Posted 29th October, 2014

Bell Bullitt Vs Biltwell Gringo

So if you are in the market for a vintage style racing helmet that has modern safety standards and good old fashioned throwback style then look no further than these two lids brought to us by Bell and Biltwell. Hailing from the US, the Bell Bullitt and Biltwell Gringo have proven themselves to be two of the most popular helmets in the custom and retro scene and apart from both sounding like characters in a spaghetti western these helmets differ in many ways that may prove to be deal breaking in your hunt for the perfect helmet. 

Biltwell Gringo Helmets

Our first amigo is the Biltwell Gringo which will satisfy your colour matching desires as it comes in nine variations over Bell's offering of five. Comfort is the Gringo's strong suit as the hand-sewn brushed Lycra liner combined with open cell padding is much easier to wear than Bell’s padded leather interior. On first impressions it also looks more substantial in the safety department with its beefy 8½ cm chin guard against Bell's 5 cm chin guard which looks rather thin in comparison. However, this helmet has one Achilles heel which is impossible to overlook. It’s safety rating. Being only DOT approved means that this helmet has not been subjected to the more rigorous ECE tests which are a necessity for most helmet manufacturers. This does not mean it is devoid of protection and DOT is recognised as an adequate safety standard within the USA, but if you opt for a Gringo, you wear it at your own risk. 

Bell Bullitt Helmets

If the Gringo doesn’t float your boat you can always ride over to the Bell Bullitt camp. First of all you cannot ignore that this helmet costs twice what the Gringo does, so what more does the Bullitt offer over its cheaper competitor? As mentioned previously this helmet is not the last word in comfort compared to the Gringo but it’s the little touches and luxuries with this lid that make it desirable. Magnetic visor tabs make it a breeze to flip up the screen to expose your face to the elements in the saddle. The extensive range of visors available will keep you more than satisfied if customisation is your penchant with a plethora of colours and finishes in both bubble and flat shields to choose from. The addition of air vents also separates the Bullitt from its air vent-lacking counterpart for a better long distance helmet. Despite its lack of internal padding the Bullitt sits a lot better on your head than the Gringo due to its more refined design and in general just looks a little more polished all over in terms of finish and build quality. Unlike the Gringo, the Bullitt is ECE 22.05 European Safety Rated which means it is has undergone a little more scrutiny in its crash testing but it is also DOT rated for good measure. 

Overall both will provide you with a head turning vintage look but it comes down to your preference in the details. Back to basics simplicity with a veritable rainbow of colour choices in the Biltwell Gringo that Steve McQueen would have been proud to don or a bit of retro engineering with the Bell Bullitt that will look the part and offer you a couple of modern comforts which would not go a miss mid way through a long day on the road. 

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