Bell announced a new helmet called the Pro Star and it is, without a doubt, the most important development in the last 50 years. This helmet doesn’t just protect your skull, it protects what’s inside it.

Current safety standards have one main goal: keep your skull safe. This is a great goal, but why do we only seem to care the skull itself?

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The answer might seem obvious, but many helmet manufacturers have forgotten that the entire purpose of the skull is to protect the brain. So much so that one of the standards, SNELL, forgoes brain protection entirely in the interest of protecting your skull from an even higher or harder fall—even as the stiffer padding can more easily cause brain trauma.

I spoke to a guy named Bob Weber about the different safety standards. He’s the CEO of a company called 6D, which makes off-road helmets using a similar technology as this Bell. 6D asked its contacts at ASTM, or the American Society for Testing and Materials, about what happens to a rider facing a Snell 7.5-meter impact.

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“They said that guy is dead, or is a vegetable for the rest of his life,” Weber said. “Even if the helmet does its job perfectly.”

The issue with current helmets is that they do nothing to stop the rotational or angular acceleration in a crash that causes the brain to spin, rotate, or shear inside your skull. This is the major cause of concussions and brain injuries, and 6D cites a Wayne State University Bioengineering Center study that says that a helmeted head experiences essentially the exact same amount of angular acceleration as an un-helmeted one when subject to the same impacts.

The 6D system uses two EPS liners are connected by 54 elastomeric isolation dampers, which look like little suction cups. The idea is that during an impact where the skull experiences rotational acceleration, the helmets have some flex and allow for some movement to help slow those rotational forces down.

Bell uses something called the Flex Impact Liner. Basically, instead of using one solid piece of foam or dual density foam, the Bell has three unique protective materials which are layered to address low, medium, and high speed and rotational impacts. The inner liner system can rotate relative to the middle and outside layers, which gives the helmet just enough flex to reduce the rotational acceleration translated to the brain.

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This video on the Bell Moto Flex 9, which uses the same system, breaks it down well:

I actually got to go tour the Bell facility last spring, and got to meet Alex Szela (the guy in the video who does their testing) and witness some of the tests they do on helmet. It’s not a company that rests on its laurels.

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The Pro Star comes packed with all sorts of goodies, each coming with their own fancy name. They’re using a new carbon weave called TeXtreme, which is 20 percent lighter than conventional carbon fiber but equally as strong. When they aren’t making Bell helmets, TeXtreme make carbon fiber for F1 teams. The mesh liner is now made from something called VIRUS CoolJade, which they claim reduces skin surface temperatures by 10 degrees.

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Then there’s the Panovision Viewport, which uses a new push button design to release the visor from the helmet. Sources at AIMExpo, where the helmet was unveiled, say it’s the easiest system they’ve ever used.

Finally, the Magnefusion magnetic cheek pad system makes the pads easier to pull out or put back in, making them easier to wash or to remove by emergency responders. Hopefully they use better magnets than they’ve been using to secure the extra length on the chin strap to the helmet, because those things suck, but this is actually a really cool idea.

The updates don’t stop there though. The Star series now uses five shells instead of three, so you’ll look less like a bobblehead when wearing one. The aerofoil has also been moved further back on the helmet, to help reduce buffeting at higher speeds.

The updated Star series line includes three helmets, two of which get the Flex Impact Liner.

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Bell promises they have more info coming as we get closer to the helmet’s release in February.

The Bell Pro Star

  • FLEX Impact Liner
  • TeXtreme Shell
  • Virus CoolJade Anti Bacterial Liner
  • Panovision Shield
  • Magnefusion Magnetic Cheek Pads
  • RaceView Orientation
  • MSRP: $1,199.95-$1,299.95

The Bell Race Star

  • FLEX Impact Liner
  • 3K Carbon Shell
  • Virus CoolJade Anti Bacterial Liner
  • Panovision Shield
  • Magnefusion Magnetic Cheek Pads
  • RaceView Orientation
  • MSRP: $699.95-$749.95

The Bell Star

  • Tri-Matrix Composite Shell
  • X-Static Silver Liner
  • Panovision Shield
  • Street Orientation
  • Bell 54 Cheek Pads
  • MSRP: $449.95-$499.95