The all-new Bell Super Air R standout feature is how it’s way lighter and better ventilated than Bell’s previous Super 3 and Super DH MIPS pair.
It uses Bell’s ‘Flex Spherical’ protection with dual foam layers joined by squidgy elastomer buttons that allow each layer to rotate separately in an impact. This is also bolstered by the more common MIPS technology sharing a similar idea, where a slippery plastic cradle is able to twist independently of the main shell for more energy absorption, helping isolate the head in a rotational impact.
Of the two foam layers, the outer EPS liner uses a firmer density than the inner, which Bell claims absorbs impacts more effectively across a broader velocity range. With all this lot, it’s fair to say the Super Air R hasn’t scrimped on safety for the lofty £275 price.
The lid’s twist-to-tighten retention system cinches tight without wriggling and changes height to alter interior dish and tilt. Fit and padding is extremely comfortable, and sizing is as expected compared to other brands.
The Air’s removable chinbar fastens via two rear buckles. That’s one buckle less than older Bells, and it’s relatively easy to fix once used to lining up the slots in front of the ears. We consistently had to remove the helmet and fiddle to learn the procedure though, and it’s definitely not as easy to suss as some.
With 26 vents, the Super Air feels incredibly light on the head with tons of airflow. Under the three-way adjustable peak, four brow slots are especially effective, funnelling cooling wind onto forehead and temples and drying sweat before it drips into eyes. There’s excellent forward and peripheral vision too out of the front window.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for such a light helmet, the chinbar isn’t totally solid and inflexible, so the overall vibe is definitely ‘trail lid with extras’, rather than ‘full-on enduro race lid’. Bell’s safety certification reflects this and doesn’t extend to full DH protection, so look to the brand’s Super DH if you’re planning on hitting anything hard at full tilt.
The flipside to this though is this is one of the best looking and functioning convertible helmets without the guard. There’s minimal weight or ventilation disadvantage, and it basically functions exactly like a ‘normal’ trail lid.