Bell Custom 500 Review: a great quality, low profile 3/4 helmet.

bell-custom-500-featured

Bell Custom 500 open face motorcycle helmet review.

Bell’s classic open face helmet has been around – in one form or another – since 1954 when Bell Helmets was formed.

bell custom 500 silver flake helmet front view
Silver flake Bell Custom 500 with nice red leather effect liner.

It’s a reasonably minimal 3/4 helmet that’s been designed to look super cool – with a low profile shell, designed to keep the size of the helmet to a minimum, as well as a huge range of classic and custom graphics.

I guess those are two of the reasons the Custom 500 has always been such a great seller for Bell.

First, Bell got the looks just right, which is arguably the main thing in a helmet like this. And second, even though there are carbon versions that run into the mid hundreds, you can also buy a base fiberglass version for around $100. So it’ll fit most rider’s budgets.

So, you’re looking for an open face helmet. You like the look of the Custom 500. Then here’s the low-down on what owners think of theirs and whether it’s worth your money.

  • 3/4 Open Face Helmet
  • Fiberglass composite shell
  • Carbon fiber shells available
  • 5 Shell sizes
  • Double-D ring fastener
  • 2.8Lbs (1.3kg)
  • No vents or shield
  • Designed to be low-profile
  • Sizes XS-XXL
  • Expect to pay:
    • $100-$150 Fiberglass
    • $400-$450 Carbon

Looking to buy a Bell Custom 500?

Please click below to visit the Bell Custom 500 pages at our recommended stores – all checked for great online ratings. And if you buy from any store, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

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Overall/Summary

Great build quality, low profile, classic looks and a range of excellent paints. If that’s what you’re looking for in your next open face helmet, then the Bell Custom 500 may well fit the bill.

bell custom 500 dlx open face helmet rear view
This one’s the Custom 500 Riff

OK so there’s a few issues with getting the fitting right in the first place because they size a bit small. And there’s no ventilation. And they can squash your glasses a bit.

But if these aren’t issues for you (and you don’t mind not having the best protection like you’ll get with one of these full face helmets) then the Custom 500 is a well rated helmet. It’s got the right name on it and there’s sure to be a graphic that’ll suit you and your bike – and if not, there’s always Bell’s custom paint designer!

All in all, if you’re in the market for a new 3/4 helmet and like the looks of the Custom 500, then go for it. It’s a fine helmet.

Safety

 (more about helmet safety)

OK, I’ve gotta say it. It’s an open face helmet. If you want the best protection, buy a full face helmet instead and preferably one from our safest helmets pages.

Now that’s out of the way, I guess you’re looking for a 3/4 helmet because you want the freedom of an open face but in a helmet that’ll give you a little more protection than a half helmet.

Well, looking at some of the features of the Custom 500, it’s got a classic style double-d ring fastener on there – which is fine and should do a great job of keeping your lid attached to your head (read more here). And if you want some protection from the rain/dirt, there’s some poppers on the front of the helmet so you can clip on a face shield.

bell custom 500 rally black bronze open face front view
Custom 500 Rally – a classy looking fiberglass version

But in terms of protection, that’s about it.

And if we’re trying to find out more information about what sort of protection you’ll get from a Custom 500, well, there’s not a whole lotta data out there to help us work it out.

Bell does get plenty of their full face helmets tested and approved by Snell. But, weirdly, none of their open face helmets have ever been given Snell approval, so that’s not much help.

Of course, coming from the same stable as the likes of the Bell Star range, the 500 does share some of the same tech and manufacturing as a number of Bell Snell helmets, so that’s promising I guess.

It’s available in either fiberglass or carbon shells too, and they’re backed by a multi-density EPS liner. None of Bell’s Flex or MIPS tech here tho – I guess because that’ll make the helmet look bigger and no-one wants a bobble head open face helmet.

Least of all Bell who has designed the Custom 500 to be as low a profile as they can get away with because that’s what the market wants. Having said that, low profile is generally the enemy of great protection because, as a rule of thumb, the more helmet you have between you and the road, the better.

bell custom 500 vintage white helmet rear view
Rear view of the Vintage white helmet

But then again, if no one will buy an enormous helmet, then there’s not much point in making one, right?

One big plus that Bell helmets have going for them – pretty much across the board – is that they tend to make their helmets with five different shell sizes. In the case of the Custom 500, there’s one shell shared by sizes XS and S then a different shell size used for sizes M, L, XL and XXL.

That allows Bell to optimize the amount of EPS padding for each shell so there’s the right amount of liner to give optimal protection while keeping the profile as low as possible.

But that’s about all we can read into the safety of the Bell Custom 500. The best we can say is it should give a reasonable amount of protection – as long as you don’t faceplant anything of course.

If you think there’s a chance you will, then go for a full face helmet.

Helmet Noise

(more about helmet noise)

Again, if you’re after a really quiet helmet, check out one of our quietest full face helmets because you’ll not really get a particularly quiet open face helmet.

bell custom 500 dlx vertigo helmet side view
Dazzling Vertigo Custom 500

All that open front – with or without a shield fitted – creates turbulence and that makes open faces particularly noisy helmets.

A couple of owners we found reckon it’s quiet for an open face helmet. But overall folks seem to think it’s noisy and especially noisy at highway speeds.

Of course, it’ll depend on how you ride and whether you’re behind a screen or not. Either way, stick in some decent ear plugs and keep the speed down to legal speeds and you should be good.

Ventilation

(more about helmet ventilation)

It’s a similar story for ventilation on the Custom 500. You can get most of the ventilation you’ll ever want coming right in the front of the helmet. Which is just as well, because you’ll not get any at all coming in anywhere else.


A couple of useful links…

Retro Motorcycle helmets
Open Face helmet reviews


To keep the form pure and the profile low, Bell’s opted to do without any ventilation at all – just like in the old days.

bell custom 500 dlx matte black open helmet front view
Front view of the matte black

So, you’ll find a big zero airflow inside unless some creeps in from the front and your helmet’s a bit oversized. If you ride slow in the sun, you might boil in the bag. Up the speed a bit and you might be OK.

Or maybe check out the LS2 Spitfire that cunningly incorporates vents and a hidden faceshield. Or Bell’s other open face/modular that incorporates a couple of top vents – the Bell Broozer.

Face Shield

(more about shields)

Most Custom 500s don’t come with a face shield as part of the package – though some of the carbon helmets come with a shield and/or bag (worth checking before you order).

Bell custom 500 3 snap bubble shield
Bell’s 3 snap bubble shield – lots of colors (and other shields and peaks) available

But there are quite a range of snap-on retro visors and peaks available in lots of fancy colors.

Comfort and Sizing

(more about comfort and sizing)

Bell have designed the Custom 500 to suit medium oval headshapes, so that should mean it’ll generally fit most of us.

However, they do tend to size a bit on the small side. The advice here is to go for your correct fitment size – so if you measure your head and you’re an M, then buy an M. But if you’re between sizes, then go for a size up. Quite a few owners we came across advised doing this.

Comfort on the Custom 500 is mostly rated as pretty good – as long as you’re the correct head shape and you get a helmet that fits just right by following the sizing advice above.

bell custom 500 deluxe helmet package 2
In some places, the deluxe package includes a peak, shield and holdall

The comfort liner inside is nicely designed for that retro, classic look. And while it looks like it’s leather, it’s actually fake. Which is really a good thing as leather can get really smelly unless it’s looked after whereas the liner of the Custom 500 can be easily wiped down.

Unusually tho, the liner’s not removable so if you want to wash it, you’ve gotta wash it in-situ and leave it a day or two to dry thoroughly.

It is anti-bac treated out of the box tho so you should be OK for a while.

Overall then, get the right size for the correct head shape and you should find the Custom 500 a nice and comfy helmet.

Looks & Graphics

As we’ve mentioned, it’s the great classic looks of the Bell Custom 500, along with how tightly it fits to the head (so no bobble head here) combined with a fantastic range of retro graphics that really sets the Custom 500 apart.

Bell-Custom-500-customized-helmet
I think I might be onto something with this design!

In fact, in the US, Bell has a custom helmet painter on its website where you can choose your lid then customize your helmet with a range of graphics. It’s great fun to play with but it’s really not cheap – typically adding $250-$350 to the base helmet.

But if you simply must have that orange metal flake star on the side of your purple lid, then you know where to go.

Of course, if you’re happy with more standard colors, then there’s a wide range of off the shelf graphics and designs to choose from. Click our partner stores below to quickly check them out.

Best places to buy a Bell Custom 500?

Please click below to visit the Bell Custom 500 helmets pages at our recommended stores – all checked for great online ratings. And if you buy from any store, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

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Bell Custom 500 Video

Here’s a 5m look around a solid black Custom 500 from Chaparral.

Bluetooth

I guess quite a few of us will be looking to fit a bluetooth headset to our helmet and the word out there is that the Custom 500 works just fine with most sets. Obviously you’ll need a boom mic but there’s space inside for speakers and we heard from owners having no problems fitting a couple of Sena units in there.

Weight

The regular fiberglass Bell Custom 500 weighs around 2.8lbs or 1.3Kg. That’s pretty light weight. And of course, the carbon version’s gonna shave a good few ounces off that too if super light weight’s your thing.

Glasses

bell custom 500 rsd checkmate open face helmet front view
Great looking Bell Custom 500 RSD Checkmate carbon helmet

If you need a helmet that’ll work well with eye glasses or shades, then they should fit inside the helmet no problem. But beware. Because it’s a low profile helmet, that means it’ll sit lower on your head and if you have larger glasses, the helmet may press them down a bit.

We came across a few Custom 500 owners who found that a problem, so check it out when you buy one and before you hit the road (at which point you can’t return it).

Build Quality

Overall build quality is reported as very good with several owners saying the paint, fit, finish and materials are great. Which is exactly what you want with a classic style 3/4 – and especially if you’re paying 400 bucks for it.

Warranty

And Bell will back up that quality with their 5 year warranty, which is great for peace of mind and should cover you for manufacturing defects for the suggested lifetime of the helmet.

Crash Helmet Buying Guides

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.

Good Alternatives to the Bell Custom 500?

Well, we can’t really recommend any open face helmets from a safety point of view for obvious reasons. But if you are set on buying one…

Arai Classic V Era

Arai’s Classic V is a very similar helmet to the Custom 500 except Arai’s helmet is Snell safety tested/certified. It’s also got hidden venting in there which is a great feature – but it’s generally a bit pricier than the fiberglass Custom 500’s – though not necessarily the carbon versions.

LS2 Spitfire RUST

Much lower down the price range is LS2’s Spitfire. It’s reasonably low profile and has a useful pull down shield built in. It costs around the same as an entry level Custom 500 too.

For more options, check out the rest of our open face helmet reviews or maybe mosey on over to our Retro Helmets pages for some great old-style lids.

Looking to buy a Bell Custom 500?

Please click below to visit the Bell Custom 500 pages at our recommended stores – all checked for great online ratings. And if you buy from any store, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

BTO SportsShop for helmets at Amazon

Star Ratings

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Safety
Comfort
Noise
Features
Value
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