Bell Stratus MIPS Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, cool, moves sweat away from eyes, uses MIPS
Cons: Buckles might break, straps could loosen, less aerodynamic
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bell Stratus sits right in the middle of the pack, which means it has pretty steady performance across each of our scoring metrics.
This lid does a great job of covering the major contact points. It uses thick Sweat Guide padding across the forehead, temples, and rear occipital region to help move sweat away from the eyes, and it does make a difference, especially for those of us that don't so much sweat as they deluge. If anything, the poor riders in the paceline behind you will appreciate the reduction in salty precipitation hitting their face. The FloatFit System also does a good job of cradling the head while allowing good movement, adding to the secure feel and snug fit.
The Stratus uses an integrated Float Fit retention system to secure the head and improve fit. This includes an oversized two-way dial to loosen and tighten, easily adjusted on the road. It also employs its No-Twist Tri-Glide adjustable Y-straps, which seem to be fairly standard straps - maybe a bit stiffer than regular straps. There were also reports that the fasteners might loosen after tightening, requiring more frequent adjustment.
While the Bell does pretty well in ventilation, it seems to sacrifice a bit of durability. To achieve its great aeration, it opens up the front vents and removes some of the supporting bridges to allow increased in-flow, which could potentially reduce its ability to withstand or redistribute shock and make it vulnerable to cracks from lesser blows or normal wear and tear. For those willing to pay a bit more to get a bit more of a substantial helmet, there are a few stronger options out there.
The Bell has a thin, wispy design with a nice appeal. Its profile is especially striking while the front and rear are fairly average. It has ten color options with a few primary colors and a few mix-matches.
With 18 vents compared to other models with upwards of 30 vents, this appears like it might be one of the less-ventilated helmets, but its vents are large and well designed. It uses the Overbrow Ventilation system to draw air into the front vents and circulate it about the rear of the helmet. Granted, that's the idea behind all vented helmets, but this one does a good job of it. Riders looking for extreme ventilation will find a few better options in our lineup.
The Stratus comes in at a reasonable 296 grams in a men's size Medium, putting it right around the median weight for good road bike helmets. It ekes out the grams by using lightweight materials like polycarbonate for its internal protective structures. It also benefits from its open, aerated design, which cuts down on the extra support material - granted, there's a potential durability penalty.
High performance in comfort, adjustability, style, ventilation, and durability. What more could you want for this list price? It's a fine value at its standard list price and chances are, you'll find it somewhere for a good deal cheaper.
The Stratus MIPS was one of the simplest helmets in the bunch and performed among the best. It excelled in comfort, making long, bouncy rides through rough aggregate more bearable. The extra Overbrow Ventilation™ improved some of those rides on the hotter days and the Sweat Guide padding made a noticeable difference that there wasn't sweat pouring down the glasses, eyes, and face on those days. It was well-padding and pleasing to have on the head, improved by the Float Fit™ retention system with its convenient two-way tension adjustment dial. There are certainly superior road bike helmets out there, but for a traditional model, this is a solid option.
— Nick Bruckbauer & Ryan Baham