First Impression: Bell Super 2R

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Modern all-mountain bikes are really redefining what is possible with a single bike: controlled singletrack climbing and all-out downhill performance. With the machines pushing boundaries, riders are looking for versatile protection that remains comfortable up and down the mountain. Many enduro races also require a full face helmet for the timed stages, and carrying two helmets can be a chore.

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The Bell Super 2R is a reworking of the popular Super helmet introduced last year. While it shares most of its styling with the Super, the Super 2R is completely new and the integrated, removable chin bar is not compatible with the older version. What does remain from the first-generation Super are the X-Static padding, TAG adjustable fit system and overbrow ventilation.

Having a chin bar is not a new idea, and many folks are comparing this to the old Giro Switchblade helmet, for example. While the concept is similar, the execution is much different, with a bar that wraps the whole way around the helmet, rather than attaching at the sides.

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I got to ride the Super 2R during the two-day Oregon Enduro Series race over the weekend at Mt. Hood and found it to be just the ticket for enduro racing or rowdy trail riding. At a claimed weight of 694 grams, it is just more than half the weight of the 1,200 gram Transfer 9 full-face that I reviewed in Issue #178 and obviously vents far more than a solid full-face.

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The chin bar is easy to install and remove via the cam buckles. In fact, it’s even easier to operate with the helmet on, though the google straps cover the side bindings, and they can be tough to feel for with gloves on. The buckles are not only inspired by ski bindings, they are actually made in a factory that makes ski bindings.

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The breakaway visor tilts far up and easily makes room for your goggles perched on your forehead and the removable camera mount has been redesigned for a more secure fit. Inside the chin bar are cheek pads that have removable inserts to fine-tune the fit.

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Folks have a right to be skeptical about the chin bar’s strength, but Bell explains that while the Super 2R helmet doesn’t carry the full downhill/full-face certification, the chin bar has surpassed all its internal testing requirements. A super-slow-mo video of the test shows how it deforms and deflects on impact to dissipate the energy. A Bell employee even crash-tested one during practice over the weekend—walking away with a few scrapes from a face-plant that certainly would have cost him some teeth if he hadn’t been wearing the Super 2R.

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While the helmet’s intention is clearly focused on enduro racing and big-mountain riding, chatter over the weekend was about several other user groups who might enjoy it, including beginners or anyone looking for a little extra protection without having to wear a bulky full-face.

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The Super 2R will retail for $200 or $220 with the MIPS system, and will also be available without the chin bar as the Super 2 for $135 or $155 with MIPS. The original Super will be retired. Bell says the chin bar might eventually be sold separately for folks looking to upgrade later.

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It is available in five colors, including the Infared pictured here, which is impossible to photograph but glows in a sort of neon peach.