Bell Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe Helmet Review

MotorcycleUSA Staff | August 16, 2011
Bell Skratch Deluxe Helmet
The Bell Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe LE Helmet has a throwback design created by popular pinstriper, Skratch, in a three-quarters motorcycle helmet which pays homage to the original 1954 ‘500’ lid created by Roy Richter.
2011 Bell Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe LE Helmet

Vintage three-quarter helmets are in. Goes along with the current movement where more people are wrenching on their own rides. Bikers are paying tribute to the motorcycles they grew up with, restoring old Triumph bobbers, reinventing Scrambler choppers and cutting down Sportsters. Old is new again, so it’s no surprise three-quarter lids with bubble shields and sparkly paint jobs are a hot commodity at swap meets. Bell Helmets has made plenty of those collectibles. Now it’s seeking to improve on the original with the Bell Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe LE Helmet.

For its hip design, Bell enlisted the services of an insider, a person who was raised in the world of hot rods, go go girls and rockabilly music, a young pinstriping savant called Skratch who was given a classic Bell Custom 500 helmet to use as his palette. Skratch got busy putting a touch of old-school cool to the helmet, adding a sense of nostalgia with bold stripes and red and silver metal flake paint. Skratch learned the trade under Frank Palmer and Bell posted up a cool video you can watch below that shows the artistry of handstriping on the original mock-up. The result is a three-quarters lid Bell says pays homage to the original 1954 “500” helmet designed by its founder, Roy Richter.

First item of note – sizes run a little small. I had to order my Bell 500 Skratch Deluxe LE Helmet in XXL for a proper fit. Normally I wear an XL (7 5/8” – 7 3/4”) full-face helmet, so make sure you get the correct size ordered from the get-go and consider going a size up. The XXL Skratch Deluxe, by the way, fits my big nugget perfectly.

I like the helmet’s narrow profile and the fact it doesn’t make me look like a conehead. Other three-quarter helmets sit too high on my head, so I was pleased that the Skratch Deluxe doesn’t. Being an open-faced helmet, I was worried ambient noise would be unbearable. I was surprised at how much noise the helmet actually filters out thanks to snug-

Bell Skratch Helmet Devils Tower
We dig the old school metal flake paint of Bell’s Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe helmet and were pleased with its snug fit, comfort and light weight.  

fitting sides. The inner liner of the Skratch Deluxe not only covers up the EPS foam layer cleanly, it makes for a comfortable fit and helps cut down the howl of passing wind. The tight seal also means the helmet doesn’t try to blow off your head as bad as a half-shell, so the chin strap doesn’t choke me out when I’m bombing down the highway. With its stitched diamond-tuck pattern, the inner liner looks cool, too.

The helmet is fairly lightweight at 880 grams and becomes barely noticeable when you ride. It has a fiberglass shell and an EPS foam layer to bring it up to DOT safety standards. Its chin strap is padded so it doesn’t cut into rider’s skin and cinches tight courtesy of a D-ring closure system with a button snap for the excess strap. It comes standard with three snaps for an aftermarket Bell Retro Shield, but we opted to ride open-faced with goggles.

On the subjective side, we’ve already admitted we dig the styling. It’s wild, it’s funky, the colors meld together well and the pattern is cool without being too outlandish. The metal flake pops in the sun and chrome trim around the face adds to its timeless appeal. It also comes with a five-year warranty. At $139.95, the Skratch Deluxe costs more than cheap half-shells but is still considerably less than a full-face helmet. It took up little space in our gear bag and fit right in with the cruiser crowd while rolling around Sturgis. The Bell Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe LE is a sweet combination of vintage looks with modern upgrades which provide for a comfier fit and better protection than the popular open-faced lids of old.  

The Bell Custom 500 Skratch Deluxe LE Helmet is available in sizes XS to XXL at the Motorcycle Superstore.
MSRP $139.95


MotorcycleUSA Staff