Bell Stoker MIPS Review
Cons: Great value for MIPS technology
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bell Stoker is one of the least expensive half-shell helmets in our test and shares the same retention system as Bell's more expensive Super. Our analyses also found it to be well ventilated, lightweight, and very comfortable.
The Stoker is among the most comfortable helmets in our test. The top scores went to the POC Tectal Race and the Smith Session, but the Stoker wasn't too far behind. We were a bit surprised to find the Stoker more comfortable than the Bell Super, which has more plentiful and slightly thicker padding. We feel that the Stoker is more comfortable because it is lighter and covers slightly less area of the head, which makes for fewer contact points.
The Stoker is padded in all the right places on the inside of the helmet to allow for all-day comfort. We especially like that the continuous brow pad does a better job than segmented pads of keeping sweat out of the eyes. The Speed Dial rear the retention band is also well padded, which keeps it comfy even when the dial is cranked tight.
One area in which the Stoker lacks is in the size and adjustability of the visor. The visor is short and lacks the adjustment range of other helmets. The Stoker's stubby visor is attached at either side of the helmet by flat horizontal snaps that only allow for a small range of motion. We prefer visors that are attached by screws rather than snaps because they allow for more precise visor adjustments. If a secure, well-articulating visor is high on your list of important helmet qualities, then we recommend either the Smith Session or the Troy Lee A2.
Weight-conscious riders often compare dollar to weight savings. The Stoker is both inexpensive and lightweight, which makes it one of those rare products where you can spend less AND save weight. In the mountain bike world, products are usually either light or cheap, but not both. The Stoker is a rare case, and that makes us, um, stoked.
The Stoker has just thirteen vents through its shell, which isn't an impressive number compared to the 22 on the Giro Hex. However, what we found in our test was that the number of vents has little to do with how well a helmet moves air around your head to keep you cool. The size and shape of the vents, as well as the overall shape of the lid, has a lot more to do with air movement than the number of vents. The Stoker's vents are huge and do an impressive job of moving air in and out of the helmet to keep it cool. The Stoker scored towards the bottom of the fleet when it came to ventilation but was above average.
The Stoker's padding is covered with Coolmax instead of the X Static found on the Super. Bell claims that the Coolmax keeps the head cooler while the X Static fights funk. We found that the Stoker is a much cooler helmet than the Super, but we feel that this is more due to the size and shape of the vents rather than the material the padding is covered in.
The Stoker meets the CE 1078 and CPSC Bicycle standards. It also comes with MIPS technology. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. It is a plastic liner inside the helmet that allows the outer helmet shell to rotate slightly to reduce the rotational force of an oblique impact.
The Stoker shares the same Speed Dial Fit System as it's big brother the Bell Super. The retention system is one reason we like the Super so much, and it is equally awesome on the Stoker. This system consists of a semi-rigid rear retention band which is adjusted by a large dial covered in a rubbery material. We found this dial one of the easiest to operate, especially with full-finger gloves on. The chin strap is easily adjustable fore and aft via the same locking plastic hardware found on the Super. We prefer this locking yoke hardware because it keeps the straps in the same place ride after ride.
Like the Super, the lower edge of this brain bucket's polystyrene foam is not completely covered by the polycarbonate shell. Instead, Bell uses what they call Lower Strap Anchor Shell on the Stoker. This consists of two strips of shell material which protect the four strap yoke anchor points on either side of the helmet. This design will likely increase day-to-day durability slightly over helmets like the Giro Feature which has exposed and possibly vulnerable yoke anchor points. We would prefer that the shell wrapped completely around the bottom edge of the foam to protect it from dents and dings.
The Stoker performs best when protecting your head from rocks, dirt, and trees when riding on trails. The Stoker in an excellent brain bucket that offers awesome protection at an amazing price.
This is among the least expensive mountain bike helmets in our test. The Stoker's visor and visor attachment are so-so, and more akin to the attachments commonly found on cheaper helmets. The Stoker is an excellent value, especially if visors aren't important to you. The Stoker weighs just about the same and has a slightly better retention system for the same price.
The Stoker is an excellent extended coverage mountain bike helmet that gets a lot of trickle-down engineering from its big brother, the Bell Super. It is one of the lightest, best ventilated, and most secure helmets we tested. Its major detractor is its visor, which is small and lacks a thumbscrew to adjust the amount of friction needed to move it or lock it in place.
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Most recent review: March 19, 2018
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