Who is the Bell Super Air R helmet for? Before heading out for a ride do you find yourself asking: What kind of ride should I do today? A pedal-fest or a high-speed rock party? What about something casual in between? Well, that is who the Bell Super Air R helmet is designed for. It is a pedal-friendly, convertible full face mountain bike helmet that is light enough to be worn all day, but with that little extra added safety of an attachable chin bar for when the trails turn a bit rowdier. This replacement for the Bell Super 3R packs a lot of advancements in one lightweight package and I have been riding in mine for several months now.
THE LAB At 640 grams for a size medium, the Bell Super Air R is 144 grams lighter than its predecessor, the 3R and the Super boast extra safety features as well. The main safety feature is the MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology coupled with Bell’s Spherical Technology and their Ball and Socket design to create a slip plane within the helmet itself to reduce rotational forces of an impact. The Super Air R is a trail rated helmet which helps keep it on the lighter side of the convertible helmet weight spectrum and is something more trail-focused riders will enjoy.
Construction: Bell’s Super Air R is constructed using their Fusion Molded Polycarbonate shell, which bonds the outer shell to the EPS foam liner. The EPS liner itself consists of progressively layered foam of varying densities to reduce the energy transfer of an impact.
Ventilation: The Super Air R has four vents over the brow of the helmet that direct air through what Bell calls “The air channel matrix” and out the back of the helmet via three large exit ports. Ten side and top vents provide cooling while stopped and help with the low overall weight. Padding inside the helmet uses Bell’s patented Sweat Guide system to draw forehead sweat out and away from your eyes.
Fit System: Keeping everything in place is Bell’s Float Fit ratchet system with a rubberized dial to snug the helmet to your head and a basic plastic buckle two-point chin strap.
Visor: The visor has Bell’s Goggle Guide System, a soft ratcheting feature that allows the visor to easily pivot up for glasses or goggle storage.
Chin bar: The chin bar has four points of contact and a wraparound style, with a large front vent. Cheek pads and EPS foam line the inside of the chin bar to give it a nice finished feel.
THE DIRT I’ve used Bell’s Super DH convertible helmet ever since I started racing enduro, so I was eager to get my hands on the Super Air R as soon as it was released to the public. It’s a lot lighter than the DH (not DH rated remember) and the chin bar is much easier to get on even with the helmet on. The front two tabs are easy to align with the ports on the helmet and the back two latches pop right into place. Conversely, I cannot get the Super DH chin bar on while wearing it, I just… end up struggling, looking silly and wasting time, so the ease of a chin bar that comes off and goes on quickly during a trail ride was a welcome addition.
Another feature I like with the Super Air is that the opening is larger and makes even large goggles comfy to wear. The Sweat Guide works very well, maybe too well, as it really soaks up sweat. I am a sweater and, (sorry if you get a visual), can often be seen squeezing a river of sweat from the brow of my helmets in the summer. The downside to the brow pad storing all that sweat is that I have a tendency of furrowing my brow as I go to put my goggles on, which inevitably leads to drops of sweat falling into my goggle as I tilt them onto my face. Less than ideal.
The fit system dial is easy to use even in the wet and with gloves on and is very comfortable once ratcheted into place, but I have one complaint: Why no Fidlock buckle? Are they really so expensive that one could not be included on a $275 helmet? The visor’s soft ratchet system works very well but I feel it could rotate up a bit higher, and for me I would prefer a bit longer of a visor as well. One thing I really liked about the Super Air R over my Super DH is the DH makes a bit of a creaking sound when wearing it, I only ever notice it on the climbs but It’s there. I was very happy that the Super Air R is creak free.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Bell Super Air R is a great convertible trail helmet and I often use it without the chin bar (you can purchase the Super Air with no chin bar) on XC days. It’s nice to have that extra confidence of the chin bar when things get going a bit faster and it truly is a great replacement for the old Bell Super 3R. The Super Air R is not DH-rated, so if you are looking for a downhill rated lid check out the Super DH. If you are looking for a more dedicated XC-style lid, the Sixer or the Super Air will fill the bill. However, if you want something right in between DH and XC when you are shredding trails, then Bell’s R is for Rowdy and the Super Air R could be right up your alley.
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That little extra level of protection
Chin bar is easy to use
The latest in safety technology
No Fidlock buckle
Brow sweat pad can fill up
Short length and movement of the visor
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