The Bell Stratus MIPS equipped helmet is a lotta value for $150 – featuring big vents and deep air channels, their latest advances in fitting comfort, and 50 years of Bell’s leading & respected helmet tech. Here’s the PEZ review…
As maybe the best known helmet maker in North America – Bell has over 50 years of experience that got them where they are now – and thanks to their very well established moto division – they’ve got a huge amount of R&D to draw upon when designing helmets that are now safer, more aerodynamic, more comfortable and lighter than ever before.
The Stratus is their new for 2017 mid-level road helmet – available with & without MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System). It offers a lot of features and value for the $150 price point.
While not billed as an “aero” helmet, (which is kinda hard to do once you start cutting large vents into the surface), it still has a pleasing shape that’ll make most of you at least look faster.
The cage itself offers a robust mix of protection and large vents designed to allow a whole lot of air to pass through, and while it’s not the lowest profile helmet around, the shape looks to have been maximized for the best airflow and cooling. In fact, the new line of Bell helmets (including their topline Zephyr) have some of the best internal channeling for airflow I’ve seen.
Inside the cage, protection is handled by a thick layer of single density foam core, that’s been shaped to channel airflow from front to back.
The first thing you see inside is the bright yellow plastic MIPS liner. I predict these will become standard equipment on all helmets within the next 5 years as they just make too much sense not too. It’s cut with large vents to not impede that airflow, and there’s also foam padding at the brow and a small amount at the crown of the head – so just enough for comfort without over doing the coverage.
Bell’s ‘Overbrow ventilation’ system scoops air in through 4 small vents at the brow (see those arrows below) and channels it through the helmet and over your head to keep air moving and you from over-heating. It works too.
Retention is covered with Bell’s ‘Float Fit’ system which holds the lid in place with minimal structure to bulk up the inside of the helmet. The adjuster dial is large, clicks solidly into place, and is easy to use even with full-fingered gloves. It also adjusts vertically at the back.
The strapping system is a good one too – using what they call ‘No-Twist Tri-Glides’, the straps lay quite flat against your head, under the ears and chin, and are designed to stay that way even while resisting the wind in your face from all that speed you ride with. The minimalist design is sleek, and lighter too, but kinda makes me think that everything that came before was overkill.
The rear view is a mix of protectionist coverage and exhaust vents to let out all that hot air.
I wore this helmet on a recent week of riding in Italy in very warm temps – 28-30+ degrees Celsius, and a couple days with a lot of humidity – in other words, excellent conditions to test how cool the Stratus could keep me. First off – there was a LOT of sweating going on… I don’t think I’ve drank so many half-coke half water filled bottles on one trip ever. So yeah – it was hot and I was hot. But I never felt overheated except on one extremely hot section – climbing Monte Grappa in 32C degrees in a steamy forest devoid of any breeze.
And while the air was so warm it’s impossible to say it felt ‘cool’ flowing over my noggin, I never got to the point of wanting to remove the Stratus while I was riding.
Back home – most of my rides have been in moderate temps of 15 – 24C degrees – and where the Stratus venting system performs without question.
Comfort-wise – the brow pad does a really good job of keeping the sweat at bay – to the point where sweat never interfered with my riding as long as I was moving. And even though the fit is cushioned with just two pads – one at the brow and one at the crown – the helmet feels great on my head. To give this point some reference, I have other helmets that fix the pads in the brow and sides with velcro, where the two don’t align properly and I end up getting poked in those sharp velcro hooks. Annoying, and something that should never happen in a helmet of good repute.
It’s a quality helmet that packs a lot of value for just US$150.00 and worth checking out. Available in 5 colors and three sizes (s – m – l).
• Get more info at the BellHelmets.com website
• Check prices on Amazon.com