Bell, the Nike of car- and motor racing helmets.
We are crazy about California and love its world-famous brands such as Levi’s, Vans, Santa Cruz en Apple. We recently took on a project for the Californian motor helmet brand Bell and sometimes jokingly call it the Nike of motorcycle helmets. After all, Bell helmets are fashion items and technological ingenuity. Everything is done to make life as comfortable as possible for the riders and to make them look good. The stunning Bell collection consists of retro models and helmets equipped with the latest technology. As true vintage fanatics, we are particularly fans of the beautiful retro models, although the new Broozer helmet is also a firm favourite.
The first car race shop in the world
Bell, named after the place in California, was founded in 1923 as Bell Auto Parts, a company selling car parts. In 1945, Roy Richter a Bell employee since 1933, bought the company for $1.000. Roy, a fanatical hot rod and drag racer, established a whole industry for speed demons and having collected all the racing parts he could get hold of, set up the world’s first car race shop. At first, he built race cars for anybody who wanted to race. But after several grim incidents, he came up with another solution. Bell Helmets was born, starting off as a separate section within the shop.
For more than 60 years, Bell have proudly pushed Roy’s boundaries in terms of potential and his infinite spirit. A valued and very familiar vision, worn by generations of champions, loyal to the brand. Whether you are racing cars, riding or racing bikes or cycling at great speed, Bell offers a suitable product for each culture or better still, they facilitate new possibilities. Born in a garage, characterised by willpower and driven by the pure intention of urging the world to live, to ride and to conquer, hand in hand with the world’s best.
When the sale of helmets rose beyond all expectations in 1956, the decision was made to set up Bell Helmet Company as a daughter company, in the building next to Bell Auto Parts. Years later, Bell developed the first full face car race helmet in 1968, the original and since then world famous Bell Star. Three years later, the brand introduced the first full face motorcycle helmet and the first full face off-road motorcycle helmet for motorcross.
Bell still innovates to this day, for instance producing special technology that counters rotational force in the event of a impact or jolt. Bell also pioneered the first photochromic face shields that react to strong sunlight by turning dark. In the midst of this technological progress, Bell remained true to their roots. In the case of their retro Custom 500 model for instance, in honour of the first full face helmet ever, and the 500-TX remake of the Moto-3 vintage motorcross helmet and the resurrection of the Bell Star line. In terms of design and graphics, Bell remain in the forefront; working together with artists Roger Sands, Tagger Gasparian and Skratch. Bell set the trend, rather than following it.
The most iconic helmet in motorsport history.
Another world famous Bell helmet is that of Formula 1 racing driver Ayrton Senna (✝︎1994). While winning races and championships he wanted to differentiate himself by using a unique helmet in response to all the plain white helmets in premier league motorracing. He experimented with a number of helmet designs before settling on his famous bright yellow helmet with green and dark blue stripes, which came to be his signature look. This very successful design was made by airbrusher Sid Mosca, founder of Sid Special Paint in 1979. He also spray-painted the helmets of Nelson Piquet and Emerson Fittipaldi.
Senna, who represented his country’s (underprivileged) youth with their yearning for future prospects, kept the design of his characteristic helmet with the Brazilian national colours for fifteen years, until his death. During his short and glamourous career, he regularly switched helmet manufacturers as lighter and more comfortable helmets were offered. Senna raced from 1983 through 1989 with a Bell helmet and during his last two seasons until his death in 1994, caused by his fatal crash during the Grand Prix of San Marino (Italy). His iconic Bell helmet became even more famous when placed on his coffin during his funeral which was watched by millions of Brazilians and fans from all over the world.
Bell inspires us, it is a brand that is loyal to its values and its heritage, yet embraces new technology. We enjoyed working together with this great brand, applying our ‘Brand Act’ vision succesfully to their situation. If you feel attracted to this vision, we would like to hear from you since we would be happy to help you make authentic, energized and sustainable connections with your brand fans using storytelling, communication design and 3D design.