New helmet featuring muzzle draws a variety of riders
Mad Max. Mortal Combat. Bane. SWAT. Ninja. Shredder. These terms have all been used to describe Bell Helmet’s new Rouge, which was unveiled in January and hits dealerships this month.
“Badass” is simply how Jon Eide, Bell’s business development manager, explained the new lid to Powersports Business. The Rogue is a half-helmet with a three-quarters-helmet feel, thanks to its extended EPS liner and neck roll pad. But what’s eye-catching is the helmet’s removable muzzle, a molded thermoplastic polyurethane piece that’s designed to protect riders from the elements.
The helmet was created by one of Bell’s engineers from the bicycling side of the company, who rides Harleys with family and friends.
“They always wore facemasks or handkerchiefs if it’s really cold out, to keep the bugs or just the weather out, on long trips especially,” Eide explained. “So they were hanging out, having a few beers in the garage and one of his buddies was like, ‘Hey, why don’t you guys make a helmet; you work for Bell. Why don’t you guys make a helmet that has something attached to it?’”
The inquiry got the designer thinking, and he soon created a concept drawing that turned into a rapid prototype, which underwent some changes before becoming the Rogue that’s on the market today. Eide says the whole process took a little more than a year and a half.
The main feature of the helmet is the muzzle, which has air vents and a removable fleece liner that can be molded to a rider’s face. The muzzle fastens easily to the helmet using a FidLock magnetic connection. It’s removed by sliding the muzzle up. Ratchet straps allow the rider to bring the muzzle close to the face, and longer straps are available for those with larger jawlines.
The lightweight composite shell has been carefully crafted so the edges are smooth. It’s available in solid black, solid matte black and military-inspired Army Green and Solid Gunny, a tan hue.
Designed to offer more protection and replace the bandanas many half-helmet wearers use, the Rogue was originally intended for V-twin riders. Though Bell has seen great reception in that segment, the company has also received positive feedback from others as well.
“It was the Harley, cruiser, custom demographic, and what we found is the response from there has been amazing, but there’s also crossover for this that we didn’t really see, and that was, believe it or not, the custom, lowered sport bike guys, you know, they’re running Hayabusas, GSXR 1000s,” Eide said.
The reviews seem to be polarized — either people love the helmet and want to buy the first one that hits the shelves, or they despise it.
“We don’t want everybody to love this helmet, and that’s, I think, what makes it so badass,” Eide said. “We’ve definitely had a lot of feedback on it, and you know we’ll walk into dealerships, and again, some people will be like, ‘Oh my gosh, that thing’s amazing,’ and then other people are like, ‘Dude, what the hell are you guys thinking?’”
But enough of the reaction has been positive that Bell is looking forward to seeing how sales fare with the retail debut. The company already blew through its initial order of the helmets and reordered another shipment. Some riders have even said that they’re looking to buy a Harley cruiser just to go with the helmet.
“You can tell the response when the dealer sees it and freaks out on it; their customer’s probably going to do the same,” Eide said.
The helmet’s price, at $249.95, is on the high end for a half or three-quarter helmet, but so much went into the engineering of the lid that Bell felt it had to bring the Rogue to market at that price. However, Eide believes customers will be willing to pony up the extra cash for something so unique.
“Would we like to have come out with it maybe at a more reasonable price? Yes. But honestly at the end of the day, there’s a price to be paid to be badass,” Eide said.
The helmet has been targeted at dealerships selling a variety of bikes. It’s DOT certified and available in three sizes. A likeness to fictional characters is not required.
Bell looks to expand internationally with new hire
Bell Helmets has appointed Brett Conley as export sales manager — international, as the company looks to add more global distribution.
Conley, who joins Bell from Fox Racing, has eight years of international sales experience and 11 years in the industry. He’ll work to execute an aggressive international strategy to expand the Bell brand worldwide. His associations with key international distributors will be an asset to the company.
“We welcome Brett to the Bell team and are excited by the expertise, relationships and resources he brings to our aggressive international business efforts,” said Chris Sackett, business unit director — powersports. “Since the day Roy Richter got it all started in 1954, Bell’s brand and the success of its products have always been a function of the passionate, devoted Bell team members who live the very lifestyle they sell. Brett is certainly no exception, and we’re thrilled to have him.”
Bell is working to identify potential distributors for several key international markets, with Europe as an immediate priority. The company recently reentered the Australian market with distributor Monza Imports, after an 18-year absence in that country.
In addition to the Conley hire, Bell is increasing its international staff presence, as it recently opened a sales office in Rolle, Switzerland, just outside Geneva. The Switzerland office supports the sales and marketing of the Bell brand, including the cycling division and other brands sold throughout Europe.