Successfully and safely commuting by bicycle long-term is often a matter of making sure motorists know you're there along with being aware of your surroundings and Bell's new Muni and Arella urban helmets are designed to help with both.
As with Bell's previous Citi and Metro urban helmets, the Muni - and the smaller but similarly styled Arella women's version - sport built-in loops to accommodate optional add-on rear flashers but these models go one step further by already cleanly integrating a pair of LED lights directly into the retention system.
Up front, the removable visor also doubles as a mount for the surprisingly bright Flea LED light from sister company Blackburn (we're trying to find out if this visor fits Bell's mountain bike helmets, too, as it'd be great for nighttime trailside repairs).
If you're into that sort of thing, you can also attach the optional Flip Mirror, which clips directly to the visor and folds discreetly out of the way when not in use. Even without anything attached, the visor is still all-weather, commuter-friendly with channels along the periphery to funnel rainwater off to the sides.
When all the aforementioned pieces are used together, it makes for a greatly reduced chance of accidentally leaving your lights at home. Once you're at the office, you can even charge the lights right at your computer with Blackburn's slick USB adapter.
Bell will offer both the Muni and Arella in one size each although well thought-out strap setups look to accommodate a reasonably wide range of head shapes. Borrowing from Giro's minimal Roc Loc SL - as seen on the ultralight Prolight model - the Muni and Arella's OneStep Plus system features a simple elastic strap that stretches across the base of your skull and simplified attachments at the ears.
Unlike the Roc Loc SL, though, the OneStep Plus will offer three different positions to help dial in the fit in lieu of multiple shell sizes. Adding to this is a convenient ratcheting buckle for quick adjustments depending on the weather and additional headwear.
Bell will offer the Muni in four colours and the Arella in five, both for just US$65 (£59.99/€70). The optional Flea 2.0 USB lights will add another US$29.99 each (or US$54.99 for both) and the Flip Mirror will cost US$14.99.
Also new from Bell for 2011 is the value-priced Sanction full-faced helmet, which will retail for just US$80 (£99.99/€100). Bell aims the new Sanction at a more youthful crowd with slightly smaller sizes relative to its old Bellistic and current Drop models but still retains a full feature set, including a tough fibreglass shell, an adjustable visor, and a few vents to keep the air moving at speed.
Especially aggressive riders will want to make note that the Sanction is CPSC-approved only, though, and doesn't meet the new ASTM downhill standard.
Other models such as the Volt and Sequence will carry over but with new colours added for 2011.