The Bell Bullitt has been on the market since 2012, becoming an instant classic with its introduction. A futuristic approach to retro design, the Bullitt is a throwback to the decades old Bell Star 120, albeit with some impressive modern upgrades.
Bell is reliable for their attention to detail in crafting their helmets, and the Bullitt is no exception. While not the cheapest option for casual street touring, Bell applies smart, practical features to add next-level comfort and good value. And with the impressive range of color and shield options, you will certainly get your money’s worth in style points.
Pricing can vary because you can upgrade materials and swap EPS liners, but you can generally expect to pay at least $400 for the Bullitt. It is certainly a universally comfortable fit but it’s not perfect for anyone.
If you do plan on throwing down a decent chunk of change, it is worth it to know if Bell Bullitt meets your criteria. Let’s look at the comfort, safety and functional features so you can decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Outer shell material : Polycarbonate
Shell size : XS, SM, MD, LG, XL and 2XL
Liner : Multi Density EPS Liner
Weight : 4lbs pounds
Pinlock : No
Strap System : Leather D-Ring Pull Tab
DOT : Yes
ECE : Yes
SNELL : No
SHARP : Not tested
Shape and materials
The Bell Bullitt lies close to the center of shaping to provide an appropriate fit right out of the box for most users. Unless your head is long and narrow, this helmet will conform to a snug but not restricting fit.
The helmet fits true to your normal helmet size, so you can be confident that you are ordering the right size the first time. And if the shape or fit is close but less than perfect, you can swap to different liners and cheek pads for personalization.
The retro look makes for a less aerodynamic shape, but many of the features that make it cool do have some functional benefit. The extra wide face shield and minimal chin bar give you a large range of viewing and tons of comfort while riding. The chin bar seems almost non-existent, giving you the feeling of open face comfort with full face protection.
Bell truly shines in their level of detail, inside and out. To start, the Bullitt has a carbon fiber composite shell, making it extra durable and protective while keeping the weight under four pounds.
On the inside, Bell opted for genuine top-grain leather comfort components, right down to a leather double D ring chin strap. The leather components are a premium comfort feature, and you can expect it to get more soft and inviting with each use. Plus, thanks to smart ventilation and liner constructions, riders do not have to worry about getting too hot and sticky just because it is real leather.
Things I liked
Things I don’t like
The Bullitt is available in three shell and EPS sizes, allowing riders to customize fits between XS to XXL. The color options are a notable bright spot, with the helmet being offered in a huge array of customizable matte and glossy designs. Face shields can also be swapped out, so you can ditch the standard clear shield for a tint or bubble model.
The overall shape is more or less neutral though slightly longer front to back, so it will fit most head shapes. Helmets are generally accurate for sizing, though you may need to adjust cheek pad sizing especially, if you have a more oval-shaped head.
Every feature seems geared to maximize comfort, from the shape to the materials. The small chin bar is comfortably out of the way and so low profile that it is not noticeable in the rider’s view.
The neck roll is not removable but features top-grain leather, giving you maximum plushness that will continue to break in with wear. Beyond that, the contour fit cheek pads were given an ultra-plush micro-suede feel with perforations, giving it the wicking and airflow capabilities we expect out of a worthwhile helmet.
The comfort liner is also removable and washable, with the material consisting of hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial components. The quick-drying material will always feel fresh and free of noxious odors. They did an excellent job in putting foam padding in all the right areas and adding the obligatory mesh to transfer air to the channeled EPS liner.
Cheek pads are shaped to fit aftermarket audio and communication systems, though using devices can be impractical depending on the riding situation and the look you desire.
The aesthetic of the helmet is mostly in the shield, with it taking up a healthy amount of real estate due in large part to the subdued chin guard. The massive window gives you a clear peripheral view and improved overall visibility.
A flathead screwdriver or a coin are all that are needed to remove the visor if you want to use eyewear. Whether you plan to rock goggles with the shield removed or wear your normal glasses behind it, the Bullitt is accommodating for frames of any kind.
The magnetic locking feature in the closed position is a convenient touch. If you need to pop the shield up at a light, the lock releases and fastens in a quick snap.
The size of the shield works well for full range of viewing but there are inherent issues with a larger seal. Any openings around the edge are prone to letting in air, so the wind can get whistling at high speeds. Meanwhile, any rain means you may be getting moisture penetration along with the extra air.
The shield can rattle a bit when the hinge locks loosen up. It’s not a bad idea to give them a quick tightening before you head out to keep the ride enjoyable.
The Bell Bullitt ships with a clear bubble shield but you have a number of tinted and gradient flat or bubble shields available. Bubble shields are nice for improving airflow, but the dark smoke flat shield might be the slickest look you can find in a modern helmet.
The Bell Bullitt is loud. The shape is definitely more geared for cosmetics and its poor aerodynamics can raise the volume.
The large face shield does not help, with a greater potential for leakage around the seal. And if you plan to ride with the shield up, stay off the highway because the wind volume will be completely unbearable at higher speeds.
Ventilation in the Bullitt is intelligent and clearly more than an afterthought. Still, a couple minor misses can be frustrating in certain conditions.
There are five front entry vents, one in the chin bar and four circular vents dotted along the brow. Both are upgrades from entry-level helmet offerings in key ways. First, the front chin vent can be opened or closed. It's great to keep open on a hot day but in rainy or cold weather where you want to keep the elements out, this is a nice way to get some relief.
The top air vents make the difference for good air circulation. These guide air without obstruction through the breathable comfort liner and into the EPS channels. An integrated Venturi vent molded into the back of the helmet sucks air out and maintains a draw of cooling airflow.
Ventilation gets negative marks from the shield, which not only lets uncontrollable amounts of leaking air through but also makes shield-up riding intolerable in many instances. The brow vents are also a double-edged sword, because in bad weather, you have open ports for rain water to trickle in.
Overall, the Bell Bullitt has good venting that is suitable for hot or cold temperatures. Being able to swap to bubble shields can help with ventilation to a further degree, but both bubble and flat visors will generally remain fog-free.
Classic lids can get knocked for inferior safety design but its carbon fiber construction makes the Bullitt a stout choice for protection. It has DOT and ECE certifications, making it widely available for use in the Americas, Europe and anywhere that operates by those standards.
It is a little disappointing that the Bullitt is not Sharp or Snell-tested. Less expensive models may be able to get away with it, but for the Bullitt’s safety-conscious design standards adding to the $400+ price tag, it would be nice to know the value is really there. Regardless, for a retro shape, the Bullitt delivers substantial protection for the everyday rider.
The Bullitt’s superior comfort features hidden within an iconic design have made it one of Bell’s most popular models. You cannot go wrong with any of the finishes or graphics, and with the range of visor options, you can make the look ultra-modern, classic vintage or anywhere in between.
Comfort-wise, the care and investment in even the most minor details make this a pleasure to wear the whole ride through. Leather on the chin strap, neck roll and lining give conforming, luxurious comfort that just keeps getting better. The breathable, anti-bacterial design of the liner and cheek pads are a noticeable upgrade from less expensive options, with ample foam cushioning rounding out their practical construction.
If you want a comfortable helmet with a timeless fashion appeal, the Bullitt should be a serious contender. For more information on Bell’s Bullitt or similar helmets, contact us today.
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