The Bell Super DH is ready to rumble — first ride review

New downhill-certified convertible helmet

Bell is releasing a new convertible helmet that meets downhill certification safety standards and features a new version of the MIPS safety system.

Bell Super DH highlights

  • Meets the ASTM 1952 DH safety standard
  • Employs the MIPS Spherical system
  • Removable chin bar
  • Offered in sizes small through large
  • 850g (medium)
  • $300 (UK and Australian pricing TBC)
  • Available in December

Unlike the new Sixer, which replaces the Super trail helmet, the new Super DH doesn’t replace the Super 3R, but stands as the new premium option Bell’s expanding convertible helmet line.

Pivoting on MIPS

The Bell Super DH is the company's first downhill-certified convertible helmet
The Bell Super DH is the company's first downhill-certified convertible helmet

The Super DH is the third generation of Bell’s convertible mountain bike helmets and the first to meet the ASTM 1952 DH safety standard, the same standard met by Bell’s premier full-face helmet, the Full 9.

The Super DH uses a new version of the MIPS rotational impact system. MIPS Spherical can be thought of as a helmet within a helmet. 

The inner layer that wraps around the rider’s head is constructed from low density EPP foam. This EPP foam sphere is covered by a thin polycarbonate shell. This inner helmet rests against polycarbonate-covered EPS foam that forms the exterior of the helmet. 

These two layers are held in place by rubber elastomers that allow the shells to move like a ball and socket joint a few millimeters in any direction during an impact.

If this system sounds familiar, it’s because helmet manufacturer 6D similar system in the ATB-1T trail helmet in early 2016.

Fit features

The Super DH has a secure and comfortable fit
The Super DH has a secure and comfortable fit

Along with this new version of MIPS, the Super DH uses a refined headform and the new Float Fit DH retention system, both of which are said to improve comfort.

While the safety and fit systems might be new, the Super DH still relies on a trio of latches to connect the chinbar to the rest of the helmet. The company worked to make the rear latch easier to engage and disengage without removing the helmet.

Since this is a helmet designed to be worn for many hours during an enduro race, ventilation was also a priority. The Super DH has 19 vents and two brow ports. There’s an additional four vents positioned along the front and sides of the chinbar.

Additional Super DH features include a breakaway camera mount, adjustable visor and a Sweat Guide to keep perspiration from dripper on the wearer’s goggles.  

First impressions

Ventilation is good in full and half-shell mode
Ventilation is good in full and half-shell mode

The proving ground for this new convertible helmet included Whistler’s legendary Top of the World trail along with other tracks that formed the course for the seventh stop on this year’s Enduro World Series.

Like the Super 3R, the Super DH provides a great field of view. It also has good auditory feedback.

By the standards of a full-face helmet, the Super DH is very well ventilated. In half-shell mode, the Super DH is not as well vented as the Sixer, but more airy than the Giro Switchblade.

While we’re on the subject of the Switchblade, the three-buckle system used to install and remove the Super DH chinbar is not as quick to install and remove as the Switchblade’s smaller chinbar, though with a few minutes of practice is does become intuitive.

One item that I wasn’t keen on was the use of a magnetic Fidlock buckle to secure the chinstrap. It’s heavy, bulky and prone to loosening on rough tracks.

Like the Sixer, the Super DH I tested was a preproduction model. Some changes may occur before it’s ready for its public debut in December.

We’ll update this review with impressions of the production version once it becomes available. 

Josh Patterson

Tech Editor, US
Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Age: 35
  • Height: 170cm / 5'7"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 72cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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