It was one of those moments – I saw the rock coming straight for my face, kicked-up by the rear tire of the truck just in front of me. It was moving too quick to do anything but take the hit, so I braced for impact. Fortunately, I was wearing a faceshield-equipped Bell Riot helmet, so my mug was unharmed. But it definitely left me with gruesome visions of what could have been had this been a standard three-quarter or half-shell helmet.

Bell Riot Helmet Review
Open face design with a faceshield is the genius of Bell’s Riot Helmet. Shanda Hurst photo.

I gave the Riot a thorough shakedown during my recent tryst with the Honda PCX150 scooter. After logging a few hundred miles I can say that it’s not going to be my go-to lid for all occasions, but whenever I’m jonesing for some fresh air I won’t hesitate to pick it out of the line-up for a ride.

Bell have been particularly effective in capitalizing on the retro/nostalgia/café/garage trend with lids perfectly suited to current style trends. Just peruse the stylish, antique-filtered ride and lifestyle photos on any of the social media channels and you’re sure to see plenty of examples of Bell’s reach in this regard.

Bell Riot Helmet Review
The Bell Riot takes after the popular Custom 500 with its simple design. Shanda Hurst photo.

It’s long-standing Custom 500 three-quarter is the gold standard in Bell’s “Culture Classics” helmet segment, based on the original 1954 lid created by Bell founder Roy Richter. The Bullitt, Moto 3 and Riot have joined the ranks as well in recent years. The Riot shares much with the Custom 500, more so than the others, and is essentially the same but for that face-saving shield.

Like the 500, the Riot’s shell is a low-profile fiberglass composite material. There are five different shell and multi-density EPS liner sizes to optimize the low-profile appearance of the lid. I motored around in my typical XL size and fit is accurate for my long-oval shaped head. There is some space open around the ears owing to the cutouts that can accommodate in-helmet speakers, if desired. It is snug and stays secure thanks to the D-ring closure strap.

Bell Riot Helmet Review
That face shield saved my bacon more than once. Rocks and bugs didn’t stand a chance. Shanda Hurst photo.

The anti-microbial comfort liner combines diamond stitched fabric and mesh components. Adhesive holds the liner in place, so it’s not technically removable. However, the open-face design makes is quite easy to wipe the interior down if things get sweaty.

So is it comfortable? For the most part. I’d give it a seven out of 10 if I were grading on such a scale. The interior is definitely quality, but it can’t be described as plush or soft. Fit is accurate, but it doesn’t hug your head like other lids do.

Bell Riot Helmet Review
The shield is old-school simple to remove, you’ll just need a flat head screwdriver. Shanda Hurst photo.

That being said, I would have no problem wearing it all day and at varying speeds. It just has, for better or worse, a bit of a retro feel as regards fit compared to other helmets available on the market.

Then there’s the NutraFog II anti-fog, anti-scratch, UV protected shield. I can say straight off that the anti-scratch claims pass muster, the aforementioned rock leaving no trace of impact. Mishaps inevitably happen along the ride though, so it’s nice that Bell offers some sort of protection against this kind of damage.

As for the anti-fog, I can’t say that it treatment to the shield or simply the constant flow of fresh air, but I never had any hint of fogging while using the Riot. Though to be fair, we weren’t riding by the coast or in humid conditions.

Bell Riot Helmet Review
Airflow is quite generous in the Riot, great for scootin’ around in the summer. Shanda Hurst photo.

The shield is old school simple to remove; you just need a flat head screwdriver to take out the screws on either side. It moves from up to down position smoothly and maintains in the upward position if you really want to feel the wind on your face. It stays-put when down also.

I rode with the clear shield so I sported a set of sunglasses most of the time, which fit comfortably in the lid, but Bell also currently offers a dark smoke shield too.

The convenience of a three-quarter helmet remains intact too, which is a big plus. Those times when you’re gassing up, or running in to the market for a quick snack or simply stopping by the side of the road for a drink of water and chat with your buds, you can just flip the visor up and get to it. Not that it’s such a burden to remove a full face helmet at a stop like that, but I found myself appreciating the Riot a lot in such circumstances.

Bell Riot Helmet Review
Bell currently doesn’t have a lot of graphics options available, but there is the Riot in Checks colorway. Expect to see lots more color combos in the future. Shanda Hurst photo.

If open-face helmets are your jam but you’ve been pelted in the mug by a rock or bug one time too many, Bell’s Riot may just be the lid for you.

For $199.95, you get a best-of-both-worlds situation. The benefits of an open face helmet with the protection of a quality face shield. Fit could be a bit more luxurious, but it’s still an all-day wearable piece of kit even without a supple goose-down liner and temple massagers.

There’s gloss black, matte black and white solid color options currently available as well as the first graphic option, a Checks Black/Silver piece. And if the development of other helmets in the “Culture Classics” line is any indication, expect to see a lot more color and graphics choices in the future.

Bell Riot Helmet Highs & Lows

    Face shield is worth its weight in gold
    Three-quarter design is great for warm, sunny days
    Simple, nostalgic look
    Not the most comfortable lid on the market
    3/4 offers less protection than full face

Bell Riot Helmet


MSRP: $199.95
Sizes: XS – 2XL
Warranty: One year from date of purchase against defects in materials or workmanship