BELL FULL10 SPHERICAL DH HELMET
Photos & Video by Max Rhulen
There is no question that modern mountain bikers are pushing the boundaries on a regular basis, and Bell’s new Full10 Spherical helmet is ready for the challenge. While safety technology may not be evolving as quickly as the kids at the local jump park, we are currently seeing a shift in technology and features over the last few months that has us very excited about the future of rider protection. Thanks to modern technologies that implement rotational protection in a vastly improved way, we are hopeful that rider safety will continue to increase as the technology begins to evolve and finds itself in more helmets in Bell’s lineup. For now however, Bell’s Full10 Spherical full face is the tip of the spear when it comes to safety for downhill mountain bikers. Let’s take a look at the progression below.
ABOUT THE HELMET
Developed in the Bell-Giro testing ‘Dome’ in Scotts Valley, the Bell Full10 Spherical is built in conjunction with Mips technology to boast some impressive safety stats. Bell integrates a ball-and-socket design into as sleek and refined a package as possible.
SAFETY AND TECH The unidirectional carbon fiber outer shell is only slightly bigger around than the typical single-layer full face, but the technology packed inside is a where the magic happens. The carbon fiber shell is tooled to interact with the foam interior shell, which cradles your head and shears away from the outer shell in the event of a crash. This keeps your head from catching on the ground, hopefully preventing the back-and-forth “sloshing” motion that leads to brain trauma.
Bell’s Full10 Spherical uses two types of materials in the inner and outer shells to provide protection from a wider range of impacts. The outer shell is made from the lighter, harder, and more energy absorbing EPS foam, while the inner liner is made from EPP. Expanded Polypropylene or EPP, is a softer and more crushable foam that does a great job of absorbing lower speed impacts, and sub-concussive loads. By layering these materials together, Bell hopes to offer a wide range of protection for a variety of impacts.
WEARABILITY When it comes to comfort while wearing the helmet, Bell has done everything they can to sneak vents into the key areas of the outer shell and channels inside, in hopes of maximizing airflow. The rear vents are significantly larger than the front, which is meant to pull the warm air out of the helmet while you are flying down the track. Bell calls their air channeling and ventilation efforts, TEAS, or Thermal Exchange Air System. There are 13 vents in the chin bar with three over-the-brow intake vents that channel air over the rider’s head and out the back. The void between the inner and outer shell of the helmet allows for nice pockets of airflow.
FEATURES The front-facing material has been sculpted to maximize the field of view. Complimenting the Full10 Spherical helmet’s “panoramic” field of view is the adjustable Flying Bridge visor, which is designed to aid in airflow and increase safety by breaking-away in the event of a crash. One of the more subtle but appreciated features is the over-brow cutaways which help channel air into the tops of the goggles to prevent fogging on slower bits of trail. Just above the visor sits a sleekly integrated action camera mount that is designed to break away in the event of a crash.
Other comfort features include Bell’s Ionic+ antimicrobial comfort padding and liner, which uses positively charged ions that are permanently embedded into the material to prevent odor and bacteria. Easily removable cheek pads are held in place by three small magnets. Riders snug the helmet up using a tried and true D-ring closure system with a magnetic tip to keep the excess from flapping about.
WEIGHTS & SIZES Bell claims that the size medium weighs 1,000 grams – not too bad relative to other options with a focus on safety. Our size large weighs in at 1,044 grams and we also have an XL that weighs 1,162 grams. Considering the features not typically seen on other helmets, like the magnetic removable cheek pads, adjustable visor, and a whole host of new safety certifications, this weight seems well earned.
There are four sizes available with sizes to match heads from 51-63cm around, and every helmet comes with a cheek pad kit that allows you to fine-tune the fit for comfort and stability. Each size has four colors to choose from, and they will set you back a cool $650 USD.
THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSIONS
I was handed one of these sleek new dome pieces at the Crankworx festival this past August, so I had the opportunity to test it in the heat right away. I had spent most of the first week at the festival wearing my go-to full face, the Troy Lee Designs Stage. Obviously, the purview of these two helmets is quite different, with the Stage designed to be an airy and lightweight enduro-ready piece, and the Full10 Spherical meant for lift-accessed DH runs more than anything else. I am just bringing up the former to give some context as to my initial feelings on the Bell.
Given that it weighs about 300 grams more than my Stage, the Bell is a heftier load to plop on your noggin, but it is not that much more tiring to wear. I spent whole days riding laps with the Full10 on, and never felt like my neck was getting more strained than it typically does when I stylishly head slap off a drop. Part of the weight management in the new Full10 is just how well it fits, with a tight pad-fit surround that does not jostle no matter how you shake it.
That tight fit is key to the Spherical Technology doing its magic, as the inner liner must hold tight to your head as it shears within the outer shell. This is a helmet to try on first if you can, as I assumed I would wear my typical XL, until I was able to try them both on in Whistler. I spent quite a bit of time in the Large and with the thinner cheek pads installed, I was quite happy with the fit. Bell sent an XL helmet to the HQ for Sean to test for the last couple of weeks and he has been quite happy as well. Although, he had similar thoughts about the snugness while donning and doffing the helmet. Beyond that initial squeeze in and out of the helmet, we both feel it is a very comfortable and safe feeling helmet.
For those who mostly spend time in lighter-duty full face helmets, like my TLD Stage, Bell Super Air, or similar options, the Full10 feels a bit closer to a Moto helmet than your typical MTB offering. However, if you are a downhiller who regularly spends time in full-blown DH lids, it will feel like home. Due to the tight pad fit and full-coverage shell, relatively little noise makes its way inside, resulting in a quiet little zone for you to chill in while you hurtle yourself down the hill.
Bell set out to make the safest DH helmet you can buy, and they spared no expense getting there. The safety features of the Full10 Spherical bring it awfully close to the standards held to moto equipment, but the weight and fit are well within the range of other mountain bike offerings. There is no denying the price tag is rather significant, and we are not sure exactly how we can justify at what point paying for safety becomes a bit too much to handle, but what we can say is, we are happy to know that next time we hop aboard our downhill bikes, we have got the Bell Full10 Spherical between our skull and the ground.
Once bike parks and temperatures rise, we will be spending a lot more time in the Full10 and will report back with a long-term review. Until then, if safety and charging down hills are your priority, then this lid should certainly be on your list to check out.
Weight: 1,044 grams, size Large