Now we know what you’re thinking – “Bell Helmets isn’t a boutique manufacturer.” And although you’re correct, they DO produce top-shelf products for a boutique market, vintage motorcycling. In particular, their Custom 500 line of vintage styled 3/4 open face helmets. In their marketing campaigns they note that they’re not “Retro, they’re original.” And folks, we have to agree.

Without getting into specific dates it’s pretty easy to say Bell helmets is one of the oldest helmet manufacturers around and the Custom 500 line is based rightly upon the orignal 500. You see, back in 1954 Bell founder Roy Richter formed his first helmet out of fiberglass and named it the “500.” Bell’s new Custom 500 pays homage to Richter’s original design while adding modern protective technology and DOT certification to bring the design up-to-date. Digg it.

[Bell Custom 500 Silver Metal-flake, shot at The Bonneville Salt Flats by: Brandon Schrichten]

Surely it was only a matter of time before The Crew @ Dime City Cycles picked up a few of these Custom 500’s and put them through the ringer and we have to say, the results are fantastic! After testing them on the Bonneville Salt Flats, wide open spaces of the South Western and South Eastern US and the tight city streets of St. Petersburg, FL in both the hot and cold we can tell you, these are the real deal genuine article folks! The Custom 500 Series fits like a glove and the level of quality is bar-none best in class. Whether it be the silk quilted woven interior padding or anodized ultra-durable snaps ready and willing to accept vintage or new Bubble shields, you’d be hard pressed to find a better choice when it comes to protecting your noggin for the money.

[Bell Custom 500 Silver Metal-flake, shot at The Bonneville Salt Flats by: Brandon Schrichten]

With 12 models to choose from ranging from simple and classic like Black or White to a bit more dramatic in the Metal-flake region the Custom 500 line has a helmet for everyone. Tipping their hats to the custom world, Bell even offers custom models designed by Roland Sans or Skratch, the world famous pin-striper. Every 500 helmet leaves the line inspected and test for safety guaranteeing it’s DOT approval and ability to protect you when it counts the most.

And how about the prices? Ranging from $99.95 to $139.95 you’d be crazy to pickup an off brand knock-off 3/4 helmet from eBay or some old helmet someone died in at a swap meet. Don’t get us wrong, those true-grit authentic old helmets are nice, but have you ever thought about what happens when 30+ year old fiberglass hits the pavement? Yeah…POOF! Not good, Ace! Better leave those on the shop wall for display..

Staying true to grassroots style, here’s a fun little video clip of Skratch and Cherry Dollface working together to create some of the authentic marketing materials that go along with the authentic Custom 500 line of helmets. Kudo’s to Bell for producing some fun-loving video that showcases the classic art of speed!

How great was that? Golden Girls aside though, we know there is one major determining factor when buying a vintage style 3/4 helmet. How big is it on my head? Everyone seems to be concerned with the “giant beacon” that their head becomes when a 3/4 lid is thrown on top. There are dozens of other companies out there who’ve come to the rescue over the years and have produced a lower profile version of the famous 3/4 helmet with great success and because Dime City is always looking out for you, we compared a few of them below in bright and shiny color so you can see for yourself.

Pictured from left to right:  1) Joe King JK Mini, the smallest helmet you can purchase today, Non-DOT approved. 2) Joe King JK400, slightly larger than the mini but has snaps for Bubbleshields, Non-DOT approved. 3) The DOT approved Silver metal flake Custom 500. 4) The Biltwell Hustler DOT approved 3/4 helmet and 5) The Biltwell Mega-flake Non-DOT approved. helmet. In looking at the comparison you can see it’s really not that much bigger than the Biltwell Mega-flake which has become the defacto industry standard for 3/4 open faced helmets. Not too shabby on Bell’s part, eh? And we can confirm, you don’t look like a bobble head with a Custom 500 on. Trust us, we’re just a conscious as you are.

Oh and by the way, did we mention that Dime City Cycles now has the entire Custom 500 line available along with Bell’s retro 3 button shields? That’s right, who loves you? Checkout Bell Helmets boutique section today by [CLICKING HERE] and snag a new lid to add to your collection. If you’re like us, we bet you’ll have a hard time taking it off. And stay tuned, there’s a full in depth review of the Custom 500 on it’s way too!