Bell Custom 500 Review: Best Classic Helmet For The Money (2020 Updates)

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Some things never go out of fashion for a reason. The Bell Custom 500 is a new take on an iconic helmet that’s a favorite with old school riders and newer generations for its timeless appeal, razor-sharp looks and custom fit. It’s a no nonsense helmet made of cutting edge modern materials and the greatest variety of sizes and finishes Bell has ever offered.

In this Custom 500 helmet review, let’s look at how the original classic holds up by today’s helmet standards.

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Bell Custom 500 Open-Face Motorcycle Helmet (Solid Matte Black, Medium)

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Bell Custom 500 Open-Face Motorcycle Helmet (Solid Matte Black, Medium)

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Bell Custom 500 Open-Face Motorcycle Helmet (Solid Matte Black, Medium)

Ratings

Comfort:

85%
Comfort

Visibility:

85%
Visibility

Ventilation:

75%
Ventilation

Quietness:

85%
Quietness

Specifications

Outer shell material : Custom fiberglass shell

Shell size : 5 shell
Shell 1: XS and SM Helmet
Shell 2: MD Helmet
Shell 3: LG Helmet
Shell 4: XL Helmet
Shell 5: 2XL Helmet

Liner : Custom-quilted liner / EPS

Weight : 3.65 pounds

Pinlock : No, but with a separate sun visor

Strap System : Padded chin strap with D-ring closure

Safety Ratings

DOT : Yes

ECE : Yes

SNELL : Yes

SHARP : Not tested


Shape and materials

When riders think old school motorcycle helmets, this is the shape and style that springs to mind. Bubble-like shell, detachable sun visor and the firm caress of well-built chin strap. The outer shell is made of highly durable fiberglass with custom-fit interior padding that uses modern fast-wicking fabric to keep you dry while you ride. 

The finishes are what make the Bell Custom 500 helmet a winner though. You will be hard-pressed to find a helmet with this many looks and styles. Want a simple metal flake in vibrant cover? You got it. Want that original dirt track motorbike racing look? Done.

Best of all, the finish is highly durable and will last for years to come without showing ugly scratches or fading from wear.


Things I liked

  • ¾ coverage helmet comes in many sizes
  • Detachable sun visor
  • Dozens of custom finishes with new options releasing annually

Things I don’t like

  • No chin bar or full face mask
  • Ventilation may not be sufficient for some riders
  • You will need to purchase goggles or sun glasses and a face protector separately for cold weather riding and eye protection.

Overall comfort

Some riders have started out with a full cover helmet with a chinbar, and so the Bell Custom 500 may leave them feeling a bit exposed. It’s a personal preference thing, but the three-quarter motorcycle helmet is popular with riders who like to feel the wind and sun on their face as they put long miles behind them.

The other major benefit I found in this helmet review to a Bell Custom 500 is that the shell comes in sizes from XS to 2XL. The internal padding is comfortable and breathable with a removable liner for easy washing between weekend rides or road trips.


Visibility

Your field of vision is completely unrestricted with a Bell Custom 500. It may not have a full face shield and chin bar, but the trade-off is a complete field of view while you ride. 

I’d recommend you get yourself a good pair of goggles and a breathable face mask if your bike doesn’t have a windscreen though, as incoming bugs and road grit can leave a lasting impression on your face and eyes. The detachable sun visor is also a must for long rides on sunny days, as it makes a big difference in visibility that even a good pair of sunglasses can’t match.


Quietness

One of the advantages of a three-quarter motorcycle helmet is there’s no air vents to generate additional wind noise as you ride. That makes for pretty good noise dampening without impeding your hearing as you ride.

However, don’t forget your earplugs if you have a custom exhaust on your bike, as hearing damage is a real possibility regardless of the style of helmet you wear.


Ventilation

There are no vent ports on this motorcycle helmet. That can be problematic depending on whom you ask. The Bell Custom 500 can get a little warm on long sunny rides, but most riders prefer this three-quarter style because it vents along the edges nicely on its own without the need to cut into the helmet and provide airflow ports. 

The trade-off is that wind noise is greatly reduced compared to helmets with variable airflow controls. The helmet breathes fine for maintaining a comfortable temperature, but some riders may find it’s not enough for their needs.


Safety

The only independent safety rating this helmet doesn’t have is a SHARP score. Otherwise, its certified for use in all 50 US states and Europe.

There is the fact it doesn’t have a chin bar for protection in forward collisions, but if you are worried about side impacts or forehead impacts, there aren’t many other helmets with a better safety rating or record that can compare to the Bell Custom 500.

Conclusion

Riders who want a classic helmet with some modern updates and additional safety features that won’t break the bank should give the Bell Custom 500 some serious thought. One caveat: you’re going to want some goggles, sunglasses and a balaclava for riding in cooler weather or the early morning hours.

The Bell Custom 500 has something for everyone, and you’ll need to look long and hard to find a better value for the money.

Where to buy this helmet :