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Old 04-13-08, 08:18 AM   #1
kelz0429
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Bell Variant as a Commuter Helmet--I am struggling with the decision!

Hello All!

I am considering the purchase of a Bell Variant to replace my Bell Citi, which does not fit me very well. I have three questions:

1. This helmet is marketed as a mountain bike helmet--should that be ANY reason for me not to get it, since I will be commuting on fairly busy city streets with it? Outside of the aerodynamics of a helmet and the helmet's venting, I am not sure I quite understand how a helmet could be considered a mountain vs. a road bike helmet.

2. This helmet has 24 vents--the more vents a bike has, the less foam for protection. I am really interested in this helmet for two reasons: It has a compact, rounded shape and it comes down pretty low on the head. Should I be worried or concerned that i won't be getting the best protection b/c the helmet is highly vented?

3. Does anyone have this helmet? If so, how do you like it?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 04-13-08, 09:11 AM   #2
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Does it fit you well and comfortably? Does it have extras you want and need (adjustable, loop for taillight, room to zip-tie a mirror, etc.?) The vent count is not very important. If it is Snell or UL certified, it should be an adequate bike helmet, within the limits all bike helmets have.
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Old 04-13-08, 09:16 AM   #3
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I have one, use it on the road. I ride in all types of weather so the visor is nice, actually my only complaint is that the visor could be a little bigger. It's a good helmet, relatively light, relatively cool, and it makes my girlfriend feel better about me being and idiot on the streets of NYC.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:21 AM   #4
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If the Citi's fit was its only problem, maybe you could try on a Metropolis since it comes in more sizes.

That Variant looks good, too, and won't have any protection problems. Another alternative would be a Giro Xen.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:27 AM   #5
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If it fits and you can afford it: get it and wear it!
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Old 04-13-08, 11:40 AM   #6
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Pretty much all helmets are similar. As long as they are CPSC (right acron.?) certified, it shouldn't matter (they all are).

You should try http://helmets.org for a lot of infos on helmets.

You could try skateboard/bmx helmets too, they are more secure.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:42 AM   #7
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If the Citi's fit was its only problem, maybe you could try on a Metropolis since it comes in more sizes.
I'm not 100% sure but I think the Metropolis line doesn't exist anymore.
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Old 04-13-08, 11:46 AM   #8
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I'm not 100% sure but I think the Metropolis line doesn't exist anymore.
Dang... really? I didn't know; I guess that explains why they're all on closeout now..

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4210

(helmet w/ molded rubber protection on the bottom edge, clip-on visor mirror, snap-on rain cover, and Mars 3.0 light -- that's what came with mine -- for $60 is a hell of a deal, too)
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Old 04-13-08, 02:43 PM   #9
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Dang... really? I didn't know; I guess that explains why they're all on closeout now..

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=4210

(helmet w/ molded rubber protection on the bottom edge, clip-on visor mirror, snap-on rain cover, and Mars 3.0 light -- that's what came with mine -- for $60 is a hell of a deal, too)
Nashbar sells the Metropolis (and the Metro, don't know if they're different) for quite a bit less. I got a Metro a few weeks ago (with visor, rubber protection, but no rain cover, mirror or light) for thirty-something dollars. If you don't need the light or the mirror or the rain cover, seems like the way to go.
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Old 04-13-08, 03:02 PM   #10
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Nashbar sells the Metropolis (and the Metro, don't know if they're different) for quite a bit less.
As far as I can tell, they're the same helmet, just that one doesn't have the "-polis" in the name. The accessory pack, if purchased together (and accounts for the price difference), comes in the same box as the helmet. I'd guess that they're packaged that way at the factory.

I actually got one of those for the heck of it, and it's pretty neat. The rain cover is nice & taut, has stitched openings for the visor mounting tabs, and doesn't obscure the light mount on the back. The mirror flips up and folds into the top of the visor when it's not needed, too. It's a pretty cool setup for the price; too bad it seems to be discontinued.

Plus, importantly for me, the pads on the inside leave a space in the top center for the ridge I have on the top of my skull.

Last edited by BarracksSi; 04-13-08 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 04-13-08, 03:37 PM   #11
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I just bought a Variant today for commuting and riding around town. Yeah, it says "Mountain" on the box, but I bought it because it has a lot of venting and I like a visor, when it's raining especially. The guy at the store told me that Bell helmets are all crash rated about the same, and that the cost difference is mainly for things like venting, aerodynamics, looks, and comfort.

I bought the Variant to replace a Giro Hex that started falling apart just 4 weeks after I bought it. The liner started coming loose when I would put it on or set it down. Real flimsy. Worthless, really. It just popped loose with minimal pressure, and would start flopping around on my head. Was a real piece of junk. I returned it, and got the Bell Variant instead (similar design), and hope it will work out better.

Last edited by alpinist; 04-13-08 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 04-13-08, 03:59 PM   #12
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Hey Kelz- I was just snooping around on http://helmets.org, and I saw in their Definitions of Helmet Types:

"Mountain - An artificial distinction, actually a type of road helmet. The term has come to mean "has a visor" for most manufacturers. In the past, one manufacturer advertised a former road helmet with extra large top vents to let warm air rise during very slow off-road riding, but that one is discontinued. "

There you go. I was wondering the same, actually. A mountain helmet is just a road helmet with a visor, really.

Last edited by alpinist; 04-13-08 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 04-13-08, 05:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kelz0429 View Post
I am considering the purchase of a Bell Variant to replace my Bell Citi, which does not fit me very well.
If Bell Citi doesn't fit you well, it could be that no Bell helmets will fit you. I find that different helmet manufacturers use different molds, and some fit your head better than others. In general, Bells tend to fit me well and Giros not so much - and for you it could be the opposite. I hope you try the helmet on before buying it.

Quote:
1. This helmet is marketed as a mountain bike helmet--should that be ANY reason for me not to get it, since I will be commuting on fairly busy city streets with it?
No. It doesn't matter.

Quote:
Outside of the aerodynamics of a helmet and the helmet's venting, I am not sure I quite understand how a helmet could be considered a mountain vs. a road bike helmet.
The main difference is actually marketing.

Quote:
2. This helmet has 24 vents--the more vents a bike has, the less foam for protection. I am really interested in this helmet for two reasons: It has a compact, rounded shape and it comes down pretty low on the head. Should I be worried or concerned that i won't be getting the best protection b/c the helmet is highly vented?
They're all supposed to pass the same tests, and it's not easy to find out which helmets just barely pass and which exceed the standards by far. I saw a table once somewhere that compared different helmets, but that was for a limited selection of models, and I really don't remember where on the web I saw this thing. I wouldn't worry about it much (but then I have very little faith in the protective value of any helmet in a serious accident, so any differences between helmets seem really insignificant).
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Old 04-13-08, 05:20 PM   #14
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Yeah, but speaking from experience, not just biking, scalp wounds are REALLY messy. And that's whether you damage your skull or anything inside it or not, and it doesn't take much to do so. Same thing with bumps and lumps on the head. And I'm convinced that helmets have kept me alive a couple of times (not on bikes, though).

I'll shut up now, I think we're creeping into threadjack mode...
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Old 04-13-08, 05:37 PM   #15
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Thanks for all of your replies and advice. I had no idea that the Metro was still available anywhere--none of the sites I frequent have it in stock. I hadn't even thought to search Performance for some reason.

As far as the Citi's fit is concerned, I do not do well with Bell's universal fit (the retention system just doesn't sit low enough on my head), while several of their models fit me like a glove in the medium size. I am really interested in the Metro, but I beleive the Variant sits lower on your head, which seems like a huge plus for me. Also, there is a rubberized trim at the bottom of the Metro, which helmets.org says may get in the way of sliding during a crash. Because of these reasons and b/c the Variant is on sale from $100 to $75 at REI, I am going to go ahead and buy it and see how it fits. If, for some reason, it doesn't fit me well, I will order the Metro.

Does that sound like a logical plan?
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Old 04-13-08, 05:41 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by kelz0429 View Post
Thanks for all of your replies and advice. I had no idea that the Metro was still available anywhere--none of the sites I frequent have it in stock. I hadn't even thought to search Performance for some reason.

As far as the Citi's fit is concerned, I do not do well with Bell's universal fit (the retention system just doesn't sit low enough on my head), while several of their models fit me like a glove in the medium size. I am really interested in the Metro, but I beleive the Variant sits lower on your head, which seems like a huge plus for me. Also, there is a rubberized trim at the bottom of the Metro, which helmets.org says may get in the way of sliding during a crash. Because of these reasons and b/c the Variant is on sale from $100 to $75 at REI, I am going to go ahead and buy it and see how it fits. If, for some reason, it doesn't fit me well, I will order the Metro.

Does that sound like a logical plan?
I say it sounds like a winner - better hurry though, because that sale at REI ends today!

(That's where I bought mine, too.)
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Old 04-14-08, 11:35 AM   #17
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So...Did you buy it?
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Old 04-15-08, 12:51 PM   #18
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Yep! I sure did.

I hope it fits the way I want it to fit. If not, I am going to order the Metro and hope for the best. I am having a really hard time finding a decent-fitting helmet that is smoother and rounder in shape. I have high hopes for the Variant, however!

Alpinist, do you find that the helmet itself sits a bit lower on your head than the typical road/mountain helmet?
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Old 04-15-08, 01:01 PM   #19
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A "road" helmet will generally lack a visor as one makes it difficult to see when in the drops, obviously a mountain bike does not have drop bars so you wouldn't be bent over so far, so seeing past a visor is possible.

I just pop the visor off for riding my road bike...
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Old 04-15-08, 01:17 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kelz0429 View Post
Yep! I sure did.

I hope it fits the way I want it to fit. If not, I am going to order the Metro and hope for the best. I am having a really hard time finding a decent-fitting helmet that is smoother and rounder in shape. I have high hopes for the Variant, however!

Alpinist, do you find that the helmet itself sits a bit lower on your head than the typical road/mountain helmet?
The only helmet I've had before was the Giro Hex, and it seems to fit about the same. I have to say I haven't worn it much yet, since I probably bought mine just hours before you got yours. I like the aduster in the back better than the Giro. Easier to use and seems to hold better.

keisatsu-

My bike has flat bars, so the drop thing is not an issue. The only time I might take the visor off is to put on a rain cover - but I like the visor in the rain... hope the cover fits over the visor and the helmet. I was acually wondering if the visor was removable - I assume it is.
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Old 04-15-08, 06:30 PM   #21
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I hope it fits the way I want it to fit.
I hope it fits, too. It sounds like you don't have a store nearby where you can plop a bunch of helmets on your head to feel them for yourself.
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Old 04-15-08, 06:37 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by kelz0429 View Post
Yep! I sure did.

I hope it fits the way I want it to fit. If not, I am going to order the Metro and hope for the best. I am having a really hard time finding a decent-fitting helmet that is smoother and rounder in shape. I have high hopes for the Variant, however!

Alpinist, do you find that the helmet itself sits a bit lower on your head than the typical road/mountain helmet?
Seeing that you've already purchased it, it won't do me any good to recommend the Pro Tec B2, but it's what I use for commuting/general purpose. I do however make the distinction between road and trail, as I use the Giro Remedy Full Face in Matte Smog Cityscape. I hope that your new helmet fits you well. I've never had any luck with Bell helmets, not even moto helmets, just never fit properly (comfortably) for me.
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Old 04-15-08, 06:57 PM   #23
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I've never had any luck with Bell helmets, not even moto helmets, just never fit properly (comfortably) for me.
I usually don't have good luck, either, but it's more like model-by-model for me. I've got too many helmets -- a Giro Xen (most comfortable, too; it's in my avatar pic ), Giro Pneumo (for fun; it matches my road bike ), a decked-out Bell Metro[polis] (actually fits decently), and a Bell Sport 3 (for the car). I liked the Bell Ghisallo, too, but really wanted a visor, so I got the Pneumo instead.

But also, I mentioned earlier that I've got a pointy longitudinal ridge bit on the top of my head. If a helmet has a support pad in the top center, it just isn't comfortable, regardless of the brand.

Last edited by BarracksSi; 04-15-08 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 04-15-08, 08:06 PM   #24
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i used a new schwinn helmet from eBaytoday. it's safety certified, $12 or so. has a visor and i mounted my rear view mirror to it. hope i never need to use it!
i usually ride with BELL Helmets, can testify to their efficacy, and encourage domed riding!
spin safe!
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Old 04-16-08, 02:26 AM   #25
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Plus, importantly for me, the pads on the inside leave a space in the top center for the ridge I have on the top of my skull.
Me too! The Klingon Ridge! That is why I pushed the limits of the grooming standards when I was a Marine--noggin looked a bit more earthling-like with some coverage.
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