The Bell Drifter RSD Skulls Helmet is a half-shell lid with styling created by former AMA 250 champ and custom motorcycle builder, Roland Sands.
Bell Powersports recently enlisted the services of one Roland Sands to design graphics for a couple of its motorcycle helmets. The collaboration comes as no surprise, as Sands sported a Bell helmet while he was tearing up the track en route to the 1998 AMA 250GP championship. Since then, Sands has gotten his hands into just about everything, establishing himself as a custom bike builder, a designer, an event promoter, and is the driving force behind Roland Sands Design. So Bell asked Sands to use some of his creative energy to create the styling on the Bell Drifter RSD Skulls Helmet, a half-shell lid aimed at the cruiser crowd.
Styling is definitely one of the Drifter helmet’s strong points. A thick black stripe down the middle gives it old school charm. The black stripe is sandwiched between two thin, glittery silver strips that provide a trace of visibility to the helmet at night. Hollow-eyed skulls decorate both sides, layers of overlapping skeletal faces with fiery red and orange hues running throughout. A black rear goggle strap with a single snap is mounted on the back of the helmet. Next to it on the right is a white star with the RSD logo stamped in the middle.
The shell is deliberately thin as it was ‘designed to have as small of a profile as possible while still meeting the DOT helmet standard.’ The composite fiberglass shell combines with a healthy layer of impact-absorbing Styrofoam inside to bring it up to DOT standards. The styro padding is thick in the front and slimmer on the sides. An XL fits me snug where the padding is thickest in the forehead and up high at the back of my skull but the fit is otherwise comfortable. The Bell Drifter RSD Skulls helmet weighs 1.984 lbs, another bonus in the comfort department.
The chin strap on the Bell Drifter RSD Skulls helmet was fine as long as I had wind protection, but when I wore it while testing the naked Triumph Bonneville SE, the strap cut into my neck above my Adam’s apple.
A small, removable comfort pad Velcros into the back of the helmet to help you dial in the fit. The chinstraps have removable ear pads that are soft and feel good next to my ears. The pads will provide a little relief in the cold, but are capable of being worn in warm weather as well to dull out a bit of road noise and to keep dust and debris out of your inner ear. If you do a lot of highway miles above 70mph, a set of ear plugs is still advisable. The ear pads actually have the most comfortable padding in the helmet.
Because inside the helmet, padding is pretty much non-existent. There’s a real thin strip that runs around the rim of your head. It’s also got a small, soft cloth swatch that runs front to back but doesn’t provide much in the way of cushion. The Drifter has a liner that will soak up some sweat, but not much. The liner isn’t removable either, so keeping it clean and ridding it of rider funk is a challenge.
The chinstrap system could be better. The helmet fits me well, but I still have to crank it down tight if I’m hitting the freeway to keep air from creeping in and trying to rip it off my head. When I do this, the chinstrap sits far back, right at the top of my Adam ’s apple, and makes it difficult to swallow. A little chin pad would have made the helmet better. The small cord that is supposed to hold the extra length of strap doesn’t work when you’re going fast and the strap will fall out and flap against your neck. The helmet also has no visor, so make sure you have a good pair of shades or tinted goggles to wear with it.
The Bell Drifter RSD Skulls helmet has a cool design, it fits well, and the padded earpads are a bonus. I’d recommend a little more padding inside the shell itself, a removable liner, and a small chin pad, too, to keep the helmet from choking you out when you start creeping over 70mph. Maybe Bell thought cruiser riders don’t ride that fast, but I do. And I know I’m not alone.
The Drifter does come with a sweet five-year warranty. It lists at about middle-of-the-road as far as half-shells go, with an MSRP of $119.95. And many of its faults are inherent to half-shells, but no others can claim they were styled by Roland Sands.