The human head. Quite an important part of the human body. Home to the brain, used more by some and less by others. But besides of the brain the head also houses ears, eyes, nose, mouth and so on… . In short, life without a head is not much fun. Several ancient cultures used to worship the human skull as the home of the soul or even other spirits and implemented intentional skull deformations right from the cradle in order to make more space for these spirits.
But the common motorcyclist usually tries to avoid skull deformation and that’s why he’s buying a helmet. Most of the people reading this differ from the common motorcyclist and are not keen to wear Valentino Rossi’s latest GP replica helmet or the latest Schubert with integrated domestic appliance on their Bobbers, Choppers, Café Racers or Trackers. So it has to be a helmet with the right looks that is capable of protecting the bonce. Some of us probably wear open face helmets or old school full faces without any visor because we like to hear the engine and feel the airstream, don’t we? But after a ride in drenching rain or the hours long highway leg most of us secretly agree that sometimes, but really only sometimes, a visor is not such a bad thing.
The recent hype in motorcycle- (or more specifically custom bike) culture has led to a lot of gear and accessories one can actually wear without looking like a dork. The Bell Bullitt is one of these products. Its classic shape, the huge eye port, the 4 chromed vents as well as the bubble visor reminds us of the seventies racing posters on our bedroom walls when we were kids.
But as we know, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, so let’s not argue about the looks but focus on it’s features. Just one more thing: the Bullitt is available in heaps of different colors, liveries and even visors, so you may actually find what you’re looking for if you start digging.
First, it’s weight; at 1475 grams, the Bell ranks in the middle, lighter than a DMD Rocket or Racer but heavier than Biltwell’s Gringo. No worries about the quality of the helmet inside or outside. It’s comfortable, fluffy inner lining invites to linger and is removable and washable. So much for the first impressions, but what’s it like on the bike?
First thing to notice is that the Bullitt is far from being quiet (so much for the hours long highway leg). If the head is kept perfectly level there’s not too much wind noise. But as soon as the chin drops a little, noises start to appear. So you can choose, depending of the incline of your head, if you want to be reminded of a overflying airplane or your dentist’s drill (this may sound worse than it actually is; anyone used to open face helmets or no visor will not mind, the Schubert hardliners will probably be appalled). If you’re riding a Tracker or a Chopper, in short anything with a more or less upright seating position, keeping your head level might be feasible, on your Café Racer with the Clip-Ons these wind noises will be your constant companion. These noises simply come from the fact that the visor is not in contact with the shell of the helmet. The visor is kept in place with a little magnet attached to a little leather strap. This works pretty well and facilitates grabbing and opening of the visor.
But, if there is wind noise there must be a draught. The Bullitt makes no exception to this saying. A light breeze is palpable around the eyes, not really annoying but present. Surprisingly, this draught doesn’t grow much stronger when the speed goes up. On the other hand, this breeze prevents the visor from fogging up.
All in all, the Bell Bullitt is a chilly helmet. The vent on the chin can be opened or closed from inside, the ones on the forehead can’t, so with temperatures below ten degrees Celsius this helmet is a bit of a frosty place to be. Then again, when it’s gets hot, the vents as well as the draught, evacuated through a discreet slot at the back of the shell, help keeping the nut cool. We all know the pleasures of slipping into a sweaty helmet after the gas or cigarette stop, don’t we? The Bullitt can do that much better than our unvented bowls.
Finally it remains to mention that the bell is equipped with a double D clasp and is designed to be worn with glasses if needed. Due to its huge eye port you can wear whatever fancy goggles you want so it’s time to pull out the Jackie Onassis shades you’ve been hiding in your drawer for years. Also, there’s enough space to wear earplugs (apparently there are people out there who listen to music when they ride their bikes…)
Bottom line: you won’t win a horserace on a cow, you won’t cross the Desert on a Chopper and you don’t ride around the globe with the Bell Bullitt (…I know, the thing with the Bullitt and the Chopper are feasible, but there are way better alternatives). One should see the Bullitt in the right context; of all the so-called retro full face helmets appearing over the last years and months, the Bullitt might be the most reasonable compromise. It is DOT approved as well as EC, the looks are bang-on, it doesn’t make you look like a lollipop, the quality is flawless and the ride comfort is acceptable. I’ll leave the 449€ price tag for everyone to judge by her/himself if it’s okay. Sure, there are cheaper alternatives but none of them can quite match the Bullitt. If you are just interested in the bang for bucks section you might get disappointed but if you want the unusual look, nevertheless hear you engine and aren’t afraid of a bit of fresh air in your mug (aren’t those the essential ingredients of motorcycling?) you might look no further.
Oh, and by the way, the visor keeps the rain off of your face too…