Bell Super DH MIPS Helmet
Words & Photos Drew Rohde
The ability to have one helmet ready for multi-discipline days isn’t new by any means, but it’s finally getting the attention it deserves. The new Super DH is a major departure from previous generations of the Super 2 and 3R– thankfully. Due to comfort/fitment reasons we could not wear the Super 2R for more than five minutes without significant discomfort.
Bell addressed fit and comfort as they were improved on the Super 3R, but it was the styling that prevented us from really liking that helmet. Instead we opted to wear the warmer, but better looking Giro Switchblade when burly days were on the schedule.
The latest iteration of Bell’s Super family sports a burlier look and better fit than previous models. We really like the updated chin bar as it gives the helmet a more DH-like appearance.
The helmet boasts MIPS Spherical protection, 19 vents and a host of other features like the X-Static quick-drying pad material, an integrated breakaway camera mount and a Sweat Guide pad design to keep perspiration away from you eyes. If you’re doing laps or want to bring goggles along for the ride you’ll also enjoy the GoggleGuide visor system. It allows for the visor to move out of the way so you can keep your goggles above the forehead for easy access.
Along with the updated chin bar styling, one of the things we like most about the Bell Super DH is the MIPS Spherical technology. Unlike traditional MIPS liners that reduce rotational forces, the MIPS Spherical system is built into the helmet between two different layers of foam. A high-density EPS layer and lower density layer fit like a ball-and-socket design. The design allows the material to move several millimeters in any direction in the event of an impact. The lower density layer also helps reduce brain trauma from sub-concussive impacts that are more commonly experienced on smaller head knocks.
Helmets only need to do one job, protect your head; yet when it comes time to review a new lid we take several other factors into account. While protection is at the forefront, we know that comfort, styling and price are equally important factors when making a purchase.
So how does the Super DH stack up? Pretty damn well overall compared to what we’ve seen in this genre. The helmet is ASTM 1952 certified and designed to take DH-level impacts and the progressive layering process makes sure smaller impacts are met with a softer cushion, saving the harder EPS for bigger hits.
The fit also feels very secure, giving its wearer a feeling of total coverage. We’re happy to report all our fit and comfort issues have been addressed and we never had any discomfort while wearing the Super DH. Whether we had the chin bar off or on, the helmet stayed put nicely and offered a sense of security while still remaining breathable thanks to the great ventilation. As a person who sweats a lot, I appreciated the work that went into keeping sweat off my face and glasses. Over brow ventilation, X-Static padding and Sweat Guide channeling helped keep the helmet drier on hot days.
Installing the chin bar got easier each time however; the tabs were a bit more difficult to pull with cold fingers. We found ourselves packing the chin bar on more rides than we expected since it didn’t weigh very much and was pretty quick to install. We also felt the chin bar breathed pretty well, which let us keep it on for shorter climbs to the next descent.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Bell has stepped up to the plate with the new Super DH and we’re stoked to see it. The Super DH is a solid helmet all around. It is lighter and more ventilated than some removable chin bar helmets on the market, but you’ll have to pay for it. At $300 we think it’s a hefty investment, although protecting your head should be priority number one. It can also be argued that this is the elusive do it all helmet as it’s a DH certified convertible. When you only need one helmet for any riding genre, suddenly the investment becomes more attractive.
While we haven’t ridden in the Fox Proframe, we have spent quite a bit of time in the Giro Switchblade, which we think are the two closest competitors to the Super DH. Stylistically we still prefer the Switchblade but it’s a significantly hotter helmet. In the winter we love that it covers the ears but for the rest of the year the Bell will be getting more use thanks to the superior ventilation.
Chin bar installation and removal is pretty easy, although we wish the buckles had a bit more purchase to open with gloves on. Sweat management, comfort and fit are also highlights of the Super DH and make it equally useable for long trail rides or some light bike-parking. Even though it passes ASTM F1952-00 tests, we would still prefer a dedicated DH helmet like the Bell Full-9. However, if you spent 90% of your time riding local trails and only make a trip or two a year to the bike park, this should will quench your enduro thirst.
Packed with Features
Great Light Duty DH Lid
Chin Bar Buckles
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