Mountain bike helmets may not be all that exciting, but we all know they’re important–arguably the most important article of riding apparel. All full face mountain bike helmets must meet certain safety standards, but some lids certainly stand out in terms of their comfort, versatility, and added safety benefits.
The Bell Super 3R is an updated and improved version of the Super 2R, which was a revolutionary mountain bike helmet design featuring a removable chin bar for maximum versatility and safety in a wide range of riding conditions. Both Michael Paul and Colton reviewed the Super 2R in the past on Singletracks–Michael wrote a great run-down of the non-MIPS-equipped version, while Colton’s video review provides a cool multi-media perspective on the MIPS version.
Upgrades found in the 3R include a better retention system and a fit that is lower on the head, eliminating wobble and increasing safety; removable cheek pads in the chin bar to accommodate more face shapes and sizes; and even better MIPS technology.
I tested the women’s version of this helmet, part of Bell’s Joy Ride collection. Aside from the graphics and color scheme, it’s the exact same product as the regular Super 3R.
- Float Fit: a new feature for the 3R, Float Fit is a comprehensive yet minimalist 360-degree fit system that perfectly contours to the shape of your head–all with just the simple turn of a dial.
- Goggleguide Adjustable Visor System: allows for storage of both goggles and glasses on the helmet under the visor, with or without the visor attached.
- Breakaway Camera Mount: designed to break away from the helmet upon impact to prevent injury and damage to your camera.
- MIPS-Equipped: MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, which helps prevent injury from rotational forces.
- Overbrow Ventilation: keeps your noggin cool with a specially-designed air intake and circulation system.
- Breakaway Screws: in the event of a crash, the visor can break off to prevent injury to the rider and damage to the visor, and the screws are easily replaceable.
- Fusion In-Mold Polycarbonate Shell
- X-Static Padding: keeps your head cooler when it’s warm and warmer when it’s cold.
- Wraparound Protection: the highlight of this helmet is the removable chin bar for full-face protection when you want it.
On the Trail
One of the big complaints that Colton had in his video review of the Super 2R is that the fit was hard to get dialed in. I personally cannot compare it to the earlier models, but based on my experience versus Colton’s, it seems that Bell has worked hard to address the fit issues for the Super 3R.
I found that the new Float Fit system cinches to the head tightly, without putting too much pressure on any one spot, and allowing for plenty of adjustability depending on headwear (hats, headbands, etc). The dial on the back of the helmet is large enough that it’s easy to use even with heavy gloves on, and it reliably cinches or loosens when you want it to, but not when you don’t. However, despite apparent improvements, the helmet did still feel like it was sitting high on my head. I think it just took me a while to get used to the difference in shape from my other helmet.
My test period for this helmet was late fall into winter in Pennsylvania, so I used it in a lot of cooler conditions and didn’t get to test it out in the heat of summer to properly check out the ventilation system. As I’m used to well-vented XC helmets, I tend to wear a buff over my ears or a hat once it gets chilly outside, so I didn’t notice an excess of ventilation in cooler temperatures. It does seem like it would be well-vented enough to be comfortable in most summertime conditions as well.
At 764.5 grams, the Super 3R isn’t super light, but it’s lighter than a downhill-specific helmet, even with the chin bar on. While I was riding, I didn’t notice the extra grams on my head, and the increased protection it offers is totally worth it.
At first, I was pretty skeptical of Bell’s claims that the chin bar could be easily affixed while the helmet is on your head, but after a few tries, I found that it could actually be done. Magnets on the side of the helmet help guide the chin bar into place, and once it’s in the right spot, the clips are easy to use. I didn’t quite get it down with thicker gloves on, but with a light summer glove, it’s certainly doable. The chin bar padding can be adjusted to accommodate different face shapes and sizes via layers of removable foam pads, and the chin bar itself is easily stowed on or in most hydration packs when it’s not needed.
Bell Super 3R MIPS Cycling Helmet - Matte Emerald/Retina Sear Medium
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Admittedly, the Super 3R is way more helmet than I would use on a regular basis, but as I evolve as a rider, I find gravity-centered adventures and honing my jump skills more and more intriguing, thus rendering full-face protection more and more welcome. I doubt I would go out and buy a full-face mountain bike helmet in addition to my normal lid, so the Super 3R is a versatile alternative. I would take advantage of the chin bar every now and then, and the rest of the time, it can act as my everyday riding helmet and still see plenty of use. The Super 3R isn’t a cheap helmet, but I think that the versatility is worth it for anyone who even only occasionally wants the extra protection it affords.
Thank you Bell for sending me the Super 3R to review.