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Bell Drifter RSD Skulls Helmet Review

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Bell Drifter Skulls Helmet

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.
 
2009 Kawasaki Voyager
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.
 
Check out more 
Bell Helmets and Motorcycle Helmets at Motorcycle Superstore.
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Comments
JohnB -Mr  June 29, 2010 02:51 AM
Morning folks,
I would like to get my hands on a large Bell drifter black gloss. However I dont seem to be able to locate one in Ireland or UK. Can anyone help me out?
John
jess -Skulls! and Flames!  October 9, 2009 03:21 PM
Oooo- skulls! flames! I pity anyone over the age of 14 who thinks this is 'cool'.
Spike Hutchins -Bell Drifter  August 14, 2009 06:25 PM
I found that the brim of the helmet catches the wind like the leading edge of a Super Cub. Also big problem with hot spots from the ill fitting design. If you like a very light weight DOT half shell that fits as well as it looks, investigate the carbon/kevlar models offered by Advanced Composites. Worth every penny.
Mad Max 442 -Oversized outershell  August 9, 2009 09:20 AM
These half shells can be a work of art .But I spent last winter looking for something decent and this is what I came up with ...Great fitment and Protection for my head ,but most of all everytime I came up with a Outershell that resembled Kazoo from the Flinstones or the Gary Busey parody they did years ago on Saturday Night Live, I would pay top dollar for a Normal half helmet that had the Protective material ,than wear a mushroom. lets see how huge full-faces become in the coming years because of DOT regulations.People may risk their lives going back to novelty helmets.Bad Thing! Hope R+D can do better.
Racer1 -Good review  August 4, 2009 06:07 PM
Bryan - I like that you respond to comments on your blogs and reviews, and that you tell it as you see it. I respect Roland Sands a lot as he has actually raced successfully unlike most custom builders, but this helmets seems to be a gaudy, essentially uncomfortable POS and you pretty much say that. Any helmet that makes it hard to swallow when used on the freeway is clearly unfit for the purpose it was intended for. I also am so over the skulls motif.... what is it saying? It is so old, cliched and silly that it almost looks as if it was done ironically. Keep it real...
HogMe -Baseball cap looks better  August 2, 2009 09:47 AM
...
Desmolicious -fer realz  July 31, 2009 11:16 AM
How does it compare to a baseball cap?
;P
bryan harley -last time I checked baseball caps weren't DOT approved  July 30, 2009 11:35 AM
The point is that somebody out there might be contemplating buying the helmet and now has a thorough review to help base their decision on. We wore it, tested it out on both faired and unfaired bikes, and distributed the findings of the helmets high and low points to our readers. Just because you're not a half-shell guy, they are still a popular style of helmet.
Desmolicious -What's the point?  July 30, 2009 11:02 AM
Might as well have reviewed a base ball cap....