Bell helmets have been around since 1954, and I have to give the brand credit for its storied history because all that experience must breed products that are world-class, right? About 70 years of helmet-making experience culminates in the lineup that the brand has today, and the Qualifier is your ticket into the world of Bell.
Is it worth the price of admission, however? It’s an affordable helmet from a name brand, but does its value go beyond its price? Let’s strap it on and find out.
Exterior and Design
When I first received the helmet, the box had all sorts of inspirational quotable quotes about riding and how Bell’s the “choice of professionals.” Indeed, this is all true, as some of the best racers in the world use Bell’s helmets. Upon opening the box, you’re greeted by a quality helmet bag and lots of wrapping foam to protect the helmet during transit. Once the Bell was out of the bag, I was impressed by its paint quality. I’m not a fan of matte helmets because of a few key factors (more on that later), but Bell did a great job designing this lid, especially with the Ascent colorway.
When I got the chance, I took a close look at the Qualifier‘s shell. It’s rather shapely for such a simple helmet, however, there are some inconsistencies with the molding of the shell that only someone as neurotic and as nitpicky as me would notice. It’s not a deal breaker though, and you don’t notice it while you’re wearing the helmet anyway. No, it also doesn’t compromise safety. I like the shape of the Qualifier. It’s enough aggression while keeping things relatively classic. I mean, the Qualifier has been around since the 2010s so it’s doing something right and people are still buying it. It still looks like a thoroughly modern helmet that can find its way onto sportbikes, sport nakeds, scooters, or even commuter bikes.
Now, I can’t-not mention this, but the matte finish of the helmet is rather soft, and it only took one ride behind my friend and his sticky tires to fling some rocks at my face and pelt the helmet. Now, my Qualifier has a few stone chips on the matte finish, so I took a sharpie and colored in the black parts to hide the damage. Don’t ride right behind your fast friends and their sticky rubber I guess?
Interior and Fit
One of the highlights of the Qualifier is its interior, the inner liner is comfortable, easy to disassemble, wash, and put back together. Just take note when it comes to sizing, that the Qualifier’s pads are pretty thick when new, but become much softer as time goes on. As such, I suggest picking a size that’s snug, especially on your cheeks.As for the crown, I have no complaints and the interior padding is soft but relatively springy, making the fit plush. If you like a more relaxed fit on your helmet, this is one of the better helmets I’ve tried so far.
There are four parts to the internal pads of the helmet, first, you get a neck roll that helps keep the lid comfortable around your neck and shoulder area. Next, you have a pair of cheek pads with a decent amount of contour to form on your face. The pads are among the softest that I’ve ever had on my head, and Bell did a great job at dialing in the comfort. They also do a great job of wicking moisture, so if you’re a rider who doesn’t really like wearing balaclavas, this one’s perfect for you.
Performance and safety
On the road and on the bike, the Qualifier showed its more entry-level genetics. During my time riding with the helmet, I experienced a lot of wind noise while on the highway. At speeds of over 90 km/h, the wind noise started to become intrusive, and I recommend that you wear earplugs with this lid if ever you do decide to take it out on the highway. I feel that the neck roll isn’t doing too much to seal off your head from the wind, plus, Bell doesn’t offer a chin curtain with the Qualifier—a feature that if executed correctly, can go a long way in quieting things down inside a helmet.
As for ventilation, Bell keeps it simple with the Qualifier, resulting in a pretty effective setup.The top vents flow a good amount of air, and that’s also thanks to the channels in the EPS foam that are deep and allow hot air to be sucked away by the exhaust vents out back. On that note, there are a total of four intake vents and four exhaust vents, two on the chin and two on the top for intake, then two top-rear, and two side-rear for exhaust. The Qualifier is one of my go-to helmets on hot rides in the city.
Furthermore, Bell also coated the inside of the visor to help keep it clear and not fogged up on a rainy day. Not once did the helmet fog up on me even if it doesn’t have accommodations for a Pin-lock. Given that it is an affordable helmet, this is a win for the brand, however, take extra care of the visor as solvents and other cleaners will surely wear it out over time.
On the note of safety, you get DOT and ECE 22.05 certifications—plus the virtually meaningless ICC sticker on the back. The ECE 22.05 rating is one of our top picks for helmet safety standards. The ECE standard that Bell fielded with the Qualifier is on the older side of things with the 22.06 ECE homologation being the newer and the safer of the two. Nevertheless, the previous iteration of the ECE safety standard is still comparatively more rigorous when it comes to testing than DOT, let alone ICC, so safety is pretty much at par with the competition.
Price and Verdict
If you’re not digging the Ascent graphic, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that Dan’s PH actually sells it for the same price as a solid color at just P6,290. As far as entry-level helmets go, there are more affordable options out there. However, Bell is recognized as one of the best helmet brands in both the motorcycle and bicycle industry, so you can bet the company knows how to make a helmet that’s safe, comfortable, and protective.
In my opinion, this helmet will be more for city use, and not something that I would wear on longer rides out of town. With all that on the table, there is a great deal of value in the Qualifier. For beginner riders or riders who aren't too “Princess and the Pea” about their helmets, the Qualifier is a quality choice from a name brand with the goods to back it up.