As soon as I saw Bell's bold new offering - the Rogue - I knew I would have to get my hands on one to evaluate it. Did I love it? Hate it? There's really no in the middle for me on this helmet and those I've spoken to about it fit on one clear line of the debate or the other.
When I first looked at it I thought it was a helmet designed to fit a look - a lifestyle. I immediately thought here was Bell trying to capitalize on the growing bad-boy look popularized (but certainly not invented by) shows like Sons of Anarchy. If they were, good for them. We all need to make a buck, right? Until I got my hands on one I was anticipating basically a shell with a dash of Darth Vader and not much more, but I have to say I really like the helmet.
First off the helmet itself has the look of a old military style lid, and besides looking cool I think it helps to make my big noggin look a little less gigantic. The matte finish is excellent, as usual for Bell, and the overall quality is spot-on. I like that the helmet comes down low around your head; it makes for a little less noise and gives a snug, secure fit.
The mask is the polarizing part - is it just a tough-guy thing or does it work? It works! It kept my warmer on a rather chilly ride down to the Commodore Barry bridge and I think is a big part of the stability the helmet had at speed. It looks really cool too - generated a lot of attention every time I wore it.
Every Bell I've reviewed has been really well made, even their entry level units. This Rogue exudes quality, and looks to be far more expensive than it actually is at $249. A friend of mine, Herb, thought it was a $400+ helmet, and he is a real rider with a solid knowledge of bikes, gear, etc. I could see Bell easily selling it for $300+ so at $249 I understand why I've been hearing such a buzz about this helmet. All in all I think Bell has a real winner here, particularly among the cruiser crowd although I happen to think it looks good with anything but a big ole Dual Sport.
To go along with the Rogue I paired up a set of Bobster Invader photochromatic riding glasses. This is a larger frame pair of glasses perfect for my bigger face - I often find that riding glasses are rather small but these were perfect. The transition lens did a very good job of switching from light to dark and need, and was very stable even in spirited riding thanks to the secure strap. A big pet-peeve of mine with glasses is how much wind and debris get in around the frames, and did a decent job of protecting me, although I much prefer the soft foam gasket of the Bobster Gunner as seemed to have a much better seal - too small for me though otherwise I'd be telling you a bit more about it.
You can get the Bell Rogue at any of these fine dealers, but the closest local place with a real selection seems to be Revzilla at the Navy yard in Philly. The Bobsters you can get directly through their website - unfortunately their dealer locator wasn't working when I wrote this. I've seen them at local shops too so maybe you can get help there.