By Jeff Cobb
Motorcycle Safety News
Part one was the preview. This is Part two, the hands-on evaluation and road test.
Bell’s new Revolver flip-up helmet is an economical design that offers a great deal of value, attention to detail and functionality.
Since the Revolver is at the same price point as the Vortex, we think the Vortex is the Bell helmet that the Revolver can best be compared to.
Being a flip-up “modular” helmet, it does more than the Vortex in this regard. However, being only DOT rated, and not DOT and Snell 2010 rated like the Vortex is, it is a trade-off.
Because the whole chin bar pivots upward, it is not as easy to pass the more stringent Snell crash tests, so buyers should be aware it is a trade-off.
The upside is the convenience of the flip-up feature, not to mention the Revolver costs around one-quarter what the benchmark and uber-pricey, German-made Schuberth C3 flip-up helmet costs.
And certainly, if it’s a choice between choosing the Revolver and any open-face helmet, the Revolver offers more face protection, as an open-face helmet offers none!
Why a flip up?
In case you don’t automatically see the appeal, a number of riders like flip-ups for their convenience, as we alluded to already.
In some countries and regions, it is illegal to walk into a place of business with a helmet covering your face, but an open face may be OK. In many more regions, walking into a store or gas station with a helmet covering your face can be perceived as rude, if not suspicion-arousing by nervous clerks.
Flip ups expose your face, so they are disarming for that reason, and this pays dividends also in social situations. Have you ever tried to engage in much conversation with a full-face helmet on?
The flip-up design is very popular among the BMW riding crowd, if that does not sound too much like profiling. In any case, with no offense intended, it is true.
And no matter what kind of bike a person rides, flip-up helmets also prevent having one’s voice muffled through a chin bar, which further augments the social angle.
The ability to raise the front of the helmet is also useful for cooling off when stopped – and maybe also at low speed.
People who smoke and don’t want to remove the lid can do so with a flip-up helmet like the Bell Revolver – just watch that flying ash.
Fit and Finish
There’s really nothing to complain about here. Bell designs these helmets in Santa Cruz, Calif., and it has created a smoothly finished, well-appointed helmet.
Everything fits, and materials are of good quality.
The helmet fits similarly to the Vortex which is a bit wider than an intermediate oval – not super narrow, not super wide either. It’s in between.
The comfort liner snaps in place, is removable, washable and replaceable.
The Revolver has two additional functions most full-face helmets do not come with. These are the single button on the inner chin bar to lift it up, and a left-sided lever that lowers or raises the tinted eye shield.
Stainless metal catches on either side secure the chin bar in the down position. The chin bar ratchets up and stays secure when fully up, but it is not mechanically locked in place. To close it, you just push it down and the metal hooks positively snap it in place.
The tinted eye shield is a luxury and it’s surprising this feature that Schuberth has on its primo C3 flip-up is utilized by Bell’s entry level priced flip-up Revolver.
In any event, it’s mighty handy. You can leave the clear Nutrafog II shield in for low light settings, and can instantly deploy the tinted shield to block light – or to keep prying eyes from motorists trying to see who you are, if being stealthy is a concern.
On the road
Like all the Bell helmets, this Revolver is tested in a wind tunnel, and it cuts a clean aerodynamic profile.
The helmet is as comfortable as a Vortex, and offers similar visibility.
We did not test it at speed with the chin bar up, but believe that’s not a great idea, and it could be a problem if you crashed because the chin bar is less secure when up.
At low speed (below 30 mph), you can ride with it up, if you want to take the chance with less coverage.
Noise levels are about average for a full-face helmet with the chin bar closed. No strange sounds or whistles were noticed. The extra seams and protruding pivot points do account for a little more sound level than a Vortex, but ear plugs can be used if desired, and it’s not bad either way.
The vents all work, although we’ll note the Revolver does not have the brow vent that the Vortex has.
The only concern we have is the chin bar is not lined with an impact-absorbing material. It is pretty firm plastic, and fortunately it sits reasonably far from the face. Most full-face helmets do have some padding in that section, so if you do a face plant, you don’t hit your mouth against an unyielding material.
We surmise the trade-off for having a flip-up with the button to actuate it meant sacrificing this padded section. On the positive side – and as already noted – the Revolver still provides a lot more facial protection than an open-face helmet which in fact gives no face protection at all.
The Revolver’s excellent windscreen is the same as used on the other Bell full-face helmets, and thus interchangeable. It is also super easy to remove and replace in seconds, and these Bell helmet face shields are among our favorites in the industry.
I picked the Bell Revolver Rally graphic, and think it is the sportiest looking of the bunch, but that of course is a personal choice.
In all, the $199.95 Bell Revolver ($219.959 in Rally graphic) is a very snappy looking helmet that works as intended.
As with all helmets, we recommend trying it on if possible before buying. In addition to the gloss black/white stripe Rally, the Revolver comes in solid gloss black, matte black, white and silver.
The Revolver comes with a five-year warranty through Bell Helmets.
XS: 53-54cm • 20 7/8″- 21 1/4″
SM: 55-56cm • 21 5/8″- 22″
MD: 57-58cm • 22 3/8″- 22 3/4″
LG: 59-60cm • 23 1/4″- 23 5/8″
XL: 61-62cm • 24″- 24 3/8″
XXL: 63-64cm • 24 3/4″- 25 1/4″