Bell MIPS Sixer
Words & Photos by Nic “U-Turn” Hall
Bell Helmet’s new Sixer continues the brand’s line of innovation and quality that has made them one of the most respected names in helmets since 1954. Despite their reputation, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the previous generations of Bell’s Super line of helmets. They never quite fit my head right. Beyond the pressure points, I also thought the looks were questionable. Coming into this review, I hoped the new Bell Sixer would make up for the shortcomings of the pervious versions.
The Sixer is one of the latest trail specific helmets in Bell’s line. The helmet has some unique technical features that help set it apart from the competition. Being that my full time gig is in flight medicine, I often see the results of sub-par or non-helmeted crashes. Let’s just say I want the very best in helmet technology, and a fresh lid on at all times. I feel very confident with the Sixer between my skull and the ground.
The first thing I noticed was the in-mold polycarbonate structure that is exposed around many of the vents. Bell calls this their “Roll Cage.” It essentially offers a multi density helmet with integrated structure. Progressive layering of different density EPS foams allow for a longer energy transfer time, which is essential in limiting damage to the brain. The MIPS liner is very low profile and suspended by flexible elastomers. Along with the polycarbonate shell, the Sixer offers high levels of protection from physical impact.
Fit and finish is on a completely new level for Bell. All the hardware used on the helmet is top quality. The visor has 4 positions, all managed by large aluminum screws. Tri-glide strap hardware is easy to use and stays flexible after many rides.
X-Static padding is featured throughout the lid. Silver nitrate is impregnated into the material to prevent bacteria buildup. The Float Fit rear adjuster has a three-way harness that keeps a meaningful grasp on your head. I was given a matte white and black helmet, and the paint finish is high quality with no chipping or scratching despite some heavy use.
The helmet has a vent layout that is somewhat similar to some recent road helmets. A top vent has a removeable breakaway camera and light mount. Twenty-six vents along with a large forehead vent under the visor allow for amazing airflow given the amount of coverage. The Sixer extends down fairly low on the back of head and has a notched protection area for the temple. The rear of the helmet has a textured area with the logo that adds a few style points while retaining goggle straps.
Over the last several months of riding, I have been able to put the Sixer through every situation. Well almost. Thankfully I haven’t taken a direct hit in the helmet. Instead I let Drew handle that end of the testing. Despite carnage to other parts of his body, what’s left of his brain seemed intact and un-rattled – impressive considering his dive.
The fit is outstanding– one of the most comfortable helmets we’ve worn. Each section of the harness is custom tunable to your head. The rear occiput strap has four different settings for height and a large range that tightens the whole harness. The chinstrap is easy to adjust around the ears, and doesn’t catch on your enduro-beard.
While pedaling in sweltering conditions, the front pad wicks sweat out to the sides of the helmet, avoiding the rider’s eyes or glasses. I first thought this would be a marketing gimmick, but not once did the helmet drip sweat on me. For the level of protection afforded, the Sixer is very cool when riding. Airflow was managed best when the visor was in the mid position, directing air down to the forehead and over the inside of the helmet.
The helmet is very low profile for an aggressive trail helmet. It fits close to the head, but has a noticeable offset to allow air to move throughout the shell. Rear coverage is adequate and holds a set of goggles well. Fabios be warned however– the MIPS liner can snag on long locks when removing the helmet.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Bell has won us over with the Sixer. It is without a doubt the first helmet we grab for rides now. For $150, you get a top of the line helmet that has been well developed and thought out. It’s packed with features for both comfort and safety, and is spec’d with a MIPS liner. We’ve already been recommending this helmet out on the trails, so it only makes sense we do it here.
Certification: CE EN1078, CPSC
Colors: A huge range of options, including metallics
Padding: X-static with sweat guide channels
Weight: 410 grams
The MIPS Liner Occasionally Pulls Long Hair
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