If you want to skimp on a few parts on your bike that's usually not a problem. On the other hand, your helmet is something you might want to splurge on. Head trauma can be a problem. Friend of the shop David Wysmuller shares with us his experience with his new Bell Super DH MIPS helmet. Check it out!
Helmets are the most important piece of gear a rider can have with many advancements in recent years. We have options for full face helmets, standard helmets, MIPS, various certifications, and tons of options from numerous manufacturers. In recent years I started doing more downhill riding and this year, some Enduro races. During my first Enduro race at Blue Mountain Bike Park, I rented a full face helmet (per the demands of a loving wife) and on the 4th stage, face-planted into a berm and gained a new appreciation for full face protection. Subsequent to that fall, I was in the market for a full face helmet.
I am primarily a trail rider but do XC and Enduro races as well. For most of my Enduro races, I need to casually ride to the top of a hill 4-5 times and race down each time. Riding uphill in a full-face is no fun and on hot and humid days in the Northeast, feels like I am being asphyxiated. I knew very quickly a convertible helmet was right for me.
Narrowing the market down considerably, the Bell Super DH offers the best looking helmet with or without the face bar attached. Most helmets look good with the face bar attached but look goofy when in convertible mode. Not the Bell Super DH, it looks like a normal trail helmet when the face bar is removed. It also is the only helmet I could find that is ASTM F-1952 certified, meaning it is rated for downhill mountain biking use. With appearance and certifications in place, all I needed was a helmet that fits well.
I was surprised with the sizing; I originally ordered a large since my head circumference was in between a medium and large. When Worldwide Cyclery sent me a Large, it felt too big and I ordered a medium to try them side-by-side. The medium fit like a glove. It fit up perfectly and the adjustments keep everything in place nicely. Most helmets come in sizes XS through XL, while the Bell Super DH is only S through L. Please try these helmets on prior to committing as your normal sizing does not apply, even from another standard Bell sizing. Worldwide Cyclery was very helpful with my return.
With functionality, appearances, certifications, and sizing all taken care of, I have to say this is the best helmet I could have asked for. The weight penalty is minimal when in convertible mode, and is very competitive with a standard DH helmet with the face bar on. I have used it in an Enduro race, in Moab, as well as Park City and it feels so much better when ripping down, but I can breathe on the climbs. When climbing, I hook the face bar to my hydration pack and can breathe easy. Removal and installation of the chin bar is quick. Many video reviews show riders fastening the face bar with the helmet still on their head. I have not found it that easy, but it's pretty quick with the helmet off anyway.
I have recommended this helmet to everyone I met, and hope they purchase through Worldwide Cyclery.
In addition to all the awesomeness mentioned above, this helmet also has MIPS Spherical. MIPS Spherical is even more advanced than standard MIPS which is the yellow liner seen in many helmets. MIPS Spherical is an entire inner dome that has side-to-side AND fore-and-aft movement. This helmet has it all!
In my opinion, full face helmets should be much more common as mountain biking gets more aggressive. The capability of most trail, all-mountain, and downhill bikes allow for crazy speeds through even harder terrain. Protection awareness, regarding full face helmets, has not grown at the same rate. Products like the Bell Super DH make it easy enough for EVERY rider to have a full face when necessary, and a standard trail helmet for the climbs.