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Bell Stratus MIPS Review

A comfortable, dependable road helmet that will keep you safe out on the road
Bell Stratus MIPS
Photo: Bell
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Price:  $170 List | $135.96 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, cool, moves sweat away from eyes, uses MIPS
Cons:  Buckles might break, straps could loosen, less aerodynamic
Manufacturer:   Bell
By Nick Bruckbauer & Ryan Baham  ⋅  May 7, 2020
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 15
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Adjustability - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 7
  • Style - 15% 6
  • Ventilation - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Bell Stratus offers a similar performance as Bell's more premium helmets at a fraction of the price. For those of us heavy sweaters, the sweat guide pad over the brow is very much appreciated. The helmet adjusts well with the rear adjustment dial while the front straps are free from tangles with the No-Twist Tri-Glides system. We also think it's a pretty sweet looking helmet. This is one of the more comfortable mid-range offerings with great ventilation. It will be fine in the winter, especially with a cycling cap or something heavier, but its natural environment really is on long rides in warmer weather.

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Bell Stratus MIPS
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Bell Stratus MIPS
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $135.96 at Competitive Cyclist
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$171.96 at Competitive Cyclist
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, cool, moves sweat away from eyes, uses MIPSWell-ventilated, adjustable and comfortable, sleek and classy styleLightweight, comfortable, low profile, good ventilationGreat ventilation, elegant style, advanced MIPS liner designComfortable, adjustable, durable, inexpensive
Cons Buckles might break, straps could loosen, less aerodynamicSlightly heavy for a high-end helmetExpensiveExpensive, heavier than other high-end helmetsHeavier, slightly less ventilation
Bottom Line A well-ventilated model with MIPS that won’t break the bankA stylish, comfortable helmet with outstanding ventilation and solid all-around performanceLightweight comfort and performance from a semi aerodynamic model that ventilates wellA unique MIPS liner design with great ventilation highlight this expensive choiceTremendous value packed into a helmet with a multitude of high-end features
Rating Categories Bell Stratus MIPS Bell Z20 MIPS Giro Synthe MIPS Giro Aether MIPS Giro Agilis MIPS
Comfort (20%)
7
9
9
7
9
Adjustability (15%)
7
8
8
9
9
Weight (15%)
7
6
8
7
6
Style (15%)
6
9
8
7
5
Ventilation (20%)
7
8
7
8
5
Durability (15%)
7
7
7
8
9
Specs Bell Stratus MIPS Bell Z20 MIPS Giro Synthe MIPS Giro Aether MIPS Giro Agilis MIPS
Weight (grams) 296 g (size M) 336 g (size L) 312 g (size L) 330 g (size L) 336 g (size L)
MIPS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of vents 18 18 19 11 32
Sizes S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L S, M, L
Size Range (cm) 52-62 cm (size M) 58-62 cm (size L) 59-63 cm (size L) 59-63 cm (size L) 59-63 cm (size L)

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.

Performance Comparison


The Stratus is a great choice for an affordable mid-range helmet...
The Stratus is a great choice for an affordable mid-range helmet, particularly suited to recreational riders and those in the lower amateur racing categories.
Photo: Crystal Huffman

Comfort


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 Bell Stratus is one of the more comfortable helmets out there.
The Bell Stratus is one of the more comfortable helmets out there.
Photo: Crystal Huffman

Adjustability


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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Durability


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.

Style


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.

We assure you that you will look much better in the Bell Stratus...
We assure you that you will look much better in the Bell Stratus than this guy. Plus there are all ten styles and designs to match your kit, bike, and whatever else.
Photo: Crystal Huffman

Ventilation


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.

Weight


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.

296g might sound weighty compared to some of the high-end lids, but...
296g might sound weighty compared to some of the high-end lids, but it's still only about 10 ounces of water, so about half of a standard water bottle.

Value


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.

Affordability, broad padding coverage, and excellent ventilation...
Affordability, broad padding coverage, and excellent ventilation make this a great choice for most mid-range riders.

Conclusion


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