Traditionally, cycling helmets typically fall into a few categories with the primary ones being road, gravel and urban with each helmet variation optimized for a specific discipline. The Bell XR Spherical is designed to break traditional categories and serve as a do-it-all helmet for all cyclists regardless of riding styles. Bell markets the helmet as “built for every ride” and has integrated a variety of design details to maximize performance and safety. The helmet retails for $225 and features Spherical technology which is a ball-in-socket design powered by MIPS for rotational impact protection. To satisfy road cyclists, the helmet has a sub 300g weight and extensive ventilation. The helmet also features a “deep road” fit that blends the sleek design of a road cycling helmet with extended rear and sides for additional protection off road or commuting.
The Bell XR Spherical combines the lightweight and ventilation of a road cycling helmet with the extended protection of gravel / urban helmets into a category defying helmet.
|Rating||9.3 / 10|
|Measured weight (in g)||282 (medium size)|
|Likes||+ Attractive color schemes|
+ Clever spherical ball-in-socket construction
+ Easy to use Fidlock magnetic buckle
|Dislikes||– No removable visor option|
– Reflective decal on the rear seems like an afterthought
|Where to Buy (US)||Bell|
The Bell XR Spherical comes in a sleek black helmet box with simple branding and “live wide open” printed directly onto it. Inside the box you’ll find:
- XR Spherical helmet
- Safety pamphlet
- Spherical info tags
Note, the helmet does not include a fabric storage bag which is typically included for helmets in this price bracket.
FIT & FINISH
The Bell XR Spherical has what Bell refers to as a deep road fit that blends the light weight of a road helmet, the coverage of a gravel helmet and the safety of Spherical rotational protection system. It’s not all marketing hype either, as the helmet backs the claims up with an impressive sub 300g weight and multidisciplinary features. Bell also hasn’t forgotten about the visual design as the helmet is offered in 7 color schemes. That includes the standard white/black as well as unique blue, green, red fade graphics and a green camo option. For this review, we have the “Gloss Pinks” variation which fades from a burgundy color on the front to a dark pink on the rear. The inner portion of the helmet has a gloss pink finish which contrasts nicely with the darker matte outer shell. It’s an attractive graphical scheme that uses a color palette we traditionally associate with POC helmets.
The exterior of the helmet is covered in small rectangular vents that sweep from the front of the helmet towards the rear. One of the most distinct angles of the helmet is the top which has a U-shaped which has a reverse U shape with extended vents along the edges and structural connectors between the vents. Branding on the helmet is limited to glossy color-matched Bell logos on the side, the front and Spherical / MIPS logos on the rear. Our only criticism of the design is the rear reflective sticker below the vent that doesn’t quite fit the aesthetics. We would have preferred to see more integrated reflective detailing on the straps and around the vents.
Perhaps one of the most unique features of the helmet is the Spherical Technology (shared with Giro helmets) which uses a ball-in-socket construction that is powered by MIPS. We’d describe it as a helmet-in-helmet construction that allows the entire inner shell of the helmet to rotate around the outer shell. It’s a more integrated design than traditional MIPS liners that allows for the same rotational impact protection without blocking any vents or adding material to the interior of the helmet. Instead, the helmet is open and airy with built-in air channels within the EPS and EPP foam. There are even ridges cut into the interior of the helmet that are reminiscent of Lazer’s KinetiCore technology. Ionic+ padding is placed at all the contact points between your head and the helmet which is a soft and removable padding.
Although we were initially weary about the “built for every ride’ marketing of the helmet it’s actually well executed. The helmet feels comfortable on the road, off-road and commuting thanks to the lightweight and extensive ventilation. Even on multi-hour hilly road rides, the helmet keeps your head cool and has convenient eyewear storage and easily accessible dial for making adjustments. The helmet also has an extended rear profile and sides for additional protection off the road or commuting which provides peace of mind. We also appreciated the magnetic buckle which simplifies putting the helmet on and off. The only downsides of the helmet we found were the lack of an optional visor or GoPro mount (something the Lazer Jackal offers).
Overall, we found the Bell XR Spherical to be a well designed and full featured helmet. The helmet combines the lightweight and ventilation found on road cycling helmets with a deeper fit and extended side profile for protection off-road or commuting. Despite the clever Spherical ball-in-socket construction, which we would have assumed adds complexity and weight, the helmet achieves a sub 300 gram weight. We also found the helmet to be well ventilated and visually attractive with the contrasting and fading exterior color schemes. The main potential negatives of the helmet are the lack of visor or GoPro mount which are more common for gravel or mountain bike helmets. That said, whether you are a multidisciplinary cyclist or just looking for a relatively affordable modern safe helmet the Bell XR is a great option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Bell Helmets. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.