When Bell's RS-1 first hit the market in early 2011, it was targeted at sportier riders and aimed to fill the gap between the Bell Star and Bell Vortex. Offering some strong features for the cost, it quickly became a crowd favorite. Now, Bell has introduced its next-generation RS-2, which picks up where the RS-1 left off.

Bell RS-2 Helmet
Bell’s RS-2 helmet in the Empire colorway.Bell Helmets

What's New

The new Bell RS-2 weighs 3.3 pounds, and features a fiberglass composite shell. There are three separate outer shell sizes, as well as three separate expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner sizes. The biggest difference between the RS-2 and its predecessor is the new internal sun visor—an addition that causes it to lose its Snell rating.

The RS-2 uses the same shield as the Vortex and Qualifier helmets, which means you’ll be able to swap out the stock clear shield for Bell’s own Transitions adaptive shield. It features an intermediate oval head shape and offers Bell’s own X-static liner for extra comfort. Bell also states that the interior was designed to wear a pair of glasses easily inside the helmet. There are even a few cutouts in the EPS liner for speakers, intended for use with motorcycle-specific communications systems.

Bell RS-2 Helmet
There’s no brow vent on the RS-2, due to the addition of an internal sun visor.Bell Helmets

The RS-2 comes in a number of colors, ranging from the standard gloss black, matte black, and gloss white, to the more visually striking graphics (such as the black/white/red Empire colorway pictured).

The Feel

When I held the Bell RS-2, I was initially struck by how lightweight it felt, as well as how well done the graphics were. The look is just right for a helmet aimed at the street crowd. The chinstrap has a small magnetic button on the end that allows you to loop over the excess material so it doesn’t slap you in the neck in the wind, which is easier to secure with gloves on than the standard plastic snap-style. The front shield loses its locking ability, which may come as a disappointment to some riders.

Bell RS-2 Helmet
The chin vent provides a moderate amount of airflow.Bell Helmets

Speaking of disappointments, the whole reason this helmet had to give up both its Snell certification and its brow vents is because of a new internal sun visor. I’ll admit; I don’t care for internal visors. It’s always tough for a helmet manufacturer to make them as dark as they need to be for legal reasons, they’re usually clunky and overly cheap-feeling, and they often let natural light creep past the edges into your eyes. The internal shade on the RS-2 is one of the darker that I’ve used, and it has good coverage. The mechanism itself is relatively smooth but still feels flimsy. I’m not too fond of the lack of a brow vent either, another negative of having an internal shield.

Bell RS-2 Helmet
The RS-2 is Transitions Adaptive shield-ready, and you can see the lever that operates the internal sun visor.Bell Helmets

The fit of the helmet itself is also where things tend to go a little awry. The helmet feels lightweight on the head, but it's also very shallow front to back, as well as shallow top to bottom. The cheek pads sit oddly high and tend to crush the lower halves of my ears. In contrast, the helmet feels rather wide from side to side, but somehow still didn't allow for me to comfortably wear a pair of sunglasses, no matter the type of frame design.

The helmet’s interior feels very smooth and plush. I’ve had some trouble in the past with the two plastic snaps that are used to secure the liner to the EPS around the forehead area, and I’m happy to say this wasn’t the case with the RS-2—it uses an entirely different and far less obtrusive system. Wind noise on the streets is moderate, but quickly turns deafening on the freeway—louder by far than other helmets within the same price range.

Bell RS-2 Helmet
The Bell RS-2 loses its Snell certification in favor of an ECE rating, due to the addition of the internal sun visor.Bell Helmets

The Verdict

Bell’s RS-2 ended up being rather disappointing for me. The choice to include the internal sun visor at the expense of a Snell rating is not one that I preferred. The RS-2 is both DOT and ECE certified, but you’re still giving up airflow and safety standards for what I view as essentially an overly complicated and bulky pair of sunglasses.

Bell RS-2 Helmet
There’s no question about it—the graphics offered on the RS-2 are some of the coolest I’ve seen in a long time.Bell Helmets

To Bell’s credit, it was able to bring the RS-2’s price down to the $299 mark, $100 cheaper than the original RS-1. I’m still a big fan of the graphics too—I really think Bell hit it out of the park in that area. The color choices are stunning, and the paint application is top-notch.

Personally, I'd lean more toward Bell's Qualifier DLX MIPS if I were looking at full-face helmets from Bell below the $300 price point. Not only is the Qualifier DLX MIPS also ECE rated, but it features Bell's MIPS safety system, more air vents, and the option to run the same transition shield, if so desired.