| Owner Comments (Below)
I was only about 100 feet from the driveway when the
Or rather, I attacked them at about 30 MPH.
A quick access of the little gray cells made me realize
that this was the first time I had ever ridden a motorcycle without at
least some type of visor that protected my face. Now I knew why...
Early fall brings an outbreak of tiny gnats where I
live, and they swarm around in great clouds, preferring the cool shadows
of trees. They seem to love hanging around by the side of the
road, making a motorcycle ride a true adventure in nature.
It doesn't take much to squash their meager bodies on a
fairing, clothing or visor, and hitting them at speed is like riding
So my first and overwhelming take on wearing the shorty helmet
look is this: don't do it unless you're riding behind a full fairing.
I have no idea how anyone can ride a motorcycle without at least a
minimal amount of protection against bugs, wind, dirt and dust.
The curious thing is, I see them all the time.
Motorcycle riders without visors, that is. The de rigueur
riding apparel around here seems to be shorts, a T-shirt and what I call
a Tupperware helmet -- a helmet about as small as a Tupperware bowl and
offering as much protection.
I know what happens when these riders hit the ground,
even at 0 MPH when they fall over at a stop light. I know this
because my wife is a Registered Nurse and worked in an intensive care
But please tell me what happens when bugs, bees, birds
or -- and this happened to me once -- black walnuts hit them in the
face, arms and legs? Not only is it painful, it's potentially
dangerous to both rider and traffic.
So forget about using a shorty helmet, Bell or
otherwise, on an unfaired bike. The Bell Shorty has a removable
shade, and I have a clear visor from an old 3/4 HJC helmet that will
fit, but I have never seen a rider using a shorty helmet with a clear
face visor, so I guess that's out of the question.
I'm very fortunate to live in a small neighborhood on a
cul-de-sac way out in the sticks that has, believe it or not, 13
motorcycles distributed among only 20 homes. I ended up borrowing
my neighbor's Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide to accurately
evaluate the Bell Shorty behind a full (or nearly so) fairing.
In this regard, it works very well, and, in fact, I can
understand why the shorty configuration is so popular. It feels
very light in weight and my head feels almost completely unencumbered
and free. It's a good feeling, but I still wouldn't want to crash
whilst wearing it...
However, the Bell Shorty is U.S. DOT approved, and it
reaffirms our opinions on the "new" Bell helmet offerings. We
reviewed the Bell Sprint and found it to have excellent quality,
especially considering the very low price.
The Bell Shorty helmet is cut from the same cloth, as it
were. The quality seems very good and everyone loves the flame
graphics. In fact, we had a hard time deciding which Shorty design
to buy for this review. I wish they had a red/orange flame model
with a gloss finish, but our flat (matte) black with it's 18% dark gray
to silver flames is also very cool and, as you can see, it photographs
Ours is a size XL, and it fits size large and
extra-large near-round heads with comfort. There seems to be more
flexibility in the fit of a shorty or half-helmet because of the
decreased contact area between the helmet's liner and the rider's head.
The Bell Shorty is very slightly tight at the top, and the fit up top
feels similar to a
or Shoei X-11, if
you've ever tried one.
The liner is comfortable and the cloth that is used to
line the brow is fleece-like soft. Curiously, there is more
padding in the liner on top of the rider's head than at the brow.
There isn't much padding at all in the brow, and we
discovered that depending upon the rider's head shape, some untoward
pressure can be felt on the forehead, causing some pain or redness for
My round head shape apparently fits the Bell mold for
the Shorty, because I had no problems in this regard.
The Bell Shorty is made in China, and we suspect that
the entire Bell helmet line is made under contract in the same
The size XL Shorty weighs in at 2 lbs., 8-3/8 ounces
(1143 grams), which is, as expected, at least 1/3 less than the weight
of most full-face helmets. See the
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for more information and for a table
showing the weights of every helmet we've reviewed.
The Shorty has an interesting feature. The vinyl
side "curtain" that provides minimal protection against the elements for
the rider's ears can be removed. The curtain is attached to the
helmet liner by a full-length zipper.
The straps that secure the Shorty on the rider's head
are located outside of the curtain. They are attached to the
helmet shell with stainless steel rivets, and the nylon webbed straps
come down on either side of the rider's ear, where one of the straps is
sewn on to the other, which then continues down under the rider's chin
to secure via a D-ring system.
This is all well and good, with one exception. We
cannot fathom the reason why Bell did not provide for a snap or a piece
of Velcro to secure the extra section of chin strap.
Unless it is tucked up under the rider's chin, the extra
piece of loose strap flies around in the wind, slapping the rider's face
in a regular and very annoying rhythm. In fact, you can hear the
strap hitting the rider's face and helmet in the MP3 sound file we
recorded for the Bell Shorty (see below).
The helmet also has two sliding air vents on the brow,
but with a helmet of this style, brow vents are superfluous. After
all, without a visor, how much more air could possibly flow through the
helmet than isn't already flowing over the rider's face?
The Shorty is named thus for a reason -- it's short.
So the rider's ears are out in the air stream, and the noise levels are
about as high as we've ever experienced. This can be somewhat
mitigated with earplugs, and as always, we strongly recommend wearing
correctly fitted earplugs whenever you ride a motorcycle.
This is especially important with the Bell Shorty and,
we expect, with any other helmet of this configuration. See the
Earplugs and Hearing
Protection page for more information on choosing and fitting
Other than that, the Bell Shorty is a very nice helmet for this style
lid. It would also make a good scooter helmet, although why a
scooter rider should have less protection than any other two-wheeled
rider isn't obvious.
So there you have it: the Bell is a DOT-approved shorty
helmet with nice styling, good quality and a comfortable fit. And
the price is right!
MP3 Sound Files
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
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 we're not sure if these are useful or not in
helping you make a helmet purchasing decision.
More files are posted on the
Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Bell Shorty MP3.
Time = 0:0:53 (818kb)