Tag Archives: Adventure motorcycling helmets

Tested: Bell Moto III review

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATested: Bell Moto 3 helmet

Where: Spain and Morocco

Cost: £185 off ebay

Weight: 1650g (to be verified)

In a line: Looks cool and works great with Qwik-Strap goggles and a non-ballistic ride.


What they say
The iconic legend has returned! When the original Moto-3 was created back in the late 70s it was a product ahead of its time. Quickly becoming the industry standard in performance and style, today’s Moto-3 is everything it was style-wise, with the added benefits of modern safety and production advancements. From the fiberglass composite shell to the EPS-lined chin bar, we left no detail unpolished. The solid colors use the original style terrycloth liner, which is removable and washable.

What I think:


• Looks cool
• Feels light
• Chin guard not too close
• No visor hinges or other fittings to break
• Works well with Qwik-Strap goggle straps
• Good price, compared to recent X-Lites
• Yellow


• D-rings a bit fiddly
• Not full face protection; the old bug or chip will get through


For years I’ve been mostly wearing a costly open face X-Lite 402 or an inexpensive Bell Mag 9 with full face visors. Best thing is the great visibility and protection plus you leave it on to talk to people (less faff with glasses, too). But sometimes I miss a full face’s ability to be securely cable-locked to the bike via the chin bar (doing so via the D-rings never fooled anyone). And it has to be said thee types lids look good too.
I don’t usually get on with ‘in your’ full face lids like an X-Lite X551 I tried, but after  few thousand miles the Bell Moto III has suited me just fine. The wide aperture and the fact that the chin guard isn’t right in against your mouth makes it unobtrusive on the road while not feeling too claustrophobic when not on the move. Usually I can’t wait to get a full face helmet off my face.
I’ve been riding a Himalayan with a low screen at no more that 65mph, and at that speed buffeting or neck strain hasn’t been a problem. There’s no annoying bobbing around and the wind noise is what you’d expect when riding a motorbike.
Inside the lining has a nice, towel-like surface (terrycloth they call it) and all of it removed and refitted easily after washing – not all lids manage that. Only the double D-rings can be a bit fiddly – I seem to recall the X-Lite does it better.


I had an original, but beaten up old Moto III in the early 1980s – a nice-looking lid but as cozy as a brick-like inside. Goggles were always a bit awkward to move easily one-handed while riding. Decades later we have Qwik-Straps which I tried in Algeria last year and bought again for the Moto III.
As you can see in the pictures, two short straps fit in your regular goggle anchor slots, then two separate attachment pads glue to the side of your lid. One is velcro (best fitted on the left); the other is a clip-and-pivot stud. Clip the right strap to this pivot then pass the goggles over your face attach to the velcro. Undo the velcro and the goggles swing down to the right. Or – as I got used to doing – unvelcro and swing the goggles over to the back and re-velcro. Goggles are securely out the way but not dangling. It’s a clever system which definitely helped make the Moto III a much better travel lid than I expected.


Tested: X-Lite X551 GT Adv helmet review

Tested: X-Lite X551 GT Adv helmet

Where: Scotland, Spain Morocco

Paid: £250 on ebay from Germany

See also: X-Lite X420 GT


What they say:
This is X-lite’s on/off full-face helmet. Its compact volume (thanks to the availability of three outer shell sizes), VPS sunscreen (also available in yellow, designed for easier riding in low-visibility conditions), efficient TVS Touring Ventilation System, broad peak, Unitherm2 Touring Performance Comfort inner comfort padding with marked touring characteristics and N-Com X-Series communication system (ready for) make the X-551 GT a reference on/off full-face helmet for the most demanding of motorcycle tourists.

What I think:


• Cushy, well made, looks good
• Peak pivots down for low sun angles
• Good price for plain-ish black
• Can lock to a bike securely


• Stiff sun visor actuation – yet again!
• Sun visor lever eventually came away
• Sun visor seemed to pick up some internal glue which exacerbated stiff actuation
• Mouthpiece too close to use a hydrator hose easily
• Top vents are a few degrees too far back to be effective


X-Lite is said to be the upmarket range of Italian lid-makers, Nolan; you pay more for a quality feel which hopefully translates to better protection in a crash. Wouldn’t know about that I’m pleased to report, but I like my full-visor open-face X-Lite X420 GT which I’ve been wearing for years (lost the clip-on chinguard years ago). It came after using a similar modular Airoh TR1 followed by a recently ditched Bell Mag 9.  Both of these were under 100 quid so presumably you get what you pay for: road legal protection, good looks but a cheap, creaky feel, especially with the Airoh. For all-day comfort the Bell wasn’t significantly better than the X420, nor quieter or better vented.

What I really miss with my X420 (but which the cheap Bell had) is a peak to keep the low sun out of my eyes, and the 551 has one, usefully adjustable back and forth and removable with three screws.
Riding without the peak (left) wasn’t noticeably quieter and in Morocco I found the mouthguard was too close to easily get a hydrator hose in there for a quick drink. I also noticed that the top vents only worked properly with the head tilted so far forward you couldn’t see where you were going; in other words they were positioned a too far back on the shell (this was with or without a windscreen or the peak).


Also, I find I can’t bear wearing such an ‘in-your-face’ lids any more than necessary when at rest, but taking it off meant carefully removing my ‘still-in-denial’ glasses first. Never thought of that, but what an added faff.


Then, the slide-button which actuates the sun visor became unglued (it’s dropped right off my 420 I notice) and for some reason the sun visor was occasionally picking up some random soft glue when retracted which made it even harder to actuate. I have yet to use a lid like this where the retracting sun visor is not stiff to actuate.
Deary, deary me. All these negatives outdid the benefits and made me decide to ditch the X-551 after a few months. I’d still like to try a full face adv-lid but for the moment will go back to my 420 which isn’t noticeably colder or draughtier than the 551.
Instead I bought myself a nice Shoei RJ Platinum (right) for 90 quid with a range of pivoting visors and beaks. I’ve gone off X-Lites. For a supposedly premium-brand, £400-rrp lid, it seems you don’t get what you paid for after all.