Bell has been protecting the craniums of some of the world’s fastest and most daring two-wheeled athletes for six decades. Based on their motto of providing athletes with purpose built products the Bell Super 2R delivers in spades. With the new crop of Enduro and Trail bikes being designed to carry riders further afield, never before have we had bikes that were capable of handling the ups and destroying the downs with such efficiency. As such, riders asked for a helmet that was XC enough to prevent climbs from becoming unbearable sweatfests yet DH enough to protect should things go south on the descents. Bell’s solution, taking an already proven trail helmet, the Bell Super, and fitting it with a detachable chin bar. In their own words, and I would concur, they have successfully created a game changer.
With an in-mold polycarbonate shell the Super 2R is built in a similar fashion to most other helmets on the market today. What sets it apart from other current offerings is a detachable chin bar that can be affixed literally in seconds, you don’t even have to take the helmet off to complete the conversion. The chin bar quickly attaches itself with the aid of three clips, think of a ski boot style buckle. Keeping things cool are 23 vents on main portion as well as the 4 ‘over brow’ ports on the front of the helmet. Strapping on the chin bar adds 6 more vents to the mix. The helmet is locked into place using Bell’s TAG Fit System, a ratcheting wheel for fine tuning the helmet’s fit by firmly grasping the Occipital Lobe (bump at the back of your head). Further personalized fit adjustment when the chin bar is added can be achieved with two 10 mm thick foam inserts that can be removed, they come already in place, from the cheek pads. Rounding out the helmet in the features department are an adjustable visor with breakaway screws, goggle guide to complete the Enduro look and an integrated breakaway camera mount for capturing those ripping descents and epic vistas. Colour options range from the flashy to subdued: Infrared (as tested), Matte Black/ White Viper, Matte Titanium/ Red Viper, Matte Black and White. MSRP $200 USD
Fit and Function
Out of the box there is no doubt that the Super 2R provides substantially more coverage than a typical XC helmet, but then that is the point. The extra coverage can be further noticed once the helmet is donned as it sits lower on the head protecting more on the back and sides of the skull. Despite significantly more coverage than my previous helmet I did not find it to be a distraction. In fact, quite the opposite, the added coverage provided me with an added sense of security when charging through more challenging sections of trails. My medium sized helmet fit true to size and any further fine tuning adjustments via straps and the TAG system completed the fitment. Thanks to the superb fit once on the trail the helmet did not bounce around at all feeling firmly locked in place even on the rowdiest trails. While the TAG system did an excellent job at keeping the helmet locked down I found the wheel a little difficult to rotate. Despite being an ample size and having a rubberized coating I couldn’t help but feel if the wheel were a little less recessed it may have been easier to operate. However, it did its job and at the end of the day that is all that should matter – but I thought it should be mentioned nevertheless.
With the chin bar attached the helmet felt even more secure. I found that the cheek pads contacted my face in the correct locations and again the helmet felt confident and secure with the chin bar in place. I did not need to remove the foam inserts in the cheek pads but it is snap to do should it be necessary.
As mentioned earlier, in addition to the tradition helmets vents the Super 2R also sports 4 ports on the front on the helmet referred to by Bell as ‘Over Brow Ventilation’. Simply put, they work, and they work well. Even at low speeds, like when climbing, I never felt heat build up in the helmet and at higher speeds I could actually feel the air hitting my face and rushing up between my skull and the helmet. I noticed considerable less sweat build up on my forehead, and it sweats considerably when I ride, than my previous helmets without this feature.
The most distinguishing feature of the Super 2R is of course the removable chin bar. Bell has designed the bar so that the rider is able to quickly attach and remove the bar without even having to take off the helmet, similar to the innovation in knee pads that allow a rider to slip them over shoes while out on the trail all in the name of saving precious riding time. Attaching the chin bar is an extremely simple task due in part to the three latch system and ‘plugs’ that fit into vents on either side at the base of the helmet. When fitting the bar to the helmet while wearing it I used the two plugs to help guide the bar into position on the helmet. Once the plugs had been secured it was a simple matter of buckling up the latches and voila! Ready to shred. As a precaution, to ensure that I was in fact locked and loaded, I found it useful to run my hand over the latches to make sure they not protruding from the helmet which would be an indication they were not completely closed. Never was this a problem but as the saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Transporting the chin bar when not in use was a breeze. It was easy to attach securely to my hydration pack in a matter of seconds and just as easy to remove when needed. I found it helpful to weave the straps on my pack through the vents on either side of the bar to hold in securely in place while carrying it on the trail. Another little tip I learned was to close the latches on the chin bar while not in use as it prevented them from rattling while riding which could prove annoying for some.
Added Safety Features
In addition to the aforementioned construction features, the Super 2R is also available with the much touted Multi-directional Impact Protection Systems, commonly known as MIPS. In a nut shell, MIPS is an internal slip-plane device based on the brain’s own protection system. By allowing the riders head to ‘slip’ or rotate inside the helmet during certain types of falls MIPS equipped helmets are designed to decrease the amount of energy transferred to the head. Research indicates the this should reduce the chance and severity of a brain injury. Since my test helmet was not fitted with MIPS I can’t speak to how it might affect fit or feel. However, I can say I would not hesitate to purchase a MIPS equipped helmet when the time comes to replace my current helmet. When it comes to your brain I am confident that the added cost is worth the added protection should the unthinkable happen.
Bell adds yet another safety feature on the Super 2R in the way of an ICEdot sticker. This technology allows the rider to create an upload a profile containing a variety of emergency information. This information is then housed securely online which, in the event of a crash, can be accessed quickly by first responders. By texting the PIN from the sticker on the back of the helmet to a given number, also found on the sticker, first responders would have immediate access to your ICEdot profile in the event of an emergency.
Granted these are two technologies that one would never want to test but it is certainly reassuring to know they have your back, or rather head, should they be required.
The Bell Super 2R is an excellent helmet. Take a proven trail helmet and throw in the fact that it has a removable chin bar to protect your face and pearly whites should your trail ride get a little hairier than expected and you have a recipe for a real winner. For someone like me who rides predominately trail but enjoys the odd day challenging themselves on rougher trails this is the ideal helmet. Call me soft but I have lost count the number of times I have wished for ‘more helmet’ in the backcountry. You know the rides I am talking about, having pedalled all day to earn that ripping descent only to feel that is a hair above your comfort zone with your regular trail gear. The Bell Super 2R allows you to push the envelope and ride home, with teeth, to talk about it over well deserved Apres beverages.