Born out of the adrenaline fuelled race scene of 1950's California, Bell Helmets have continued to grow and evolve.
Founder, Roy Ritcher, began Bell's journey from his garage where he helped build and repair cars and motorcycles for the rapidly growing race industry. As the speeds increased, the athletes got more hungry and the associated risk soared. Upon seeing the true danger and reality of the sport, Ritcher decided to venture into the protective armour industry.
The early aims of production were straightforward: To create functional protective helmets for all drivers and riders with simple design concepts and trusted materials. It was later on in its evolution that Bell began to incorporate style with customised, and eye-catching graphics. To achieve these designs, they have a dedicated and highly talented art team made up of men and women who share their passion for speed and sports.
More recently, the brand have made big moves to support women's cycling - launching their 'Joy Ride' programme and offering 'Joy Ride' women's designs, as well as sponsoring female riders.
Bell Joy Ride
Towards the end of last year, Bell Helmets announced a new program designed specifically for women: The Bell Joy Ride. By carefully selecting six female ambassadors across the US, Bell hope to build a strong network of female mountain bikers with regular rides, coaching courses and social gatherings.
The mission is to promote and enough women to ride bikes offering a comfortable environment, open to all ages and skills levels so women can meet up and ride together in a non-competitive setting.
Each 'Joy Ride' location has a Facebook page and an Instagram feed where rides are publicised and recorded. Amber Krueger is the leader in Madison, WI and says: "For me cycling is all about empowerment. It is such an incredible feeling to be able to build and maintain my sole means of transportation. I have always loved commuting and bike touring but was never really a mountain biker. Riding off-road was scary!
"I moved to Madison several years ago and up until then I swore off mountain biking. My first attempt at it was not so great … it was a dark winter night on the rockiest trails around, with my significant other at the time. It ended in tears. After moving to Madison and finding friends who were willing to take their time to ride with me and show me how to ride while not pushing me, my whole outlook on riding off-road changed!
"For me cycling is all about empowerment."
"Mountain biking is exciting, beautiful and calming. It is my time to disconnect and just ride. In the last year I have been working with our local IMBA branch - CORP - to find a way to get more women riding. Bell Joy Ride — Madison, WI is in the beginning stages, but the overwhelming support has been amazing! I am really excited to see what 2016 brings!"
In Vacouver, BC, it's Isabelle Jacques who leads. She became a mountain bike instructor in 2014, having grown up racing cross-country. She says: "I want more women to experience the joy and excitement of a mountain biking lifestyle. I love sharing my knowledge and excitement for mountain biking with others and there’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone ride a feature or section of trail they never thought they could tackle."
Kansas City ride leader Samantha Jones has more words of love for the scheme, saying: "I truly feel that if you aren't riding a bike of some type, you're missing out on thrills, relaxation, camaraderie, and exercise all rolled into one. Bell Joy Ride gives me even more means to enable women to grow their love of mountain biking and inspire in them a passion for the ride.
"Bell Joy Ride gives me even more means to enable women to grow their love of mountain biking"
"Through my pure enjoyment of the sport, my encouragement, my positive attitude, and my existing social circle of mountain biking friends, I believe that I can bring a diverse group of women together for enjoyable rides, camaraderie, and skills enhancement."
Each leader has an exciting story to share about their riding, and we know within their groups there will be still more. The Joy Ride program is still in its infancy, but with expected success in the US, we can only hope it will make it's way over the pond to the UK.
Bell Helmet Athletes
Being a strong advocate for cycling, especially women's cycling, it' no surprise that Bell supports some brilliant female role models in the industry.
Recently retired elite downhill racer, Emmeline Ragot, was competing for 13 years before announcing retirement in the summer of 2015. Ragot holds a number of World Cup wins and podium finishes, assisted by the support of Bell Helmets to keep her safe and protected on every run.
A true role model of the women's mountain bike industry is Jill Kintner. Arguably one of the most versatile riders of our time, she was also sponsored by Bell. A bronze winning Olympian in BMX, multiple World Cup 4X champion, and a number of downhill World Cup podium finished, Jill's done it all. An avid blogger, writer and support of women's organisations, Jill's even made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Bell have always put the riders first when creating and designing a new protective piece of kit. Taking on board valuable customer feedback, and keeping ahead of the curve for new technology, they continue to release stylish and innovative designs.
It's the Bell mountain bike helmet collection that's really struck us as the most forward thinking and inclusive to women. Their most known creation is the Bell Super 2R full face mountain bike helmet, which has a detachable chin guard which allows a degree of versatility like no other helmet on the market. It's part of the 'Joy Ride' range and features splashes of colour that mark it out. For those that don't need full face, but still need plenty of protection, there's the Super 2 and for lighter trail use the Rush is the one to go for.
In light of their Joy Ride launch, Bell have released a line of women's specific helmets across all disciplines of cycling which shows their dedication and support for women who ride.
After successfully building a strong and trusted brand for sports protection over the years, Bell furthered their reputation and values by partnering with key organisations to help promote riders, safety in sports and women working in the outdoor industry:
Safe Kids Worldwide: Bell teamed up with this organisation to help provide parents and caregivers the necessary equipment and support to protect young children pursuing their gnarly side.
IMBA: The International Mountain Bicycling Association work together with the helmet brand to preserve and encourage the nature of mountain biking.
People for Bikes: This brilliant organisation has one goal: get more people riding bikes. Bell is a partner company with this organisation, and they work together to encourage more people to ride.
Trek Dirt Series: For over a decade, the Trek Dirt Series has taught and encouraged thousands of women to push their limits and fall in love with the sport of mountain biking and Bell have been involved with their events.
OIWC: The Outdoor Industries Women's Collation work closely with Bell Helmets to promote, train and encourage women who work in the outdoor industry.
With their wealth of knowledge and experience in the cycling industry, Bell Helmets strive to provide the best protection on the market. Their dedication to women's cycling, and their valuable work with both women's and children's organisations, secure their position on our TWC20 brand list.