The Bell Star Sportsbike Helmets Review: the Bell Star, Race Star & Pro Star
Bell has been making Star helmets for a long time. About 50 years in fact. So they know a thing or two about motorcycle helmets.
Over that time, the ‘plain’ old Bell Star has been joined by the Race Star and the Pro Star. They’re all sportsbike-focused helmets though, aimed at the type of rider who spends most of their time seeking that perfect line rather than that perfect view from the saddle.
But in their latest incarnations, they all pretty much look the same. They share the same shell shape, eye port, ventilation and the same fastener – so what’s the difference between the three (apart from the price) and which should you go for?
Here we pick apart what each helmet offers and what owners think of theirs; so you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
- Full face helmets
- Sportsbike and track helmets
- Composite fibre or carbon fibre shells
- 5 Shell sizes each
- Bell Star & Race Star – SHARP 5 star rated
- Bell Pro Star – FIM Homologated
- ECE & Snell certified
- Race and Pro Star – very light weight
- Expect to pay:
- Bell Star £399
- Race Star £599
- Pro Star £999
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Even though they share the same design and helmet shape, each helmet has a very different construction.
First off, the entry-level Bell Star is a composite fibre helmet. That’s a composite of carbon, aramid (Kevlar) and fibreglass. So, even though it’s the ‘entry-level’ version of the three, that’s no cheap helmet construction. Bell has been improving and evolving their composite expertise for many years now and the Bell Star is the latest example.
That’s obviously an excellent performance, especially considering the plain ole Star is their entry-level version; and should give you real confidence that the Bell Stars are going to do an excellent job in an accident.
That’s not to say the others would definitely score the same with SHARP because they all have very different shell and liner constructions; though it’d probably give you a bit of confidence that they might do very well too!
And we’d expect the Pro Star to do equally well too because both the Race Star and Pro Star have carbon fibre shells. The Race Star’s being a 3K carbon fibre shell (3K refers to the top, visible styling of the weave) whereas the Pro Star uses some trick carbon fibre called TeXtreme. Essentially that’s carbon fibre that’s formed flatter than standard weave so it’s flatter and lighter but stronger.
Carbon fibre used to be just carbon fibre right? Not any longer!
Having said that, Bell US say all three helmets weigh 1.5Kg, so there needs to be another reason to go for the Pro Star version?
The Pro Star has been FIM Homologated, meaning that it’s the same helmet that pro racers use on track. So you can be pretty sure it’s going to do the business if you do go for a slide.
Bell US says they’re the same weight, but Bell Europe gives the weights as 1.25Kg for the Star and Race Star and 1.15Kg for the Pro Star. From what I’ve read elsewhere, the latter seems more accurate. It also means the Race and Pro Stars are very light indeed.
Obviously, the shell is only one part of the equation when it comes to protection: the shock absorbing lining is just as important.
And whereas the Bell Star has a regular expanded polystyrene (EPS) lining (*but see MIPS section below), the Race Star and Pro Star both share Bell’s Flex 3 lining.
In addition to polystyrene, Flex 2 has a lining of polyolefin to give low speed impact protection and polyproplyene for improved mid speed energy absorption.
Most top of the range helmets from other manufacturers opt for multi-density EPS and this is the first time we’ve heard of these other two linings.
They obviously work to a decent extent as they’ve passed the Snell test. But we’d look forward to SHARP testing to see how well Flex 3 works in comparison to other top-flight sportsbike helmets.
Bell Star – now with MIPS
It looks like Bell are starting to roll out their MIPS tech out to more of their helmets too – with the Bell Star becoming the fourth Bell helmet in their current line up to get their MIPS treatment.
What is MIPS?
MIPs stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It’s a system a couple of makers now employ that lets the interior lining – the one that’s in contact with your head – rotate semi-independently from the external shell.
What that hopefully means is that during an impact, which can easily put damaging rotational forces through the head, potentially damaging the brain and neck, a MIPS helmet shell will rotate but because the MIPS lining is attached to the shell by movable connections, the lining isolates your head from some of the rotation.
We’ve yet to see how MIPS tests during laboratory testing, but it certainly sounds a big step in the right direction.
Unusually – in fact I don’t remember ever hearing this before – each of the Bell Star range is made in five shell sizes.
Here’s what they look like (taken from the Arai US social feed)
That’s great from a fitment, safety and looks point of view – because it’ll both look proportionately better for your body size and will mean the optimal amount of shock absorbing liner is used inside each helmet. Read here for more info.
Premium helmets tend to be manufactured in more helmet shells – but, from memory, four shell sizes is the previous max number we’ve come across, so Bell have gone the extra mile on this one. Good work.
Sportsbike and track focused helmets are usually pretty loud. Design priorities often dictate focusing on low weight, good ventilation and slippery aero first: and that usually means less padding and more noise-ingress.
Well, there’s good news. For the basic Bell Star, there’s a variety of opinions (read why that is and all you need to know about helmet noise) but in general it seems to be regarded as pretty quiet – or certainly above average.
For the Race Star and Pro Star, opinion seems to be that, if anything, it’s even quieter than the Bell Star – which is astonishing for what is essentially a racing helmet.
A few Race Star owners found their visors whistle when raised – though they’re quiet when shut – but apart from these isolated cases, it’s definitely one of the quieter sportsbike/track helmets.
If having a quiet helmet is important to you, you might want to visit our quietest helmets pages for more inspiration!
All three helmets share a similar ventilation system.
That includes a double chin vent, operated by a small slider, a brow vent and a double crown vent. All are opened by sliders which do look a little on the small side for gloved hands though we suspect you’ll get the hang of them after a bit of practice.
At the rear there’s a stack of exhaust vents – three rows in fact – including closable top exhaust vents.
So does the Bell Star vent well?
In a word, yes. All models deliver loads of air into the helmet with several owners saying it’s the first time they’ve felt ventilation like it – especially when you’re in a tuck position.
It’s worth noting that the Pro Star is a more hardcore helmet than the other two. Which is why there’s a plug in the chin vent: if it’s in, air’s directed onto the rear of the visor. Remove it and air’s pushed towards the chin. That’s probably a useful feature for a racer, but less so for road-only riders.
Like many manufacturers, Bell have listened to feedback from racers and have made the visor aperture as wide and tall as possible.
Racers who spend a lot of time in a tuck position need a tall vertical opening, while everyone – on track or road – needs good wide peripheral vision.
Bell have called this Panovision – essentially it’s a big opening and a big visor with a bit of a contoured aperture to further improve peripheral vision.
And owners of all the Bell Star versions say both vertical and horizontal vision is great – which has to be good whether your on the track or the road.
Out of the box, the Bell Star and Race star come with a standard clear lens (though a Pinlock MaxVision-ready visor and a photochromic visor are available too). The Pro Star comes with a Class One Optical version (wooo) which should give crystal clear vision.
All three feature the same quick release system and owners reckon it’s super-quick and easy to use and it’s one of the best on the market. Just press a button and push forwards and out comes the visor; slide back and, click, it’s back in. Nice.
The only fly in the ointment?
That race visor has two positions only: open or closed. What’s good for the track ain’t necessarily best for the road and quite a few owners found it alarming and really missed having a ratchet.
If that’s you, you have been warned.
Comfort & Sizing
Whenever you buy a new crash helmet, getting the right fit and a comfortable helmet is vital – experts agree; it’s even more important than buying a helmet with a high safety rating.
So, buy from a retailer (like our recommended retailers) who’ll exchange a helmet it you don’t get the fitting right first time.
There’s two different comfort linings that come with the Bell Star range.
Even though the Bell Star is the entry level helmet, Bell have used some quality materials inside the helmet. It has what they call their X-static XT2 silver liner – essentially, silver has antimicrobial properties so weaving thin silver thread into a fabric imparts those properties – keeping bacteria at bay and reducing odours. Nice (and not cheap!).
For the Race Star and Pro Star, that’s nudged up a notch further, using a material from a company called Virus who do the same with jade. This Virus Cool Jade lining is apparently laced with jade and this reduces skin surface temp by up to 10 degrees (f) so it’s there to keep your head really cool. Wow.
Race Star and Pro Star also feature magnetic cheekpads. Rather than snappers clicking the cheekpads into place, they use magnets. That means they’re easier to whip out and wash if they get hot and sweaty – and it also doubles as Bell’s version of EQRS, making it easier for paramedics to pull the cheek pads out first before removing your helmet.
Owners love the magnetfusion internals – they really seem to live up to their promise. And the magents even extend to the chin strap with a magnet there helping tidy up a flapping strap – that’s a nice touch.
If you’re thinking of ordering a Bell Star, it’s worth noting that the fit is medium oval (that’s most folks who don’t have rounder heads). And while most Bell Star helmets tend to be quite tight at first but loosen up after a bit of wear (that’s normal) a few Race Star owners mentioned the regualar size was too small and they had to go a size larger.
So, again, make sure you order from a retailer who accepts no-quibble returns.
Best place to buy this Bell helmet?
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Looks & Graphics
The Bell Star, Race Star and Pro Star all look externally identical. However, each range comes with their own unique colour schemes and designs.
We’ve dotted a selection of each up and down the page – but we’ve also created a gallery of some of the most popular designs for each model.
Click the pics to enlarge.
Bell Star videos
Here’s a look at the development of the Pro Star and some of the riders who use it.
Next up, a video taking you through some of the features of both the Race Star and the Pro Star.
Finally, the scintilating tones of the guys at WebBikeWorld taking us over the Bell Star.
Other stuff – fasteners, glasses, bluetooth communicators & warranty
If you’re looking to fit a communicator to any of the Bell Star range, they’re a bit limited. The main issue seems to be a lack of speaker pockets – though don’t be tempted to cut your own out of the lining as this will compromise the helmet’s effectiveness.
A few Sena owners reckoned you have to stick the unit to the outside and there is space for a mic – but if you can, one tip is to buy the slim speaker kit and that should fit in with space for your ears!
All Bell Stars come with Bell’s 5 year manufacturers warranty.
Crash Helmet Buying Guides
For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.
The Bell Star range look superb – the design and the graphics make for a helmet that really looks the part.
And the great news is that with Bell’s outstanding reputation for producing some of the safest helmets – including their position as joint first in our Safest Helmet Brands list – you should get a helmet that not only looks cool, but delivers when the going gets really tough.
Both the Bell Star and Race Star have been SHARP tested so far, and even the entry-level Star scored maximum 5 stars for safety (so did the Race Star) so we’d expect the entire range to be 5 star safety rated.
The Pro Star hasn’t been SHARP tested yet, but it has been FIM homologated for use in circuit racing (including MotoGP).
Owners reckon the build quality is great too – especially for the more expensive Race Star and Pro Star – and all helmets perform everything well: that includes ventilation, vision, comfort and noise (which is amazing for a sportsbike helmet).
Overall then, the Bell Star is an accomplished helmet which owners seem to love. They love the graphics, the build quality and the looks – but then find it’s a helmet that really works on the road or track too. And apart from that open/closed visor with only two positions, there doesn’t seem to be any real downside – except for maybe the price of the Race and Pro Star.
All in all a very accomplished helmet for the sportsbike rider or racer.
Alternatives to the Bell Stars?
Obviously, the Bell Star range covers quite a variety of sports-oriented helmets. So if you’re after some alternatives to check out, take a look at our sportsbike or track helmets pages – or, depending on your budget, you might want to take a look at our expensive crash helmets, medium priced helmets or budget crash helmets pages.
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Here you'll find all our Bell crash helmet reviews and previews including full face, flip-up and open face helmets.