Bell's new Sixer blends safety with style — first ride review

First impressions of this new trail-worthy lid

Bell has added a new trail helmet to its line. The Sixer builds on the legacy of the Super with refined styling and updated safety features.

Bell Sixer highlights

  • Meets CPSC, CE and AU safety standards
  • Integrated MIPS system
  • Dual-density EPS foam
  • Offered in sizes S through XL
  • Integrated breakaway camera/light mount
  • 410g (size medium)
  • $150 (UK and Australian pricing TBC)
  • Available in November

Bell launched the Super half-shell in early 2013. It featured substantially more coverage than many other mountain bike helmets in the burgeoning trail/enduro category. As more companies developed similar offerings, the Super began to look dated.The Sixer replaces the Super as the company's trail helmet. According to Bell, this new lid provides similar coverage to its predecessor in a sleeker, better-ventilated package.

Sixer safety features

The MIPS system is integrated directly into the Sixer's fit sytem
The MIPS system is integrated directly into the Sixer's fit sytem

The Sixer passes CPSC, CE and AU safety standards. It features progressive layers of EPS foam, with lower-density layers positioned along the interior to improve its ability to dissipate energy during an impact.

The Sixer follows in the footsteps of the Zepher road helmet with an integrated version of MIPS, known as MIPS Float Fit Race. Integrating this rotational impact system directly into the fit system, rather than relying on an additional plastic shell to mitigate rotational impacts, is said to significantly improve airflow through the Sixer.  

Creature comforts

Grippers on the back of the Sixer keep goggle straps in place
Grippers on the back of the Sixer keep goggle straps in place

While the Super remains a competent trail helmet, common complaints include a lack of ventilation and a rather large profile.

“Fit and ventilation were key priorities with this new helmet,” said Ben Penner, engineering manager at Bell Helmets.

The Sixer has a more refined silhouette than its predecessor, with 26 vents as well as four brow ports.

“All of our entrances have a clear path to the exits,” said Penner of the Sixer’s ventilation system.

The Sixer has a four-position visor that swings out of the way to allow riders to prop their goggles on the front of the helmet when not in use. There’s also a rubberized strip along the back of the helmet to keep the goggle strap from slipping.

On top of the helmet is a breakaway mount that can be used for securing a light or camera.

A strip of padding at the front of the helmet collects sweat and allows it to drip away from the rider's face
A strip of padding at the front of the helmet collects sweat and allows it to drip away from the rider's face

Like the Zephyr, the Sixer uses Bell’s Sweat Guide system to channel sweat away from the wearer’s face. It does this by using a strip of foam padding that extends away from the center of the brow. It’s designed to absorb perspiration from the rest of the brow pads and allow it to drip in front of, rather than on, your sunglasses.

First impressions

A few hours the of riding in the heat gave me a favorable impression of the new Sixer
A few hours the of riding in the heat gave me a favorable impression of the new Sixer

My one day of testing the Sixer consisted of riding in Squamish, British Columbia. The trails were steep and the temperature and humidity high.

The mercury was hovering around 90°f / 32°c, so it would have been a steamy ride no matter what helmet I was wearing. In these conditions, the Sixer did a good job of managing heat. The vent positioning, along with the integrated MIPS system, does seem to promote good airflow as long as you’re moving.

I found the MIPS Float Fit Race system to be secure and very comfortable.

From my brief time on the Sixer, the standout feature was the sweat management system along the brow. It worked as advertised by keeping sweat from pouring onto my sunglasses.

It’s worth noting that the Sixer I tested isn’t a full production version. The adjustable visor lacked the four indexed position that will be present in the final product. In addition to this refinement, Bell is exploring options to improve the Sixer’s strap management system.  

Overall, the Sixer is a promising entrant into the trail helmet market and a worthy successor to the Super.

Stay tuned for a full review once we get our hands on the production version.

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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