We recently received an e-mail from Bell Racing regarding the trend of aftermarket Helmet Visor Panels. Let’s first start with the basics of what a Helmet Visor panel is. Initially developed for Pro-level Open-Wheel racing (F1, Indy, etc.), the Visor Panel is designed to add additional protection from debris to the upper helmet/visor gap. An excellent video can be found here:
Bell Racing has worked together with the FIA to develop a Zylon Visor Panel that can be installed to the FIA8860 HP7, and RS7 racing helmets. The panel is custom installed by Bell for $499.95 plus the cost of a new shield.
The Bell V.14 Visor Panel is an original Bell Racing part made in compliance with FIA specification 2011 F1 visor reinforcement panel for FIA8860 helmets. The original Bell Visor and Panel must only be used with the specified Bell model, any use of other non-Bell certified parts on the helmet will invalidate the homologation. The Bell Visor Panel has been developed to match the contour and shape of the Bell SE07 visor and is not compatible with other Bell visor systems or other helmet brands. The Bell Visor and Panel are only valid with the unbroken warranty seal on the back of the shield. The Bell Visor and Panel can only be assembled / serviced by a Bell Racing Technician. Any modification or assembly by third parties will invalidate the homologation of the helmet and the part. Customers who want to re-use the visor panel on another shield must return the shield and panel back to Bell for installation on a new shield.
Sifting through all of Bell’s legal jargin, sounds like this isn’t something to be messed with. Can’t say I disagree – we’re looking at a safety feature that’s designed to stop high-speed projectiles from entering your helmet. This isn’t something that you want to half-ass the design and/or installation of. And now apparently there are companies that are selling stick-on carbon panels that look awfully similar to the FIA-approved design:
It has come to our attention that a company called Shell Shock is offering for sale an item called a “helmet saver” that is designed to look in appearance like a carbon fiber visor panel. As this “helmet saver” was not developed with any input from Bell Racing and we have no knowledge of its design, material composition or function, we are informing our dealers and customers that Bell does not support or authorize the use of the “helmet saver” produced by Shell Shock. Further, the use of the “helmet saver” with helmets or shields produced by Bell will completely void our product warranty. The user will assume all risks and liability associated with its use. We are concerned that customers will assume this item offers similar protection to panels produced by Bell and homologated to the FIA SPECIFICATION FOR VISOR REINFORCEMENT PANEL FOR FIA8860 HELMET and choose to purchase this item for use with their Bell Helmet.
Going forward, we will not support any similar items that are developed to function or designed to appear like a visor panel unless they meet the precise technical specifications published by the FIA called FIA SPECIFICATION FOR VISOR REINFORCEMENT PANEL FOR FIA8860 HELMET and have been approved by Bell Racing for use with our products.
As a company, Bell has dedicated hours of research and collaboration with the FIA on the design, function and performance of the Zylon reinforced visor panel and was the first company to debut the panel in Formula One in 2011. Further, the Bell visor panel is designed to fit the upper contour of the Bell SE07 shield and uses a specific adhesive material with surface tension properties that work in conjunction with the polycarbonate used in Bell racing shields. We have a specific procedure for securing the panel to the SE07 shield and the panel is not compatible with other Bell shields.
I did a quick internet search and found an image of the product. It does look awfully similar to the approved design. And although it doesn’t advertise itself as offering similar protection, looks alone can be enough to convince many to purchase in the name of added protection. Which everyone is free to do – just be aware of the criteria that is actually used in the development of a piece like this, then ask yourself if that is something you’re willing to compromise on.
If you need more information on the Bell Visor Panels, give us a call (1-800-934-9112).