When it comes to motorcycles or riding gear, nothing draws my attention more than vintage, or even vintage-inspired. So when Bell released its 500 line of three-quarter helmets a couple of years ago, you bet I snapped one up, and it’s among my favorite lids. Bell’s throwback full-face helmet, the Bullitt, debuted last year and it’s every bit as classy and fun as the 500 while offering the protection and confidence that comes with a chinbar.
Not that it’s much of a chinbar. The thin crossbeam measures no more than a couple of inches high at best, creating an eyeport so expansive one of my colleagues jokingly referred to it as a “faceport.” The top of the opening is in the normal position just above the eyebrows, but the padded chinbar is nearly out of sight across my lips. The big opening allows all kinds of cool air into the lid, and stretches so wide I barely notice it in my peripheral vision. Venting includes four small, round mesh vents on the brow, one on the chinbar and another for exhaust out back.
While the massive eyeport is the obvious attraction for this full-face hater, the Bullitt’s retro style is the main draw for the vintage lover. The low-profile, fiber composite shell is a sleek, slightly oval shape and refreshingly solid colored. I got mine in blue flake, but the Bullitt also comes in white and gloss or flat black. For true retro fans there’s a TT version in white with a large red circle on both sides and a bubble shield. Inside, the removable and washable brown interior is nicely upholstered in perforated, anti-bacterial micro-suede and trimmed with matching soft leather. It’s comfortable, and features nifty speaker cutouts.
The shield has one of the coolest closure systems I’ve ever used. A matching brown leather pull-tab on the bottom has a magnet; when closed, the shield stays put on its own but the magnet attaches securely to the chinbar for safety. For extra venting in summer humidity, I slipped the tab inside and pushed the shield closed. It stayed shut, and the quarter-inch gap allowed plenty of extra air inside.
If you loathe the claustrophobia a full-face helmet can deliver, the classic but contemporary DOT-certified Bullitt is available in sizes XS-2XL for $399.95.
For more information: See your dealer or visit bellhelmets.com/powersports.
(This Gearlab review was published in the October 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)