The Bell 4Forty and the Giro Chronicle are very similar in terms of what they offer a rider. The slight differences can be confusing, but if you know what you need out of a helmet, it will make the decision process a lot easier.
This review will look into both helmets and point out where the differences are, and which helmet will suit you and your style of riding better.
Both the Bell 4Forty and the Giro Chronicle are fantastic value for money- with either of them you get many of the upper market features for half the price! Both are made for the all-day trail rider, who wants a light and breathable helmet which they can trust to keep them safe in the event of a collision.
What you really want to look for in a helmet is an EPS foam layer, with an anti-rotational system (such as MIPS- which features in both these helmets), that the back of the helmet covers the majority of the back of your head, and that it is comfortable. All of these criteria are met by these two helmets, so in deciding which is better for you and your style of riding, we will have to have a deeper look into the details.
For more on what to look for in a helmet, see How to choose an MTB helmet.
Bell 4Forty Mini Review
Ideal for the rider wanting to head out on the trails for a good part of the day, looking for a helmet that is comfortable, has everything you need but for half the price of a top-of-the-line helmet.
The Bell 4Forty is the mid-range Bell helmet, the slightly more basic version of the very popular, higher spec Bell Sixer MIPS.
The 4Forty is a very simple design, containing all the features you need, such as MIPS, an adjustable visor, and a good sizing system. The 4Forty is a nicely designed helmet which competes well in the mid-range market.
Giro Chronicle Mini Review
A simpler style helmet, which ticks the boxes on all the features you need and some more, while keeping the cost low and the value high.
The Giro Chronicle is another mid-range helmet, following in the steps of the higher-spec sibling, the Giro Montaro. Despite having a similar design, and many of the same features, the Chronicle does come at a significantly lower price than the Montaro too!
The Chronicle stands out in the open face market for its extended coverage around the rear of the head, providing more protection than most in the market. It is a good-looking helmet and excels in the mid-range helmet market.
Design and Construction Comparison
Both the Bell 4Forty and the Giro Chronicle are constructed using in-mold technology which binds the outer polycarbonate shell to the inner EPS layer. This increases the durability of the helmet and decreases the possibility of the outer shell separating from the foam shell in a crash.
The 4Forty has a full wrap-around polycarbonate shell, so none of the EPS foam layer is left exposed. This not only looks very professional but also improves the durability of the helmet again, as the foam isn’t exposed to the elements.
The Chronicle does have some of the EPS foam layer exposed near the base of the helmet, which leaves it prone to wear over time.
In terms of design, the style and shape of the helmets are noticeably different. The Chronicle has a much deeper rear coverage, which protects the back of the head more if you happen to take a tumble. The coverage will also stop any sticks or sharp rocks from hitting the back of your head too.
The 4Forty has a more angular design, with sharper edges and more angular vents. The Chronicle is more rounded, with softer edges and rounded vents. Neither of these is particularly good or bad, and design is more up to personal preference.
Both helmets feature very good deep rear coverage, though as stated earlier, the Chronicle exceeds in this particular area. They both also feature the anti-rotational system, MIPS, which reduces the impacts felt on angular crashes.
The design of MIPS is to reduce the possibility of brain damage occurring in such a crash, keeping you riding for a long time yet!
The EPS foam layer, which makes up the majority of the helmet, reduces the energy transferred to your skull in a direct impact crash. This, in combination with the MIPS slip plane, reduces the potential of permanent damage occurring to your brain.
Comfort, Ventilation and Weight Comparison
Both helmets are incredibly comfortable to wear. I personally preferred the feel of the 4Forty, but the general consensus is that the Chronicle is the more comfortable of the two, and perhaps one of the most comfortable on the market. This is likely due to the wrap-around feel that the Chronicle gives, making your head feel very cushioned on all sides.
The very plush cushioning in the Chronicle is Giro’s ‘Extra Plush Coolmax Padding’ which absorbs the moisture well. Despite being an extremely comfortable helmet, the ventilation on the Chronicle isn’t as bad as you’d expect. With 14 reasonably small vents, the airflow system works well by pushing the hot air out the back. The MIPS liner does not obstruct the ventilation system, which also helps in keeping the helmet nice and cool.
The Bell 4Forty has 15 vents, as well as a few internal channels, and ventilation is fairly similar to that of the Chronicle, if not better. In addition to the vents, there is also an integrated sweat guide system which draws the sweat away from your brow and eyewear. This is a big advantage to those riders who build up a bit of sweat while out boosting around the trails or climbing hills and can’t stand the sweat in the eyes.
The Chronicle is 10g lighter than the 4Forty, which basically makes zero difference to the rider. They are both reasonably light helmets, coming in at 370g and 380g for the Chronicle and 4Forty respectively. And if you compare this to the higher-spec Giro Montaro and Bell Sixer, they are a good 50 grams lighter (and cheaper!).
For more on the Giro Montaro check out our comparison with the Giro Manifest.
The features on both helmets are fairly similar, but the 4Forty tops the Chronicle in this aspect, as it has several more features that would normally be found on more premium helmets.
The Bell 4Forty has a float fit retention system, with a rubber dial which makes it very easy to tighten while riding, even with gloves on. It is integrated with MIPS, so the rider gets a good all-round retention system.
The visor is goggle and glasses compatible, so there is no need to be storing goggles around the neck for climbing. The visor is a good length, blocks the sun when you need, but isn’t so long it noticeably sticks out (like the Giro Switchblade in open face).
It has Bells ‘No-Twist Tri-Glides’ which prevent the straps from getting twisted, so they comfortably sit against your cheek. It’s not a necessity on a helmet but considering this is a mid-range helmet it is quite a nice feature to have!
The 4Forty also has the sweat guide which was mentioned previously but is again another more advanced feature to have on a mid-range helmet.
The Chronicle has much the same, the riders’ goggles or glasses can be stored beneath the visor, and the visor is again a good length. It has a Roc Loc retention system which is probably one of the easiest fitting systems I have used. It seems to have infinite tightening notches, so you can get the ideal fit every time.
The Bell 4Forty and the Giro Chronicle are two very good helmets. You would be hard-pressed to go a day out in the bike park without seeing a Bell or Giro helmet out there, so you know they are brands to trust.
They are both helmets we would happily take out riding on the trails all day, knowing that our heads will be protected and that we will be comfortable all day. While they do not provide the safety of full downhill helmets, they are exceptionally safe helmets with great rear coverage and MIPS integration.
While the two helmets are very similar, there are some notable differences. The Chronicle is the safer of the two (just slightly) with greater coverage of the head, particularly around the back of the head. It is also considered by many as the more comfortable and better ventilated of the two helmets. In saying this, I wouldn’t rule out the 4Forty just yet.
The Bell 4Forty has several features that have been extracted from the more advanced Bell Sixer, such as the sweat guide, float fit retention system, and the No-Twist Tri-Glides. And while I wouldn’t purchase a helmet just for these features, you do get a more premium helmet for the price.
In terms of a winner, the Chronicle has to take this one out. As mentioned right at the beginning of this comparison, the main criteria in choosing a helmet are the safety, comfort and ventilation, which the Chronicle edges over the 4Forty for.
However, this is entirely our own opinion, and you may find that the features of the 4Forty are more to your liking and that you prefer not to have the extended rear coverage that the Chronicle provides.