Bell is a long time player in the helmet industry, and produces motorcycle helmets in addition to an extensive line of cycling helmets. The Bell Gage MIPS is a traditional road helmet with a design that values low weight and ventilation over aerodynamic benefit. The Gage was well liked by our testers, and scored well across the board, but was no match for the Giro Synthe, winner our Editors' Choice Award.
Bell Gage MIPS Review
Cons: Exposed EPS Foam
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Gage scores an 8/10 for comfort, placing it in the upper end of the range. Our highest scoring product was the Giro Synthe, which earned a perfect 10. The Gage scores lower than the Synthe due to its propensity to create pressure points when tightened due to the design of the retention system, which pushes the forehead into the front of the helmet. Almost every other helmet we tested has more or less the same design, except for the Giro Synthe.
The padding found on the Gage is top quality, and uses the same X-static material found on the Synthe and the Lazer Z-1. It is less dense and more susceptible to compression over time than the padding on the Specialized Airnet MIPS, which was particularly well liked by our testers. Good quality webbing is used for the straps. It is very thin and supple for a comfortable feel on the face, and it easily lays flat for preventing chaffing from edge contact with the skin.
This is where the Gage stands out most from the competition. The trend in road bike helmets seems to be moving towards fixed rear webbing attachment points. Fixed attachment points do have a cleaner look, but a floating rear strap allows for greater range strap adjustability. In particular, it allows the chinstrap to be centered, which increases the range of head shapes a given helmet will comfortably fit. The Gage also has nice, small adjustable Y-buckles that allow the front and rear strap to be evenly tensioned.
Other lower-scoring helmets such as the POC Octal Aero have a fixed Y-buckle that does not allow for tensioning adjustments. The circumferential fit system is adjustable from 55-59cm using a dial on the back of the retention band. The dial is only partially exposed, and is a bit more difficult to manipulate than the dial found on the Synthe. Tensioning is accomplished by simply twisting the dial, but in order to loosen the fit, the dial must be pushed up and turned at the same time.
With a score of 7/10, the Gage falls in the mid to upper end of the metric. Our medium sized helmet weighed 276g, eight grams heavier than the Giro Synthe and 51g heavier than our highest scoring product, the Giro Aeon. The Giro Aeon and the Gage are similar products in design and performance, but the Gage is quite a bit heavier. It should be noted though that the Gage has a MIPS liner and the Aeon does not, which puts the Gage at a 20-30g disadvantage right out of the gate. If low weight is your main priority, then there are lighter helmets available.
The Gage is a sharp looking helmet, with a classic, heavily ventilated shell. It lacks features such as the rubber sunglass bumpers found on the Synthe and Airnet. The MIPS liner is a nice touch, especially on a helmet that straddles the low and high price ranges like the Gage.
This contender is a top-scoring product here, earning an 8/10. Ventilation is excellent at both high and low speeds. The Specialized Airnet and the Aeon both outscore the Gage due to slightly better ventilation. The Lazer Z-1 also scores an 8/10, but it has 5 more vents than the Gage. If ventilation is a top priority to you, this is a helmet to consider.
The Gage proved to be trouble-free during testing. The tensioning system, straps, and buckle worked flawlessly. The Gage scores lower than our highest-scoring helmets here due to its lack of a full-wrap polycarbonate shell, leaving exposed EPS foam at the base. Our top-scoring helmet is the Smith Overtake MIPS, which has almost no exposed EPS foam.
This competitor is well suited to both road racing and training use.
The Gage retails for $195, making it $75 dollars less expensive than the Giro Synthe. Solid construction, great adjustability, and a MIPS liner make it a great value.
The Gage is traditional, heavily-ventilated road helmet. It stands out with great adjustability. It straddles the price spectrum between the ultra high-end models and the entry-level stuff and offers a good amount of performance at a fairly reasonable price.
— Curtis Smith