The Bell Array is a moderately priced injection molded polystyrene and polycarbonate cycling helmet aimed at road biking. The Array complies with the CPSC 1203 standard for cycling helmets sold in the US.
Luke Lydiard makes a quick bike adjustment while testing the Array on a cool fall ride.
The Array tied the Bell Volt, POC Octal, and Giro Savant with the lowest comfort score in our test. None of these helmets are uncomfortable, they just aren't as comfortable as some of the other helmets we tested.
The Array's relatively low comfort score is largely due to its heftiness, but also the retention system, which is too chunky for a road helmet. Also, we found that the thickness of interior padding is not enough to prevent pressure points between the polystyrene ribs and the head.
If comfort is your top priority, you will want to consider the the Kask Vertigo, which took the rare perfect ten in our comfort test. The Vertigo uses thick and plentiful padding to keep it super comfy no matter how long you smash the pedals.
The Array scored low in our comfort test largely due to its weight but also due to the interior padding which our testers feel is lacking.
The Array uses the same TAG retention system as the Bell Volt. Just like on the Volt, we think the TAG system is a bit hard to operate and it feels clunky. All of our testers preferred the RocLoc 5 system found on the Giro helmets over the TAG system.
The TAG system consists of a relatively thick rear retention band to hold the helmet in place. The band is adjusted with an indexed click wheel that is mostly hidden within the band. The wheel is turned clockwise to tighten the band. To loosen the band, the wheel must be pressed upwards into the band by squeezing the wheel between the thumb and index finger, and then turned counter-clockwise. We found it a bit difficult to loosen the band a single click without completely losing tension and having to retighten. The smaller but easier to locate wheel on the RocLoc 5 system found on many Giro road and mountain helmets allows for much more precise adjustment in both directions.
The Array uses Bell's Bell Array's Twin Axis Gear (TAG) retention system. Our testers found this system to be bulkier and harder to operate than others in our test.
The Array is the heaviest helmet we tested. The size large we evaluated registered 13.1 ounces on our digital scale. It should be noted that all of our Giro test helmets were size medium while the two Bell helmets were both tested in large. We found that the Bell helmets fit slightly smaller than the Giro lids, so to accommodate our testers' heads we had to size up the Bell models.
Occasionally we've found helmets which feel lighter on the head than the numbers on the scale indicate, due to superior fit. The Array, unfortunately, is not one of those helmets and it just felt plain heavy on the head.
The lightest helmet we tested was the Giro Aeon, which weighs just 7.96 ounces. The POC Octal is the runner up, weighing 8.5 ounces. All of our testers could perceive the nearly 65% increase in weight when switching from the Aeon to the Array. The common thinking in the road cycling world is that you need to spend $1 for every gram saved on your bike. The size medium Aeon weighs 145 grams less than the similarly fitting size large Array, and retails for just $120 more. If you follow the $1/gram thinking, then the the Aeon is a deal! Jokes aside, there is likely no place you will notice an extra 145 grams more than strapped to the top of your head.
The Array took the same ventilation score as the Volt. Both helmets have 24 vents, which puts them toward the top of the vent count. We found that number of vents is not the end-all in ventilation, however. While neither helmet is nowhere close to stifling, they just don't have the airy feel of other models. The Giro Aeon, Atmos, and Savant all scored higher in ventilation. The highest ventilation score went to the POC Octal, which has considerably more open space than any other helmet we tested.
Rear side view of the Bell Array showing the exhaust vents which allow hot air to escape.
We would expect that a helmet as chunky on the scale as the Array would at least be very durable. Unfortunately, the Array is not particularly resistant to every day wear and tear. The area we found to be most lacking is the bottom edge of the polystyrene, which is not fully covered by the polycarbonate shell. A full wrap shell is something we always look for in a half-shell helmet because we feel that it greatly increases a helmet's resistance to dents and dings when the helmet is off your head.
This inexpensive lid is good for saving money, general road biking, and commuting.
Luke Lydiard testing the Bell Array on a frigid afternoon near Mammoth Lakes, California.
This is the least expensive helmet we reviewed by $10. Despite the low retail price, we recommend you spend $10 more and go with the Giro Savant, which out-scored the Array in all of our tests and won our Best Buy Award.
This helmet is the heaviest and lowest scoring helmet in our test. We can't think of any reason to go with this helmet except that it is the least expensive helmet we tried. If you are completely strapped and need to save every penny, then there are much less expensive helmets out there than the Array which will do just as good a job of protecting your dome. If you want the best helmet for your dollar, then we recommend you check out the Giro Savant, which scored much higher in our tests, but falls in a similar price range.