Bell's Piston helmet combines graceful lines, 15 vents CE1078 approval and an all-up weight of 250g for just shy of 35 quid. I can recall a time when this sort of spec was the stuff of top-flight race lids!
It's another of the commu-tour-trail type of lid that has been getting progressively sleeker with every passing season and genuinely manages to be most things to most people. In mould construction and CE1078 won't raise a flicker but the dial fitting system that hugs the skull's occipital region (mimicking a car's roll cage) might prevent serious head trauma should you be unlucky enough to slide across asphalt.
We're all more inclined to use something that's faff-free and their micro-adjust fitting system is precisely that- single handed, on the fly, although admittedly thick pile winter gloves presented a few challenges. This might sound gimmicky but removing a cap or even haircuts can necessitate a quick tweak. Another innovation is the Velcro-less pads, which can be plucked off at will, as can the Piston's porch like peak. To be honest, I find it just as easy for the helmet to shower with me when things turn funky (the mind boggles - ed) but its nice to have the option of machine washing it too.
The softer, rounded profile makes the Piston something of a social chameleon; complimentary to looser fitting mtb and touring threads without standing out like the proverbial sore thumb on the chain gang. Speaking of which, airflow is generally excellent retaining a comfortable inner climate regardless whether I've been trickling through the town centre at 10-12mph or clipping along the open road between 20-23mph. Mountain bikers and night owls will be delighted to note its shape is particularly accommodating of lighting and along with Scotchlite logos, the two-tone white/ metallic grey colour scheme captures driver attention better than I had expected.
On the flip side, I'm pleased to report a distinct lack of brain freeze when hurtling full pelt along a one in four descent, while insect netting deters kamikaze wasps and other unwelcome visitors. Detachable peaks are a godsend in changeable conditions and the piston's offers decent protection from wind, rain and intense late autumn sun despite being fractionally shallower than some other lids out there.
Stylish, practical good value, helmet,for everyday riding
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bell Piston helmet
Size tested: One size, orange/black
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's all-new Piston is casual in its approach, but all-business when called upon for duty. Featuring Bell's Fusion In-Mold construction, ErgoDial fit system, easy-to-adjust Cam-lock levers, 15 extra-large vents, and a snap-in visor, the rounded profile fits perfectly with a more recreational attitude". Sums it up nicely
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
All the expected stuff- In mould construction, CE1078, washable pads, insect netting etc. However, its clever dial fitting system combining additional support and easy adjustment steals a march on many rivals.
Neatly constructed and nicely finished.
Shell seems durable with no tell tale swirls or similar imperfections despite daily service.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Bell seems to understand the demands of helmets needed for all-rounder duties better than most and its difficult to see where you'd go wrong for the money. Fifteen vents offer surprisingly efficient airflow without inducing painful "Ice Cream" headaches when hurtling into descents, adjustments are a cinch-even on the fly and a subtle peak ensures good protection from the elements.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Versatility, comfort and neutral styling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)