By Bryan Harley

Bell's Latest Lid Mashes Half-Shell and Full-Face Worlds

I have a confession to make. I did not like the Bell Rogue Helmet the first time I wore it. I couldn’t get the face muzzle to line up and then couldn’t get it on my head with the muzzle already in place. When I did finally squeeze my head in, the muzzle rubbed against my nose while riding, which I found irritating. I wasn’t sure if this was how it was designed until I inspected the Rogue Helmet closer and saw that it was, indeed, padded where my nose belongs and deliberately sits just below the bridge.

But I gave it a second chance at the recent press launch of the 2014 Star Bolt. Admittedly, the first time I wore it, I was in Daytona Beach for the press launch of the 2013 Harley Breakout and simply unpacked the helmet and threw it on without familiarizing myself with its nuances. Anything out of the ordinary can be strange at times. But when Bell’s latest cruiser helmet was keeping my face from getting the microderm-abrasion treatment by the sand and wind whipping over San Diego’s Point Loma, the benefits of Rogue’s muzzle began to grow on me.

Here’s the scoop. The muzzle is made of two parts, a hard polyurethane outer shell that’s flexible and a soft, removable inner liner made of cloth. So it does have the capacity to be worn snug against your face or with a bit of clearance between your mug and the muzzle. Just remove the liner. It also has two adjustable muzzle straps on each side of the helmet to further dial in the fit. Simply push in the button holding them in place to move the straps in or out. The Bell Rogue’s muzzle comes with two ‘FidLock’ magnetic connections, so once it’s lined up with the slots, the magnets will pull it into place. At first, I couldn’t accomplish this without peeking at myself in a mirror, but have since learned to line up one at a time instead of trying to do both simultaneously. With one side in place, it easily lines up with the other. Pull forward on it and it won’t come off, but slide the face shield up out of the groove and it removes quickly. And I discovered that once I adjusted the muzzle straps to fit over my big head (XXL), you can put it on with the muzzle already in place. Problems solved.

As far as fit, the helmet was comfortable from the first time I put it on. The ears and the lower section where it sits against your neck are well-padded. The front of the helmet that sits on the forehead has a thin cloth cover and no padding, but didn’t rub me wrong. Four snaps hold the inner liner in place while the ear pads have three snaps keeping them secured. The ear pads come with speaker pockets for communication systems, a handy feature. A liner of polystyrene about three-quarters of an inch thick will deflect much of the force of an impact, while a hard fiberglass and polyester resin shell is the primary protector. Unlike a traditional half-shell, it has an extra section that starts at the ears and extends below the half shell in back that not only makes it more comfortable but keeps it from riding up when you’re blasting down the freeway at 70 mph. One thing I hate when I wear a half-shell is getting choked out by the strap, but pull the D-ring closure of the Rogue tight, snap it into place so the strap doesn’t flap around and movement at speed wearing the Bell Rogue is nominal. It’s DOT certified and Bell backs up its workmanship with a five-year warranty.

The more I’ve worn it, the more I’ve become accustomed to the muzzle sitting on the bridge of my nose. In fact, I actually clicked it in a couple of notches because I found it moved around even less that way. On chilly mornings, the muzzle has been my friend. Wind still rushes over my temples and cheeks, but it is a noticeable improvement over a half-shell. The muzzle has already deflected quite a few small rocks and bugs I would have taken to the face otherwise, and when the winds on Point Loma were trying to sand blast my face, I was grateful to be wearing the Bell Rogue.

Now that I’ve learned its nuances, my opinions have swayed. Its styling is stormtrooper-cool; the helmet fits much better than a half-shell, especially at speed; and if the weather’s sunny and warm, you’ve got the option to pop off the muzzle and get full, unobstructed exposure to the elements. At $249.95, it costs more than a half-shell but less than most full-face helmets. I admit. The more I’ve worn it, the more I like it.

The Bell Rogue Helmet is available in sizes X-Small to 2XL. Choose from black, matte black, matte green or matte gunmetal.