Bell RS-1 Motorcycle Helmet Review
Three basic steps are involved in the testing of a helmet. The first thing I do is weigh it. Bell’s new RS-1 uses two shell sizes, one for XS-M and a slightly larger one for L-2XL. The size XL, which fit me, came in at an acceptable 58 ounces. In the smaller of its two shell sizes (XS-M), Bell says it weighs 1,575 grams, or about 56 ounces.
The major part of the weight comes from the shell, which is made of a Kevlar/fiberglass composite. I imagine that before long, the materials experts will come up with a full-face that will weigh less than three pounds (48 ounces), but I’m not holding my breath. Bell uses carbon fiber in its pricey Star Carbon to save an ounce or two, and the industry is fully aware that lighter is better.
The second thing is to put it on my head. How’s the fit? Good. It’s a tad snug at first, but when choosing a helmet, snug is far better than not-snug because the interior will break in, while it certainly won’t get any tighter. I don’t know how a fit is designed, but my head fits some helmets better than others—and it fits the Bell. I still have the first Bell I ever owned, a 1959 open-face 500TX, but that is purely a museum piece now.
Third, go for a ride. I take the 150-mile loop. And by the time I get home, four hours later, the helmet is properly broken in and quite comfortable. Pretty quiet, too. Bell does provide room by the ears to add speakers for an audio system, but those small spaces did not seem to add to the minimal sounds of motor, wind and road.
The RS-1’s interior has good padding and a three-quarter loop around the neck, which keeps the wind outside. That neck loop is permanently attached, but the padding can be taken out and washed if necessary. A detachable chin piece is good in colder weather, but I detached it for the California summer.
Venting is excellent, with chin, forehead and top-of-the-head openings—which can be closed—and five exhaust vents going out the back. Covering the higher two of the exhaust vents is a little spoiler, said to help keep the rider’s head down at speeds higher than I care to go. The shield also provides its own source of venting, as a little three-way latch will open the bottom a crack when it is pushed forward. Pushed back, the latch locks the shield in closed position; middle is standard.
Changing the shield is done in seconds, literally. Even a clumsy person like myself can do it. The tried and true D-ring system closes the chin strap, and the straps do have soft collars on them; nice touch. And what to do with the loose end of the strap? It has a little magnet built in which attaches to a small plate by the D-rings, so one doesn’t have to fumble around with that snap closure. Bell calls this Magnefusion (patent pending).
The RS-1 is both DOT and Snell M2010 approved—the latter is especially useful for anyone wanting to do a run at Bonneville. Nothing to complain about with this hard hat. It is available in sizes ranging from XS (6-3/4) to 2XL (7-7/8); pricing starts at $349.95, the Stellar tested costs $399.95.
For more information, call (800) 456-2355 or visit bellpowersports.com.
(This Gearlab article was published in the November 2012 issue of Rider magazine.)