The Original Retro: Bell’s Moto 3 motocross helmet is back

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Bell Moto-3 Retro Motocross Helmet Review.

Bell launched the original Moto 3 back in the early 70’s, bringing an integral chin protector into Motocross racing for the first time. Since then, the Moto-3 has taken on a bit of a legendary status among aficionados and so Bell sensibly decided to launch an updated version to satisfy demand.

And here it is – the Bell Moto 3. Pretty much identical to the original 70’s version but using modern manufacturing to make it that bit safer and that bit more user friendly (but only a little bit… read on). And of course now it has that extra retro mystique to go along with it meaning it’ll make the perfect match for your RNineT or Duke Scrambler.

So if you’re thinking of buying a Moto 3, here’s what you can expect to find.

  • Fibreglass retro motocross helmet

    Bell-Moto3-black-silver-blue-stripes-helmet-side-view
    Classic 70’s motocrosser – the Bell Moto-3 (this one’s just called Stripes)
  • Based on the legendary 70’s original
  • Should fit most retro goggles
  • Medium oval fitment
  • ECE and DOT certified
  • Double-D ring fastener
  • 1.42Kg (3.1lbs) – pretty light
  • Sizes XS-XXL
  • Expect to pay £250-£300

Looking to buy a Bell helmet?

We recommend SportsBikeShop (UK). They offer amazing service and really quick delivery, so please click the link to see their full range and latest prices or see here for more info on SportsBikeShop (incl delivery details, returns and our experience of ordering a helmet with them).

Safety

 (more about helmet safety)

Like the original, the latest Bell Moto 3 has a fibreglass shell; but unlike the original it’s been both ECE tested/certifed and DOT certified. If that doesn’t mean anything do you, please click the links above to find out more – but in a nutshell, it meets modern mandatory safety standards.

Fibreglass helmets are a small step up from thermoplastic helmets and make for strong and reasonably lightweight lids – and that’s the case with the Moto-3. It weighs around 1.42 Kg (3.1lbs) which is a smidge over what we consider a true light weight helmet but most owners reckon the helmet feels light when they’re wearing it.

Light weight is not only good for comfort but it’s good for safety too as there’s less weight and inertia from the helmet to deal with in an accident (which, it’s argued, can cause whiplash and hyperflexion – not good).

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Uncluttered and very round – this one’s the Fluo Orange Moto-3

The Moto 3 hasn’t been SHARP or Snell tested unfortunately, but SHARP has tested three Bell fibreglass helmets over the last couple of years (a couple of Bell Star sportsbike helmets and the retro Bell Bullitt) and they scored an average of four stars out of a maximum five. The Bullitt is probably the most directly comparable because it’s a retro style helmet too, and that scored three stars. Meaning we’d expect the Moto 3 to score something similar.

An extra tick in the box for the Moto-3 is that there’s polystyrene EPS padding on the inside of the chin bar too which isn’t seen that often but is potentially really good for added protection for the lower face.

It’s also got a decent, secure double-d ring fastener; and that massive viewport, designed to accommodate tons of different goggles means you’ve got loads of forward and peripheral vision – again great for safety (until you stick your goggles on that is!).

And finally, if you’re a fan of Arai helmets, you’ll probably know they bang on about their R75 rounder, smoother helmet form, designed to glance off stuff when you’re sliding down the road. Well, looking at that smooth, round, uncluttered Bell Moto-3, it looks like Bell got there first. And if it does work like Arai reckons, then it’s surely gonna work the same for the Moto 3 too!

Helmet Noise

(more about helmet noise)

You’re probably not going to buy a Bell Moto-3 because you want a quiet helmet. And you’ll probably put it on your head expecting it to be a bit of a dustbin, letting in all that air and noise from that great gaping hole in the front.

Bell-Moto-3-Independent-matt-titanium-crash-helmet-top-view
Top and front view of the matt titanium Independent

Which may explain why owners who ride in in a Moto-3 seem to say they’re surprised at how quiet it is. OK, so most Moto-3 riders probably aren’t cruising on a motorway at the ton, but it seems that because folks who wear one aren’t expecting mega noise performance, they’re pleasantly surprised.

Arguably it’s a double-whammy on the noise front, because you can probably couple that with the fact that the Moto-3’s shell is hyper smooth and round, without any protruding bits and pieces in the airflow causing extra noise – including a lack of crown vent holes letting noise in.

You probably shouldn’t expect the Bell Moto 3 to be a massively quiet helmet if you buy one – let’s face it, the lack of a visor is gonna cause a ton of noise. But if you do, you might be pleasantly surprised too!

Ventilation

(more about helmet ventilation)
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That massive space should fit pretty well every type of retro goggle out there.

Having said there’s no crown vents on the Moto 3, you shouldn’t be put off from thinking it’s going to get stuffy in there – because there’s one massive gaping vent hole right there in the front.

That’s obviously the main route for letting cooling air into the helmet, supplemented by that nice always-open slotted vent in the chin guard.

Word is that overall you’ll probably find it gives less ventilation than some modern motocross helmets, but you’ll get more than most full face helmets – which is, after all, what it’s going to be replacing for most of us – and means ventilation will be decent for most of us for most of the time.

Goggles/Visor

That huge space in the front of the Moto 3 means it’ll accommodate pretty well every type of retro-inspired goggle out there. The only minor drawback is that there isn’t a ridge or clip for the strap at the back of the helmet, but owners didn’t seem to find that a problem.

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Classic gloss black Moto-3

Oh, it’s worth noting that if you were thinking you’ll buy a Moto 3 and stick one of those bizarre/cool bubble visors on it (like you find with the Bell Bullett), you might want to think again. Unlike some 3 stud retro helmets, there don’t seem to be any after market clip on visors available for the 5 stud Moto3, just in case you were thinking about binning off the goggles…

Sun Peak/Roost Guard

 (more about sun visors)

Like most motocross helmets, there’s a roost guard/sun peak combo above the goggles.

It clips on using five studs and, according to owners, is about as solid and sturdy as they come. That means it stays in place pretty well all the time and it doesn’t flap around while you’re riding.

And if you’re keeping sub-triple digits on the speedo, owners reckon it’ll not knock your head around or catch on the air and pull your head back, which is all good.

Comfort and Sizing

(more about comfort and sizing)

Inside most of the standard, plain graphic versions of the Moto-3, you’ll find a nice retro-style lining made of terry-towelling. Yep, there’s laser cut foam to give a modern contoured fit, and yep it’s all removable and washable, but yep, it’ll also take you back to the days when towelling was cutting-edge sportswear too.

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Rear/side view of that gorgeous Chemical Candy Orange Flames Moto-3

This latest type of towelling lining is antimicrobial though, plus it’s always been mega moisture wicking. And owners reckon it feels great – and properly retro.

But if 100% towelling’s not your thing, the graphic versions tend to go for a quilted fake leather and towelling combo approach, which is probably a bit more wear-resistant too

Overall fitment is medium oval, though a couple of guys with longer heads did say it fits really nicely for them, so it might be worth a dabble if that’s your head shape too.

Pushing on a Moto-3 might be a bit tighter than your usual affair, but owners reckon it shows the quality of the materials used as they don’t get too loose over time and keep cosseting your head firmly – which is a good thing for safety as well.

Having said that, it does mean that if you get the fit just right, it’ll probably mean your glasses stems will be pressing into your head – so if you must have a Moto-3 and you wear glasses, make sure your retailer will allow returns when you buy, just in case it’s a problem.

Other than that, owners reckon it’s a surprisingly comfy helmet.

Looks & Graphics

Of course, the Moto-3 looks very cool, especially if it’s matched with an old cafe racer or modern classic. And there’s a few hyper cool retro designs to match too. There’s that gorgeous Chemical Candy Flames (top of the page) and the strikingly stripy Chemical Candy black/gold. There’s the Ace Cafe and RSD Malibu specials too – plus there’s a stack of other plain colours to match your ride.

As always, check out the latest designs and deals by clicking through to our recommended dealers (below) who – experience and reviews show – will take good care of you.

Best place to buy a Bell crash helmet?

We think it's hard to beat SportsBikeShop as one of the best places in the UK to buy a Bell from. They offer outstanding service (9.8/10 on Trustpilot and 4.5/5 stars on their Facebook page) and have a 365 day refund policy. They offer very competitive prices and have a price match policy too - and they're our recommended retailer for quality of service and fast delivery (and have a good range of Bell helmets in stock).

Please click below to visit their Bell page where you can see all the latest colour schemes and prices. And if you buy from there, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site).

Click to visit Bell at SportsBikeShop

Bell Moto-3 Video

Here’s a 5m video looking over the Moto-3.

Other stuff – audio, build quality, warranty

There is space for speakers inside the Moto-3, so if you did want to stick a bluetooth set on it, it should work OK (though it looks kinda weird, you know that, right?).

One constant from pretty well everyone sharing their thoughts on their Moto3s is that it’s well built. It’s at the pricier end of the retro helmet market, but if you want quality materials and finish, you’ve gotta pay a bit more.

Finally, it’ll come with a full 5 year warranty.

Overall/Summary

The Bell Moto-3 is a quality piece of kit. It’s not the cheapest retro helmet out there but for the money, you’re buying the history, the heritage and a great looking, quality helmet.

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Another great looker is the Chemical Candy black/gold version

You probably know that it’ll not give quite the same levels of performance and protection (from the elements and probably in a spill) than the latest, tested and highest safety rated helmets out there.

But having said that, Bell has a great reputation for making some of the safest lids around and the Moto 3 even has EPS in the chin bar, which is pretty rare and a big tick in the safety box.

But it’s that style you’re buying into with the Moto-3. It’s got oodles of charm and an image that’ll match any retro bike. And as long as you can live (or ride) with its shortcomings, we reckon it’ll be one of the best and most practical retro helmets around.

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.

Good Alternatives to the Bell Moto-3?

If you think you’ll just want a full face helmet, check our links below. But if you want a cracking retro helmet, you can either visit our retro helmets pages to see all our reviews, or check out these recommended lids below.

First off, there’s the Bell Bullitt – the helmet that kicked off this retro helmet craze. It’s a SHARP 3 star safety rated helmet that’s a decent all rounder with a proper(ish) visor.

There’s also the Nexx XG.100 which is a composite fibre helmet that’s a smidge cheaper than both Bells and a bit lighter too.

Or for a faithful reproduction of the legendary Agostini’s helmet, how about the AGV X3000? It’s a sportsbike helmet, with visor, that’s a bit more expensive than the Moto-3 but a bit more practical on the road too.

Looking to buy a Bell helmet?

We recommend SportsBikeShop (UK). They offer amazing service and really quick delivery, so please click the link to see their full range and latest prices or see here for more info on SportsBikeShop (incl delivery details, returns and our experience of ordering a helmet with them).

Other full face helmets

There are lots of alternative full face crash helmets. You can check out our Top 10 full-face crash helmets list to see our best rated helmets. But we also recommend you take a look at all our full face crash helmet previews and reviews as well as our safest motorcycle helmets page where you'll only find helmets that are SHARP four or five star rated - so you'll know you're wearing the best protection out there.

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