Words Lester Perry
Images Savanna Guet
RRP $329
Distributor Worralls

Thumb your way back through the pages of a mid-1950s Hot Rod or car racing magazine and you’ll see Bell’s distinct graphics adorning helmets worn by some of the scene’s most influential drivers.

Years later, during my formative years – back when 4-cross and Downhill were making waves in the early-mid ‘90s – posters plastering my bedroom walls featured riders wearing Bell: Brian Lopes, Cedric Gracia, and even some vintage John Tomac. To this day, their helmets protect some of MTB’s heaviest hitters (heaviest in style and speed, not weight!).

Born out of the desire to create a safer helmet for race car drivers, founder Roy Richter worked with naval pilot, Frank Heacox, taking learnings and technology from other industries and reverse-engineering existing helmets. In 1954, the Bell 500 launched, featuring a Polyurethane Foam liner with a hand-laid fibreglass shell. Bell still draws on this motorsport heritage, incorporating many ties back to the 50’s Hot Rod culture across its modern range.

The original Sanction full-face piqued my interest for all the wrong reasons. I won’t mince words – in my opinion, it was pretty ugly. It’s a real bummer when consumers are put off buying protective equipment because of looks, particularly when it’s a price-point-oriented piece; why can’t cheap stuff also look good?

Fortunately, the newly released Sanction 2 DLX MIPS is a complete redo. Taking design cues from the Full-10, Bell’s heavier-hitting top-of-the-line model, as well as others in the Bell line-up, the refreshed model bears no resemblance to the original. This new lid is aimed squarely at the more value-conscious consumer and, although it hasn’t got all the fancy bells and whistles of its pricier and more tech-heavy cousin, it packs plenty of comparable features into its smaller price tag.

Sliding into the helmet for the first time, I was instantly transported back to being a kid and putting on my dad’s motorbike helmet (he had a helmet, but I don’t recall a motorbike?), the plush padding damped the surrounding sounds and I was transformed from a Regular Old Joe to a Power Ranger of sorts, ready to take on whatever challenges -or trail -lay ahead. I have no complaints about the feel on my head; it fits like a glove. The padding incorporates embedded silver metalised yarn for odour control and antimicrobial properties, helping to keep it stink-free. Cheek pads are easily removed for washing, again helping to ward off the mid-summer stank. Generous padding throughout the helmet makes for superior comfort but likely hampers airflow. On a hot summer’s day, it could get pretty warm, although, with 14 airy vents, it’s likely to only be an issue while at slow speed or standing around waiting for the next uplift. I’m a big fan of the Fidlock magnetic closure. I’ve got no idea how it actually works, but it seems to be a blend of magnets and voodoo magic, with no need for “eye of newt” or a Magic Wand. If you’re dialled, you’ll be able to snap the buckle closed single-handedly, and even the most cack-handed users can pop it open with a flick of thumb and forefinger.

Rotational forces are taken care of by the OG MIPS Essential liner. For the uninitiated, this is a proven technology that uses a ‘slip plane’ to help reduce head and neck trauma during an impact. The DLX model weighs a claimed 1080 grams in the medium size, lighter than some higher-end and more spendy offerings in the market. Riding the helmet is everything it should be; it’s comfortable and doesn’t feel unwieldy. When riding at speed over chunky terrain there’s a small amount of movement in the MIPS system so the helmet can at times move around a small amount. This is a common thing with the MIPS Essential system, but not something that detracts from its use, however, it’s not so evident in the more premium MIPS offerings featured in higher-end helmets.

Googles sit well on the helmet and there’s no interference between the helmet and the goggles themselves. The goggle strap sits tidily in a shaped channel around the back of the helmet. If you want to slide goggles up to your forehead while not in use, the visor moves up, out of the way just enough. Fortunately, I haven’t needed to test Bell’s safety claims but with all the necessary safety standards met, I’ve got complete faith that, should I take a spill, the helmet will do what it should and protect my swede.

A solid mix of styling, protection, and price makes this a worthwhile purchase for anyone in search of a decent full-face helmet, particularly if you see a full-face helmet as a nice-to-have, not a must-have, or maybe you only need one every now and then. Steer clear of the spendier options and save your money for some extra uplifts! A wide range of sizes are available, so if you’re in search of a full-face for a BMX or gravity mad grommet, then this would be a great option.

This article is taken from:NZ Mountain Biker, Issue #112

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