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Verdict: 
Smart looking helmet with an excellent fit and plenty of ventilation for not a huge amount of money
Weight: 
282g

The Bell Formula MIPS Road helmet looks, feels and performs like helmets costing double its £84.99 price tag. With plenty of ventilation, a good fit and the MIPS technology integrated into the cradle, there really is a lot to like.

  • Pros: Well finished, great ventilation, comfortable
  • Cons: No reflectives on the rear

While many helmet manufacturers tend to leave the EPS (expanded polystyrene) shell exposed at the base of the helmet where it is bonded to the polycarbonate outer shell, Bell is one of the increasing number of companies to cover it up with another shell. Not only does it give the whole helmet a much more expensive looking finish, it also adds protection against being dropped or impacts from things when in storage.

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Ventilation is great thanks to its 19 vents, although it's not totally down to the number, more the way they are positioned. You can feel the air flow through the helmet as you are riding, and although the extreme temperatures of summer have gone, it was still knocking around the mid-20s on some of the days while testing and I never felt overwhelmed in the Bell even when climbing hard.

Bell Formula MIPS road helmet - inside.jpg

The Formula comes in three sizes covering a range of 52cm through to 62cm, which should suit most.

Bell Formula MIPS road helmet - side.jpg

Tweaking the fit comes down to Bell's Float Fit system. It's a lot like many other retention systems where a dial at the rear tightens or loosens the cradle as it passes around the helmet, but unlike most the Float Fit isn't actually attached to the base of the helmet anywhere apart from a small Velcro tab at the front on the back of the padding. It means you can really dial in the fit to the shape of your head.

Bell Formula MIPS road helmet - tension system.jpg

The cradle itself incorporates MIPS technology which is good to see trickling down to the cheaper level of helmets. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System and it is basically a slip-plane which reduces rotational forces during some impacts according to the designer. (You can read more about it here.) Little yellow tabs between the cradle and helmet body let the cradle float, in effect, with the idea that if you crash and your head gets flung around you get a little bit of play there to absorb some of the forces.

Bell Formula MIPS road helmet 2.jpg

Everything here adds up to create a very comfortable helmet, all backed up by some excellent padding. You only get it at the front and the top of your head towards the back, but that is plenty. It's removable too, so you can wash it.

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When it comes to value it all looks pretty good against the competition.

For a fiver more you could get the Endura FS260-Pro. It is lighter than the Bell by 60g, but isn't as well ventilated plus you aren't getting the MIPS setup.

Giro does offer some cheaper MIPS helmets, like the Vasona at just £69.99 and it scored pretty well too, apart from a few gripes about the straps.

> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best high-performance helmets

Overall, the Bell Formula MIPS is a very good helmet, especially for the money. It's comfortable and fits well; the only minor criticism I can come up with is that I'd like to see a few reflective tabs on the rear like you get with most other lids.

Verdict

Smart looking helmet with an excellent fit and plenty of ventilation for not a huge amount of money

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Bell Formula 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, "EVERYDAY PERFORMANCE

"There's no reason to skimp on comfort and protection while trying to maintain a budget. The Formula benefits from the same technologies that make our road helmets such champions of comfort and safety; this model features the MIPS impact management as well as our Float Fit retention system and innovative Sweat Guide liner. Elegant shape, fluid aerodynamics and ample ventilation ensure the Formula's place as a classy all-rounder."

I think Bell has delivered a helmet here for a whole range of disciplines.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Bell:

* Integrated MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) - MIPS is designed to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts. By integrating the MIPS slip plane into the retention system, we are able to reduce complexity and weight for a compact, better ventilated helmet that fits more closely to the head.

* Fusion In-Mold polycarbonate shell - A process pioneered by Bell bonds the helmet's outer shell to the EPS foam liner to create a sturdier helmet.

* Float Fit (integrated with MIPS)

* 19 vents

* No-Twist Tri-Glides: Quick-adjust fasteners that help keep straps flat and properly positioned

* Sweat Guide pad design pulls moisture away from the brow pad and away from eyewear

* CE EN1078 certified

 

CONSTRUCTION

* Fusion In-Mold polycarbonate shell - A process pioneered by Bell bonds the helmet's outer shell to the EPS foam liner to create a sturdier helmet.

FIT SYSTEM

* Float Fit - A minimalist, lightweight fit system with an easy-to-turn rubber overmolded dial for adjustments (integrated with MIPS)

* No-Twist Tri-Glides: Quick-adjust fasteners that help keep straps flat and properly positioned

VENTILATION

* 19 vents

Sizes Available:

L 58-62CM

M 55-59CM

S 52-56CM

Colours Available:

MATT/GLOSS BLACK/GUNMETAL

MATT/GLOSS RED/BLACK

MATT/GLOSS RETINA SEAR/BLACK

MATT/GLOSS WHITE/SILVER

TSUNAMI MATTE/GLOSS GREEN/BLACK

TSUNAMI MATTE/GLOSS SLATE/GREY/ORANGE

VIRAGO MATTE/GLOSS MAROON/SLATE/SAND

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Does everything you want a helmet to do and does it well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The fit.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing really stands out.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Given the level of detail I'd say it's quite well priced, plus you are getting the MIPS technology. Giro offers a few cheaper options but I'm really impressed with the Bell.

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 really good all-round package from Bell, especially for the money. It's well finished and offers a great fit and while it isn't the lightest or cheapest out there, it's pretty difficult to criticise.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

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

Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.