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Bell's Falcon XR LED MIPS road helmet is a good all-rounder. It offers a comfortable fit, decent airflow and the added bonus of an LED rear light. It's weighty though, even against helmets with a lower price tag.
If you're wondering if something like this is the best choice, it's worth checking our guide to the best cycling helmets 2023 — plus how to choose the right helmet for you.
This isn't the first helmet I've used with an LED light, but the Blackburn Grid installed in the Falcon is probably one of the most noticeable.
It's bright, and thanks to it's Chip-on-Board (COB) design it offers plenty of eye-catching modes; four in total, with three flashing and one solid.
Road riders tend to have their head pointed more towards the ground than, say, urban riders, but the light is tall enough and bright enough to be effective for all kinds of riding. With UK law saying that a rear red light must be fitted to your bike, this helmet light is a secondary option anyway.
Charging is taken care of by USB at the top of the light. A small rubber cover seals it from the rain (successfully I might add), but make sure you know where you put it while charging as it is small and very easy to lose. The cover also sits above an LED showing battery life, so that's easy to keep an eye on.
As for the helmet itself, the first thing you'll notice is that it is weightier than most. On our scales this medium clocked 369g, which is over 130g more than something like the £90 Kask Sintesi.
It's not exactly a deal breaker, and to be fair you are likely to be reading this review because you want a helmet with a rear light, rather than going for the lightest lid on the market. Bell claims the Falcon XR model without the LED is 325g, so it's certainly no lightweight.
That aside, the Falcon is comfortable. The Float Fit cradle system runs right the way around rather than just across the rear and sides like some helmets, so when you use the wheel at the rear to adjust for fit it tightens with an even pressure all the way around your head.
MIPS is also included. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, and it's a low-friction pair of layers that sits between the helmet body and the cradle. It allows about 15mm of movement to damp jarring rotational motions to your brain in the case of an impact.
The padding is also a decent thickness for comfort and absorbs sweat well too. It's what Bell calls Ionic+, which uses silver in the yarn for its antimicrobial properties.
From a quality and finish point of view it's good to see that Bell has completely covered the polystyrene with a hard outer layer. It not only makes it look like a more premium product, but protects the helmet from drops and knocks.
The Falcon XR isn't a pure road helmet, so it isn't vented as such. I'd say it's roughly a 50/50 split between polycarbonate shell and venting. Air is directed well enough for all but the most exuberant riding, and it was quite pleasant in the cooler air of February and March compared to some of the hugely vented helmets I usually wear.
There are three sizes: small (52-56cm), medium (55-59cm), and large (58-62cm). There are also three colour options, with matt black and white/black sitting alongside this one.
At £129.99 (the non-LED version is £114.95) the Bell is pricier than something like the Abus Urban-I 3.0 MIPS, which is a similar sort of design. That costs £109.99. It's not quite as versatile as the Bell though, with smaller vents and a more compact LED.
Lazer's Sphere is a similarly styled all-round helmet, and comes with MIPS. It costs £119.99, so around a fiver more than the non-LED Falcon XR.
Yes, it's a bit weighty, but aside from that the Falcoin XR is a quality all-rounder thanks with a good fit and finish. If you are after a comfortable helmet for all kinds of riding then the Bell has most things covered – and the LED is a bonus.
Heavier than some, but comfortable and well made with the bonus of a rear light
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bell Falcon XR LED MIPS Road Helmet
Size tested: Medium
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?
Bell says, "When we set out to design the XR Spherical, we were after one helmet to do a bit of everything, from racing cyclocross to touring the world to just KOM'ing your buddies on the weekly lunch ride. With Falcon XR, we've taken many of the same features – 'Deep Road' fit, ample venting, Fidlock buckle, Ionic+ antimicrobial comfort padding – and built them into a helmet that is both utilitarian and economic.
"To top it off, the Falcon XR Mips is compatible with our custom Blackburn® Grid COB rear LED light that integrates seamlessly into the large rear vent."
It's a helmet that covers many disciplines, and the bright light performs well.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
IMPACT MANAGEMENT: MIPS EVOLVE
CONSTRUCTION: FUSION IN-MOLD POLYCARBONATE SHELL
FIT SYSTEM: FLOAT FIT
CERTIFICATION : CE EN1078
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It offers decent breathability, and a quality fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The LED is bright with eyecatching modes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's heavier than a pure road helmet.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's in the right sort of ballpark for this kind of helmet, as mentioned in the review.
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
A good all-round helmet which offers decent performance and a well executed finish, especially for the money.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!