It's been two years since I've had the opportunity to pick out a new motorcycle helmet and four years since I wore a Bell street bike helmet. In 2013, I wore a Bell "Star" for road racing, the precursor helmet to the all-new "Race Star" model. This helmet is Bell's "midrange" street helmet - between the Bell Star and Bell "Pro Star." For this review, I wore a medium-sized Bell Race Star in "Triton Red."
In addition to the helmet's updated styling, which was a real eye-catcher for me, the Race Star helmet incorporates Bell's new Flex Impact Liner, first introduced about a year ago in the company's Moto-9 Motocross helmet. This safety feature really stands out. The Flex Impact Liner is a three-layer impact liner designed to manage energy from three potential impact scenarios: low, mid and high-speed. Now just to clarify, the standard Star helmet doesn't include the Flex Liner. Only the Race Star and Pro Star models include the Flex Liner.
The main differences between the three versions of the Star helmet is the shell construction materials and liners. When you upgrade from the Star to the Race Star, you get a 3K carbon fiber shell instead of a composite shell, the three-layer Flex Liner, and the Virus CoolJade Power Mesh Liner. That's a lot of bang for the buck for a couple hundred dollar difference! When you upgrade from the Race Star to the Pro Star, you get Bell's higher-end TeXtreme carbon fiber shell.
The first thing I did when I got the helmet was swap out the clear stock shield for a dark-smoke shield since I was in sunny southern California. I didn't read any instructions on how to change the shield, nor had I seen it done. You simply push the circular buttons in and slide out the shield. Popping a new shield in was even easier. It was so easy, a caveman could do it! I successfully changed the shield my first attempt in maybe 20 seconds. I don't think Bell could have made it simpler.
Another nice improvement Bell made is a heavy-duty magnetized chin strap. Ever forget to snap your chinstrap, and you get out on the road or track and it starts slapping your neck obnoxiously? And you have your gloves on and can't feel the small buttons you have to snap together while trying to ride at the same time? That's a thing of the past with the magnet design. You simply get the magnets remotely close, and they go right together nice and tight. They will not come undone either, even at superbike speeds! I raced all weekend with the Race Star at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway and it never released once.
Finally, field of view is an important aspect I look for in a helmet. The new line of Star helmets makes a major improvement in that area with their viewport and shield design. It's one thing to try a helmet on and have nice field of view statically, but when I raced in the helmet, it really lived up to my expectations. The helmet is also very stable at speed. I didn't have any issues with it moving up or down my face while accelerating in an aerodynamic tuck or while hanging off the bike looking through a 100 mph turn.
Considering all the features, the Bell markets the Race Star as a midrange helmet but don't be fooled. This lightweight carbon fiber helmet brings all the bells and whistles you'll ever need. In fact, at any given MotoAmerica race weekend, you'll see Bell sponsored racers wearing the base model Star helmet from time to time. I highly recommend the Race Star, however. If you don't mind spending the extra dollar, it goes a long way to provide you additional safety, comfort, and style factor.