Two for Tuesday: Bell Drifter and Custom 500

//Two for Tuesday: Bell Drifter and Custom 500

Two for Tuesday: Bell Drifter and Custom 500

Helmets are a sticky subject with the motorcycle crowd but like them or not, they can keep you from splitting your wig, So I think you should choose one that looks good and, more importantly, performs well. It doesn’t matter if you live in a state with a helmet law or just simply choose to wear one, Bell Helmets has a broad enough product line to fit your style. And with a tradition of technology and artistry dating back to the 1950s, you can count on Bell’s helmets to perform as well as they look. While Bell has an extensive helmet line, all of which are available at, today I’m just going to focus on two.

First up is the Drifter. Made from a one-piece lightweight composite fiberglass shell, the Drifter was designed to have as small of a profile as possible while still meeting the U.S. Department of Transportation’s standards for motorcycle helmets. With removable ear pads for cold weather riding, the Drifter is a versatile helmet no matter what the riding conditions are like. Available in a variety of color and graphic combinations, the Drifter is also available in the Roland Sands signature series.

Next up is the brand spakin’ new Bell Custom 500 series. Way back in 1954, Bell founder Roy Richter formed his first helmet from fiberglass and dubbed it the “500.” While the new Custom 500 pays tribute to the original design, it also adds a modern protective technology to keep your melon in one piece. All have a quilted inner liner and integrated snaps just in case you want to add a Speed Racer looking visor or face shield. And in my opinion, you’re not going to find better graphics on any other helmet out there. Available in metal flake or three limited edition graphics, these bad boys are sure to turn some heads while keeping yours safe and secure.

About the Author:

Patrick Garvin began his stint with J&P Cycles at the start of 2008 after doing some installs for us at Daytona and Sturgis for two years. Currently, Patrick splits his time between the eCommerce team and purchasing, finding new and exciting products for our website and catalog. When he’s not at his desk, he’s zigzagging across the country with J&P’s event crew. Patrick has an obsession with going fast on just about anything, a trait he shares with his 6-year-old son Race. You can usually find both of them wrenching in the garage or ripping through the fields on dirt bikes. Emma, his beautiful wife of 7-plus years, puts up with his antics and keeps his head screwed on because he certainly wouldn’t be able to find it without her.


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  3. SBeau. June 20, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Guys, I OWN a Custom 500 in Silver, with a Japanese Bubble shield on the front of it…

    The new Custom 500 line fits NOTHING like the standard bell line, it looks COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. These look about the same size as the popular ‘novelty’ biltwell helmets, but – the bell I have is actually DOT approved, and feels really really well made, the sparkle silver or orange look great in person, and you do NOT look like a bobblehead.

    I get compliments on it everywhere I go, people think it’s a vintage Arthur or Bell, because it is small.

    Just a heads up.

  4. Jesse L May 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I really like the look of the Custom 500, but I want to be confident that it will actually fit before I order one.

    My head is kind of narrow but long. This requires me to wear a size L, but my narrow face sometimes causes the sides of the helmet to not hug as tightly as I need them to, and I get lift at high speeds.

    Is there any info as to the shell shapes? I have an Arai that I love, because its oval shell shape hugs the sides of my head more snugly. Anyone know how the Bell Custom 500 sizes up?

  5. Todd B April 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Had the same problems, I thought I was going to lose my head. I now wear a do-rag underneath and helps alot. Still have to make sure it is TIGHT.

  6. Don from Bell March 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Hey Guys…

    Don from Bell here…came across your posts and I thought I’d try and address your concerns as best as I can…

    Sundog if you want a helmet that provides protection—unlike the novelty helmets I think you are describing—it needs a crushable EPS foam layer that is about an inch-and-a-half thick…it all comes down to physics—we need some room to dissipate the impact. On some people, a helmet like the Drifter looks fine, on others it can look mushroomy. Sometimes it comes down to the shape of your head and face, and how well it works with the lines of a particular helmet. I think the new Custom 500 looks better on a greater variety of head/face shapes because its lower ¾ coverage tends to meld better with the face than a half helmet.

    ColdBrew and John: The Drifter comes with an adjustable stabilizing strap that prevents the helmet from moving back at speed. The military-inspired lines of the Drifter can catch some wind if you’re not behind a windscreen and we’ve found that this strap is quite effective at minimizing this movement. If with the strap installed the helmet still creeps back, you may have bought a helmet that’s too large.

    Sam: The reason we and many other manufacturers don’t list the shape of our helmets is that there isn’t much agreement on what those shapes actually are and what they should be called. It sounds like you’re an exception, but most riders aren’t sure of what their head shape is either. Like with clothing or shoes, actually trying on a helmet is the best way to determine if it fits you correctly. If you’re anywhere near the J&P stores in Anamosa, IA or Daytona Beach, FL, Bell is doing a consumer clinic there in April to help get people sorted out on fit.

    Hope that helps,

  7. Jon S March 6, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I own a Bell Drifter, Matte Black….the COOLEST looking helmet out there. But it HURTS to wear it….anyone want to buy it? 🙂

    The previous poster is correct….above around 40MPH, it catches the wind and yanks on the straps, pulling you up. I’ve owned half shells before and never experienced this. I think the problem is the incorrect positioning of the straps themselves.

    I wish bell would correct this, again because their designs and shapes are awesome, just too damn uncomfortable to actually wear!

  8. Bruce Tucker February 18, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Half helmets look better, and are more comfortable, in the summertime, but do they provide any small measure of protection, if you ever do go for a 40mph slide, on asphalt? It seems like you would end up with one ear, to me. (Admittedly, I’m older, and more protection conscious, than style conscious.

  9. Sam February 18, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Why in the hell dont helmet manufacturers say what shape their helmets are? I looked for a month for a dealer in my area that sold the Drifter, rode an hour to the shop only to find it was the wrong shape for my apparently misshapen melon!

  10. coldbrew February 18, 2010 at 4:23 am

    I don’t care what it looks like so long as it’s comfortable. The Drifter fits and looks good in the store, but at speeds 40+ mph it blows to the back of my head even with the chin strap tight enough to choke a chicken. I’m tired of the hot summer full and and 3/4 helmets; my first experience with a half helmet was more distracting than any of them.

  11. Sundog February 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Bell makes a great helmet but when you put one on it looks like your head is stuck in a bell. You head looks like the clapper of a bell because of all the padding on the sides of the inside of the helmet. For that reason the guys in our club wear the cheap brain catchers. Thats 35 in our chapter and 400 in the mother club. Cant you come up with a more comfortable better looking lid???????????

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