BELL FULL-10 SPHERICAL HELMET REVIEW
Words by Sourpatch | Photos by Dusten Ryen
Full-face helmets are a necessity for those of us who spend any amount of time in the bike park. Having a helmet that can take an impact is a no brainer, and those designed around rotational impact mitigation move to the top of the list. Bell joined the growing number of brands using the new wave of impact protection tech earlier this year, with the launch of the Full-10 Spherical featuring the latest and greatest Mips Spherical Technology. If you missed our tech check on this helmet earlier this year, you can check it out here. As someone who has always wanted a premier Bell full-face, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on the Full-10 Spherical. Did this top-of-the-line helmet live up to the hype? Read on to find out.
The Full-10 Spherical is the pinnacle of Bell’s full-face product line up. Released at the beginning of 2023, the Full-10 utilizes Bell’s proprietary Spherical Technology powered by MIPS. The ball and socket design of the Spherical Technology is meant to redirect impact forces away from the brain. Being a ball and socket design, there is an inner liner (which is what contacts the wearer’s head) attached to an outer liner by elastic bands. By using different foam densities on the inner and outer liners, Bell is able to achieve Progressive Layering with their Spherical tech, giving more comprehensive energy management for both low and high-speed crashes. There are a number of intake and exhaust vents built into the unidirectional carbon shell, which Bell has coined the Thermal Exchange Airflow System or T.E.A.S for short. Bell claims the system provides “Extreme Ventilation” the T.E.A.S sucks in cool air and expels hot air through the exhaust ports, however this is one area we struggled with during our test sessions.
Other features found in the Bell Full-10 Spherical include an Ionic+ antimicrobial liner which has been treated with silver to mitigate odor from sweat. The cheek pads are held in place magnetically to aid in easy helmet removal in case of a worst-case scenario crash. Bell chose to use titanium D-rings in conjunction with the chin strap. The Full-10 is also one of the few helmets we’ve tested in recent memories that has a fully adjustable visor, though chances are you’ll keep it in the position that looks the best most of the time.
The Full-10 Spherical is available in 4 sizes; XS/S (51-55 cm), M (55-57 cm), L (57-59 cm) and XL/XXL (59-63 cm) which is what we have tested here. The XL/XXL sized helmet tips the scales with a weight of 1,164 grams. Being that this is Bell’s new premiere full-face helmet, it has a price tag to match with an MSRP of $650.
As I mentioned above, I have always wanted one of Bell’s carbon full-face helmets. Little did I know, prior to the release, Drew had ordered a Full-10 for me to put in my review schedule. Talk about a surprise. The helmet that arrived was a size XL/XXL, and for my 58.5 cm head, I was near the cusp of the L and XL/XXL ranges. The XL/XXL fit surprisingly despite my concerns it would be too big for me. I opted to install the larger 35mm cheek pads to perfect the fit and was quite pleased. Internally, the helmet fit great and was extremely comfortable with the soft fabric on the cheek pads. Externally, the helmet is visually large and does feel like it comes down much lower (to the shoulders) than other full-face helmets on the market. The Full-10 has a very unique shape/design, almost like an Airoh Moto helmet, but not as Euro in looks.
Aesthetics aside, the on-trail performance of the helmet produced some rather interesting results. I have not crashed in a manner that involved hitting my head in this helmet thankfully, so I can’t speak on the impact force reduction that the Spherical technology provides. We will just have to assume that the helmet will help reduce the likelihood of getting a concussion like so many others with similar tech have done or claim to do.
What I can say is that this helmet runs HOT, like race-run only hot. I felt the T.E.A.S tech does very little in terms of ventilation despite Bell’s claims. Every time I’ve worn the helmet I’ve been in a bike park setting, with days ranging from 60-85*sunny days at Mt. Bachelor to cold, rainy days in Whistler. All produced similar results…sweat! The Full-10 does a great job at preventing any water ingress during the rainy days I rode in it, but still resulted in plenty of sweat by the end of the day, or even after the first lap. Of course, it is very possible that I don’t ride fast enough, preventing the T.E.A.S from working…but I’m guessing that it’s just more of a high-performance race helmet than it is a full day in the bike park, standing in lift lines sort of helmet.
The Full-10 also wears heavy compared to the other, competitive full-face helmet I am currently testing, and many others. It was not noticeable at first, but after a couple of runs in the Bell and then switching to another slightly lighter and more breathable full face, I found my neck to be notably more fatigued.
These may not be nearly as important as some of the aspects above, but the large panoramic view port on the Full-10 is solid. The large opening works well with many of the goggles I wear often; Leatt Velocity 5.5 goggles, Fox Vue goggles, and Glade Adapt 2 goggles. The action camera mount on top of the helmet is a nice addition having used it a couple times. I also like having the standard D-ring fastening system, the magnetic button on the chin strap is also a nice detail to make stowing the excess strap a breeze. In an age of fixed visors, having one that is adjustable is one less critique. I did, however, almost break it off when I ended up in the bushes after getting bounced off-line on Whistler’s Joyride trail.
So, to answer my original question, is the Bell Full-10 a pinnacle helmet? In some ways yes, but in some ways I don’t believe it lives up to the hype, specifically around ventilation and heat. It’s safe to say the protection is at or near the top of the spectrum, but the penalty to the wearer’s comfort in terms of heat and the relatively high weight mean you’ve really got to believe that it’ll do a better job at keeping your head safe than the competitors, and we can’t be sure without published ratings systems or energy transmission numbers.
The Wolf’s Last Word
When it comes to helmets, riders find themselves in a position of realizing our brains and skulls are priceless, however that doesn’t make dropping $650 on a helmet any easier. When it comes to evaluating a product that offers big claims around safety, all we can do is offer opinions around comfort, fit, finish and perceived value. When we look at these variables, there are other options out there that offer rotational impact protection and better ventilation that don’t cost as much. Does that mean they’re as good at protecting your brain? Until places like Virginia Tech have an established rating and energy dissipation score system where potential buyers can see just how much safer a helmet is in the lab, we’re not sure how or why people would opt to choose one product over another. This is no fault of Bell’s by the way, we’d love to see brands working together more to create a uniformed rating system and our viewers feel the same way in a survey we conducted last year.
What we can say however is the Bell Full-10 has a very unique and fast looking aesthetic, is very comfortable and uses plush, absorbent material inside that makes the interior feel like a luxury bike helmet. If you’re willing to pay for a helmet that offers maximum coverage, offers some big claims around safety and are more focused on race-time runs or take your helmet off regularly during bike park or shuttle days, the Full-10 could be worth trying on.
Sizes: XS/S, M, L, XL/XXL
Weight: 1,164 grams (XL/XXL)