Today's specialization in cycling is great for innovation and refinement. Developments like dropper posts for the road and tubeless fat bike tires are a direct result of companies spending R&D money on niche markets.
Then again, the increasing segmentation can be maddening for the consumer. Does a person need a hardtail, full-suspension XC racer, trail bike, all-mountain rig, and downhill sled? And don't get me started on wheel size. It's good to have choice, but sometimes I yearn for a bike that can do it all.
So when I see a product like the Bell Super 2R, which packs two helmets into one, I get excited. This hybrid lid is effectively a Super, which we have loved riding ever since the product launch two years ago, with removable full-face capabilities.
With the chinstrap removed, the Super 2R is not much different than the Super: it has the same spin-dial retention system with vertical adjustments, over-brow ventilation (that really works!), replaceable X-Static padding, and a visor that accommodates goggles. At 395 grams, it's almost identical in weight to the original Super. That's heavier than most XC lids, of course, but you get the added coverage and protection in the sides and rear.
What sets the Super 2R apart is the clip-on chin piece, which adds jaw protection for bigger-hit riding. The chinstrap clips on and off by way of three metal buckles, with the main one in back and one on each side. It anchors into four of the hexagonal vents, so there's no wiggle or play. It's a brilliantly simple system that yields a 715-gram full-face helmet—about three-quarters the weight of most of the competition.
It has to be said, this is not intended to replace a downhill racing full-face helmet. The Super 2R is CPSC and CE EN1078 certified, the U.S. and European safety standards for normal bike helmets. However, it doesn't meet the higher downhill ratings. According to Bell, the chin piece actually would meet that ASTM F1952 testing, but the vents in the main helmet body mean it doesn't provide enough puncture protection to be downhill-certified.
So the Super 2R won't be the next helmet choice for Aaron Gwin or Andreu Lacondeguy. But few of us need the sort of protection those guys need. The Super 2R offers versatility and added protection for the average rider who dabbles in the bike park. Unless you plan on going really big, this one helmet eliminates the cost of purchasing (and annoyance of storing) a second DH lid. And at $200, it's a lot cheaper: The Super costs $135, while the Bell Full-9 full-face goes for $400.
The Super 2R is a direct reaction to the growing enduro market. Racers can pull off the chinstrap and tuck it into a pack or even just leave it dangling around their necks for the ride up. Then, at the top of a hairy descent, you just clip the chin piece in place for big crash protection on technical terrain.
But it's not only an enduro helmet. I've been wearing mine almost full time these days. I like the all-mountain design's added coverage. And the chin piece in my pack has proven just the insurance policy I need. More than once, I've strapped it on and ridden obstacles that I otherwise wouldn't have braved thanks to the Super 2R's added security.
Now, if only a bike company would produce a ride that could morph between XC racer and all-mountain rig.