The Bell Javelin time trial helmet shares some of the DNA of the super-fast Giro Selector. The parent company is the same and the Javelin has that familiar shape: dome-like forehead and short tail. It's 75% of the price of the Selector, shaving off a cool £60.
It's not just a poor man's Selector, however, which means I can't use either of the Bo' Selecta puns that I'd prepared: 'poor Selector' and 'no Selector'. It is, unlike those puns, rather good.
The tail is open, like those of most pointy hats; it's not boxed off into an enclosed fairing like the Selector. The sides of the Javelin are deep around the ears, tapering up sharply towards the tail. So there's not as much depth in the tail section as the Selector – which has a 40mm lower section. What this means is that you can probably get the tail of the Selector closer to your shoulders than you can the Javelin. And in the unlikely event that the Selector's tail is too deep for you, you can fit the shallower one that's supplied. So whichever way you look at it, the Javelin won't be better at closing the gap between helmet and back.
Where the Javelin scores over its more expensive cousin is in terms of fit and comfort. There are three sizes of Javelin as against two Selector sizes, and the Javelin has SeamFlex earflaps. These are excellent, bending out of the way and enabling you to get the helmet on and off without feeling like you're trying to stuff your head through a catflap. Your ears don't get squeezed or folded over, so you can get the Javelin on and off much quicker. If you're one of those people who likes to spoil a good bike ride with a swim and a run, this could save you a handful of valuable seconds in the transition. For the rest of us, it's simply nice not to squeeze your ears. You get a similar amount of wind-howl and noise distortion at speed from passing traffic.
The helmet cradle is better in the Javelin too. It's a three-quarter wrap-around with a ratchet dial for adjustment, like you get in a normal road helmet. The Selector has only the rear section of a helmet cradle, buttressed against the back of your head by a flexible plastic strut. This keeps the helmet on fine but it forces your forehead against the inner ribs of the helmet. I sometimes look like I've fallen asleep with my face next to a three-bar electric fire when I remove the Selector. In contrast, the Javelin is almost as comfortable as a standard road lid. There are three height settings at the back of the Javelin's cradle, so you can adjust this to suit your head shape and preferred helmet angle.
Like the Selector, the Javelin comes with a removable visor. By default you get the grey one. A clear visor costs £19.99, although the grey one was okay even in pretty poor light. There are small vents at the top of the visor to stop it steaming up, and it never has when I've raced in it.
There are two vents in the front of the helmet itself and one exhaust vent at the back. This should keep your head a little cooler than the Selector, which has no frontal vents except the little ones in the visor. However, those front vents will make the Javelin slightly less aerodynamic; I guess you could cover them if it bothers you. I never caught any insects in these vents, though it's no doubt possible – I once snared a madly buzzing something-or-other in my vented Bell Meteor. (All you can do is shake your head like a cow trying to escape biting flies. It's very distracting.)
It's difficult to say how fast the Javelin is, as I only tested it in races and not a wind tunnel. I achieved a couple of course PBs while wearing this and didn't notice any changes relative to my time trial rivals when I switched from the Javelin to the Selector and vice versa in back to back events. So I don't think there's much in it.
Nevertheless, I reckon the Selector is marginally faster because of its deeper, boxed in tail, its lack of front vents, and its slightly more compact shape. On the other hand, the Javelin is markedly more comfortable, and that could be a deal breaker for longer events. And it's cheaper, making it a tempting purchase for any time triallist who isn't chasing the prize money.
It's certified to EN 1708, so counts as proper safety helmet. It's available in small (51-55cm), medium (55-59cm) and large (59-63cm) sizes in the following colour options: black and white; black, blue and white; black, red and white; white and silver; white and magenta; and titanium.
It's like a budget Giro Selector that's scarcely slower and significantly more comfortable.
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Make and model: Bell Javelin Time Trial Helmet
Size tested: M
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?
Madison say: The Bell Javelin helmet can let you perform at your best.
The Javelin features a wind tunnel-proven aerodynamic fuselage, an integrated shield, as well as Bells super adjustable Twin Axis gear (TAG) fit system
The Javelins exclusive SeamFlex earflaps make getting the Javelin on and off both quick and pain free, a big plus particularly if transition area is part of your vernacular
Ventilation and deep internal channels
Weight: 380 grams
Comes with grey lens, other lenses available separately
Meets CE EN178 certification
Sizes S, M, L
I say: it's a high-end TT helmet.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
EN 1708 certified
Very good for a TT lid.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's an effective time trial helmet, a step up from cheaper lids like the Bell Meteor.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
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.
Age: 42 Height: 1.78m Weight: 65kg
I usually ride: Ridgeback Solo World fixed wheel My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track (with front brake)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,