Motorcycle helmet companies and industry safety foundations recommend replacing your cranium bucket every three to five years, with some manufacturers suggesting seven years from the date of the helmet’s construction. With that in mind, I figured I was due a new full-face lid. My old AFX had protected me for seven years, through track days and road trips, blazing sun and driving rain, from short hops uptown to cross-country adventures. It was time.
Having jumped on a 2017 Triumph Bonneville Street Cup a bit over a year ago, I really wanted a helmet that would not only be up to DOT and at least close to Snell rated, but that would at least somewhat match the two-tone paint scheme of my Bonney. After checking out all kinds of designs by a myriad of brands, I checked in with my friends at Cycle Gear. I found what I was looking for in the Bell Helmets Qualifier DLX.
Bell Helmets has a long, interesting history, a truly American story. The company actually started in 1923 as an automotive parts store, Bell Auto Parts, named not for a founder, but for a town- Bell, California. A guy named Roy Richter worked for then bought the store in 1945, for $1000. By 1954, Richter began producing race car helmets, then established Bell Helmet Company in 1956 as a division of the auto parts store. In 1968, Bell debuted the Star, their first full-face motorcycle helmet and then in 1971, they produced their first full-face, off-road moto helmet. And the rest, as they say, is history…
Bell Helmets has a long, interesting history, a truly American story.
The good folks at my local CG shop fitted me with a Qualifier they had in-store, and I got to check out its features up close. Along with a left side plug-in slot for a Bell or Sena Bluetooth communication system and accompanying interior speakers (probably the only reason the helmet isn’t Snell rated), I was able to witness first-hand the Transitions™ face shield that comes standard on the Bell Qualifier series. It really works- when UV light is held up to it, you can watch the lens darken right before your eyes. Very cool.
The guys didn’t have the color scheme I was looking for in stock, but assured me they could order and have it within a week, or I could order one online, and Cycle Gear would ship it to my door. Since I had some available online quid to spend, I bought it on their site, and the helmet arrived within 2 days. Impressive! And the helmet was perfect, just what I’d hoped.
When buying a new helmet, getting a proper fitment is important (another article for another day), and a must is wearing it around the house for an hour or two before taking off on a ride. This insures that unforeseen pressure points are discovered, which may not be detected in the store. The Qualifier fit me perfect (size L), albeit slightly snug at the cheekbones, which I actually appreciate- no slipping around on my skull.
I’ve owned the helmet for about three months now, and though we had somewhat limited riding days across the winter, I’ve been able to get enough riding in to test the helmet’s features fairly well. The Transitions™ shield reacts to light very rapidly, almost instantly, and back to clear when passing through shade or dark. Plenty of adjustable ventilation all around, and the cheek pads remove to make room for speaker installation or just for cleaning. The chin strap is a traditional double loop setup, and the Bluetooth side slot is a nice addition, even though I don’t have one (yet).
In all, I really like this helmet. I’m even talking to a guy about painting me a pair of gold pinstripes front to back between the matte black stripes and grey, just to match the Street Cup even more. A great cranium protector, for sure. If you like the Qualifier series, jump on one quick, as they are a closeout item for Bell. You can check out the entire line of Bell Helmets’ offerings at CycleGear.com, or at BellHelmets.com.