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Bell Scooter Helmet

 

Bell Mag-8 motorcycle helmet

Text and Photographs Copyright   webWorld International, LLC - 2001-2005 All rights reserved.

Bell Helmets was one of the original motorcycle helmet manufacturers in the U.S.  Riders aspired to owning a Bell like they do to owning an Arai or Suomy today, only more so, because there were far fewer helmet manufacturers in those days.  And the helmets that were available were mostly plastic junk, while Bell was known for high quality "real" helmets.

One thing led to another , and Bieffe (remember them?) bought Bell, but now the Bell brand has been revived as its own company.  The bottom line is that Bell helmets are available once more.

Bell has a motorcycle helmet design and testing facility in Santa Cruz, California, used for the research and development necessary to manufacture the new designs.  The offer an extensive selection of Snell M2000 and DOT approved motocross and off-road helmets, including a line of European design influenced open-face motorcycle street helmets.

The Mag-8 shown is stylish enough to be noticed.  It's sort of a cross between a scooter helmet (whatever that is) and a motorcycle touring helmet.  While the styling may be a "love it or hate it" proposition, we're rather fond of the shape, and we think goes great with something like the new Yamaha Majesty 400 in blue.  But style isn't everything, and the bonus is that the Mag-8 also offers more comfort than any other open-face helmet we've tried.

Unlike many scooterists, we're not afraid to wear full-face or flip-up helmets whilst riding.  After all, the street doesn't know the difference between a fall from a scooter and a fall from a motorcycle.  We're big proponents of motorcycle safety, and full-face helmets are part of a safety strategy that works.  In fact, none of us could remember the last time we wore anything but a full-face helmet. 

So the Mag-8 is a revelation, and has definitely got us thinking.  Its stylish good looks and very comfortable liner really add to the enjoyment of motorcycle riding -- it's wonderful to feel unencumbered by a full-face lid, especially in the hot and sticky summer months.  If you're a long-distance rider, the Mag-8 would make a great touring helmet and it also looks perfect on a scooter.

Bell motorcycle helmet animationThe size large fits my round shaped head perfectly, but Bell also sent along a size XL liner just in case.  That's right -- the Mag-8 has a removable liner!  This is either a first for open-face helmets, or we've been away from that market for so long that we're clueless.  I always wear a "skullcap" helmet liner whenever I ride, which helps to keep the helmet clean and somewhat mitigates the need for a removable liner, but a removable liner is a nice feature all the same. 

The Mag-8's liner is surprisingly thin, but it is surprisingly comfortable, with no pressure points or hard spots.  Bell designed the Mag-8 to have huge ear pockets; they're about 75mm (3", all inch measurements approximate) across and 40mm (1-1/2") deep.  The pockets extend out to a thin plastic liner just on the inside of the helmet shell, allowing the potential fitment of all sorts of helmet speakers.  My XM MyFi earbud speakers fit perfectly in my ears with no interference.

Even with the thin padding and absence of foam in the ear pockets, we found the Mag-8 to be relatively quiet; quieter even than many full-face helmets.  This could be due to the lack of any turbulence that is sometimes caused by air coming up under the chin bar on full-face helmets.  We always wear earplugs when riding, so your experience may be different, but the Mag-8 seemed relatively quiet both behind a fairing and on a "naked" bike (Editor's Note: See the wBW Earplug and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and fitting earplugs).

We were concerned that the fixed painted visor would create too much lift or buffeting at speed.  But it's virtually unnoticeable, with maybe a very slight sensation of helmet lift at higher speeds.   A couple of riders didn't notice it at all, and one or two mentioned that it was only very slightly noticeable, so our opinion is that it's not a problem. 

The overhanging visor does serve to keep some sun out of the rider's eyes, and the air slips right through it.  Unfortunately, the underside of the fixed visor isn't painted, which gives it a bit of a cheap look, but it really isn't noticeable unless the helmet is flipped over.  The rest of the paint on the Mag-8 is acceptable, it has a nice shine and the blue metalflake color is vibrant, but there are a few spots where the paint seems a bit thin and a couple of the edges have a barely noticeable paint drip or two.

Bell Mag-8 motorcycle helmet linerThe Mag-8's clear visor raises and lowers without the use of detents, so there are just about an infinite number of positioning choices.  The friction mechanism that holds the visor seems to be powerful enough to resist air pressure, at least at any of the speeds we've tried.  It would be nice if the visor could be raised about another 15mm or so, because at its topmost setting it remains slightly in the rider's upper peripheral vision, but this isn't really a problem.  The visor could probably also be removed completely if desired.

The visor is absolutely crystal clear, and offers a big, wide view of the road.  It's kind of fun, because it's one of those rare helmets where almost 100% of the solid portion of the helmet is out of sight, and it gives a nice feeling of riding down the road without any wind blast but with full protection.  The visor is very tall at 162mm (6-3/8"), so it covers the face to almost down below the chin.  Depending upon the size of the rider's nose, the visor can fog up slightly, but a quick touch of FogTech or Cat Crap anti-fog coating cures this problem in a jiffy.

The Mag-8 has a wide, black bumper that covers the entire bottom of the helmet, offering decent protection when the helmet is placed on a table or the ground.  The helmet is attached using the tried-and-true "D-ring" system, and Bell provides a small elastic band for tucking up the extra piece of strap.  There are a couple of padded sections of material that protect the rider's chin from chafing.  And finally, there are four narrow air vents at the top of the visor opening in the helmet shell that direct some air on top of the rider's head.  The Mag-8 weighs 1454 grams, and it's DOT approved.

Conclusion
We don't often use open-face helmets, but the Mag-8 has us thinking.  It's comfortable; it's cool in hot weather; we think the styling is much nicer than other types of open-face helmets and it's attractively different.  This would make a great helmet for a touring bike, a scooter rider or those who feel claustrophobic when wearing a full-face helmet. 


Product Review:  Bell Mag-8 Motorcycle Helmet
Available From:  Bell Powersports Suggested Retail Price:  $129.95
Colors:  Blue, Red, Graphite, Black, White  Sizes:  XS to XXL Made in:  Korea, designed and tooled in U.S.A.
Product Comments:  Comfortable, surprisingly quiet, crystal-clear visor and unique styling.  Removable liner is rare in an open-face helmet.  DOT approved.  Five-year warranty.  Weighs 1454 grams (3 lbs., 3-1/4 oz.)

  
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Text and Photographs Copyright   webWorld International, LLC - 2001-2005 All rights reserved.