Hands-on Gear Review

Bell Stoker MIPS Review

Bell Stoker MIPS
Price:  $95 List | $56.40 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, well-ventilated, adjustable visor
Cons:  Great value for MIPS technology
Bottom line:  Great helmet, with solid features that won't break the bank.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
Rotational Impact Protection System?:  MIPS
Adjustable Visor?:  Yes
Number of vents:  13
Manufacturer:   Bell

Our Verdict

The Bell Stoker is the little brother of Bell's flagship dirt helmet, the Super. The Stoker retails for about 60% of the retail price the Super, but we found that it shares about 75% of the things we like about the Super. It lacks the Super's adjustable visor and GoPro mount, but the Stoker is lighter and better ventilated. We feel that the Stoker is an excellent helmet for the money and it narrowly missed winning our Best Buy Award. Instead, the award went to the Giro Feature, which retails for $25 more than the Stoker but has a much more adjustable visor that earned it a higher score in our features test.

The Stoker is available in eight different colorways. Likely to keep the cost down, the visors on all of the colorways are black with the exception of the silver and white print, which has a white visor. Though we think the Stoker is a slightly less attractive helmet than the Super, we like most of the color options better than the dated graphics of the Super. Currently, the Stoker comes in five different solid matte colors, two slightly weird block prints, and one with a Mexican Unicorn on the back. Yes, we said Mexican Unicorn. It's part of Bell's artist series of helmets, and the unicorn is designed by Taylor Reeve. The cost of this helmet is the same, but it might be harder to find than some of the more tame colors.

Small and large-headed folks should take note: the Stoker is available in four sizes which cover a larger range of head sizes than the Super's available three sizes.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Dustin Schaad

Last Updated:
Monday
March 19, 2018

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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.

Performance Comparison


Bell Stoker Action
Bell Stoker Action

Comfort


The Stoker is one of the most comfortable helmets in our test. The top score went to the POC Tectal Race, which fits like a glove and was the only lid to outscore these three other comfy options. 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.

Bell Stoker
Bell Stoker

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.

Adjustments


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 Bell Super or the Troy Lee A2. The Giro Feature also has a great visor with an excellent thumb screw to lock it in place.

Bell Stoker Goggles off
Bell Stoker goggles ON

Weight


Weight weenies often compare dollar to weight savings. The Stoker is both inexpensive and light, which makes it one of the unusual 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.

Ventilation


The Stoker has just thirteen vents through its shell, which isn't an impressive number compared to the 25 on the Super. 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.

Protection


The Stoker meets the CE 1078 and CPSC Bicycle standards. Comes with MIPS technology (Multi-directional Impact Protection System), which is a leading slip-plane technology inside the helmet designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts. MIPS low-friction layer.

Bell Stoker
Bell Stoker

Extras


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 as well. We prefer this locking yoke hardware because it keeps the straps in the same place ride after ride.

Bell Stoker
Bell Stoker

Durability


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.

Bell Stoker
Bell Stoker

Best Application


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.

Value


This is tied as the least expensive mountain bike helmet in our test and just narrowly missed winning our Best Buy Award. Instead, this award went to the Giro Hex, which scored just slightly higher than the Stoker because it has a superior visor, similar to those found on much more expensive helmets like the A2 or Super. 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.

Conclusion


The Bell 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. It is also the least expensive helmet in our test at $95, which we think makes it one of the best values on the market.
Dustin Schaad

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Most recent review: March 19, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
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  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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