mentioned above cheesy/flimsy. I think it’s probably worth checking out if you get a good price, but at MSRP, you’d be really dissatisfied. Oh and LOL I have a BMW but no beard.

  2. Archer permalink
    March 2, 2012 2:14 pm

    Well, some of your points are valid, others overstated.

    You must have a heck of a honker, I have an enormous nose and am nowhere near touching the breath guard. I own five Arais (two RX7-RR5 (Corsair-V), two Corsairs and one Quantum II and my nose touches on ALL of them.

    Not a problem on this Bell.

    Second mild disagreement- this really IS a very fast and simple visor change system, really quite good and easy to use, figured it out in 10 seconds with no instructions.

    Third, I wonder if yours has a chin curtain? Mine came with one and it seems to reduce the amount of breeze coming up under the chinbar by a huge amount- and also reduces noise.

    Fourth, this may be comfortable for you but I found mine rather uncomfortable- the lining material is rather scratchy and the interior is not particularly well finished- but again, comparing against my benchmark Arais. It kicks the snot out of most HJC’s I’ve seen.

    Of course the fit and finish don’t equal my Arais- which, then again, cost about 9X as much.

    • March 2, 2012 2:34 pm

      Interesting points. I don’t agree about the breath guard. I have an average nose and the Bell drove me crazy to the point of tearing it out and tossing it away. My daily helmet is a Shoei RF-1100 and I have zero problems with the breath guard. The Shoei is the benchmark for visor changes. The Bell visor change is quick, but not as quick as a Shoei and not anywhere near as “I’m destroying the helmet and visor” removal process as on an Arai. It’s too bad that Bell seems to be stuck as a bottom end helmet provider no matter how hard they try.

  3. Archer permalink
    March 4, 2012 12:06 pm

    Also consider that after the merger with Easton Sports a few years ago, Easton-Bell (which makes Easton equipment, Bell helmets, Giro helmets and Riddell protective gear) has put millions into R&D and a new design center in California to bring the Bell helmets brand back from the long period of Kmart status it had before the acquisition. The high end helmets are actually very successful, but not at MSRP as you noted. But much better than a few years ago and arguably they have the best engineering and composites resources in the business.

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