Hands-on Gear Review

Bell Super 2 MIPS Review

The Bell Super 2 MIPS in Matte Black White Viper.
Price:  $155 List | $154.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Extra occipital and temporal coverage, awesome visor, Wraparound Chinbar can be purchased seperately to add protection
Cons:  Heavy, poorly ventilated, redesigned GoPro mount not as good as previous version
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (size medium) oz:  14.9
Number of vents:  27
Goggle or Sunglasses Guide?:  No
Manufacturer:   Bell

Our Verdict

The Bell Super 2 has replaced the original Super as Bell's aggressive enduro helmet. Bell made a number of changes to this version, making the Super 2 an even better helmet. Most notably a chin guard (or "Chinbar") can be added to all models of the Super 2 to increase protection for descending. That said, if you don't want the chin guard option, then the Editors' Choice Troy Lee A1 is the better choice.

The chin guard is sold separately as the Wraparound Chinbar for $75. If you think you will want the chin guard, it is better to buy the chin guard along with the helmet in the Bell Super 2R MIPS version. It will save you $10.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Mountain Bike Helmets

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Luke Lydiard

Last Updated:
Wednesday
July 1, 2015

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The Bell Super 2 MIPS is an extended coverage polystyrene and polycarbonate cycling helmet aimed at aggressive mountain biking. This helmet has a number of interesting features, including a massive visor as well as compatibility with Bell's Wraparound Chinbar. The chin guard can be purchased separately and used with the Super 2 to add protection for higher speeds or gnarlier terrain.

Performance Comparison


Luke Lydiard cranks out of the saddle in the Bell Super 2 MIPS.
Luke Lydiard cranks out of the saddle in the Bell Super 2 MIPS.

Comfort


Our testers gave the Super 2 one of the lowest comfort scores in our test. Despite having a large number of interior pads, the Super 2 is not as comfortable as you would think by just looking at it. Obviously, fit depends greatly on head shape, but a number of our testers commented that the Super 2 had uncomfortable pressure points. One of our testers noticed the addition of two small closed cell shims on the inside of our MIPS edition, which caused the helmet to fit poorly, but our smaller-headed tester thought this version fit better than the original version. None of our other testers felt that the shims affected the fit of the helmet.

Our entire testing crew felt that the Troy Lee A1, which wins our Editors' Choice Award, is the most comfortable mountain bike helmet they've ever worn. If comfort is your top priority, then we recommend you check out that lid, especially since the price of the A1 has been reduced, making it a better value than the Super 2.

Adjustments


The Super 2 uses an updated version of Bell's TAG rear retention system. The new system is slightly slimmed down from the version used on the original Super, but it is still comfortable and provides great retention. The TAG system uses an indexed click wheel to adjust the tension of a semi-rigid band at the back of the helmet. We found that we preferred the feel of the new wheel to the old one found on the original Super despite its smaller size.

One small detail we always look for in a cycling helmet is locking hardware to adjust the fore/aft position of the chin strap. We've found that locking the chin strap in place is a small detail which can make getting out on the trail with a properly adjusted helmet just a bit faster and easier. The Super 2 has some of the best locking buckles we've seen, though we wish the webbing that ran through them was flat instead of bulky tubular.

The Bell Super 2 uses locking plastic hardware to adjust the fore/aft position of the chin strap. The straps are made from smooth tubular webbing which is slightly bulky but comfortable against the face.
The Bell Super 2 uses locking plastic hardware to adjust the fore/aft position of the chin strap. The straps are made from smooth tubular webbing which is slightly bulky but comfortable against the face.

The most adjustable part of the Super 2 is the visor, which has the largest range of articulation of any helmet we've ever worn, half-shell or full-face. We really like this feature because it allows goggles to be worn on the front of the helmet with the visor fully flipped up. In this position, the visor prevents the goggles from sliding backwards off the helmet. There isn't a goggle strap clip at the back of the helmet, but if you are running moto style goggles then they likely have a silicone band on the inside of the strap to prevent them from sliding. If you don't know what we are talking about, check out the Smith Fuel Goggle which is one of our tester's favorites despite the low price.

Weight


At 14.9 ounces, the Super 2 MIPS is the heaviest pure half-shell helmet in our test. The only helmet in this category which is heavier is the Super 2R at 26.5 ounces, which doesn't really count since that weight includes the chin guard. The lightest mountain bike helmet we've tested is the Smith Forefront which weighs a scant 10.8 ounces.

For comparison, the helmets in our Road Bike Helmet Review ranged in weight from 7.94 to 13.1 ounces with the average being 10.46 ounces. Cross-country racers and the gram obsessed might want to consider a helmet from this category since they actually meet the same safety standard as half-shell mountain bike lids, though you will have to do without the visor for sun and rain protection.

The six helmets in our Downhill Full-Face Helmet Review ranged in weight from 34.0 to 45.12 ounces with an average weight of 39.1. Obviously, even with the chin guard, the Super 2 is a much lighter helmet than any dedicated full-face, though we feel that it offers significantly less protection.

The added protection of the chin guard gave our testers a little more confidence to charge out on the trail. We don't see the Super 2 with a Wraparound Chinbar as a substitute for a full time full face helmet for very gnarly terrain however.
The added protection of the chin guard gave our testers a little more confidence to charge out on the trail. We don't see the Super 2 with a Wraparound Chinbar as a substitute for a full time full face helmet for very gnarly terrain however.

Ventilation


The Super 2 MIPS is the least ventilated half-shell helmet we've tested. The only helmet that scored lower was the Super 2R, which further restricts cooling airflow with the addition of the chin guard. However, compared to other full-face helmet,s the 2R has much better ventilation, but like we said above, it doesn't offer the same level of protection.

The Super 2 has 23 smallish vents evenly distributed around the helmet. This is actually two less than the original Super which had 25. The two most lateral vents are now filled to allow for the chin bar attachment mechanism. At the front of the helmet, the Super 2 also has four horizontal slits which Bell calls Overbrow Ventilation. Though they look neat, these vents don't seem to make much difference for this already hot helmet.

The Bell Super 2 MIPS (right) has the same visor and overall shape as the original Bell Super (left).
The Bell Super 2 MIPS (right) has the same visor and overall shape as the original Bell Super (left).

If staying cool while you crank uphill is the most important factor to you, then we recommend the Giro Xar which took the highest score in this test. The Xar is also considerably lighter than the Super 2 at just 11.3 ounces.

Features


The original Bell Super won our Top Pick award for being the most featured mountain bike helmet in our first round of testing. The Super 2 adds to the features of the original by adding the option of attaching a chin guard for more protection. The chin guard is not included with the Super 2 MIPS, but it has the necessary hardware molded into the shell for a separately purchased Bell Wraparound Chinbar to be clipped into place.This time around we gave the Top Pick Award to the Super 2R MIPS because it includes the the chin guard itself.

The Bell Wraparound Chinbar can be purchased separately for $75 and added to the Super 2 or Super 2 MIPS. The Chinbar is not compatible with the now discontinued Bell Super.
The Bell Wraparound Chinbar can be purchased separately for $75 and added to the Super 2 or Super 2 MIPS. The Chinbar is not compatible with the now discontinued Bell Super.

Our favorite feature on the original was the massive visor, which has the widest range of articulation of any visor we've tested. Bell continued the awesome visor on the Super 2. This visor is attached and pivots around hidden pins at either side of the helmet and secures in place with plastic thumb screws near the pivots. The thumbscrews do a good job of keeping the visor where we want it, but we wouldn't mind if there was a center lock/adjustment slider like the one found on the A1's visor. Bell likely went without a slider thinking it would get in the way of goggles stored on the front of the helmet when the visor is flipped up, which is something you can easily do with the Super but not many other helmets.

The Bell Super 2's visor has a huge range of adjustment.
The Bell Super 2's visor has a huge range of adjustment.

The Super 2 got a redesigned GoPro mount. Unfortunately the new GoPro mount is not as awesome as the mount which came with the original Super. The new mount secures above the top of the helmet rather than inside the helmet, which means that it sits a bit higher. The mount is secured in place with a velcro strap and a guide pin molded into the top of the helmet. The front of the mount relies on tension between a two-pronged hook and the polystyrene on the inside of the top-most vent. Unfortunately we couldn't get the mount to sit level because of the way the hook deformed the polystyrene. We think the mount found on the original Super was better and we wouldn't recommend using this one. Better yet, just skip the GoPro and go riding rather than working on an edit your girlfriend doesn't want to watch.

The Super 2 models use a redesigned GoPro mount which sits secures to the top of the helmet rather than inside one of the vents.
The Super 2 models use a redesigned GoPro mount which sits secures to the top of the helmet rather than inside one of the vents.

The Super 2 and Super 2R are both available with MIPS for an additional $20. MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, is an additional safety feature that is supposed to prevent certain types of brain injuries in a crash. The system consists of a very thin slippery layer of plastic that is loosely anchored to the interior of the helmet and can break free during glancing impacts to limit the rotational forces applied to the brain. We've tested both MIPS and non-MIPS versions of the Super and were initially surprised at how little we noticed the MIPS layer while wearing the helmet. We don't do scientific crash testing at OutdoorGearLab, so we can't comment on whether MIPS works or not, though $20 doesn't seem to be much to spend on reducing the likelihood of a brain injury.

View of the inside of the Bell Super 2 MIPS showing the Xstatic covered interior padding and  yellow M.I.P.S. Layer. MIPS is designed to limit rotational forces being applied to the brain in certain types of impacts.
View of the inside of the Bell Super 2 MIPS showing the Xstatic covered interior padding and yellow M.I.P.S. Layer. MIPS is designed to limit rotational forces being applied to the brain in certain types of impacts.

Durability


The Super 2 proved to be a very durable helmet during our test, which is a measure of how well a helmet holds up to daily abuse. The Super, like any polystyrene cycling helmet, should be replaced after a significant impact.

The Super 2 doesn't quite have the full-wrap polycarbonate shell that we always look for in half-shell helmets. We've found that the lower edge of the polystyrene is usually the most vulnerable to dents and dings when the helmet is rolling around in the car. A full-wrap shell protects the polystyrene from those impacts. The shell on the Super extends to the bottom of the helmet but doesn't quite cover all of the exposed foam. We did notice that the polystyrene used in the Super 2 seems to be a bit more resilient to dents than other foam we've encountered.

All of the Super's hardware as well as the visor faired well during our test. We wouldn't call any of it burly, but it's tough enough to get the job done.

The highest scoring helmet in our day to day durability test was the Troy Lee A1, which protects all of its polystyrene with a full-wrap polycarbonate shell. The A1 also uses metal hardware to attach the visor to the helmet where the Super 2 uses plastic thumbscrews.

The Super 2 MIPS meets the CE EN 1078 and CPSC standards for bicycle helmets.

Best Application


The Super 2 MIPS is best suited for aggressive trail riders who pedal up and down and don't mind trading a few extra ounces for added coverage.

Value


The Super 2 MIPS is one of the pricier half-shell helmets we've tested, though it has a number of features which may make it a good value for certain riders. You can save $20 by skipping the MIPS and going with the plain Super 2, which retails for $155. The original Super retailed for $125, but lacked the ability to add the chin bar.

At $155, the Super 2 MIPS is actually more expensive than our Editors' Choice, the Troy Lee A1. If you are sure you will never want the added protection of the chin guard, then we certainly recommend the A1 over the Super 2, especially now that the A1 can be had for virtually the same number of duckets.

If you just want to keep your brain safe while you ride a bike off road, then there are a number of lower priced options that will get the job done. There was a heated battle between the Giro Feature and the Bell Stoker for our Best Buy Award and they are both excellent choices that retail for around half of the Bell Super 2 MIPS. Another good deal is the Giro Feather, which is a women's version of the Feature that only differs in the colorways.

Luke Lydiard protects his head with the Smith Super 2 MIPS while testing the Trek Slash 9.8 near Mammoth Lakes  CA.
Luke Lydiard protects his head with the Smith Super 2 MIPS while testing the Trek Slash 9.8 near Mammoth Lakes, CA.

Conclusion


The first generation Bell Super was a good alternative to the Troy Lee A1 because it was cheaper and had an excellent GoPro mount. While Troy Lee reduced the price of the A1 for all colorways, Bell increased the price of the Super 2 by $10 over the original and replaced the GoPro mount with a less worthy one. The upside to the new Super 2 is that a detachable chin guard can now be added to the helmet to increase protection. If you just want a half-shell helmet, we'd recommend the A1 over the Super 2 every time. If the detachable chin guard is something you think you need, then the Bell Super 2R MIPS, which includes the guard, is the way to go. We see little reason to buy the pure half-shell Super 2 or Super 2 MIPS.

If you already own the Bell Super and have no interest in the chin guard, then we don't see any reason to upgrade to the Super 2 as none of the other new features seem worth the money. If you want the chin guard, then you should go for the Super 2R and save yourself $10 by purchasing the chin guard and a compatible helmet together.

Luke Lydiard

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Most recent review: July 1, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
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