Bell RS-2 Full-Face Helmet: A Great Mid-Range Helmet for New Riders


Bell RS-2 Full Face Helmet

The RS-2 is Bell’s evolution of their wildly popular RS-1, and features numerous improvements compared to the outgoing model. It’s sleeker, better vented, and incorporates a new face shield and sun visor. It’s also claimed to be lighter, quieter, and easier to live with.

On paper, the RS-2 is not so much an evolution of the RS-1 as it is a revolution. In practice, the RS-2 is neither… but don’t hold that against it.

I’ve been wearing this black RS-2 for the past six weeks, and while perfect it definitely isn’t, it’s certainly a fine helmet to wear and ride with. It’s got the right look and is nice and comfortable. So what keeps it from being the revolutionary evolution that some newswires and marketing copy claims it to be?

Well I suppose you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

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Aesthetics

Bell RS-2 Full Face Helmet

The RS-2 is a good looking helmet, even when its glossy paint reflects the rafters in my unfinished basement (note to self: get a ceiling down there). The black colorway I have here isn’t the best looking version of it, but it’s still pretty attractive and certainly sporty looking. In my opinion, the best-looking colorway for the RS-2 is definitely the Copper/Titanium Empire version…

Bell RS-2 "Empire" in Black/Copper/Titanium
Bell RS-2 “Empire” in Black/Copper/Titanium. Image: Bell

Ooh yea, look at that. The contouring that the tri-color scheme gives the RS-2 is aggressive without being over the top. Love it.

Bell RS-2 Full Face Helmet

The rear vent almost looks like a lip spoiler, and it fits in with the chin and forehead vents. The chin and forehead vents, by the way, are a little plasticky looking, which takes a bit away from the looks.

Compared to the last several helmets I’ve reviewed, a string of modulars from Shoei (the new Neotec II), SCHUBERTH (the new C4), AGV (the new Sportmodular Carbon), Vemar (the Sharki), the RS-2 is downright compact.

And it is compact, looking kinda squished front to back. It reminds me of a subcompact hatchback in that sense: comfortable enough, but still a bit tight in some places.

So, overall, a good looking lid.

Comfort & Livability

Bell RS-2 Full Face Helmet

I’ve been riding since 2008, but it wasn’t last year that I really started caring about how comfortable my gear is. I know that’s shameful to admit, but it is what it is and I feel better now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest.

To be clear, I’ve always been a proponent of ATGATT riding. Being safe has always mattered to me, but if I had to choose between safety and comfort, I’d choose safety. Every time.

And the result of those decisions was inexpensive, safe, and uncomfortable gear. Yech!

Luckily, the RS-2 is the opposite. It’s comfortable thanks to its light weight (I measured it at 3.28lbs). Compared to the other helmets I’ve worn and reviewed this season, the RS-2 is a near featherweight. This is partly due to its fiberglass shell, which sheds ounces without sacrificing quality or durability.

Sound

Ahh, but this feathery-goodness comes at the expense of sound. Helmets are always going to be loud compared to basically any other type of enclosed environment, but this one is noticeably louder than all the other helmets I’ve worn this year. It’s not overbearing – you’ll still hear your intercom system or GPS nav through your earpiece – but it’s far from serene.

Not that I mind it terribly. The engine on my FZ-06 sounds badass at 12k RPM’s, and the RS-2 lets me hear every spin the tiny engine makes. I love that.

The sound is also nicely modulated. It’s there – there’s no getting around it – but it sounds akin to traveling through a wind tunnel vs. sitting next to a jackhammer. It’s not unpleasant, but it is there.

But every other helmet I tested this year was quieter. Every one of them.

Ergonomics & Fit

Bell RS-2 Full Face Helmet

The RS-2 is an intermediate oval and fits true to its shape. I have an intermediate oval head and think the RS-2 is a great addition to it. It slides on comfortably, sits nicely, and is snug around the cheeks and crown, but not tight. It doesn’t have any pressure points.

My wife Melissa, on the other hand, complains of pressure points on her cheeks. Again, not painful, but tangible and very noticeable. She’s also got a bigger head than me (she is the smarter one of the two of us, after all). Her head is more round oval than intermediate.

One thing I really love about the RS-2: double-d rings and a magnet strap clip. I know micro-lock ratchets are all the rage these days, but I find them uncomfortable. Every single ratchet-strap I’ve worn – including the Neotec II and C4 – has been uncomfortable. The ratchet presses into my adams apple. After months of fiddling I was able to get the Neotec II to be just “okay”, which was a sizable improvement from “uncomfortable”.

The RS-2? Felt great the moment I put it on. Beauty.

Note: you can totally wear your glasses with the RS-2. I’m a bespeckled fellow myself and have no problems wearing my glasses underneath this lid.

Visor

The visor is one of the more common units used by Bell, meaning that it’s easy to pop off and replace. You can also get tinted visors if that’s your thing (it’s got an internal sun visor, by the way). Optics are fine and I didn’t notice any distortions while wearing it.

I’ve read some other reviews where people complain of water seeping in, including the review from Donna on our sister site webBikeWorld. I have not experienced the same; both times I was caught in the rain, the RS-2 kept my face dry.

Dry, yes, but also foggy. The RS-2 does not come with a pin lock insert and you notice it most when it rains. The integrated breath guard helps, but it doesn’t carry it all the way. So expect some fogging.

Interior Liner

Bell is using a special material for its liner. The X-Static XT2 material is anti-bacterial and is easily removed for washing. Pop it out (the RS-2 doesn’t use magnetic or velcro fasteners), give it a wash, and throw it back in. Nice and easy.

The EPS liner should be plenty safe, especially considering that the RS-2’s predecessor – the RS-1 for those that can’t count 😉 – was rated very high by SHARP and was also SNELL certified. More on that in a second.

Internal Sun Visor

Open and closed: those are the two positions the internal sun visor has. There is no middle ground. It snaps open and snaps closed.

The tinting on the visor is sufficient. Enough so that I ditched the sunglasses entirely when riding. Aside from its lack of flexibility in positions, the visor is unremarkable: it covers 90% of the viewport (easily), does its job, and doesn’t distort your view.

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Value

Bell RS-2 Full Face Helmet

The RS2 is DOT-certified and ECE 22.05 rated. Feel like a designation is missing? That’s right: the RS-2 loses its SNELL certification due to the use of the internal sun visor.

I’m on the fence about this. On one hand, SNELL ratings carry weight with me and help me know which helmets are actually safe and which are “safe to a spec”, but on the other hand, the internal sun visor is a nice convenience to have. Losing SNELL certification doesn’t change my opinion of the helmet, but it might for you. Something to think about.

Let’s talk money. With a $299 MSRP, the RS-2 is definitely an attainable mid-range helmet. With helmet pricing seemingly ever increasing, it was both refreshing and concerning to see bell drop the MSRP of the RS-2 by $100 compared to the $399 MSRP of the RS-1.

Refreshing because, hey, inflation sucks; concerning because of “what did they remove to drop the price?”. From what I can tell, the only thing lost compared to the RS-1 is SNELL certification, and that’s only because of the sun visor.

In the $300 range, the RS-2 is up against a few of Bell’s other offerings (such as the Qualifier DLX MIPS), options from Scorpion (such as the EXO-T1200), Icon, Simpson, HJC, Nolan, and Biltwell. There are many others, of course.

In my estimation, the RS-2 definitely plays in the playground but I wouldn’t call it the far and away standout. It does play on the playground next to the other kids, though.

Affordable, Comfortable, & Loud: Meet the New RS-2

Those looking for an affordable helmet that doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of safety will find a lot to like in the new RS-2. However, the RS-2’s many positive qualities – its affordable price, good looks, and solid build – don’t overwhelmingly outweigh its drawbacks (namely, that it’s loud and provides medicore airflow).

It’s up to you to determine how much of a factor that is to you. There are, without question, many other helmets in this price range that offer similar functionality with fewer decibels to go along with it.

Despite the volume inside, I like the RS-2 overall. I appreciate its shape and fit, which for my intermediate dome is spot-on, and I like the internal sun visor as well. I also like that the RS-2 comes in 3 shell sizes, so the overall shape of the helmet remains true across the entire size range.

Overall, the RS-2 is a solid helmet with a few drawbacks and many benefits. Give it a try!

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We work with RevZilla to monetize BBM and are affiliate partners. We receive a comission from RevZilla if you choose to buy a helmet from them. Doing so supports our site, which pays for more reviews like this one. Thank you for supporting us!

RevZilla

Free shipping on orders over $40
30-day no-nonsense return policy
Excellent selection of all major brands
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