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Bell Star Carbon – Speed Freak Review

Discussion in 'Helmets' started by aussieak, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. Sorry for the multi post but photo and text limits I had no choice

    With a recent tank drop of my Shoie XR-1100(make that a couple) I decided to air on the side of caution and retire the helmet less than a year old. One of the drops being on the crown area which if I remember correctly should be a stronger part for the AS Standard.
    Being relatively new to riding I am in no way a brand loyalist and look more for function and comfort and style. With all the talk about 100% carbon helmets I thought I would have a look at see what all the noise is about with plans of really looking at the Arai RXQ as my next helmet. Off I ventured to my favourite Peter Stevens Vendor store and was lucky that my favourite accessory person was working that day. I was impressed with the Star Carbon Black beauty design at 1st which drew me to Bell to consider. As usual for me it was nil stock for a while but I then got a real look at the speed freak and was also impress with the copper design colour and patterns.

    This review will look at the helmet in detail and will give some comparisons to my other Helmet’s Arai Vector (Not available any more but Vector 2 is) Shoei XR-1100.

    What’s in the box?
    The Bell star comes in an awesome helmet bag. You will see in the photos this is like having a carry-on luggage bag with extra pockets. If you track rider you will be able to put all the helmet gear like extra visor (there is provision for the visor in the main bag and even comes with a visor protective cover. External pockets for cleaning gear if wanted. The helmet is in the bag inside the box.

    On a US Forum I read that the helmet comes with extra cheek pads silicone bottle some cleaning buds and a Track Strip. In my box (which by the way is also the wrong box (medium instead of small) which I was advised of before the sale) only had the Track strip inside. No instructions or extra bits. I doubt we will get the extra cheek pads but at least the instruction manual would be nice. I’ll chase this up when I pick up my tinted visor on Thursday or Friday. Still Peter Stevenson need to double check their quality control or train their staff to give customers the correct packaging in the 1st place.
  2. #2 aussieak, Dec 26, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
    The Fit and Feel
    I wear a medium in both Arai and Shoei so I 1st went for that size in Star only to find I was swimming in it. Bell seems to have a different sizing system and I actually fit in a small. Interesting only one review form the states has the same comment wear most stores will claim medium=medium. My tip here is try before you buy.

    The internal liner is soft on the Speed Freak. When I tried the plain matte black although it should be the same the liner had a slight course feeling compared to the Speed Freak. The soft liner feels almost like velvet. It does not have a rough texture feel like the Arai or Shoei and on warmer days it does not make you itchy.

    The weight
    Once I got home I decided to take a quick spin around the block. This helmet you do feel the lightness of the Carbon and also the spoiler effect even at low speed. Head checks were effortless compared to the Shoei. After the ride I took out the kitchen scales and compared weights, with some surprises.
    All helmets were measured with Visor, breath guard, chin curtain (except Vector not catered for) results are as follows:

    · Arai Vector Medium 1531g

    · Bell Star Carbon Small 1554g

    · Shoei XR-1100 Medium1628g

    I doubt that the chin curtain would make 23g but I did not test this and still surprised that the Arai came out on top.
    Also worth mentioning is that the RHOK Carbon helmet by Takamii has a claimed weight of 1300g +/- 50g http://www.rhok.com.au/helmets.htm (click on the features button). Which makes it the lightest helmet in the country I think. I say claimed weight as I would have wanted the true weight on my scales for a fairer comparison. To be fair I did once try a RHOK helmet (medium from friend) and found the head liner really thin and my head felt the EPS liner as soon as I put it on. It was off putting at the time but not a true test of the helmet as it was not moulded to my head.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. #3 aussieak, Dec 26, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
    On my 1st low speed ride noise of the helmet was very good. Without ear plugs wind noise was very low compared to the Shoei. To the defence of the Shoei I always had a Scala G4 mounted to it which added to the wind noise.
    My 2nd run again without ear plugs included some high speed runs (100kp/h) on the Monash, This was a comfort and nose test run from Blackburn Rd to Wellington road back to Forester Road followed by some back streets. In this test the helmets flaws started to show. Wind noise is louder than the Shoei even then the Arai. Head checks would bring whistle noise into the mix. The top air vents also produced whistle noise at certain angles (tilt to the left or right) or tucked down. I have read on other forums that Bell will replace the air vent units in the States not sure in AUS how Peter Stevens would handle it but since both vents were causing the noise I doubt that it’s a fault.
    I will look to see if the visor brackets have some adjustment in it like the Shoei does to remove head check whistle.

    It’s awesome, this helmet just blows fresh air in its not funny. Whilst testing on the freeway I turn off the top vents and just used the brow and chin vents to reduce some of the noise it felt like the same amount of air as the Shoei, Combined with the moisture wicking features of the liner this has to be the 1st helmet I pulled off and I had a dry head and did not feel like I lost a litre of sweat in the head. This will need to be tested under hotter conditions but so far it gets an A++ from me.

    Visor replacement
    Visor replacement is the easiest of all helmets and is a true 1 hand operation.

    Glove operation
    All controls including visor lock and venting control the easiest of all three helmets with gloves on. I was able to open and close all vents, lock the visor anti fog crack and unlock with cloves on. A safety/ panic feature is if the helmet is in the locked position with a little bit of force you can open the visor. The lever will spring to the open position and the visor will crack open.

    Visor & Anti-fog coating
    The Standard visor comes with some ugly pinlock mounts on the outside. Their at least double the size of the Shoei. I am not even 100% sure how they work as they are mounted on outside of the helmet. My guess is there just a female screw mount and the pinlock itself screws into it.

    I have not been able to test the Anti-fog but did notice that the hot breath fog dissipates very quickly. I will be swapping the Visor with the Photo chromatic version and will add a review to this in here.
  4. The Bad points
    It’s not a perfect helmet and here some of the bad points

    · Chin Curtain – This always comes off or gets loose when removing the helmet it’s a bloody PIA. This was also the case in the medium helmet when testing in-store.

    · Audio features. Whilst Bell claims to make the helmet audio friendly, which it does with its speaker fitting system? But I cannot mount the Scala G4 to the helmet. Where the cheek pad snaps in to place is some extra lining which is glued to the shell of the helmet. Without moding the helmet there is no way the clamp will go in there. You will need to use the Stick on mount which if you’re a track person may not be suitable.

    · Quality control - Now the Star Carbon is advertised as 100% Carbon Fibre Shell yet the inside stitched label states that the helmet is Shell and liner is constructed of Fiberglass and Polyester resin on Shell and EPS liner. No mention of Carbon fibre anywhere. On the Label in bold you will see model Star Carbon and manufacture date which in my case is 08/2012. I guess without cutting the helmet in half and testing the construction of the helmet you will never know if its Carbon fibre or not. Make me wonder if a false advertising statement can be found here. But it looks like they just printed 1 stack of labels and do a last minute screen print of model and date. Poor form.

    · Only AS/NZS 1698 certification label – Interestingly both Arai and Shoei have dual AS/NZS 1698 & Snell or DOT labels inside the helmet. Yet to save money maybe the Bell only has AS/NZS 1698. Not sure how this helmet would travel around the world that require label certification evidence in Snell or DOT. Now I do not want to start the legal battle here on which is better it’s just an observation. I guess Bell and the importers assume that the Helmets will not leave Australia.

    From my observations on the interwebs the Bell Star Carbon is the top of the line helmet from Bell. This should put it up there with the Arai Corsair V and Shoe X-12 range of helmets. Whilst no expert in this field if this is the case this helmet represents real value for money in that range. I think it lacks some of the features of the X-12 and Corsair but it’s really hard to tell.
    The helmet is light comfortable has reduced buffeting at speed and is louder the comparison helmets.

    For those considering a new helmet I would highly recommend testing fitting one if the graphic/style suits your tastes, which seems to be 70% of the buyers decision making process these days.

    That Label

    Where to mount the G4?
    • Like Like x 3
  5. sounds like you got a demo model mate, id be taking it back and asking for a sealed box, sorry but why some businesses think they can get away with passing off second hand goods as new is beyond me.

    EDIT: so is this thing carbon or not? sounds like its a standard poly carb/resin helmet by the label? or maybe they just stuck the same label into all of them.
  6. #6 aussieak, Dec 26, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
    I knew it was the off the shelve helmet and was the last in that colour there. The box did not bother me that much or I would of just walked away from the sale and gone online somewhere. Missing the paperwork and stuff is a pain but I know that they will sort it out when I pick up the visor.

    I really cant tell if its Carbon or not and I am not taking it apart to find out. Maybe @Peter Stevens Vendor can shed some light on the subject or perhaps Takamii can give me a clue where to look with out damaging the helmet.
  7. the review on revzilla said this one is complete carbon whereas the other brands are just a carbon skin. i have only seen the rs-1 in stores and i really love how it feels. like nothing i have ever tried. once the star range comes in stock i will definitely try it on.
  8. What the review says and what's on the label are 2 different things. I am going to say that its just generic label since the Word Star Carbon are in the model area. If you get the chance put the RS-1 and star in each hand and see if you can feel the 100g difference. It is noticeable when I did the weight test between the Shoei and Star
  9. forgot to say before, but great write up :beer:
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Detailed write up, thanks for taking the time.
  11. Welcome I try my best even with my dyslexia[DOUBLEPOST=1356684975,1356523403][/DOUBLEPOST]So today we tested the Bell Transition visor which got a bit of an all round work out except night riding.
    During a good six our ride cool overcast, then rain followed by pure sunshine sunny day. (Sounds like Melbourne right?)

    When fitting the visor the 1st thing I noticed it felt more solid then then the clear STD one. Putting the helmet back on the scales found 4 grams heavier. This was tested twice just for good measure.

    During the overcast period the visor vision felt like a clear visor but when I cracked it open I could automatically tell that there was a mild tint in there. During the rain the tint seem to remain but vision looked like a clear helmet. The anti fog also worked well I managed to leave the visor down and did not get one fog up.
    As the day progressed you could see the visor getting darker but like transition lenses in glasses whilst it cuts the glare it still felt like a clear visor. Darkness on the outside is on par with most dark tinted visors with almost a mirrored effect at some angles but you could still see some of my face features and I still got some sunburn as well. ( who forgot the sunscreen today ?) Happy with the purchase and it would suit riders that need clear and tinted in a single ride.
    Cool down to clear seems to be around 2 minutes max.

    Also on the ride today one of the Riders was wearing a RHOK helmet( not sure what size but when I asked him to compare the helmet weights by hand he could not tell the difference.

    Wind noise was still an issue even with Earmould plugs. Since I might not be using the speaker sockets I may add some extra foam behind the cover to make it flush with the cheek pads and see if that reduces it a bit more.

    Thanks for reading.
  12. are you able to upload some photos next time your free, of the visor indoors and at full tint outside? im a bit skeptical that it wouldnt go dark enough and its a bit gay but i dont like people being able to see through my visor
  13. At full tint Sat arvo 30+ C staring at the sun.

    Pointless doing the clear visor shot looks the same as the STD visor.

    • Like Like x 1
  14. How much do bell charge for the visor?
  15. The transition shield has an RRP of $179 & the Helmet is $699. Looking at the RRP in the states there is only a $50 difference in price so IMO good value
  16. Hi everyone! Thanks for the detailed write-up. I can clear up a few points for you, I spoke to the importer today and:
    - The helmet shell IS made of carbon fibre all the way through, not fibreglass; the internal label is not correct on that topic.
    - The helmet comes with the great carry bag and instructions, but not spare cheek pads or silicon cleaner. This is to keep the cost lower to the end customer.
    I hope this info helps! Cheers, PSM
  17. Thanks for clearing the label issue up. I hope the next batch will be fixed for you. Since we have false labelling laws this could put a few people in trouble. very happy with the helmet
  18. Cool write up. Not sure if your xr-1100 needs to be retired though, doesn't a helmet need to suffer an impact with a mass (eg head) inside it to distort the eps lining?
  19. Probably just an excuse to get a new helmet. ;)
  20. friggin sweet lid... been meaning to go and do a test fit but as i've bought a new Shoei TZX and an X-11 in the last 6 months i havent rushed into another....