Bell Sprint Helmet
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld
Reviews Home |
Owner Comments (Below)
More wBW Bell
Bell Star |
Bell Mag 8 |
Bell Zephyr |
Bell Apex |
Bell Sprint |
Bell Helmets used
to own the industry in a way that's hard to understand by anyone
who doesn't remember.
There are dozens of excellent helmets to choose from today,
manufactured to very high quality standards and meeting the
world's best safety standards.
I have no proof to back up this claim, but I'd guess that
just about any motorcycle helmet available today will offer
protection levels that are far superior to anything back in
the golden age of Bell Helmets.
The first real, honest-to-goodness full-face helmet I owned
was a Bell; I don't remember the model name, but I do remember
that it took seemingly forever to save up enough money to buy
it. My Bell was about 5 times the cost of the Kresge $19.95
special I was wearing at the time.
There isn't a single company that owned the market and at
the same time had the respect and cache as Bell Helmets back
in the late '70's. But like many other American companies, once
the competition got smart and started their onslaught of innovative
products, Bell faltered and became a shell (pardon the pun)
of its former self.
Bell Helmets will probably never own the market again, what
with so many established brands covering the world. But they
do have a decent selection of helmets at very reasonable prices,
so perhaps they'll carve out a niche, helped along by nostalgia.
Just don't expect the helmets to be made in the U.S.A. like
Bells of old; this one's made in China to Bell specifications.
We reviewed the open-face
Bell Mag-8 about a year ago, and found it to be a well-made
helmet with a very unique style and it left us with a good impression.
Bell recently released the full-face Sprint model shown here,
so we decided to take a look to see how it compares to its peers.
The Bell Sprint is the only full-face motorcycle helmet offered
by Bell as of this writing. In addition to the Mag-8, the company
also has a small line of motocross helmets and two open-face
models that should be popular with the cruiser crowd. We also
purchased a cool-looking Bell Shorty with a flames motif and
will be reviewing that soon.
Helmet Fit and Comfort
get an extra thrill when a motorcycle helmet offers more value
than its price would suggest. The Sprint lists for $159.95,
but it can be found for around $139.00, making it a relative
bargain. The Sprint's removable liner is very nicely made, with
a higher quality appearance than some helmets we've used costing
In fact, the Sprint's liner compares favorably with the $650.00
AGV TiTech Rossi replica we reviewed recently, in our opinion.
Everything fits tight and the snaps are perfectly lined up,
allowing the liner to be removed and replaced with little fuss.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but many helmet manufacturers
either get it wrong or use cheap snaps that can literally crumble
during their first use.
Especially nice is the use of a steel-colored mesh between
the liner itself and a black open-weave mesh that lines the
brow of the helmet, just under the eye opening. It gives the
liner a very finished, quality appearance.
The black open-weave mesh is also used between the foam at
the top of the helmet and the rider's head. Many helmets leave
this area uncovered, which may improve air flow, albeit very
slightly. But peering into a helmet and looking at Styrofoam
always leaves me with the impression of cheapness.
Sprint's liner is comfortable, but certainly not the equal of
the best, like the
Shark RSR, Arai
Quantum II or
But helmet comfort isn't necessarily a factor of cost; the
Sprint's liner feels very similar to the liner in the Suomy
Extreme, for example.
If the Sprint had about 5 mm more padding in the liner and
if the material had just a bit more nap, it would be equal to
the best. Although I suppose the same could be said for many
The Sprint liner gets extra kudos though for its appearance
and for the care that was taken in assembly. The bottom edge
of the helmet shell is also covered with a nice, thick vinyl
bumper. This also serves as a sort of molding to hide the edge
of the helmet's liner where it meets the shell.
A vinyl-backed, permanently attached spoiler is fixed under
the chin, and the vinyl is embossed with a checkered pattern
that is repeated in a small crescent around the bottom of the
All in all, an impressive job and way more than expected
on a low-priced helmet.
is that the Sprint will fit round shaped heads best and it fits
true to size. See the wBW
Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on fitting
a motorcycle helmet and a discussion on head shapes.
Our size XL Sprint has an almost-round internal shape that
is very slightly narrow at the middle, just about at the rider's
ears. We'd say that the shape is about half-way between the
fit of a Vemar VSR and
a Shoei RF-1000.
We've had some
problems recently with helmet visors. It's not clear if the
manufacturers are specifying tighter tolerances for the fit
around the sides of the helmet in the visor rotating mechanism,
requiring more force (thus more twisting action) to open the
visor. Or perhaps the visors themselves are becoming thinner
to save money or weight?
The problem is that some visors seem to be way too flexible.
This is most noticeable when opening or closing the visor and
the visor twists dramatically as it's being opened.
The Bell Sprint has more visor twist than we prefer, bending
quite a bit before it actually moves. If the grab tab was in
the middle of the visor, the flex might not be as noticeable.
Other than that, the visor seals nice and tight against the
helmet's eye opening, which is a plus.
The sides of the visor wrap around the outside of the helmet's
shell and cover the rotating mechanism. Removal and replacement
is easy and is accomplished by raising the visor to its uppermost
setting and pulling on a lever on either side. Replacement and
tinted visors, cheekpads, chin curtains and other parts are
available through Bell Helmets.
This is the
one area where the Sprint really suffers, in our opinion. We
found the Sprint to be very noisy, and we're not sure why. Most
helmet noises can be traced to air rushing over the vents or
turbulence under the neck, but the Sprint just seems to be generally
noisy in all dimensions.
The Sprint's noise seems to be caused by air rushing around
the entire helmet in a loud mid-level tone. We've been experimenting
with a couple of NOJ Quiet Rider helmet wind blockers lately
and we tried one on the Sprint to see if would reduce the noise
levels, but it had only a minimal effect.
The bottom line here is that we think the Sprint is one of
the more uncomfortable helmets we've tried with respect to noise
levels. Normally, a helmet will transmit less noise when the
rider's head is out in the open air flow, but the Sprint seems
noisy anywhere except behind a full fairing.
Note that we always wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs
and an extra helmet liner when riding, and we strongly recommend
that you always wear hearing protection also. See the
and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing
and wearing earplugs. Note that your experience with this helmet's
noise levels may be different, depending upon many factors,
including your head shape, motorcycle configuration, prevailing
winds and more.
Bell Sprint Sound MP3 Files
UPDATE: We've been experimenting with live recordings
of helmet sounds during a short (< 2 minute) ride, with sound
checks at 40, 50 and 60 MPH. See the
Motorcycle Helmet Noise page for more information.
The MP3 files do not accurately record the noise levels,
and we haven't settled on recording levels, so the Bell Sprint
MP3's can not be compared to the Suomy Extreme and AGV TiTech
MP3 files posted on the wBW
Motorcycle Helmet Noise page. Nevertheless, we're posting
the files for your information. When we complete the evaluation
of the NOJ Wind Block, we'll add an MP3 file comparing the Bell
Sprint with and without the device.
Venting and Air Flow
Bell Sprint has a unique top venting system that works well.
It's narrower in height from top to bottom than other vents
and the vent assembly is positioned farther forward (i.e., towards
the brow) than most helmets.
It's possible that the forward placement of the vent allows
larger volumes of air to flow through a smaller opening when
compared to other helmets.
A single flat lever in the back of the vent opens or closes
three slits in the front. The vent has a positive seal and the
lever is simple and intuitive to use.
The chin vent has a narrow tab that is easy to locate with
gloved hands. The vent opens by pushing the lever down and closes
by pushing it up.
There's some mesh in back of the vent that appears to be
the same type used in the helmet liner. It's similar to the
nylon mesh found in screen doors, perhaps with a slightly tighter
Both vents are well made and add to the quality feel and
appearance of the helmet. The Sprint also has two exhaust vents
that are permanently open on the back of the helmet. They're
covered with plastic trim and the vent holes underneath are
also covered by the same steel-colored mesh, again adding to
the overall feeling of quality.
Both sets of vents work well and flow a good quantity of
air on to the rider's face and head. The top vents channel the
air through the liner and down on to the rider's brow and head.
The chin vent flows air through two holes on either side of
the back of the chin bar and on to the rider's face.
We've noticed a trend with several helmets we've reviewed
recently: manufacturers are adding vent openings on the back
of the chin bar to flow air on to the rider's face. This is
good news for overheated riders and all we can say is that it's
Our size XL Sprint
weighs in at 1688 grams, or 3 pounds, 11-1/2 ounces. This is
a very reasonable weight and it puts the Sprint in good company,
bracketed by the slightly heavier HJC CL-14 (a direct competitor)
and the Shoei X-11 and Arai Quantum II a couple of ounces lighter.
Good company indeed!
See the wBW
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart comparing the
weights of every helmet we've ever reviewed.
Paint and Graphics
another category where the Sprint really stands out. Bell offers
the Sprint in a variety of solid colors and patterns, and our "Red
Multi" is very similar to the first Bell full-face helmet
I purchased those many years ago. It has a nice pattern and
the finish has a thick clearcoat. I don't anticipate any unforeseen
problems with chipping or cracking.
The Bell Sprint
meets both U.S. DOT and Snell approval; it has a composite fiberglass
shell. Bell offers a five-year warranty on the helmet,
which is commendable. The Sprint also uses a D-ring attachment
system and the strap includes a snap that keeps the loose end
The Sprint is
a very good helmet at a great price, let down only by high noise
levels. If the helmet was quieter, it would certainly be one
of the helmet bargains of the year. It has very good to excellent
quality and features that are unexpected at this price level.
Product Review: Bell Sprint Helmet
|Available From: Bell
Price: $139.95 - $159.95
solids and patterns.
|Made In: China
Date: September 2005
Note: For informational use only. All material and
photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC - 2000-2013. All
rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld®
page. NOTE: Product specifications, features and details may
change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read
Terms and Conditions!
►Your Comments and Feedback
Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.
From "C.L." (8/10): "My
first Bell helmet was a Star that saved my face from the bars
after a tree jumped out and bit my bike on a narrow rocky narrow
trail… well it almost saved my face, as I still broke my nose
on impact, but imagine the same crash with an open face helmet,
which was pretty much the norm at the time It was a great helmet
I have the Sprint now and keep a good coat of wax on it to
quiet it down at freeway speeds. I also wax the shield to help
light rain bead up and clear off to the sides."
From "J.O." (5/10): "I
bought a Bell Sprint helmet at the same time as my first bike,
not wanting to drop a thousand dollars on gear as well in addition
to the 3 grand for the machine. I was quite happy with it for
a couple of months. Then time and experience showed up the flaws.
The first was evident from the start: Noise. Really
loud no matter what. The second didn't show up right away, but
I came to be disappointed with the air flow. Far too much with
the chin vent closed (makes for a cold face at 50 F) and not
enough with everything open in warm weather (pretty sweaty at
The final straw was the lining. The helmet fit great when
I tried it on and for the first few months of ownership. Then
the padding began to collapse, and the helmet was soon almost
rattling around on my head. Game over.
The TZ-R I replaced
it with served me well, but after two crashes and a pavement
drop, an RF-1000 is on the way to take its place."
From "R.A.": "I read your
report on this helmet today. I have used this helmet for two
summers and two winters. I ride all year round. Here is my opinion
of the helmet.
I purchased my helmet at Trev Deely HD in Vancouver,BC. They
were having a test ride day and they had a nice yellow BMW 1100S
in the used bikes that I fancied.
I bought the helmet, not the bike. I ride an '89 Honda PC
800. Not ideal, but it was what I could afford and it has grown
on me. Totally reliable, practical and great in all weather
other than black ice (then what is?).
I have found the helmet to fit my head reasonably well, but
a little discomfort around my ears. My size is small, hat size
is 6 7/8 -7. Comparing fit to a Arai Quantum II, I found the
Arai to fit my head considerably better. Of course you are talking
three times the price as well. I preferred the fit on the Arai
to that of the Shoei that I tried on as well.
The color of my helmet is a flat white which I like with
a spider web on the chin bar and flames along the sides. This
is accomplished by light grey stenciling. It is different from
all the other high gloss helmets, and gets lots of comments.
Here I thought it was rather conservative, and still affording
better visibility awareness to the drivers around me than the
standard black issue.
As for visibility, I find the shield opening a little small
as my peripheral vision has a larger capacity than the helmet
allows. I do wear sunglasses most of the time and I have no
issue once I enter then into the helmet, but I would love a
drop down as you wrote about in the new
I have found the helmet to be extremely noisy, changing the
face shield has reduced the noise somewhat, but I believe it
is caused by the flexing of the shield from the torquing it
under goes from frequent opening and closing which is the case
as my visor fogs up terribly.
I ride mostly with the chin vent open to help reduce the
fogging and always keep the nose guard in place to cut down
on fogging. Fogging is not a problem at speed. Only at stop
and idle. Summer riding is hot and venting is just adequate
in my humble opinion.
The liner works well, but as you stated could be so much
better with 5mm more. The helmet strap shed its locking feature
about two months into daily use. The helmet has been good in
the rain as in not pouring in, but the seal around the shield
was losing effect, I think because of the constant torquing
it under went. Lots of tiny stress lines in the shield as well.
The liner has worn from my 5 o'clock shadow showing up early
as is the case for me.
It has worn well considering the daily wear and tear. I know
it has a five year warranty, but I cannot see beyond this summer
for this helmet. Too hot, too noisy, I do wear custom moulded
ear plugs while riding, and the hold down strap is fraying.
The chin bar vent system remains open as the pin assembly
holding the flap mechanism has dislodged itself and now remains
permanently 3/4 open. Had to tape over in the bitter cold riding
conditions. Although the helmet is warm in summer, it was cold
during near freezing and below. I used a balaclava to keep the
cold from penetrating.
The top vents are closed, but in those temperatures cold
air pours down over your face and to the point that my
lenses were drying out.
It is true that you get what you pay for and although the
helmet does have many features, they are not well executed for
the long haul. I wore a Bell back in the mid sixties when I
started riding, as you say they have improved for safety but
not necessarily durability. I am looking into a new helmet so
that is what got me here in the first place.
How would I recommend this helmet? 6 / 10. It is sustainable
for less than average use. Maybe I'm critical, but that's what
I'm spending my money on, and I don't think the product holds
up. And no I don't want to find out if it does its job in an
accident, DOT and Snell have approved it.
Me , I'll take they're word for it. I just want to be comfortable
while wearing it. I don't think I'll be spending my money on
Bell in the future unless they improve substantially.
Oh one last comment. There are virtually no dealers in Vancouver
for Bell. Trev Deely HD I think is the only shop carrying them.
This was what I encountered when looking for a shield replacement.
However the great people at Deely's were kind enough to take
a shield off a new helmet to bail me out. Although I don't ride
a HD, they have always been very helpful to me. Great customer
service and support even for an old guy on a Honda. Ciao."