The Arella is essentially the female specific version of Bell's Muni urban helmet, and is aimed squarely at commuters, urban riders and recreational cyclists in both its styling and features.
On first glance, it's fairly standard looking mid-range helmet, with the emphasis on generating a feeling of safety rather than on high performance. That said, it has some nice features missing in many helmets that sit in this niche. Most innovative and making the helmet good value at this price, are the flashing red lights integrated into the nylon web of the helmet at the rear. These are easy to switch on and off, although not with gloves on, and the batteries are easy to get at for replacement purposes. The only problem with them is that they are not always readily visible if a high-necked jacket or top is being worn. A nice additional safety feature though, and backed up by a light bracket higher up on the cranium for even more visibility with the addition of a small led light (not supplied).
The removeable visor is a feature that slightly surplus to requirements, but for more upright riding the vizor does minimize the 'skid lid' look a little without getting in the way, and it can be taken off quickly and easily for more sporty positioned rides. There's plenty of venting, although the vents mainly allow for passive breeze rather than actively channeling air through, which is fine for the types of speed and effort this helmet assumes. Front vents are mesh covered to prevent insects from hitching a ride. Weight wise, it's pretty light for a mid-range non-performance orientated helmet.
The only area where I have a real issue with the Arella is in its fit. The design uses a one-size fits most theory, with an easy to use adjustment system inside the helmet that alters the size of the nylon cradle and webbing. I'm normally a medium sized helmet in most manufacturers' sizing, including female specific designs, but had to wear the Arella at full extension, where it was comfortable but on the snug side even then. For those with larger heads, the Arella would be a tight squeeze. However, the cradle system is VERY easy to adjust, as is the buckle, which also does not poke into the jawline or neck. It is a comfortable helmet to wear (sizing aside) and incredibly user friendly.
The styling probably won't appeal to all women, with the one we tested having an overtly feminized colour and pattern, but other less girly colours are available.
Bell Arella Urban Sport Helmet (one size 50-57cm - 298g)
Good value for money, fairly lightweight commuter helmet with excellent features. Sizing issues mean you should definitely try before you buy.
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Make and model: Bell Arella Urban Sport Helmet
Size tested: White Silver Zebra
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?
Aimed at female 'urban cyclists'.
Designed to be fashionable with 'sophisticated sass'
Nice features for urban riding, but fairly standard 'non-sassy' female styling.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
One size fits most sizing (50-57cm quoted) with adjustable fit system.
Front 4 vents mesh covered
Flashing red LEDs integrated into rear cranial web.
Bracket for optional further clip-on lighting.
6 colour options.
Very well made.
Performed well. Flashing red rear lights not always visible.
Very solid, should last well. Simple adjustment etc means there's less to wear as well.
Reasonably light for a commuter style helmet at this price.
Very comfortable, but sizing on the neat side, especially for those with anything over a medium sized head.
Great value for the features.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Did a great job as an urban helmet, for safety and visibility.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Rear lights, venting, weight, comfort.
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, but not one with a bigger than medium head.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Excellent value and really well thought out, with some good features.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.