Safely commuting by bicycle is often a matter of making sure motorists know you're there along with being aware of your surroundings, and Bell's new Muni and Arella urban helmets are designed to help with both.
As with Bell's previous Citi and Metro urban helmets, the Muni – and the smaller but similarly styled Arella women's version – sport built-in loops to accommodate add-on rear flashers. However, these models go one step further by cleanly integrating a pair of LED lights directly into the retention system.
Up front, the removable visor also doubles as a mount for the surprisingly bright Flea LED light from sister company Blackburn (we're trying to find out if this visor fits Bell's mountain bike helmets, too, as it'd be great for night-time trailside repairs).
LED flashers are built directly into the retention system while the rear loop can accept another flasher, too, for even more visibility
If you're into that sort of thing, you can also attach the optional Flip Mirror, which clips directly to the visor and folds discreetly out of the way when not in use. Even without anything attached, the visor is still all-weather commuter friendly with channels along the periphery to funnel rainwater off to the sides.
When all the aforementioned pieces are used together, it makes for a greatly reduced chance of accidentally leaving your lights at home. Once you're at the office, you can even charge the lights at your computer with Blackburn's slick USB adapter.
The Muni's Blade Plus visor includes an integrated mount for Blackburn's Flea 2.0 LED light and also doubles as a base for the clip-on, foldaway mirror
Bell will offer both the Muni and Arella in one size each, although well thought out strap setups look to accommodate a reasonably wide range of head shapes. Borrowing from Giro's minimal Roc Loc SL – as seen on the ultralight Prolight model – the Muni and Arella's OneStep Plus system features a simple elastic strap that stretches across the base of your skull and simplified attachments at the ears.
Unlike the Roc Loc SL, though, the OneStep Plus will offer three different positions to help dial in the fit, in lieu of multiple shell sizes. Adding to this is a convenient ratcheting buckle for quick adjustments depending on the weather and additional headwear.
The Bell Muni and Arella helmets use a simplified OneStep Plus strap system that borrows some features from Giro's Prolight
Bell will offer the Muni in four colors and the Arella in five, both for just US$65 (£59.99/€70). The optional Flea 2.0 USB lights will add another $29.99 each ($54.99 for both) and the Flip Mirror will cost $14.99.
Also new from Bell for 2011 is the value-priced Sanction full-face helmet, which will retail for just $80 (£99.99/€100). Bell are aiming the new Sanction at a more youthful crowd, with slightly smaller sizes relative to their old Bellistic and current Drop models. But it retains a full feature set, including a tough fiberglass shell, an adjustable visor and a few vents to keep the air moving at speed.
Got a Yeti? This new color option for 2011 – including on Bell's new Sanction full-face model – is a near perfect match for the popular Colorado niche brand
Especially aggressive riders will want to make note that the Sanction is CPSC-approved only, though, and doesn't meet the new ASTM downhill standard. Other models such as the Volt and Sequence will carry over but with new colors added for 2011.