Bell's Sweep helmet is refreshingly different and an excellent choice for road racers who enjoy competitive mountain biking but want a single, lid with nominal compromise. Riders expect something very special for one hundred quid, especially in the present economic climate. So how does it hold up?
Once upon a time some clever engineers invented in-mould technology where shell and EPS foam were conceived simultaneously, thus optimising strength to weight ratios, while minimising production costs. Close inspection suggests this is tidier than most, complying with CE1078 and the supposedly stricter American CPSC safety standards.
Both use the flat anvil drop test, although the latter requires an impact velocity of 6.2m/s as distinct from 5.42-5.52m/s to pass. Number of vents, rather akin to megapixels or indeed horsepower are less significant than their deployment- the sweep has twenty comprising of inlet and outlet. Integral composite skeletons aren't a completely revolutionary concept either, reinforcing the structure, presenting fewer restrictions when it comes to styling.
Fit is ultra intuitive thanks to the TAG (Twin Access Gear) system which enables optimal adjustment both circumferentially and horizontally. Coupled with the low-slung cradle, this affords an extremely stable platform, thus protecting the wearer's head from twisting impacts during a crash but can still interfere with some backpacks.
The relentless supply of cooling air has never ceased to impress, accentuating sensations of speed and freedom. Winching myself along some very steep climbs at pedestrian pace with heavily weighted trailer en tow failed to impede their efficiency either, so boiled brains are highly unlikely.
I've typically alternated between buff and race cap but forgoing these while helter-skelter descending hasn't induced 'Ice cream' headaches or that intrusive roar more endemic to trail specific models. Singletrack shenanigans were equally pleasing and despite some initial scepticism, the marginally shallower peak hasn't been any less effective at keeping stray foliage or airborne particles at bay.
Not the lightest but nonetheless, a superbly designed lid for competitive road and trail duties.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bell Sweep
Size tested: Medium, Blue Sparker
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?
"One of the most popular and winning helmets on both the road and mountain bike circuits, the Sweepfeatures Bell's top-of-the-line Twin Axis Gear (TAG) fit system. With 20 functional vents actively channeling airflow over the head and out the rear, it's easy to see why the Sweep is a racer favorite". No quibble here.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
· Channeled Ventilation
· Fusion In-Mold Microshell
· In-Mold Bottom Wrap
· Internal Reinforcement
· Registered Graphics
· Twin Axis Gear (TAG)
· Variable Position Visor (VPV)
· Visor Plugs
· CE EN1078
· CPSC Bicycle
Bell's top-of-the-line Variable Position Visor allows for 15 degrees of horizontal adjustment by using an imbedded clutch mechanism that holds the visor firmly at the desired angle. Changing the VPV's angle just takes a simple up or down tug."
Quite portly on paper but in practice I barely noticed it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Bell sweep is one of the most innovative and practical helmets I've used in a very long time. Unique design coupled with exacting safety standards mean it morphs effortlessly between tarmac and trail with nominal compromise.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Styling, fit, ventilation and versatility.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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)