Bell Revolver – Helmet Review

by Soul Cohen
photos: Benjamin Segal

Choosing a new lid for your noggin from the myriad of helmets on the market these days can be a daunting task. Should you go for the protection of a full face model or select something cooler or perhaps trendier that offers less protection? Modular helmets fall somewhere in the middle, they offer functionality and convenience and have become very popular amongst the road tourers as well as adventure riders. It is a nice option to be able to simply flip up the chin bar rather than completely remove the helmet on various occasions such as at a gas station for a quick fill-up or when running to the attendant to ask for the location of the bathroom/key or even while meandering along a trail at low speed and wanting some more wind in your face. It is almost like having 2 helmets in one – a three quarter and a full face.

However, like all compromises, the above mentioned convenience comes at a price; modular helmets, due to the required additional hardware tend to be heavier than a standard full face helmet, and they also tend to be noisier due to the locking mechanism between the chin bar and the helmet.  Modular helmets are not recommended for riding while the chin bar is flipped up – we find ourselves sometimes ignoring that and personally I tend to do so while riding off-road at slow speeds. Most modular helmets I have owned/tested in the past allow the chin bar to be locked in an open position that is perpendicular to the helmet which causes a serious “sail effect” in which head wind pushes on the raised chin bar and threatens to rip your head from your body. Even in the absence of wind the helmet’s center of gravity becomes so high that it just feels weird. Some manufacturers tried to resolve this by allowing the chin bar to fully rotate to the back of the helmet which, not surprisingly doesn’t always help due to odd weight distribution.

The Bell Revolver has a unique stance when it comes to the open position of the chin bar. The chin bar locks open at an angle that is just slightly lower than 90 degrees. This coupled with the relatively flat/straight design of the chin bar, causes the chin bar – when in the open position – to double as a visor. As a matter of fact, with the chin bar raised the Revolver reminds me of a three quarter helmet with a visor – kinda cool! The other aspect of the shape and positioning of the chin bar when opened is that it is somewhat aerodynamic and doesn’t create the aforementioned “sail effect”. While testing the helmet I was able to ride with it in the raised position at 65mph without any discomfort and that’s on a motorcycle with minimal wind deflection.

When closed, the Revolver has an excellent field of view to the sides and upwards but when looking straight ahead the field of view ends quite abruptly downward by that massive chin bar.

While on a motorcycle that affords a neutral upright sitting position all I could see without tilting my head was the bottom of my gauges. In order to glance at the map on the top of my tank bag I had to tilt my head far down to get the chin bar out of my field of view. My assumption is that on a sport bike where the seating position is tilted forward this issue will not exist or at the very least will be greatly reduced.

Incorporated into the Revolver design is an internal sun shade which is independent from the main face shield. It is lowered by using a large rocker switch on the bottom left side of the helmet. Unlike most helmets that have this (lately) very popular feature, the bottom of the sun shade on the Revolver rests low enough so that the edge is not in your line of sight and therefore makes it really useful. My only complaint about it is that the mechanism that controls lowering/raising of the sun shade is not all that smooth and sometimes I got the sun shade stuck in the closed position and other times on an “almost closed” position. I was, however, able to release it by using more force on the rocker switch but it just didn’t feel right.

The Revolver features indents for helmet speakers but after installing the speakers of the Scala rider Q2 we realized that the location of those speaker indents is not anywhere near where our ears fit in the helmet. We wound up having to relocate the speakers forward and lower in relation to those indents. It  made us wonder how they chose the location of those indents. Another aspect of a communication system in the Revolver is that due to the fact that it is a modular helmet it must use a foam laden microphone on a flexible boom extension which is independent from the chin bar however the chin bar is located so close to the wearer’s face that there is very little room left for the microphone which ends up constantly touching your face. In all fairness however I must indicate that the fact that the chin bar is located so close may be uncomfortable when comes to a microphone yet it contributes to the overall low noise levels of the Revolver and to my astonishment I was able to have a clear telephone conversation using the Scala rider Q2 at 80 mph on a noisy freeway riding a motorcycle with a minimal windscreen!

The fit and comfort of the Revolver is very good and after a couple of hours of wearing it I had no pressure spots or any discomfort. The Revolver also offers some of Bell’s signature innovative features such as ClickRelease for the face shield, Contour Cut Cheekpads, FlowAdjust™ vents, Exclusive Magnefusion™ magnetic strap keeper, Padded chin strap and NutraFog II™ which Bell describes as  a “superior anti-fog, anti-scratch and UV protected shield”. We can attest to the fact that the anti-fog feature of the shield really works!

The Revolver also accepts Bell’s Transitions SOLFX ClickRelease Shield which is a Photochromic shield – meaning it is light sensitive and changes from clear to dark smoke according to the light condition. We did not get to test this shield this time but we hope to do so soon and report to you.

Conclusion: The Bell Revolver is my current favorite modular helmet and my first choice helmet for everyday riding!
$199.95 – $209.95
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