Convertible helmets aren’t new for Bell, but the Super DH is its first to meet the ASTM F1952 downhill standard in full-face mode (just like its Full-9, a helmet widely used in the World Cup ranks).
As on the more trail-orientated Super 3R, the chin bar attaches using three clasps, which snap solidly into place for a properly secure fit.
The idea is that the chin bar can be removed or fitted without taking off the helmet and, while it isn’t quite as slick in operation as Giro’s Switchblade, after a bit of practice it does become easy enough.
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Inside the Super DH sits the new MIPS Spherical system, designed to protect against rotational impacts. This places a low-density EPP foam inner shell within the main EPS foam shell, which is then wrapped in the polycarbonate outer shell of the helmet.
The inner shell is attached via elastomers, allowing it to move a few millimetres in any direction upon impact.
This does add weight to the helmet, though the Super DH still trumps its closest rival, the Switchblade, on the scales. Without the chin bar in place, it weighs just 477g (medium). The Giro lid tips the scales at 637g (small), though it does offer more coverage in open-face mode.
With the chin bars attached things are a little closer, with the Super DH weighing 883g and the Switchblade 919g.
Couple that low weight with 19 vents, deep internal channelling and two brow ports, and you’ll be surprised how airy the Super DH feels without the chin bar in place.
In fact, airflow is impressive even with the chin bar on, and notably better than on the Switchblade. Get working hard and breathing feels unrestricted, thanks to the four mesh-free vents on the chin bar.
Bell’s ‘Float Fit DH’ cradle cinches up to provide really even pressure around your head. This means the fit feels secure without having to ratchet the indexed dial up overly tight.
The soft padding does a great job of wicking sweat too, making it properly comfy, even during long hours in the saddle on hot days.
Our only real complaint is with the closure. The thin straps twist quite easily, making it difficult to line up the two ends of the ‘Fidlock’ magnetic buckle. They also loosen off in use, so need checking regularly.
That said, it’s the chunky buckle we really take issue with — it doesn’t have the smoothest finish and we found it irritated our necks.
Those relatively minor niggles aside, we’re big fans of the Super DH, which provides a similar level of protection to a regular full-face but is far easier to forget about when you’re working hard.