I was under the impression that the more you spent on a helmet, the better that helmet would be. It seemed like a logical position and I really wanted it to be true. In the days of COVID, when buying online was the safest option, I figured that spending a little more and buying it online was the safest compromise. But what I found was that more expensive does not necessarily mean better, especially when it came to my needs.
I'm not a crazy downhiller, I rarely crash and my riding style rarely puts me in a position where I am totally reliant on a helmet to "save my life" - what I need is a good XC helmet that will last and give me a little extra protection from the older, cheaper helmets that I typically use.
I bought the Bell Sixer online because the specs looked impressive. But once I put it on I noticed three immediate things that prevented this from being a helmet that I wanted to keep. First, it was heavy, far heavier than what I was wearing. Perfect if you need extra protection, but overkill that limits vision and hurts your neck for the typical rider. Second, the helmet was a lot larger, in both width and height; it felt like I was riding with a huge mushroom on my head like a Super Mario game. Finally the visor, when all the way down, obstructed my vision. So it went back. But here is the long and short of this helmet.
The helmet itself is sturdy and, of course, is MIPS compliant. The overall fit and finish on the helmet is excellent. If you are a hard core rider or you tend to try every crazy feature, then this is probably a good helmet for you. Once strapped on, it felt very secure, the straps were well positioned and it had the overall feel that if you were in a crash you'd have very good coverage. That is great news for people that crash a lot, less valuable for more cautious riders like myself.
Inside the padding was very comfortable. Unlike many helmets, it is a full wrap around of padding so there are no bare spots to rub your head. I appreciated this as I have little hair for padding. Also, I believe the padding is removable and washable, as well as being anti-microbial.
The rear clips and adjusting mechanism has a fine tune feel to it, plenty of adjustment potential, but I found that the rear clips felt weird on the back of my head, almost like they were providing too much pressure on my head. This lack of comfort was a key consideration on returning the helmet.
A really nice feature was the front vents. These channel air down into your glasses, so when you are riding they take care of the fog quickly. I wish more helmets had this capability.
There is a removable GoPro/light mount on the top of the helmet. This is a brilliant idea, it saves you from all of those weird strap configurations that ultimately rub on the top of your head.
The helmet has generally good airflow. While there are lots of "vents" as you can see some are pretty tiny. Just looking at the vent number in the specs does not tell the whole story, especially if you are coming from an older helmet (non-MIPS) that has more airflow.
The visor is secured with a simple Allen head wrench, you can adjust to any of the four positions on the fly with your hand, no tool required. However, I found that my choices were all the way down, where I could not see in front of me, or up one notch where the visor provided zero sun protection. I believe the adjustability is really designed around goggles and downhilling, two things that aren't in my playbook.
Compared to my older helmet, this was wider, longer and taller. The cheap helmet on the left is ~8" wide where the Sixer on the right is ~8.75" wide. There is easily an extra half inch to 3/4" in height as well. The length is greater as well, part of which makes it harder to see in front of you with the visor down.
Generally speaking, riding with the helmet felt too large on my head. At the end of the ride that extra weight didn't provide any extra benefit and I found myself eyeing my old helmet instead. Not a great position in to be in once you've just dropped $170 on a new one.