With the evolution of modern trail bikes, riders are pushing the limits of bike and rider both in distance and technicality. Allowing riders to push the limits on the trail, safety is also a key concern. Hybrid helmets have helped allow riders the comfort and efficiency of a half-shell helmet with the ability to up the protection as terrain dictates. An easily attached or detached chin bar transforms a basic half shell helmet into a fully protective full face in a matter of seconds. Some of these helmets are more versatile and functional than others, but many brands are offering them now. The newest offering from the pioneer of hybrid helmets and my personal favorite in terms of comfort and aesthetics thus far is the new Bell Super Air R.
Bell Super Air R Highlights
- CPSC Bicycle and CE EN1078 certified
- Flex Spherical + MIPS
- Two-buckle removable chin bar
- Intended for aggressive trail riding
- Weights: SUPER AIR R: 640 grams (size M), SUPER AIR (without chin bar): 410 grams (size M)
- Sizing: Small 52 – 56 cm, Medium 55 – 59 cm, Large 58 – 62 cm
- Price: SUPER AIR R: $275, SUPER AIR: $225
Featuring a redesigned detachable chin bar, more ventilation, and an integrated MIPS system, the Super Air R has made hybrid helmets more appealing to the general mountain biker by giving them a stylish one helmet option for any type of riding adventure. Yank off the detachable chin bar and you’ve got a comfortable, stylish trail lid with no signs of its hybrid adaptability, snap the chin bar back on and you’ve got protection good enough for laps in the bike park.
Comfort comes from Bell’s float fit system offering one of the more comfortable adjustment systems I’ve used in a hybrid helmet. Weighing in 144g lighter than it’s predecessor while sporting many fit and function upgrades. With a 2-buckle chin bar attachment (the original Super uses 3 buckles) the style and weight of the new Super Air R is a significant improvement over its pioneering predecessor.
Construction includes a Fusion in-Mold polycarbonate Shell mated to in internal shell constructed utilizing a Progressive layering construction which is lighter than ever, even with the addition of Bell’s Flex Spherical + MIPS technology, which is designed to reduce the impact forces that reach the brain during a crash. This new system fits sleekly inside the helmet shell reducing weight and maintaining a comfortable adjustable fit system.
Other tech features include a three-position visor, an integrated breakaway camera mount, and a goggle grip system at the back of the helmet to prevent straps from slipping.
- Lightweight, versatile hybrid helmet with a removable chin bar
- Float fit system fits variety of head shapes
- Integrated MIPS system
- Amazing airflow through 18 vents
- Great with goggles or glasses
- Rear airflow is limited
- Affixing glasses can be an issue
- Chinbar buckles can be finicky
- Not certified to the ASTM F1952 DH standard
If you’re in the market for a versatile helmet and you have any inkling that you want a full face, the new Bell Super Air offers a light comfortable half shell helmet with the option to snap on the detachable chin bar when the terrain gets rowdy. Coming in at 410g, the Super Air is a great option for riders looking for a helmet that will keep them protected for most riding situations without being overly cumbersome. It accommodates both glasses and goggles very well with or without the chin bar, making it a great candidate no matter your preference of eye protection. If I were in the market for a new brain bucket, I’d gladly drop the extra coin to go with a hybrid helmet like the Super Air to minimize additional clutter in the gear closet. Unless you are in need a full on DH full face, the Bell Super Air offers enough protection for most technical trail riding while still being light and breathable enough for those long XC slogs in the summer heat.
With many options in the helmet market, analysis paralysis can be overwhelming when trying on lids at your local shop. This new offering from Bell combines a stylish, lightweight trail helmet with the versatility of a detachable chin bar without being overly complicated or cumbersome. Sure, you’ll spend a bit more money on the Super Air initially but it will give you the ability to grab one helmet no matter where you are headed and how technical it may get. But beware, the Super Air R lacks some of the top-level DH protection certifications that many full-face helmets offer, and if you’re like me, when you’re strapping on a full face, you’re likely headed into terrain that warrants the right protection. But after getting some rides in with the Super Air R, I’m surprised by its versatility, ventilation, and on the bike comfort.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Price: Super Air $225, Super Air R: $275