The Bell Star Pro has been in our garage for a good long while, now (you can read our First Look at the Star Pro here). We’ve ridden it through all three Florida seasons—hot, hotter, and torrential downpour. So it’s safe to say that we have put it through the paces. While it checks all the boxes to be a great helmet, sometimes all the checked boxes in the world just don’t add up to a winner for you personally.
Unfortunately when we tested the Star Pro we never realized the front and rear straps were adjustable. Instead we left them so that the join of the front and rear straps were too high for us, and there’s nothing we thought we could do to fix that. We ordered a size Small, and with a head circumference of 55mm, we were right on the bubble between Small and Medium. Truthfully, sizing up to the Medium would have likely been the fix to our issue without compromising fit (or requiring any adjustments). Although this isn’t the case with the sizing for other Bell helmet that we’ve tried (all in a size Small and fit just right). The moral of the story? If you’re between sizes on Bell’s sizing chart, opt for the larger size when purchasing the Bell Star Pro.
As it turns out, we can indeed adjust the Star Pro’s straps. While not quickly apparent, the straps are in fact adjustable. Here we’ll illustrate the adjustment process. The chinstrap is made up of two straps joined at the connector as shown below. One runs from the front of the helmet to the rear and passes through the adjuster in a loop. The other runs from the connector to the buckle. While this does not allow for a larger ear opening, it does allow further fore and aft travel along the top strap. Why such a complex solution for what should be an easy task? There’s a one-word answer to that question – aero. With the low profile design of the clasp, Bell found this strap design to save 9 watts at 50kph during development.
When last we wrote about the Star Pro, we mentioned that we hadn’t ridden it without the shield enough, so we’ve been putting in our remaining time with it just like that. If you’re a triathlete who prefers to wear a pair of sunglasses on the run, you may choose to ride the Star Pro without the shield (donning your sunglasses instead), which we’ve found to be a somewhat different experience altogether. To start, the helmet is much more airy without the shield attached. The overbrow ventilation seems to work much better this way, and we can feel a distinct difference in temperature when swapping between the two on a ride.
Riding the Star Pro with sunglasses does, however, exacerbate the rub of the straps against the bottom of our ears. Because the straps go over the arms of our Oakley Radarlock XL, what little slack there was in the straps is gone, and they will begin to rub uncomfortably against the bottom of our ears. Again, check your fitment with the Star Pro before you buy. If you’re not sure between two sizes, go up.
Something that stands out with the Star Pro is their Transitions Adaptive Shield, which we received separately from Bell later in our review process. For those unfamiliar with Transitions lens technology, it allows the shield to go from clear to a medium smoke in bright sunlight. If you train at twilight, this is invaluable. The smoke tint takes care of sunset and gradually shifts as the day turns to night, without impeding your vision at any time. It does take a little time to shift between fully clear and fully tinted, but this only really affects rapid transitions, like riding into a tunnel or ducking into a building with your helmet still on. Although even the fully tinted Transitions stage is likely to be light enough that you won’t really have a problem with it, no matter what you’re doing.
Now is probably a good time to mention the price difference between the Bell Star Pro and the Star Pro with the Transitions Adaptive Shield. You can pick up the Star Pro (with the regular Zeiss shield) for $280, and the version with the Transitions Adaptive shield will set you back about $320.
We did manage to get better about flipping the magnetic shield up or down, but never did get it perfect. When putting it down we would end up with smudges on the lower half of the lens every time, no matter how careful we tried to be. If you never touched it during a ride, or didn’t care about fingerprints, then it would be difficult to find fault with the system – it holds securely no matter how violently one shakes their head. But fiddle with it and you will be wiping it down with the front of your jersey at stoplights.
For those who fit this helmet, it will be fantastic. It is the natural evolution of the aero road lid we have all been clamoring for since the Air Attack. It does integration well. It does ventilation well. It cheats physics with the vent cover system and still managed to keep our heads cool. If your head shape, and ear position, matches the profiles that Bell designed against, then this is the helmet for you. The Star Pro is a clear winner, but it just might not be for everyone.
[Updated 3/16/2016: A previous version of this article stated the front and rear straps were non adjustable. This has been corrected and a step by step guide for adjustment added]