The Bell Super 2R MIPS is an interesting helmet that converts from an extended coverage half-shell to a light-duty full-face helmet for more aggressive riding. The main body of this quality lid is constructed from the usual polystyrene and polycarbonate. The Super 2 is part of the latest trend in half-shell mountain bike helmets to offer more coverage, especially in the occipital (the back of yer head) area. This helmet also has a bit more temporal coverage (the side of your head in front and above your ear) than other helmets in this category. The R in Super 2R indicates that the helmet includes the detachable chin guard, which can be quickly added or removed to suit the terrain and riding style. The Super 2R MIPS also includes the MIPS layer which is supposed to reduce rotational forces to the brain in an impact.
The additional protection of the Super 2R's chin guard gave our testers more confidence to charge the downhill.
As was the case with the original Bell Super, our testers scored the Super 2R MIPS towards the bottom of the field in terms of comfort. While this isn't a horribly uncomfortable helmet, there is room for improvement. Our testers pointed out that this helmet fits round heads a little bit better than oval heads. If you know you have an extremely oval head, you may want to think about another helmet. The Giro Feature would be one place to start.
Despite having a lot more interior padding than other helmets, many of our testers still found that the Super has some pressure points. One thing we noticed when comparing the original Super to the Super 2 is that small closed cell foam pads have been added to the temporal area, likely to help with the function of the MIPS layer. One of our testers found that the new pads made the helmet very uncomfortable compared to the original, which was a decently comfortable. Other testers could not feel the difference. Surprisingly, the addition of the MIPS layer didn't seem to affect comfort one way of the other.
If comfort is your top priority, then we recommend you check out our Editors' Choice Award winner, theTroy Lee A1. The A1 took the highest score in the comfort department, with almost every one of our testers agreeing that it is the most comfortable half-shell mountain bike helmet they've ever worn.
Bell gave all of the new Super models a slightly updated version of their TAG retention system. This system consists of a semi rigid rear retention band adjusted with an indexed wheel. The updated version is overall smaller than it's predecessor, with a smaller band and a smaller click wheel. Despite the smaller size, we found the new click wheel to be slightly easier to use than the previous version found on the original Bell Super.
All of the Super 2 models use an updated version of Bell's TAG retention system. The updated version is slightly smaller than it's predecessor but we found that it does and even better job of keeping the helmet in place.
All of the Super 2 models have a retention harness constructed of tubular webbing that is adjusted with locking plastic hardware to allow for fore/aft positioning of the chin strap. We think fore/aft positioning is imperative to getting a secure fit with any half-shell helmet, and the hardware used on the Super is some of the best. We didn't have any major complaint with the tubular webbing used in the harness, but we normally prefer flat webbing because it is less bulky and sits flat against the face.
Our size medium test helmet tipped the OutdoorGearLab scale at 26.5 ounces (752 grams) with the chin guard attached. Without the chin guard, the helmet weighed 14.9 ounces (422 grams). While you can't really compare the weight of a full-face helmet with a half-shell, the Super is still the heaviest helmet in our test even without the chin guard. The next heaviest half-shell is the Fox Flux, which weighs a barely perceptible 0.5 ounces less than the Super 2R MIPS (in half-shell mode).
The Super 2R and the half-shelled Super 2 are aimed at aggressive riders who value a little extra protection over saving a few ounces. The gram-counting crowd will want to look elsewhere. We'd recommend the Giro Xar over the Forefront for most applications, though the Forefront is incredibly light weight. Cross-country racers who value light weight over all else may even want to consider a road bike helmet, which can weigh considerably less than mountain bike specific lids.
McKenzie Long rips Mammoth Mountain's Twilight Zone with the Bell Super 2R in full face mode.
Compared to other full-face helmets we've tested, the Super 2R is by far the lightest, though we don't think the amount of protection is comparable to a full-time full-face helmet, especially the ones that meet the ASTM 1952 standard for downhill mountain biking. If you are looking for the lightest full-face for aggressive riding, we recommend you try the Fox Rampage, which is the lightest model we've tested that meets the ASTM F1952 standard, weighing in at 36.8 ounces.
The Super 2R took the lowest score in our ventilation test. We scored the helmet with the chin bar attached, so you can't really compare the poor ventilation to any of the other helmets which don't have a chin guard. A full-face style helmet is never going to breathe as well as a half-shell simply because there is much more coverage around your head and something in close proximity to your main blow hole. However, compared to any of the helmets in our Full-Face Review, the Super 2R is considerably better ventilated. With the chin bar removed, the Super 2R is essentially the same as the Super 2. The Super 2 also scored fairly low in our ventilation test because of its generous coverage with relatively low percentage of vent-to-shell ratio.
The Super 2R scored very low in our ventilation test when compared to half shell helmets which do not have a chin guard. Compared to the average full face mountain bike helmet however the Super 2R is very breathable.
The Super 2R MIPS is jam-packed with features, which is the main reason it won our Top Pick Award. The obvious feature, which no other helmet in our test and few other helmets on the market have, is a detachable chin guard that allows it to transform from a half-shell to a light-duty full-face. This is the feature that separates the Super 2R from every other cycling helmet we've ever tested and is the main reason to consider this helmet. Whether you call it "enduro" or just mountain biking, if you pedal your bike up and speed back down, you will appreciate this helmet's ability to transform from a breathable half-shell to a more protective helmet. The hard part is figuring out where to carry the chin guard if you aren't wearing a hydration pack.
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.
In addition to the chin guard, the Super 2R (and Super 2) have a bunch of other features that make it an even better helmet. Our favorite feature on the original Bell Super was the absolutely massive, highly articulating visor to shield the eyes from sun, mud, and rain. Bell left the visor alone on all of the new Super 2 models and this visor continues to be our favorite among the field.
The Bell Super 2's visor has a huge range of adjustment.
The MIPS option is now available in both the full-face Super 2R and half-shell Super 2 for an additional cost of $20. M.I.P.S. stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System and is supposed to add safety to a helmet by limiting certain types of forces to the brain in an impact. The system essentially consists of a slippery plastic layer and pads which slide during an impact. We were surprised to find that the addition of the MIPS layer didn't change the fit of the helmet very much. We don't do crash testing, so we can't offer a valid opinion about whether MIPS truly adds safety, but spending $20 more for a potentially safer helmet doesn't sound like a bad idea to us.
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.
All of the Super 2 models also sport a redesigned GoPro attachment which uses velcro and a small molded plug to attach the camera to the top of the helmet. The updated mount no longer takes up an entire vent, so your head will stay cooler while you film hours of footage of yourself getting gnarly. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the mount to sit level because it relies on tension between hooks on the mount and bare polystyrene inside one of the vents. The critical bit of the polystyrene in our test lid quickly became deformed, making the mount pretty much worthless, much like 99% of the GoPro footage we've ever filmed.
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.
Bell also included an ICE dot emergency medical identification sticker on the back of the Super 2R. Ice dot is a system designed to give medical professionals potentially pertinent information about a victim should they be unable to answer questions. The system relies on a code printed on the back of the helmet which links to info stored online. We think this is a nice thought, but we feel that the system is unlikely to be utilized by medical teams in a true emergency. If you have a severe allergy or pertinent medical history, you'd be better off writing the info out somewhere on your person and keeping your riding buddies informed.
All of the Bell Super 2 models have an ICEdot tag which can be used to store important information for medical professionals in case of an emergency.
The Super 2R held up well during our test which is a measure of how well a helmet stands up to daily abuse. Like any polystyrene cycling helmet, the Super should be replaced after a major crash.
One of our testers commented that the polystyrene used in the Super 2R seemed to be more resistant to nicks and dings than other helmets we tested. When it comes to helmet durability, one thing we always look at is whether or not the lower edge of the polystyrene is covered in shell material. With the Super 2, Bell continued the polycarbonate shell all the way to the lower edge of the helmet, but didn't quite give it the full protective wrap we'd like to see, but snapping the chin guard in place adds a good amount of protection to the vulnerable lower edge of the polystyrene.
We experienced no durability concerns with either the chin guard, buckle, or rear retention system. The three clips used to attach the chin guard are very sturdy and we would expect them to last the life of the helmet.
The Wraparound Chinbar is secured to either side of he Bell Super 2R with these buckles which latch onto a notch molded into the helmet.
This helmet is designed for enduro races where you pedal up, take a quick break, and then bomb back down as fast as possible. (Wait a second, that's just called mountain biking!) This helmet covers the spectrum between XC racing and riding requiring a full-face, which it the spectrum where 95% of mountain bikers fall.
At a retail price of $220, the Super 2R MIPS ties the Smith Forefront as the most expensive in our test. Of course, the Super 2R is both a half-shell and lightweight full-face, while the Forefront is just a lightweight half-shell which disappointed many of our testers. Certainly, the Super 2R is a better value than the Smith at the top of the price range.
Comparing the Super 2R with its detachable chin guard to other half-shell helmets is a bit like comparing apples to oranges since the Super 2R is a bit like two helmets in one. If the full-face mode was protective enough to fully replace the need for a full-face helmet, then it would be the deal of the century. Unfortunately, it is not. If you want both a half-shell and a full-face for the full gamut of mountain riding, we recommend that you get two separate helmets. For $275 you could have a full-face Bell Transfer 9 and a Bell Stoker or Giro Feature. Better yet, using our price finder tool you could likely get one of those combos for under $200!
The Super 2R MIPS is a welcome update and improvement on the original Bell Super, which previously earned one of our Top Pick Awards. Just like how the latest generation of enduro bikes can handle smashing to the top and then slay the downhill, the 2R is a chameleon of a helmet.
With the chin guard attached, the Super 2R certainly provides more protection than any half-shell helmet on the market. Neither we nor Bell see the 2R as a replacement for full-blown dedicated full-face. The bottom line is, if you just spent $6000 on a bike that can pedal up and hammer back down, maybe you should consider a helmet that can do the same.