Here we have two very good convertible helmets in the market from Bell. Bell has been creating top-quality helmets made for those wanting to go fast, but be protected at the same time, since 1954.
Both the Super DH and Super 3R are made for those wanting to take their riding to the next level and ride with confidence that their head will be kept safe.
Why Choose a Convertible MTB Helmet
The versatility of convertible helmets has been acknowledged by the mountain biking community, with more and more riders taking the opportunity to have two exceptional helmets, for the price and convenience of one helmet. You can ride freely up hills without the added weight of the chin bar, then down with the protection that the chin bar provides for the face. Not to mention that convertible helmets are typically lighter and more breathable than typical full downhill helmets are. It really is the best of both worlds!
Personally, I have ridden with a convertible helmet for the past year, and I can’t see myself going back! Having the convenience of biking out to the park with the chin bar in my bag or around the handlebars, then reattaching it once I’m at the top, is worth the additional price. It also meant that I didn’t need to buy two helmets, one for hitting the advanced lines and another for riding the long trails.
Bell Super 3R Mini Review
Well ventilated, very light, and very comfortable. This is the ideal helmet for the typical rider, not riding the extreme lines at extreme speeds, but wanting more protection than an open-face helmet can provide.
The Bell Super 3R came about following the Super 2R, with a few adjustments making it more comfortable and lighter. The idea behind the Super 3R is providing a helmet for riders who would prefer to have more protection in the form of a chin bar. It is pretty much aimed at riders who currently own an open face but would feel more secure with a chin bar protecting their face, without the added discomfort and heat of wearing a proper full-face helmet.
The chin bar is made as light and breathable as possible, whilst also being sturdy and strong in the event of a collision. The Bell Super 3R is not Downhill-certified but is effectively a ‘barely-there’ chin bar on an exceptional open face helmet for when you want it!
Bell Super DH Mini Review
Bringing together the best of both worlds, a detachable chin bar makes for an easy climb and a safe descent. For the price of one, you get a top-of-the-line open face helmet and a fully certified downhill helmet that is comfortable, durable, and easy to use.
The Bell Super DH is the successor of the Bell Super 3R, taking the idea of the 3R and evolving it into a more advanced, downhill-certified helmet which is ideal for pretty much any rider out there.
Having the downhill certification basically means it’s a little bulkier and has a few more features in order to meet the downhill testing criteria.
The helmet is breathable, still very lightweight and provides an excellent option for the rider who enjoys heading out on park laps (where the chin bar is needed) as well as long trail rides (where the chin bar is not so necessary).
Design and Construction Comparison
The style of the two helmets, despite having been designed by the same team, is quite different. Visibly, the chin bar on the Super 3R is longer and thinner, and there are quite a few more vents on the helmet. The Super DH looks a bit more serious; the visor is a bit longer, and the buckle where the chin bar attaches is a bit more discrete.
In terms of construction, the two helmets are constructed quite differently. Both are constructed using in-mold technology which means the outer polycarbonate shell is molded to the foam layer, creating a studier, more durable helmet. But that’s where the similarities in construction stop.
The Super 3R has the outer shell bonded to the EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam layer, then inside that layer is the MIPS slip-plane layer which works to reduce rotational forces from angular impacts. The Super DH has two foam layers, the outer shell is bonded to the outer EPS foam layer, and inside that is the EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) foam layer. This creates the MIPS Spherical system, which will be explained under the safety comparison.
As stated earlier, the Super 3R is not Downhill-certified. It is still certified to normal helmet standards (CPSC) and has the additional benefits of MIPS (Multi-directional Impact System) and the chin bar when in use.
The Super DH is Downhill-Certified and features the well-designed MIPS Spherical. MIPS Spherical works by having the two foam layers (EPP and EPS) and an invisible, low friction layer between them creating a ‘ball and socket’ type movement. This allows the outer layer to move in an angled crash, reducing the amount of energy which is transferred to the rider’s head. The other advantage of this system is that the combination of the EPS and EPP layers reduce the energy over a much wider range of impacts. High speed and low-speed crashes will be reduced by the foam layers and the MIPS system.
Both helmets have good coverage around the rear of the head, which prevents back hits to the back of the skull in a crash. It also stops the head being nicked by sticks or a sharp stone.
Comfort, Ventilation and Weight Comparison
The Bell Super 3R has a very good ventilation system, with 23 vents on the helmet, including an over brow port which takes the air in as you ride and circulates it through the helmet. It also has six vents on the chin bar to ensure that part of the head doesn’t get too warm either.
The Bell Super DH has slightly fewer vents, 19 on the shell, and two over brow ports. There are four vents on the chin bar too. The very clever advantage of the Super DH is that the gap between the two foam layers allows for air to circulate through the helmet, creating a very efficient cooling system. The air taken in through the ports circulates through the gap, keeping your head cool even when in full-face mode. There is also a sweat guide pad which is designed to pull the sweat that builds up on the brow pad away from the front of the helmet, so it doesn’t go near your eyes or eyewear.
The Super 3R is lighter than the Super DH, but only just. For a size medium, with the chin bar attached, the Super 3R weighs in at 784g whereas the Super DH is 66 grams heavier at 850 g. You will likely notice that these are two very light full-face helmets! Fox’s Rampage Pro Carbon Full face weighs in at 1,220 g for a small to medium size, and one of the lightest downhill-certified helmets- the Troy Lee Designs D4 at 960g.
In terms of comfort, you will be hard-pressed to find reasons not to get either of the helmets. Both have the Float Fit system, which is a nice lightweight fitting retention system with an easy-to-turn rubber dial for the perfect fit every time.
The padding inside the helmets is unbelievably soft, called the X-static padding, which dries quickly and reduces odors. Having used the Super DH for over a year now, I can safely say that the padding is very durable- as is everything else on the helmet.
The features of the two helmets are effectively the same. Both have adjustable visors, which lift enough to store goggles or glasses underneath for the climb. Both have integrated camera mounts.
Both have the ‘No-Twist Tri-Glides’ which prevent the chin straps from getting tangled, making it very simple to do up the chin straps. Making it even easier, both helmets have the Fidlock Magnetic Buckle, which is a revolutionary design to the classic buckle. It creates a very secure locking system which simply snaps together, and its simple to undo- just by sliding or twisting the magnet.
Attaching and removing the chin bar is also very easy. It can be done with the helmet still on your head and requires a three-step clip or buckle type system. The chin bar is very securely attached and is a very robust design, so you won’t lose a chin bar in a crash.
Bell has really made a name for itself in recent years, providing extremely good quality helmets that actually meet the needs of the riders. The two helmets appeal to different types of riders, but it can be a little confusing as to which riders they appeal to sometimes!
The Bell Super 3R appeals to the rider who wants a step up from the traditional open face, with a little more protection around the face. It was never a helmet designed for tackling the expert lines at blistering speeds. It is more for someone who feels a little exposed at times where a chin bar would be a nice safety guard, but a full face is more discomfort than required! The addition of being able to remove the chin bar, either for riding up or for the days where a chin bar is an over-kill is a real bonus too.
The Bell Super DH is for someone who likes the downhill riding and bike park laps, as the downhill certification can give the rider confidence while sending it down the tracks. Having the ability to remove the chin bar when it is not necessary, such as riding uphill or cruising on the easier tracks, means you get two helmets for the price of one! It is an exceptionally well-designed helmet. The ventilation, weight, safety and design are all well thought through and are integrated perfectly to form a great performing lid.
It depends on your style of riding and your needs of protection, but in our opinion, you cannot go wrong with the Bell Super DH. For a slightly higher price, you get a sturdier helmet, just as well ventilated, barely any heavier, and it comes with the superior MIPS Spherical.