Bell's lightweight, high-end track helmet is well ventilated and extremely comfortable.
Odd circumstances left me in possession of Bell's top-of-the-line track helmet, the Star Carbon, in my size. I'm such a fan of my current helmet, the Bell Bullitt TT, that I didn't think I'd have a use for it. In planning a long road trip from the Bay Area down to Riverside, CA to attend Beyond Brookledge, I decided I wanted something a bit more comfortable than the vintage styled bubble screen and always open eyebrow vents the Bulitt would provide.
I'm impressed with the Bullitt and it is great for shorter runs on the freeway, but a 400 mile day was going to just be too much. The Star Carbon is a modern helmet and makes no sacrifices for flash or style. That isn't to say it is ugly, but it isn't a piece of Art like the Bullitt. What it has, however, more than makes up for the differences. The Star Carbon came out of storage.
The helmet fits great. I like how Bell helmets fit me and the top-of-the-line Star Carbon is fantastic. The liner and padding are wonderful. The material feels like the helmet costs $650. The feel is tight and I feel sealed in. There is space in the right areas: around my eyes/nose, top of skull, and also my ears, which keeps the feel from being claustrophobic. There is also a constant, comfortable pressure everywhere you should feel pressure. Field of vision is good and only slightly blocked at the edges of my peripheral range. None of my eyeglasses fit in the helmet, however. Your mileage may vary on that issue, because I have a specialized collection of glasses that just end up being either too delicate or too heavy to fit. Standard wire rims, along the lines of a Ray Ban Aviator or Clubmaster, would probably be fine.
Overall, this helmet just feels good.
Ventilation is top notch! Maybe the best closed face helmet I've owned. The air is precisely and functionally channeled through locations, not just blasted into your face. Air runs over the top of my head, and if my balaclava is loose I can feel it rustle in the wind. The chin vents can be set to just flow a bit of air, or feel like you have the mask open. There are also adjustable eyebrow vents and scoops on the side to help draw air through the helmet. The vents are not the quietest when wide open, but only sound of rushing air. There were no annoying whistles or screams. When turning my head to check blind spots, even at freeway speeds, the helmet is surprisingly drag free. Created for the track there is a bit of lift when seated upright on my Triumph Scrambler and pushing stuff in excess of 80mph. "Tucked in" under the bikini S fairing on my BMW R75/6 the helmet is fine, however my back is not.
The coolest thing about the helmet is the visor. I have a Bell SolFX polychromatic Transitions visor on the helmet and it is worth the $120 price of admission. It adjusts from full clear to full (a medium tint) dark in about 30 seconds, offering a glare free ride at any time of day or night. It's magical how well it works. I wish I could get a polychromatic visor for the Bullitt.
Another reason I'm excited about the Star Carbon is that it was designed to fit a Sena intercom system. I just ordered the SMH10-R from Amazon, and will be installing it this week. I didn't want to ugly up the Bullitt with this, but for a longer road trip I can see it being really handy. The Star Carbon is likely quiet enough to get away with using the phone if I really need, as well. I have mixed feelings on it, but good friend and soon-to-be-again Boing Boing contributor Joel Johnson loves his bluetoothed helmet.
I was worried that black will be hot, but the ventilation system gives me hope. I'm going to take the Bullitt along, in case I want to switch helmets, the Star Carbon came with a really cool carrying case that I'll just strap onto the back of the BMW.
This is not going to be my commuter helmet or for flying around back roads, but the Bell Star Carbon is the helmet I'll turn to for longer trips.
Previously on Boing Boing: