New Gear! Bell SRT Modular Helmet

In my early days of riding, MTBiking, and Autocrossing (early 80s), I used Bell helmets almost exclusively. Somewhere along the way, the low to mid-priced helmet market exploded, and brands like HJC, Joe Rocket, Icon, Scorpion and more joined the fray. With new competition, came lower pricing, inventive features, and much more variety in fit- all while meeting tightening safety standards. As a firm believer in helmet use, I’ve gone through many in years of riding. Recently I came back to Bell with the purchase of a Hi-Viz Revolver Evo that became my go-to helmet over the past season. Unfortunately, a warranty issue and current lack of my color scheme put an end to my favorite helmet. Bell came through, however, and made me a deal I could not refuse on a new SRT Modular.

The Revolver Evo is still available, but there is no longer a Hi-Viz option. As a RiderCoach preaching the need to be seen, I’m always surprised by the number of dark colored helmets, especially in light-absorbing matte colors. Then again, if dark’s your style and you’re armoring your noggin, who am I to complain? My only Hi-Viz modular option was stepping up to one of Bell’s multi-colored SRT Modulars . I usually go for something a bit more subtle than the Predator scheme, but it’s much better looking in person than onscreen and the finish is outstanding. Easy opening vents on each side of the chin-bar and one wide top vent flow into screened exhaust vents in the rear of the smooth shell.  Just one complaint about the appearance, and it’s a big one: what’s with three obnoxious clear-coated BELL stickers when one subtle logo is all that’s needed, and why the red-on-white logo for a yellow/ silver/ black scheme? Blech…

Moving beyond superfluous, permanent stickers, the rest of the helmet is really nice. Like most riders, I’m picky about helmets. Since the Revolver was my first Bell in years, I had concerns the SRT might not fit or feel the same. It doesn’t, but I needn’t have worried- it was all toward the better. The SRT is a reasonably light (for a mid-price modular) fiberglass composite and noticeably lighter than the polycarb Revolver. The chin-bar on the SRT is also significantly roomier than the Revolver, a luxury for my eagle beak, but it’s also the only time weight seems to come into play. The upper “hold” position for the flip seems quite high due to the length of the chin-bar, and often requires both hands to open fully. Bell obviously knew this, as there’s a slide lock inside the helmet to lock the chin bar open. As with most modulars, Bell’s SRT is NOT to be used riding with the chin-bar open!

The washable, anti-bacterial liner is quite cushy and comfortable, including space for eyeglasses in the padding. A chin skirt helps control wind noise and airflow from beneath the helmet. Beneath the liner, EPS crush material has recessed ear pockets for coms, and huge cooling grooves front to back. Bell’s “Panovision Screen with Class 1 Optics” is noticeably larger than the Revolver, providing the rider an expanded field of view and positive detentes for venting or full open. Bell’s push-button shield removal system on the SRT is the easiest I’ve used, making changes and cleaning a snap. All helmets seem to include the ubiquitous inner sun shield, but Bell made the SRT shield cover nearly the entire opening. This minimizes light leaks and makes it an effective hot weather shield with helmet open – a nice, appreciated surprise!

On the bike, the Bell SRT Modular feels light and well balanced. The shape of the helmet seems to effectively minimize buffeting, and the venting, especially the top vent, flows prodigious amounts of cool air through the lid. The visor and chin-bar seem to seal well, but helmet noise is about mid-pack among modulars. I’m slightly annoyed by the unwieldiness of the chin-bar but loving the extra space behind it- a trade-off I gladly accept. The Panovision shield does provide a bit more useful field of view, and I dig the over-sized inner shield in place of sunglasses. The Bell Revolver Evo (MSRP $199.95) is a very nice helmet, and I loved the Hi-Viz solid with matte chin-bar. I would not hesitate to recommend the Revolver, but the SRT Modular (MSRP $349.95) is a better helmet in every way and worth the difference in price IMO. Of course, all Bell helmets include Bell’s terrific customer service and warranty, which is reason enough to check out their product line. I’d definitely go for a color scheme that does a better job of blending those garish stickers, though!

Keep Riding Local, Dreaming Global, and riding safe.  See you on the road!

-mike

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