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Bell Variant Helmet

4.33/5 (15 Reviews)
Weight : 320 grams MSRP : $123.99


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Product Description

The Bell Variant Bike Helmet deviates from the standard helmet, delivering a host of high-end features in a lightweight, comfortable package. Thanks to Bell?s Fusion Microshell construction throughout, the Variant offers a high degree of durability and safety. Internal reinforcements also allow Bell to take off some weight and build in more groovy-looking vents to keep your noggin cool while you?re climbing towards the ridge. Dial in the fit of the helmet with the Geared Positioning System, cam-lock strap levers, and adjustable visor.


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Reviews 1 - 15 (15 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by aaron a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: June 19, 2013

Strengths:    looks, comfort and protection

Weaknesses:    after five years of abuse the retention adjustment pops out of helmet ,

Bottom Line:   
Great helmet , love the comfort . I finally wore out my variant and just ordered a replacement.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   glacial hills , bellair mi

Duration Product Used:   5 yrs

Bike Setup:   Giant trance x

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Duncan Mills a All Mountain Rider

Date Reviewed: April 2, 2013

Strengths:    This helmet has a perfect snug fit on my head, almost as if it was custom-made for me. The head-band piece on the inside is rubberized plastic, so it is thin, light, and strong. The adjustment wheel is rubberized too. The buckles and straps show quality over cheap Bell helmets. The one-piece padding is of an excellent quality, and it never comes un-velcroed from the inside if the helmet. I also like the removable visor, it's a neat feature!

Weaknesses:    It's not the absolute best in the styling category, compared to a POC Trabec, Fox Flux, or 661 Recon XC, but hey, for around $10-25 less, it's not that big of a deal for me. The only other complaint I have is about the removable visor, it is fixed onto the helmet in two points on either side. I think Bell should at least put one more point in the middle where the helmet and visor connect, so the visor seems less flimsy and wobbly when you hold it. The visor doesn't bend or rattle when riding though, so it's another minuscule detail.

Bottom Line:   
Okay, I'll admit it, I'm amazed by this helmet. I used to be paranoid of crashing badly, and completely shattering my helmet, so I always wore a heavy fullface and body armour. Now that I have a few of my first cross-country races coming up soon, I realized that I need to be a weight weenie, and how my downhill gear was big time overkill for cross-country. So I walked into my LBS, skeptical about finding a decently priced helmet that felt "solid" on my head. I tried on several Giro helmets, a few Bontrager ones, and also a Specialized helmet too, but none fit my head as perfectly as the Bell Variant. The helmet fit over my ears well, and also the forehead sat at a great level. I liked the design too, it looked like more of an aggressive All-Mountain trail riding helmet, which is perfect for what I do, a mixture of long XC rides and some fun All-Mountain singletrack trails. Along with that, it didn't break the bank at only $65 at my LBS. I highy reccomend getting this helmet instead of a more "high-end-brand" like Fox or 661 or POC, because it gives you a better bang for your buck, and it feels the same as a high-end helmet, but for only $60-80!

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Wolverton Mountain, #9415, Prescott, Arizona

Duration Product Used:   1 week

Price Paid:    $65.00

Purchased At:   High Gear Bike Shop,

Similar Products Used:   THH TX10, Bell skateboard helmet, giro xar, bell gyro

Bike Setup:   2007 Specialized HardRock Sport, 2012 Specialized Camber FSR (26"er)

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Gakster

Date Reviewed: October 1, 2012

Strengths:    1. Great ventilation
2. Great fit for my head
3. Love the adjustable visor


Weaknesses:    1. A hassle to adjust the straps to fit
2. Straps does not lay flat. Esp. the "V" around the ears.
3. Sweat pads get saturated easily.


Bottom Line:   
Wore this helmet for about 3 years. No major issues. I really like the ventilation and the adjustable visor. Bell helmets in general fits me well.

During the first adjustment, the straps are a bit of a pain to deal with. Took a while to get a good fit with the strap. Once adjusted it is OK.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Olineman a Cross Country Rider from Katy, Texas

Date Reviewed: July 15, 2011

Strengths:    Durable, well ventilated, good fit, doesn't slip.

Weaknesses:    Cumbersome to adjust chinstrap sides.

Bottom Line:   
Very good helmet for the price I paid. It fit well and did not slip around but most of all it passed the ultimate test - Protected my noggin in a nasty fall.

The outer shell was scratched and dinged, the inner shell was cracked in about 6 places but I rode home with nothing more than a headache and some future scars.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

Price Paid:    $35.00

Purchased At:   JensonUSA

Bike Setup:   Trek 6500

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by artoftrail a Weekend Warrior from Rockville, MD

Date Reviewed: June 28, 2011

Strengths:    The Bell Variant feels solid, fits like a glove and and is comfortable enough to be worn all day.
The airflow through the helmet feels cooler than not wearing a helmet and the shade effect beats a hat.


Weaknesses:    No weaknesses have shown up so far. It took some adjusting to get the fastenings just right but nothing has come undone.

Bottom Line:   
I hope to be wearing the Variant for a long long time.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Allegheny Passage

Duration Product Used:   2 Years

Price Paid:    $60.00

Purchased At:   Performance Bicycles

Similar Products Used:   Giro Xen, an awesome helmet - it took a terrible hit and broke when I crashed at about 25 mph, but I was only dazed. Given that the protection provided is equal the difference is comfort. The Xen came off whenever I dismounted; the Variant comes off when I'm headed indoors.

Bike Setup:   Ellsworth Truth with Cane Creek AD-12 rear shock and Marzocchi Bomber front suspension.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Uncle Six Pack a Weekend Warrior from Bloomsburg, PA, USA

Date Reviewed: June 24, 2010

Strengths:    light, good ventilation, looks pretty good

Weaknesses:    the size adjuster on the back seems cheesy, but hasn't failed on me yet

Bottom Line:   
I got this helmet for about $50 and the price was definitely right. I didn't want to spend too much on a helmet because I think a lot of the more expensive helmets are good marketing, but not necessarily better protection. I plan on tossing it as soon as it takes a bad hit. For $50, I can replace it anytime without too much worry.... a $100 (or more) helmet is a lot harder to throw away when its time comes.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $50.00


Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by rmillet a Cross Country Rider from Lake Charles

Date Reviewed: May 5, 2010

Strengths:    Easily adjusted, cool flowing vents, looks good!

Bottom Line:   
Fits like a glove, EASY adjustments, air FLOWS. I like the idea of the plastic skeleton inside the foam shell. Padding is nice, encased in fabric so no foam to rot and fall out.

Bells been around a long time.......

I'm not giving it 5 only because I haven't tried on 100 helmets....but I have no complaints thus far, none.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Dry Fast Trails

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $50.00

Purchased At:   JensonUSA

Similar Products Used:   Bell Vertigo

Bike Setup:   Sortie3

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Bigtime a Weekend Warrior from Oceanside, CA

Date Reviewed: August 3, 2009

Strengths:    Lightweight, good ventilation, easy adjust straps, easy adjust fit.

Weaknesses:    None yet.

Bottom Line:   
Overall I like this helmet. It is light and vents very well. I don't really notice it much when I'm riding which tells me its prety comfortable. I wear an Underarmor Skull Cap under helmets to keep sweat out of my eyes and to keep from getting a helmet vent shaped sunburn pattern on my bald head. This practice helps make any helmet feel better, but even when I've worn the Variant without the skull cap its comfortable. Its easy to adjust the fit with the dial in the back. Helmet fit is very personal, its important to get a helmet that fits so you'll wear it all the time.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   skinny ones

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $68.00

Purchased At:   LBS

Similar Products Used:   Giro

Bike Setup:   Pitch Pro, WTB Seed V Comp, Ourys, Easton Flatboys

Overall Rating:2
Value Rating:2
Submitted by jean-louey a Cross Country Rider from Tempe, AZ

Date Reviewed: February 27, 2009

Strengths:    This helmet *would* get 5 stars.
1) It fits solid; the ratcheting system fits snugly (although we'll get back to this in the next section).
2) Sexy graphics. Bell moves beyond monochrome and race graphics (shiny stripes!) to give the Variant a worthy, all-mountain look.
3) I was also impressed with the venting on hot days.


Weaknesses:    1) Minor problem: The roc-lock system is awkward with a pony tail and may need to be adjusted several times during a ride for comfort.
2) Major problem: The ratcheting system has a fatal flaw. 'Fatal' because the flaw renders it completely unusable. The roc-lock system is anchored into a triangular piece nested in the top of the helmet. The length of the anchoring line can be adjusted by popping the triangular piece out the top and fitting it lower. Most owners wouldn't know about this since when you first buy the helmet the triangular piece doesn't seem to budge. But, eventually this piece can pop up, and if it does then it might pop OFF. If this happens it is NOT REPLACEABLE (not available through Bell) and the helmet is NOT USABLE.


Bottom Line:   
Great helmet - except I will NEVER buy it again.

The triangular anchor popped out and disappeared within 1 month of owning the helmet. Bell doesn't sell/carry replacement parts...so if you lose this 2 cent piece then your $100 helmet is rendered useless. The fabulous Bell rep recognized a lemon, and immediately replaced the helmet with a new one. 5 months later...the SAME thing happened. Once again the Bell rep is great and offered to replace the helmet, but this time I'm taking a credit and buying another helmet. Maybe the Giro Xen (another great helmet with a different fatal flaw according to the MTBR reviews).

If you don't have a hook up at a shop, you might be out of luck when the piece breaks. If you buy this helmet, I would recommend you pop the triangular piece out, fit the helmet the way you want it, and then superglue that sucker back. I won't buy this helmet again until the manufacturer fixes this problem.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $40.00

Purchased At:   employee purchase

Bike Setup:   Used it for all of them: xcountry, freeride and commuting.

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by John Daetwyler a Cross Country Rider from Austin, Texas, Texas

Date Reviewed: January 19, 2009

Strengths:    Breathes extremely well. Lightweight. Nice buckle doesn't pinch skin

Weaknesses:    The plastic tensioning straps are a little to thin and creates a bit too much pressure.

Bottom Line:   
Great all mountain helmet. Despite the slight discomfort from the plastic pieces, this helmet is great for all day rides. In the heat, it breathes well.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Rattlesnake, Pantyline

Duration Product Used:   1 Year

Price Paid:    $50.00

Purchased At:   Ozone Bike Dept.

Similar Products Used:   Giro Xen, MET Parachute

Bike Setup:   Kona Dawg Primo with Pushed Pike Fork

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by bike flyer a Cross Country Rider from 3rd planet from the sun

Date Reviewed: October 13, 2008

Strengths:    The one piece padding makes this helmet very comfortable Their gps locking system provides a good fit. Even with a headlight and battery mounted to the helmet it never feels wobbly. One year warranty. Thumbs ups

Weaknesses:    The V shaped clip (on the top of the helmet)that holds the gps straps to the helmet fell off. The helmet is useless without this critical piece. I was able zip tie it together to get the ride in.

Bottom Line:   
It is really a good helmet aside from the critical piece falling off.

Bell has one year warranty policy and are making good on it. Repair time is seven to ten business days.

I would recommend the Varient to cyclist looking for a comfortable helmet. Also those that night ride with helmet mounted lights.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   has lots of trees, rocks & roots

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $59.00

Purchased At:   Jenson

Similar Products Used:   Giro, Bell Xray(what a bad name for a helmet)

Bike Setup:   Plush

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Margaritaman a Cross Country Rider from San Dimas

Date Reviewed: September 4, 2008

Strengths:    Fit, fit, fit. I thought my old (now destroyed) helmet fit well. This thing fits great.

Weaknesses:    None yet.

Bottom Line:   
If you're not into having to have the latest and greatest then this will work well. The only reason I switched was because I got off hard and broke my old one, complete with minor concussion, but the old helmet did its job and absorbed the shock. Hopefully this one will last a while (knock on wood). :)

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   3N25 Lake Arrowhead

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $60.00

Purchased At:   Jenson

Similar Products Used:   Giro helmets

Bike Setup:   Uh, it goes on my head.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Paul a Weekend Warrior from Fremont, CA USA

Date Reviewed: August 25, 2007

Strengths:    Style, comfort, padding, adjustment system, low price.

Weaknesses:    None so far.

Bottom Line:   
Great helmet. Found this on Amazon cheap and with free shipping. I thought my 5 yr old X-Ray was comfortable but the Variant is a much better fit for me. The one piece pad is also an improvement over the smaller individual pads of the X-Ray. Highly recommended.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $60.00

Purchased At:   Amazon.com

Similar Products Used:   Bell X-Ray

Bike Setup:   N/A

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Al a Weekend Warrior from League City, Texas, USA

Date Reviewed: August 24, 2007

Strengths:    Fit and finish. It's a fine helmet that fits me like they made the mold from my own head (and I tried bunches of others). Interesting ability to move the visor up and down a bit to help with light/glare. Cool design, not too over the top as I see many helmets. Slightly smoother and rounder (and possibly a bit safer because of it).

Weaknesses:    'Twas a bit on the high side (for me) at $100 since there were other helmets I thought would serve just as well at lower prices.

Bottom Line:   
As mentioned, I tried on lots of helmets (mostly focusing on Giro and Bell and focusing on those with good reviews that I had done careful research on). I didn't buy this one blindly but did several days worth of off-and-on research before carefully checking out the 8 to 10 helmets on my list (and trying one a few others as well). Never found a Giro quite as comfortable as I would have liked and I really wanted to like them. The Bells generally seemed to fit me better, but it wasn't until I tried on the Variant that I found the best fit for me. For some reason, from the comfort standpoint, this one stood out and felt like it belonged on my head. (But remember, we're talking about my head here and not yours. Your mileage may vary.) At $80, it was the helmet for me.

Side Note, Not Helmet Related but Purchase Related: I was originally going to purchase this helmet at Performance Bicycle, who had an outstanding sale going on at the time with this relatively new model helmet on sale for $80 (no one else, as far as I could tell, had yet offered any "sale" prices on this helmet, I think since it was a relatively newly released model). But, Performance Bicycle had it in only gray and I wanted a bit different color for both safety and aesthetic reasons. I had seen that Sun and Ski Sports had the model in a color I liked, after asking them about it Sun and Ski agreed to price match the Performance Bicycle price. But I have to say that the particular manager at Sun and Ski made the price match a rather difficult process and I came away from the experience of asking if they would price match with a slight sour taste (and an extra 20 minute of standing around the register area while he made verification phone calls, etc., to make sure Performance Bike actually had the helmet on sale). He even went so far as to tell me that if Performance Bike did not have the helmet in the exact same color that they could not price match (he later gave in on this point and allowed me the different color helmet for the same price). But his stand seemed a really dubious and non-customer friendly approach to me. Maybe the manager in question was just being moody or having a bad day, since everyone else there was exceptionally nice dealing with me as a customer, but I found his approach kind of a put-off. Thought I should comment on that as part of my "purchase experience." (Not trying to make a soapbox complaint out of this review, since this is about the helmet and not the store, but telling it like it was in terms of the buying experience.)

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Whichever one I get to ride with my daughter.

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $80.00

Purchased At:   Sun and Ski Sports

Similar Products Used:   None.

Bike Setup:   2003 Raleigh F500 Mountain Bike (Police Patrol Bike)

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Stephen a Weekend Warrior from Omaha, NE, USA

Date Reviewed: April 4, 2007

Strengths:    Comfortable, precise adjustment system, good looks.

Weaknesses:    Relatively expensive.

Bottom Line:   
I tried on almost every helmet out there, but this was the one that fit me the best. Padding inside is extensive and the low-profile back looks cool. Great ventilation. Seems durable. Adjustment system is great. The bottom line with any helmet is that it fits well enough that you'll wear it.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $100.00

Purchased At:   LBS

Similar Products Used:   Tried lots of Bell and Giro helmets.

Bike Setup:   It's a helmet.

Reviews 1 - 15 (15 Reviews Total)

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating


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