BELL RACE STAR "ACE CAFE SPEED CHECK" HELMET

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  • MSRP $699.99-$749.95 (depends on color), XS-2XL (my size S)
  • 3K Carbon Shell
  • Eyewear Compatible
  • Flex Impact Liner
  • Magnefusion™ Removable Magnetic Cheekpads
  • Panovision™ Shield with Class 1 Optics
  • Raceview Orientation
  • Virus Cool Jade power mesh liner
  • Certifications: DOT, ECE 22.05, Snell M2015
  • Shape: Long Oval

OVERVIEW

One of the many perks of working at RevZilla.com is access to the Demo Closet, affectionately called the "ZLAset" by those of us on the inside. 

Living inside the closet is a full size run of Race Star Helmets. When I saw this graphic, I instantly fell in love mostly because it matched my bike :D. But when I tried it on I actually really enjoyed the fitment which definitely wasn't the case with previous Bell helmets. As of this post, the Star line is comprised of three different types:

  1. Street, starting at $499.99
  2. Race, starting at $699.99
  3. Pro, starting at $1199.95

The graphic I'm wearing is #2, the Race Star. What makes the Race Star a little more special is the outer shell, the eps and the liner system. The outer shell is made of a "3K Carbon (Fiber) Shell" and has a different eps system known as the Flex Impact Liner. The cheek pads are also removable by magnet, which makes thing a bit more convenient for cleaning or headset installs. Basically the Race Star gets you a slightly lighter shell, a higher performance shell with the deeper view window in a crouch and a little more comfort with the Flex Impact Liner. 

It doesn't matter to me, and I think if I wore the street star I probably wouldn't have noticed a dramatic difference since I'm not topping out at 150mph on the track just yet. 

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But what I did notice is how much more aerodynamic it was going down the straightaway at 100mph. This helmet has a very aggressive line from front to back which makes it ideal in a crouch so that when you lean forward, you can actually see out the front! 

Notice how the faceshield almost looks like it's looking up towards the ceiling? 

Now look at your street helmet, or modular helmet, your faceshield is probably pointing more straight ahead because that style of helmet is primarily going to be used while sitting up straight. 

It was extremely comfortable on the track, so that when I started to learn how to manage all the real estate the track has to offer, I didn't have any trouble finding the next turn in point, or my next marker. Seeing everything wasn't a problem. 

I also borrowed a mirrored gold faceshield because well, why not? Certainly helped that it was tinted since it was a bright, warm, sunny day. 

Noise wasn't an issue, except down the straightaway where of course the wind is blasting the loudest. With earplugs, it didn't sound that different from my Shoei. But I certainly noticed how much more aggressive it was going down the straightaway. Absolutely no resistance or turbulence approaching higher speeds. Although the shell size is a bit bigger in this Small, I didn't notice it. I think I would definitely notice if I were on the street, since I'm constantly turning my head in that situation. But on the track you're never changing lanes and looking beside or behind you because you don't have to. 

FIT

The fitment on the Star line is mostly Oval. As you climb up to the Race and Pro, it turns into a Long Oval. At least that has been my experience fitting customers in the RevZilla Showroom. The slimmer your head, the more comfortable you will probably find this helmet. I consider myself an intermediate oval and that will work well too as long as you are still on the slimmish side (ear to ear). The wider your head gets, the tighter the Stars will feel. 

The Race Star has an even tighter fit because of the implied purpose of the helmet, Racing. As we crouch, we need our helmets to be snugger, leaner, less bulky, lighterweight, more aerodynamic. 

That also means that the neckline should be higher in the back. You can see in the photo below how low my chin is compared to how high my neckline is.  

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Now look at me in my Shoei. Of course, it's a sporty, aggressive helmet but not quite as aggressive as the Bell. And that's because it isn't designed as Track Helmet. Certainly great for aggressive riding but doesn't have the exact same angle. It did work okay for my previous track day but I definitely noticed how it touched the neck/back of my jacket as I started to crouch.  

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The Bell definitely felt more comfortable on the track and I am seriously considering buying one for next year's track season. :D But, there are a couple things I wish they would refine and improve for the next version. 

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I'm normally a size XS (54.5 cm) in helmets, but in this model I had to bump up to S (55 cm) because it has such a narrow entry, I couldn't get my head in. Luckily a 0.5cm increase didn't mean it was  too long, it actually fit me quite perfectly. It was as snug as I like it (a bit snugger even than my Shoei) without any movement at all, even at 100+mph speeds. Even as I wore it for the day, I didn't feel it get too loose or change really. I suppose if I had it for a month or two that might change, and I'd certainly find it too loose if it got 15-20% looser. As far as shapes are concerned, I consider myself an intermediate oval since I don't have a tall or high forehead but I do have a pretty small head. 

As a track specific helmet, I really liked how the Race Star performed in terms of ventilation, wind resistance, comfort, view and weight. The good news is also that if you are borderline XXS in an oval, you'll probably fit the XS quite well. It is quite narrow. The downside is if you are a round and need a XXS helmet, because you will size up to S which might then leave you with extra space in the front. Or for those of you who are really round, you'll still find pressure points on the side of your head. If that's the case, then you'll want to consider an Arai Corsair X, a Scorpion R2000 or maybe an HJC RPHA 11 Pro.  

Keep in mind that the interior liners are not changeable on the Race Star, except for the cheekpads which can only be made thicker, not thinner in 5mm increments. And the shells start to get considerably larger as you bump up to L, XL sizing. I feel fortunate that I fit in S because otherwise I would look like a bobblehead in anything larger.  

My only real complaint about the Race Star is the finish on the inside of the chin bar where the chin skirt attaches. And this really doesn't interfere with the way the helmet works, it's really just a finish issue that I think they need to fix next time around. The rest of the helmet has been improved in so many ways, it just seems like they forgot this part. It's such a small detail but those details are what really set the best helmets apart from the rest.