What To Know Before Buying A Bell Race Star Flex Helmet | Cycle World
Bell Helmet

What To Know Before Buying A Bell Race Star Flex Helmet

First impressions of Bell’s high-end carbon-fiber lid

The Race Star Flex is Bell’s $800 high-end carbon-fiber sport/race helmet. I nabbed one recently, and although I haven’t spent a ton of time in it yet, there are few things worth pointing out if you’re considering buying one.

Fit

Flex

Bell Race Star Flex.

Seth Richards

The Race Star Flex fits a full size smaller than some helmets from other brands. I always wear a size small (55–56), but with Bell’s sizing I’d be much better off moving up to a medium and using one of the thicker of the three liners that are included in the box. Most manufacturers charge extra to switch out liners, so including them in the purchase adds some definite value. If you’re between sizes, consider opting for the larger size and using the thickest liner.

Although Bell says the helmet is best for intermediate-oval head shapes, I find it’s shorter front to back than most helmets of the same description. Additionally, the ear cutouts are uncomfortably small, which means I have to tuck my ears in with my fingers each time I put the helmet on. Even then, there’s not enough space for my ears.

If you’re interested in the helmet, it’s worth spending some time trying on a couple of different shell sizes and liner configurations to make sure it works for you. While that’s true of selecting any helmet, based on my conversations with several other journalists and my own experience wearing multiple brands, it’s fair to say the Race Star accommodates a smaller range of head shapes.

Protection

polymer materials

Two of the three polymer materials visible beneath the interior comfort liner.

Seth Richards

Unlike the model that sits below it in the range, the Star Flex doesn’t use a MIPS liner, instead opting for Bell’s proprietary “Flex” liner. Using a “slip zone” in the liner, the Flex system manages rotational forces similarly to the MIPS system, but differentiates itself by using three polymers of varying densities (EPO, EPP, and EPS) to better manage low-, mid-, and high-speed impacts.

Specs & Features

Carbon fiber

The mix of glossy carbon fiber and matte paint really pops.

Seth Richards

The Race Star Flex’s carbon shell and minimalist paint job always garner a ton of compliments. It’s a great-looking lid. On looks alone, it’s up there with the best of them.

On my kitchen scale at home, the Race Star weighs 1,606 grams. For comparison’s sake, my AGV Pista GP R weighs 1,498 grams (that’s 3.5 pounds versus 3.3 pounds). Wearing light-weight carbon-fiber helmets is addictive. Be warned.

Face shield changes are fairly straightforward: not as simple as on an AGV, but less finicky than on a Shoei or Arai. The visor has no detents so it’s either fully open or closed.

Cheek pads are magnetic for easy change-outs. The chinstrap also has a magnet at the end instead of the more common plastic snap, but the strap is far too long, so the loop dangles awkwardly. Plus, if you put your helmet on your tank, the magnet might stick, which is a tank scratch waiting to happen. A simple plastic snap may not be as slick, but it’s a more elegant solution.


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The lining is anti-bacterial, but I haven’t spent enough time in the helmet to see how well it works. But, on the move, the forehead vent moves a ton of air, so that should prolong the time it takes to start smelling like the inside of a Siberian trapper’s bearskin cap.

The helmet also includes a legit helmet bag instead of the typical dust bag; more good bang for-your-buck value.

Value

Race Star Flex

Compared to other high-end helmets, the Race Star Flex is about $50 less than the Arai Corsair-X in (solid colors), and about $70 more expensive than the Shoei X-Fourteen (solid colors), both of which have composite shells. It’s a couple hundred bucks more than the X-Lite X 803 UC, and about $600 less than the AGV Pista GP R, both of which have carbon-fiber shells.

Bell Helmet

As far as high-end carbon-fiber helmets go, the Race Star Flex is competitively priced and has a lot of thoughtful features—especially the Flex system. At the end of the day, it comes down to fit. If you’ve got a “Bell head,” the Race Star Flex is a helmet worth saving up for. For the rest of us, a more universal fit and larger ear holes would go a long way toward making it a go-to helmet.

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