Racer with a day job: Bell Race Star DLX Flex review

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The Bell Race Star Flex DLX is a carbon-fibre, sporty street motorcycle helmet that sits at the upper end of the market – and quite rightly so. This E CE22.06 version of the Race Star is a distant descendent of the 1967 Bell Star, the first full-face helmet on the market, which kicked head protection into a new gear.

Sitting below the top-spec and FIM-approved Bell Star DLX in the American firm’s range, the Race Star DLX Flex looks very similar from the outside but comes with a far lower (but still pretty high) price.

Tested by Ben Clarke for three months, 4000 miles

Pros

  • Big emphasis on safety
  • Meets ECE 22.06
  • Antibacterial liner
  • Carbon shell
  • Cool designs

Cons

  • Protint visor is good but could be better
  • Not the best ventilation I’ve experienced
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    4.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight 1560g (Large)
Construction Carbon fibre
Chinstrap Double-D ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop-down sun visor No
Pinlock No (not needed)
Interior Flex impact liner
Shell sizes Five
Warranty Five years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Flex impact liner
  • Magnetic chinstrap tidy
  • ProTint visor
  • Cool Jade lining
  • Chin, brow and top vents
  • Subtle but sporty aero wing
  • Fasthouse design

Bell market this helmet as being for “racers with a day job” and that’s a pretty good summation of the kind of level we’re talking about. Top-shelf protection for mid-shelf money. You could just as easily wear it on your commute as you could on a weekend trackday.

The most important part of a motorcycle helmet is safety, and this is something that Bell take very seriously indeed. The ‘Flex’ part of the name refers to the progressive layering impact liner of the helmet that uses a combination of materials to protect from different severities of impact.

There’s an EPO layer for low-speed impacts, EPP for mid-speed impacts and EPS for high-speed impacts plus a rotational energy management design to protect the brain form the damage by fast twisting motions.

Bell Race Star DLX Flex used on BMW M1000R

Despite this importance placed on safety, the Race Star is far from fuddy-duddy with a large range of eye-catching designs and a cool, racer-style profile including the subtle rear wing. All in all, a very impressive package.

Is the Bell Race Star DLX Flex comfortable?

I committed a cardinal sin when this helmet arrived as I took it from the DPD driver, stuck it on my head and immediately rode from Norfolk to Berlin (that’s how I remember it happening anyway). Poetic licence aside, the first time I wore the helmet for longer than a few minutes was when I rode the MCN fleet BMW M1000R to the Motorrad Days event in Germany.

This was a foolhardy decision, but one I completely got away with and therefore learned no lessons from. I usually sit somewhere between an L and an XL and opted for the smaller of the two after using Bell’s sizing guide. The fit was just on the uncomfortable side of snug when I first put it on and by the time I reached Folkstone, I feared I’m made a big mistake.

MCN Fleet BMW M1000R at a fuel station in Europe

But even by the time I pulled it on for day two of the ride from Hannover to Berlin the padding had compressed enough for a perfect fit. Phew.

The Race Star’s liner is quick drying and antimicrobial and uses a fabric they call Cool Jade that stays cool in hot temperatures. I’ve ridden in indicated temperatures of 37 degrees with a mild hangover through rush hour city traffic and I can confirm that the cooling effect of the fabric really works.

The most comfortable thing about the Race Star is how light it feels and the way the weight is distributed close to your skull. It means that rapid head movements for shoulder checks or whatever are really easy and you can wear it for seriously long days without getting tired. I’ve done several 500 mile-plus days in this helmet and felt no neck or back soreness afterwards.

What’s the visor like on the Bell Race Star DLX Flex?

Bell Race Star DLX Flex visor release button

The Bell Race Star comes with a ProTint reactions visor as standard. It is clear in low light conditions and then gets darker as more light hits it. This means you don’t have to worry about carrying two different visors for different conditions.

Transition happens really quickly and I’m impressed with the system but it does have one shortcoming; it stays a little too dark in bright, rainy conditions. I found visibility poor in conditions where a thin layer of rain clouds are illuminated by the sun so the sky is bright white. It’s a similar story in the fog too. It’s not dangerously dark in these conditions but I’d rather it stayed clear.

If you do need to change the visor, it’s a simple operation with a push button on either side that pops it off. Refitting it is just as simple, it’s a system I’ve not come across before but incredibly easy to get used to.

Bell Race Star DLX Flex front

There’s no Pinlock or fitment for one, but the visor is coated with something that prevents it from misting up and it seems to work whatever the conditions.

Does the Bell Race Star DLX Flex have good ventilation?

The Race Star has twin-port chin, brow and top vents and exhausts on the rear to allow airflow. All three inlets are switched with a simple, central switch that can be operated easily with a gloved hand.

The ventilation isn’t all that effective and I’ve had helmets with a more tangible airflow, but because of the Cool Jade liner mentioned above, you don’t really suffer with the heat. It would just be nice to get a bit more fresh air in sometimes.

Bell Race Star DLX Flex chin vent

Is the Bell Race Star DLX Flex noisy?

The Race Star is noticeably noisier that the previous helmet I tested, an Arai Quantic, but it’s far from uncomfortable. I ride wearing earplugs and my ears have been completely fine after long days in the saddle even at German autobahn speeds.

I generally find that carbon lids are a little noisier than those made from other materials but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for the weight saving advantages.

Does the Bell Race Star DLX Flex good-looking?

I’m a big fan of the Bell Race Star Flex’s racy profile, which is in my opinion just subtle enough to look at home on the road but can be worn on sportsbikes no problem. I’ve mostly used it on my long-term test BMW M1000R but I’ve also ridden everything from retro roadsters to a Honda Fireblade in it and it felt right with all of them.

Bell Race Star DLX Flex rear spoiler

The specific one I tested has the Fasthouse black and white design, which some might find gaudy but I think it looks absolutely fantastic. I particularly like the matte carbon weave that’s been left visible under the design. Id it’s not for you, there are plenty of other colours to choose from including more traditional options.

Is the Bell Race Star DLX Flex good quality?

Despite its light weight, you can feel the Bell’s high quality from the moment you pick it up. The lining is plush and soft, all of the vent switches are robust and smooth and the visor closes with the same purposeful thud as a German car door.

Everything from the finish of the design and the shell shape to the nifty magnetic slack-tidy on the end of the double-D ring chinstrap feels deliberate and thought-through – as though it’s evolved from decades of experience and trial-and-error.

Bell Race Star DLX Flex action

It really is a premium bit of kit and this makes it easier to justify the high asking price.

Is the Bell Race Star DLX Flex good value?

As mentioned above, the RRP of the Bell Race Star is high but you get what you pay for in this world. That said, the arguably market-leading main competitor – The Arai Quantic – currently costs £250 less and even at full price is £100 cheaper.

I don’t think that makes the Bell bad value and I certainly wouldn’t feel short changed if I’d bought one, especially since the Arai isn’t carbon and is markedly heavier, but I’m still not sure I’d choose the race Star over the Arai unless the price was closer.

A Shoei X-SPR Pro (which isn’t carbon either but is FIM-homologated) costs the same as the Bell if you get a plain one and £100 more with a design on it so, as I say, The Race Star isn’t bad value at all.

Bell Race Star DLX Flex

The carbon-aramid constructed AGV K6 S has an RRP of £469.99, again cheaper than the Bell by some margin.

Bell Race Star DLX Flex rivals

Price: £449.99 (was £599.99)
Price: £399.99 (was £469.99)

The verdict

All-in-all, the Bell Race Star DLX Flex is an impressive bit of kit. It’s well-designed, lightweight, comfortable and looks fantastic. It’s a true fit and forget lid, you know that you can pull it on for any journey and you’ll be well-looked after and comfortable whatever the conditions.

The Protint reactive visor works brilliantly almost all of the time and means you never have to think about carrying a second or when you’re going to swap it. Small touches like the magnetic clasp for tidying the slack in the double-D ring strap leave you wondering why everyone doesn’t do that – and I’ll curse the next helmet I test for not having it.

It sits at the upper end of the market in terms of price but also quality and I would be more than happy if I’d spent my own money on one.

Tested by Ben Clarke for three months, 4000 miles

Pros

  • Big emphasis on safety
  • Meets ECE 22.06
  • Antibacterial liner
  • Carbon shell
  • Cool designs

Cons

  • Protint visor is good but could be better
  • Not the best ventilation I’ve experienced
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    4.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight 1560g (Large)
Construction Carbon fibre
Chinstrap Double-D ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop-down sun visor No
Pinlock No (not needed)
Interior Flex impact liner
Shell sizes Five
Warranty Five years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Flex impact liner
  • Magnetic chinstrap tidy
  • ProTint visor
  • Cool Jade lining
  • Chin, brow and top vents
  • Subtle but sporty aero wing
  • Fasthouse design

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