The Bell XR Spherical Road Helmet is a supremely comfortable, well-ventilated and secure-fitting helmet. The new 'Spherical' Mips technology works well, and Bell has integrated it very subtly, with a little extra weight the only penalty compared with rival helmets around this price.
Bell markets this as a multi-surface helmet, one that is equally at home on the road as it is on the rough stuff. So if you're looking for a do-it-all lid it's worth checking out (for a full overview of the pick of the current crop of cycle helmets, check out our guide to the best cycling helmets).
As Bell has included the 'Spherical' Technology in this helmet's name, that seems a logical place to start.
> All you need to know about Mips
Spherical Technology is basically a version of Mips, but rather than a plastic harness, it is essentially a 'Russian doll' helmet – with a larger outer shell covering the smaller one that sits on your head. The two are connected by rubber bands, not that I could see them, which allow the inner helmet to move freely in all directions. This does the same job as Mips in reducing rotational impact and lowering the chances of suffering concussion in the event of a crash.
Luckily, I didn't have to find out whether this works first hand, but from the amount of movement available between the two shells, I have no reason to doubt how effective it would be.
A major bonus that this system has over traditional Mips systems is that it allows helmet manufacturers to put pads in more places, which significantly increases comfort. The plastic harness is no longer directly against your head, and both pieces of the helmet have been designed specifically for one another, so the system works seamlessly.
Fit is achieved through a cradle and a dial system at the rear. The gaps between ratchets are larger than on many other helmets, but I didn't have any issues with this and was easily able to find a comfortable and secure fit.
You can also move the cradle vertically to further adjust the fit. I found that the helmet stayed in place very well on a variety of rides, from long road sessions to intense and bumpy gravel rides.
The helmet straps run through the inner shell and connect to the outer shell, which means there is an entire shell between the anchor points and your head. This adds comfort and creates a seamless look, with the straps almost just disappearing into the helmet.
The sliding magnetic clip made it easy to put on the helmet and take it off, even when I was wearing thick winter gloves.
Ventilation is also good, which is impressive given that you are basically wearing two helmets. This again comes from the Spherical system's custom build and its ability to channel air freely through its 16 vents.
Bell has included a couple of nice little rubber grippers on the front vents for sticking your glasses in, which is a nice touch.
The helmet pads strike a good balance between plushness and not being absorbent – so they don't end up stinking after a few rides or letting sweat drop down your face after a long ride. They also keep the helmet from knocking against your head on rough gravel rides.
At 294g the XR Spherical Road Helmet is heavier than others around this price, which is understandable given its method of construction.
But the S-Works Prevail that Stu liked is only 21g lighter despite the abundance of carbon and a much less substantial Mips system.
The Giro Helios Spherical proved a hit with Anna when she tested it. It uses the same Spherical Technology and weighs 20g less, but it costs £229 and I don't think the tech is as seamlessly integrated.
If you're looking for something at this price without Mips, you could try the £229 Limar Air Pro Aero that Jamie reviewed, which weighs 233g.
Overall, I was very impressed by the XR Spherical Road Helmet – it is very comfortable, the ventilation is excellent, and Bell's use of the Spherical Technology is seamless.
An innovative helmet that offers comfort, ventilation and seamlessly integrated Spherical Technology
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Make and model: Bell XR Spherical Road Helmet
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The XR Spherical breaks the industry mold of what's to be expected in a road helmet and the rider wearing it.
Instead of achieving high performance solely on pavement, we've designed a deep coverage, multi-faceted helmet that performs and protects beyond the tarmac and suits anyone looking to push their limits.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
FUSION IN-MOLD POLYCARBONATE SHELL
FLOAT FIT RACE™
285 GRAMS (SIZE M)
CE EN1078, CPSC Bicycle*
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Very well made, especially how Bell has integrated the Spherical Technology into the helmet.
Rate the product for performance:
Very little not to like, it is comfortable, secure, very well ventilated and it was simple to find a good fit.
Rate the product for durability:
No reason to think this wouldn't last.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Not exactly a neck-breaker, but not as light as others around the same price.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Supremely comfortable helmet, whether riding on the road or dirt.
Rate the product for value:
It is pricey, but not at the premium end of the price scale.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, it was secure and comfortable throughout, and offers rotational impact protection in a seamless way.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The integration of the Spherical Technology system – so good that it took me a couple of rides to realise what it was.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing apart from a few extra grams of weight.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Giro Helios that uses the same Mips system costs £229 and is 20g lighter, although the Spherical Technology doesn't seem as seamlessly integrated.
If you're looking for something at this price range without Mips, you could look at the £229 Limar Air Pro Aero.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
An innovative, comfortable and easy-to-fit helmet that stays in place well whatever terrain I took it out on. The way that Bell tech has so seamlessly integrated the Spherical Technology into the helmet is also very impressive.
Age: 35 Height: 6 ft Weight:
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
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