Out of the box the Bell Gage is a sleek and modern road helmet, perfectly at home amongst all its major rivals. That said it’s not overly aggressive looking – particularly in the white model I received, and it’s certainly not as radical as some of the aesthetically-challenged aero lids now hitting the market; of which I must confess to being no great fan. For me, this is a positive.
Picking it up, it’s instantly apparent the Gage is very light. It also boasts some of largest air vents I’ve ever seen, which suggest circulation should be good; excellent news given the warmer months are well and truly upon us.
Trying it on for the first time, my initial impressions are the fit is generally comfortable and quite snug. That said, I did find a few hard edges, particularly at the temples and on the apex of my head. Fortunately the Gage comes with a generous supply of extra ‘X-Static’ padding, each woven with silver fibres to inhibit odour-causing bacteria and other nasty stuff. A few minutes of velcro-aided padding adjustment and all was good.
Like the majority of helmet manufacturers nowadays, Bell offers an effortless dual-fit system, their trademarked version of which is called Twin Axis Gear (TAG). TAG adjusts to your head on two axes: circumferentially via a simple dial at the rear of the helmet; and also a tilt system allowing you to move the helmet up and down until you find the perfect position for you.
Which brings us to the nylon chin straps. Whilst way too long for my average sized head ensuring dangling ends flaying in the breeze or bulging straps doubled up against my right cheekbone, they’re simple enough to use and remarkably easy to adjust unlike other helmets I’ve worn of late (and I’ve worn quite a few given a spate of recent crashes). On the flip side, however, the straps don’t hold especially well and I had to tighten mine on a regular basis which was a nuisance. On closer inspection there certainly isn’t a lot of friction at the main adjustment point, which suggests slipping may be a continued issue.
I mentioned ventilation earlier. For me, this is the single greatest attraction of the Bell Gage. Out riding on hot day you can definitely notice the increased airflow around your head, provided by specially designed ventilation channels on the interior of the helmet’s liner as well as the gaping openings on the outer shell. Bell says their channel system helps to bring cool air in through the front of the helmet, passing it over your head and flushing warm air out through the rear vents. Having ridden with it several times in warm and humid conditions, I have no reason to doubt them. It’s definitely cooler than my current day-to-day lid, which is more akin to a mobile head sauna.
The Bell Gage is good helmet at a good price. It won’t make you look like a total bad ass on the start line in your weekend crit; if that’s important to you, probably best you look elsewhere. But it will help you keep comfortable and cool – and protect your most precious physical asset, of course. If only they’d spent a bit more time getting the chin straps to grip properly, it would rate right up there.
Distributed by Sheppard Industries