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Bell Star Carbon Race Day Helmet Review

Friday, September 20, 2013
I’m an anomaly among cruiser riders. I prefer a full-face helmet over a half-shell. Sure, I don’t mind rockin’ an open-face Bell three-quarters lid if I’m just running around town, but if I’m doing any serious riding, it’s full-face all the way. Right before my recent ride out to Sturgis this year, a Bell Star Carbon Race Day Helmet with a Transitions Shield arrived for me to sample. It’s served me during testing of the 2014 Victory tourers, the 2014 Indian Chiefs, and the 2014 Can-Am Spyder and is now primed for review.
Bell Star Carbon Race Day Helmet
We've been putting the Bell Star Carbon Race Day Helmet to the test the last couple of months and have come away impressed. Lightweight, comfortable, it vents really well, has a great aerodynamic design and is DOT and Snell approved.
The 2014 Indian Chief Classic is the first Indian equipped with progressive linkage suspension which helps when you take the road less traveled.

The first thing I noticed when picking up the helmet is how lightweight it is. According to our buddy JC at the Motorcycle Superstore, the Bell Star Carbon Race Day helmet weighs only 3.6 pounds. Wearing it on the ride to Sturgis, the light weight of the helmet is appreciated because it doesn’t become tiresome having it on your head all day. It has what Bell calls a TriMatrix shell made from Kevlar, carbon fiber and fiberglass, materials that are strong, durable, and will resist some blunt force trauma to the head in case of the accidental get-off. It is also very comfortable. The cheek pads have a soft liner and are cushioned well, as is the inner liner at the base of the skull and in the forehead area. Both the liner and cheek pads unbutton or slide out for cleaning and are made from moisture-wicking material. The chin strap is padded, too, and cinches up with the standard D-ring closure. One bonus is, instead of having to blindly fiddle with a button to keep the excess strap from whipping around, the end of the strap has a small magnet that connects to one located on the D-ring when you get it close. Small conveniences like this are always appreciated.

And that’s just one of the small details Bell has paid attention to with this helmet. Remove the cheek pad and you’ll discover it’s got a small ear pocket sewn into the padding. We are testing the “Race Day” version of the Bell Star Carbon, and this pocket would serve perfectly for racers trying to communicate with their team. Removing the cheek pad also reveals small cutouts for speaker pockets. Rider-to-rider or passenger communication systems are popular these days, but sliding a helmet on over these isn’t always easy. Having a designated spot for a motorcycle communication system is another nifty selling point.

This theme of convenience continues with the visor. Bell has devised one of the simplest, quickest removal systems I’ve used. Push the small levers located at the point where the shield connects to the helmet back and it pops right off. Push it again, line up the tabs on the visor, and the shield clicks back into place. It’s one of the easiest and quickest systems around and makes swapping visors simple instead of a chore. Just below it is another small lever that operates the 3-mode face shield. Click it up and it locks the visor into place, ensuring it’s not going to pop open mid-race. The shield can still be pushed up but you’ve got to push hard. The middle setting is standard, allowing riders to open and close the shield at will. Push it forward and it cracks the shield open just a tad to allow air flow in, something I’ve done plenty of times in the past on helmets that don’t have this feature. Depending on how broken in the visor is, usually the wind will either push it shut or lift it all the way open. Another nifty little twist by the Bell team.

After riding with the Bell Star Carbon Race Day Helmet on during sweltering August days, I’ve been grateful that it vents well. There’s three different ways for riders to control the flow of air. Two channels run along the top of the helmet with tabs that are small but click back easily enough with gloved hands. There’s another small button right above the eyebrows in the middle of the helmet that doesn’t slide as easily but allows for more air to rush over the forehead and around the temples. The final vent is centrally placed on the helmet right where a rider’s mouth is and allows air to rush over your face and cheeks. While the other two vents are either open or closed, this one has two positions to choose from. There’s also a chin curtain that helps keep wind out on cold mornings or can be removed to allow a bit more flow to come up from underneath when it’s torrid outside. Two small, grill-covered slits on the back allow hot air to channel out the back.

I’ve worn the Bell Star Carbon both sitting behind the safety of a tall windscreen as well as on bare boned bikes with no protection and am impressed with the way its design minimizes buffeting. It’s designed for racers who tuck behind the smallest of windscreens to cut down on drag, but serves the average everyday rider as well. My head doesn’t blow around near as much as most lids. To boot, it’s relatively quiet inside the helmet, ambient noise channeling over and around instead of in.

Along with the Bell Star Carbon Helmet, we’ve been testing the Transitions Photochromatic Shield as well. This visor automatically adjusts to light conditions, darkening in full sun while going clear at night. And even though Bell has made it quick and easy to swap out shields, the Transitions Shield eliminates the need to carry an extra visor for day and night riding. The shield is impressive. It works as prescribed, constantly changing to outside light to maintain just about the perfect clarity. Riders don’t notice it working so they can concentrate on the road. I’ve ridden with it in bright sunlight and the dark of night and the Transitions Shield is always on point. If the sun is hitting you directly in the face, it could stand to darken up just a little bit more, but otherwise it is a boon for riders. I love not having to pack an extra shield or second pair of clear glasses. It’s one of those things you wonder how you got along without and in my opinion is something every motorcycle helmet should come with standard.

The Bell Star Carbon Race Day Helmet teamed with the Transitions Photochromatic Shield is top-notch. I understand why AMA Pro racer Josh Herrin talked so highly about it when I interviewed him. It’s got a great design that limits head shake, vents extremely well, cuts down on ambient noise, and is comfortable and lightweight. All this along with the protection the Kevlar/carbon fiber shell provides while meeting Snell M2010 and DOT standards. To back up its work, Bell backs up their work with a five-year warranty. At $649.95, it is pricey, but worth every penny. I do know that the Motorcycle Superstore will throw in a Transition Shield for free with the purchase of a Bell Star Helmet. Seeing how the Transition’s priced at $119.95, this sweetens the pot a bit if you’re thinking about purchasing one.

Find Bell Helmets at the Motorcycle Superstore
Bell Star Carbon Race Day Helmet - X-Small to 2 XL $649.95
Transitions Photochromatic Shield - $119.95

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Comments
arsey51   January 14, 2014 11:25 AM
I bought the Limited Edition Laguna Seca MotoGP Bell Star and let me say that the paint and graphics on this helmet are top notch. Great hat to admire. The transitions shield works as advertised. The hat is comfy - but way too much wind noise. My AGV's and Arai's are much more quiet than the Star. I don't wear ear plugs but this definetley requires ear plugs. So would I recommend? No - this one is going on display, the AGV's and Aria's will get used.
harley1   September 24, 2013 03:07 PM
Hey Anthony D, I've worn the Bell Star Carbon Helmet on 2014 Victory Tourers during my ride out to Sturgis and while testing the new Indian Chiefs. Have worn it while testing the 2014 Can-Am Spyder, 2013 Ducati Diavel, 2013 Rocket III, Ninja 300, Ninja 650 and Honda CBR5000R over the last couple of months, too. Some have windscreens, some not. Even though I haven't had a chance to wear it at the track, I have worn it going in excess of 100 mph (thanks Diavel!) So I've worn it riding on more than cruisers. Sucks to hear about the magnets from you and Piglet. Mine's no worse for wear. I'm sure Bell has read these posts and hopefully have taken note. spectral, I listed the weight, but more so it feels light on my head in comparison to other lids I've worn. I've tested Vemar, Shoei, Bell and Icon full-face helmets in the past, but never Arai. I do know they make solid helmets though as my buddy Neale Bayly swears by them. Thanks for the input, everybody!!
AnthonyD   September 24, 2013 09:46 AM
A helmets aerodynamics don't change with time. Why would your helmet start to "rise up" 3 months after you started using it? "Race day" is just the name of the graphic. Bryan, why didn't you take this thing to the track or on a sportbike? Seems like a strange pick to try out a new Indian. Are you guys going to test the Rouge on a Panigale at Laguna? I've had a magnet fall out of one of my Bell helmets too. Made in China!!!
spectral   September 21, 2013 08:12 AM
3.6 lbs isn't that light... My Arai RX-Q is about the same mass (3.5 lbs) and it's fiberglass. http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-helmets/motorcycle-helmet-weights.htm
zrxphil   September 20, 2013 06:25 PM
I am sure this is a good helmet. But to tell the truth I have never had a good experiance with a Bell helmet. Seems after about 3 months they always get to the point that they rise up on the highway and choke u. very annoying. Never been a problem with my shoei even after the 3 yrs i have worn it
Piglet2010   September 20, 2013 05:32 PM
I have a Bell Star and my only complaint is the glue holding the cloth cover over the chin strap magnet failed, letting the magnet fall out (during a track session, of course). One nice thing not mentioned is that Bell also makes snowmobile lids that use the same shield, so you can get a double-layer shield (or even a heated shield) for winter riding. I can also swap my Transitions shield between my Star, Vortex, and Revolver EVO in a matter of seconds.