Bell RS-1 Helmet Review

by Jeff on April 4, 2011

By Jeff Cobb
Motorcycle Safety News

The Bell RS-1 is a new-for 2011 sport-oriented helmet that shows attention to detail while offering a number of innovative features for an intermediate level model.

As Bell’s newest full-face lid, the RS-1 is loaded with several tricks that the company’s U.S.-based R&D department learned from the top-of-the-line Star, as well as the one-level-down Bell Vortex.

Aerodynamically, the DOT and Snell 2010-approved Bell RS-1 has a profile best suited for aggressive sport and track day riders, although really, a rider on any kind of bike could use it.

Its intermediate oval fit is somewhat narrower than the Vortex, and similar to the its nearest Shoei competitor, the RF-1100.

Compared to the Star, used by racers like Josh Herrin shown street riding in the video, the RS-1 is actually lighter by a few ounces, weighing on average 3-pounds, 8-ounces.

The RS-1’s shell uses a lightweight Kevlar/Fiberglass composite structure that is rigid, yet not as expensive as the Star’s pro-level Trimatrix shell.

Close-able vents on the chin, brow and crown are said to flow better than the Star or Vortex. Bell wind- and water-tests these helmets to optimize ventilation. In back, exhaust vents work with the intakes.

The shell features a wind-cutting shape and rear spoiler. As mentioned, the helmet is optimized for a three-quarter leaned to full tuck position.

The Nutrafog II anti-fog treated, 3D mode shield interchanges with the Star and Vortex. It is UV-protected and scratch resistant.

Bell uses a ClickRelease mechanism on the left that either locks the shield down in lieu of a pinlock, or can be used to crack it up a few millimeters to let in some air for defogging.

The RS-1 shield is one of the easiest to remove and install in the industry. It takes seconds via plastic levers on each side. It comes in clear, with a range of optional tints, including a light-sensitive one called the Transition shield.

And while the 2011 cold season is basically behind us in most regions, we’ll mention a winter kit is also available.

The RS-1’s snap-in-place antimicrobial liner is removable, replaceable, and washable. It has ear cutouts to accommodate speakers. A snap-in chin curtain is included to keep out buffeting and noise

Even the nylon chin strap’s padding is removable and washable. At the D-ring, a Magefusion magnetic keeper works in lieu of a snap to keep the strap end from flapping against your neck.

On the road

The wicking synthetic comfort liner holds the RS-1 securely in place. The smell actually reminds me of “new car smell,” though in a good way, and it’s not overwhelming.

The intermediate oval fit in size medium is definitely a few millimeters narrower than the medium Vortex. I have a Vortex too, and if needed, can wear a skull cap under it.

Because this size is almost too narrow for me, I have to leave off the cap or else a headache starts to form. This is no problem for summer, and I’m thinking the RS-1 may become my preferred helmet for track duty too.

Of course, everyone’s head is different, so if you can, try before you buy. With no cap on, it fits me like a glove, and this is a good thing.

You want as snug a fit as possible without it starting a headache. In the event of a crash, it will move around less, and will be holding your head like an egg shell carton, which minimizes concussion-inducing forces.

Another plus is the RS-1’s peripheral, upward and lower vision. The eye port is about standard in size, thus big enough, and the clear shield is optically correct.

Also, the anti-fog coating works. This feature that comes on a variety of Bell Helmets is a good benefit. I have ridden with pricier helmets where the shield wasn’t treated, and they can be more bothersome because of it.

Perhaps the objection to anti-fog treatments is they eventually wear out. OK, so I won’t use harsh glass cleaner, or the like, and it will probably last longer.

The RS-1’s wind noise is acceptable, and the shield fits snugly against its gasket. I rode without earplugs, and while I may opt for them at other times, the RS-1 does not whistle or transmit too much sound where I’d feel like I have too every time.

Its vents definitely work too. Opening and closing them is no problem with gloves on.

The strap is a smooth, fine weave, which makes snugging it in the D-rings easier. The strap-end retention magnet works well, and 100-plus MPH speeds did not pull it loose.

The only thing I did not do is crash test the RS-1. Not volunteering for that one. Besides, Bell’s engineers say they have tested it, so I will have to take their word for it.


There’s nothing really bad to say about this helmet. Finish is good on my “Panic” graphic version. Everything works. It fits well.

If the RS-1 fits, you may want to consider it.

MSRP: Solids: $349.95, Graphics: $399.95. Sizes: XS 53-54 cm, S 55-56 cm, M 57-58 cm, L 59-60 cm, XL 61-62 cm, XXL 63-64 cm.

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