A review of the Bell Star Carbon

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Bell’s top of the range carbon composite sportsbike helmet

The Bell Star Carbon is Bell’s out-and-out sports helmet, designed for track use and tucked-in, chin-down sportsbike riding.

But the thing about top of the range helmets is that’s where all the manufacturers put most of their R&D money (the tech trickles down to their other models later to cover costs), so it’s a particularly competitive sector. So let’s look at how the Bell stacks up

Summary

Made for the track or sporty road riding, the Bell Star Carbon combines all-day comfort and outstanding ventilation with modern and aggressive styling. The only cons, like many sportsbike and track helmets, are that it’s noisy and that glasses wearers might struggle. If those aren’t an issue for you and you want a helmet for sportsbike riding that looks cool and will be pretty rare to see out on the road, then the Bell Star Carbon is worth checking out.

  • Now discontinued – though good deals are still to be found
  • Check out the new Bell Star range here
  • Not yet SHARP safety tested
  • Composite of carbon, kevlar and fibreglass
  • Weighs about 1.5kg (about avg for a composite)
  • Comfortable and great ventilation
  • Noisy
  • Size XS – XXL
  • Expect to pay between £460-£500
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Side view of the Dunlop replica

Safety

The Bell Star Carbon hasn’t been SHARP tested, so we don’t really know how safe it is. It’s ECE approved for sale in Europe and it’s both DOT and Snell approved in the US (though the Snell approval does not necessarily denote good crash protection as it tends to specify helmet shells that are too hard – as briefly discussed in our article on expensive v cheap crash helmets).

However, because Bells have historically scored incredibly well in SHARP safety tests, with every one of their full face helmets scoring a maximum of 5/5 stars, we’ve included a review on the site. We’d like to see SHARP conduct a couple more tests on Bell’s latest helmets though to make sure they’re keeping up the good work, as it’s been a good while since they tested a Bell.

The Bell Star Carbon looks promising though. Not only have they always scored well for safety, but this top model is constructed from three layers of kevlar, fibreglass, and with a top layer of carbon fibre to give it that nice carbon fibre weave finish.

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Classy matt black Bell Star Carbon

That makes for a helmet that should be tough, and at around 1.5Kg (Bell’s own figure) it is just a smidge over the average weight of a composite helmet (1.46Kg according to our research). Most owners feel that it’s a really light helmet though so they seem to be happy with the weight!

Another useful safety, and convenience, feature, is that the visor has a locking mechanism. If you’re on track and want to be 100% sure your visor isn’t going to flip up and break your concentration going into that high speed right-hander, then that’s going to be useful – and safer. It’s also going to help stop the visor opening during an accident too – again, very nice to know!

Looking to buy this Bell?

We recommend SportsBikeShop (UK) for outstanding service, free helmet delivery (UK only) as well as free 365 day returns. Please click the link to drop straight onto their Bell helmets pages where you'll find their latest designs and deals or see here for more info on why you should buy your gear from our recommended retailers (including quick view T&Cs).

Helmet Noise

Of course, the Bell Star Carbon is a racing helmet. And like lots of other top of the range, racing-focused helmets, the Star Carbon suffers from being a noisy blighter. As you’ll read further down, it’s got great ventilation, but in this case, that creates lots of holes in the shell to allow noise into the helmet.

Most owners agree that it’s somewhere between noisy and very noisy (depending on how noisy their previous helmets were) and that you really need some decent ear plugs in to keep things bearable.

Sizing

The Star Carbon comes in sizes XS (54/55 cms) to XXL (62/63 cms). For the exact sizes in between, click the link to our recommended retailer right at the bottom of the page, and you’ll be able to see sizing, availability and latest prices.

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Rear of the Michael Dunlop replica showing four rear exhaust vents

Ventilation

This is one of the Bell Star Carbon’s really strong points.

As you can see from the photo above, there’s a plethora of front vents – a chin vent that’s adjustable to direct air onto the face or visor, then lower and upper forehead vents. All these are easy to operate using sliders – even with gloves – and owners universally agree they can let in a ton of air.

As usual, the forehead and crown vents pull air through channels in the shock-absorbing EPS liner inside the shell, and cut-aways inside the comfort liner allow heat and moisture to be pulled from your scalp and out of the rear exhaust vents (there’s four of those – see right).

In the Star Carbon, it’s a particularly effective configuration and is ideal for sweaty track days and races.

Visor

Even though pretty well all the promo shots of the Bell Star Carbon show smoked visors (because it makes it look cool and moody!), it comes with a standard clear visor in the box.

It’s coated with what Bell call their NutraFog 2 coating which is OK but not the best if you’re riding in cold weather.

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Star Carbon in Union graphics

The visor has two positions, closed and open but will sit at any point in between – there’s a friction connection that keeps it open until you reach reasonably high speeds.

Once nice feature is their really simple and quick to operate visor removal mechanism. It really is very fast – possibly the fastest around. Just open up the visor, pull down on a trigger and the visor pops out. Couldn’t be easier and very useful for whipping off your visor to give it a good clean.

Because Bell is a US company, many of the owners of the Bell Star Carbon are in the US and they’re raving about Bell’s transition visor (sorry, shield 🙂 ). It’s a photo-reactive visor that darkens in bright sunlight – and takes just a few seconds to go from clear to smoked. It’s about $100 over there and, unfortunately, that seems to translate to about £110-140 over here (depending on retailer). If swapping visors or forgetting sun glasses is an issue for you though, it might be worth it.

Comfort

Another really strong point for the Bell Star Carbon is comfort.

Like any helmet, you have to make sure you go through the basics to get the right fitting (see our guide to fitting). Assuming you buy the right size, the Star Carbon’s internals are of high quality and owners say they quickly bed-in and are comfortable enough for all day in the saddle.

The liner is contoured and the cheek pads are swappable to tune the fit. It’s made from what Bell call their X-Static XT2; that’s a silver ion treated, anti bacterial and removable/washable liner. What that means in practice though is that people comment on how (very) soft it is (aaah) when you put it on – and it has mesh and padding in all the right places.

Very stylish RSD version
Very stylish RSD version

One fly in the ointment is that it’s broadly regarded as poor for glasses wearers. If the stems of your glasses aren’t thinner than average, it might be worth avoiding – or at least buying from a retailer who will accept returns with no quibbles (such as our recommended seller below) – so you can try with your own glasses.

Looks & Graphics

I think it’s safe to say the Bell is one of the coolest looking full face lids around. It’s sleek and aggressive, with nice lines ending in that swept back spoiler. The graphic options are mostly very tastefully worked too, with lots of classy paint schemes and designs and most showing off that carbon fibre weave to varying degrees too.

At the darker end, there’s the matt black, the Union and the special edition Roland Sands Design (RSD) version (right). Adding a bit more colour, there’s the Pinned designs and another special edition, the Tagger Trouble. Then there’s the Michael Dunlop replica (last time I looked he was wearing a Shoei hat!) and then there’s the colourful (and I have to say very very nice!) special edition Fillmore Replica that you can see at the top of the page. Apparently Chris Fillmore is an AMA rider (sorry US readers but we don’t get any AMA in the UK, so I really wasn’t aware of him).

Best place to buy this Bell helmet?

Please click below to visit the Bell helmets pages at SportsBikeShop (UK) who are our recommended store for Bell. And if you buy from them, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site).

Buy Bell from SportsBikeShop

Please click above to drop onto their Bell helmets pages or *quick view retailer T&Cs here.

Video

Here’s that odd bloke from Revzilla to take you through some of the Bell Carbon’s finer points!

Other stuff

The aero on the Bell Carbon is very impressive. It’s been designed to make it as slippery as possible, and to minimise buffeting – and owners say it works incredibly well. It’s not perfect as one or two owners reckon there can be buffeting if you turn your head at (moderately) high speeds. But overall, it performs well.

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Pinned blue graphics (also available in Pinned black)

It’s been designed to work with Sena audio kits and there are cutaways in the liner to accommodate speakers – and these line up with meshes in the lining to allow sound to travel through unimpeded. Obviously, the helmet’s loud though so it may be a bit tricky to hear above the wind rush if you go too fast.

There’s also a nice touch on the double d-ring fastener as it has a magnetic end which allows the free end to attach itself to another magnet and stop it from flapping around. It works well and is a great little feature.

And finally, track riders say there’s a nice wide field of vision with only the very extremes of the visor aperture coming into view. That’s good for track and for road use.

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.

Alternatives

We’ll be checking out sportsbike/track helmets such as the Arai RX-7V and Shoei’s X-Spirit III when they’ve been around for a while (launch date set for early 2016). In the meantime, you might want to check out Schuberth’s track helmet, the SR1. It’s a composite shelled SHARP 4 star rated helmet, got great ventilation, an excellent visor and it’s a tad cheaper than the Bell. Shark’s Race R Pro range are terrifically light SHARP 5 star safety rated composite helmets that are known for comfort and ventilation too and are also worth a good look. Check our Sportsbike crash helmets section for more sports/track focused helmets.

Definitely want a Bell?

Here you'll find all our Bell crash helmet reviews and previews including full face, flip-up and open face helmets.

1 COMMENT

  1. I’ve got one of these but it is noisy and I’ve just discovered why. The rubber seal that makes a seal between the visor and the helmet works top and bottom but there is a gap at the sides. And this lets in all the wind noise there. If you put just a single finger to divert the air just at the sides, you realise how good this helmet could be if it sealed properly. My advice would be to take a sliver of stiff paper or thin card and check that the seal is working before you buy.

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