You are looking at a prime example of an original Bell Moto 3 helmet. There’s been a lot of buzz around this iconic full-face motocross helmet in the last couple years. The lids have gained somewhat of a cult following amongst both the chopper and cafe crowds and today, even worn examples like this sell for upwards of $300 on Etsy and eBay. The demand has reached such a fever pitch it’s inspired Bell to reintroduce the design amid a flock of imitators doing the same.
The history of the Moto 3 begins with the introduction of the Motostar in the late 70s and continues to present times with a series of numbered iterations. Contrary to what I’ve read, the Moto 3 is not the beginning of the line and was not introduced in the early 70s. Early Bell helmets (and this goes for some other manufacturers as well) are dated on the chin strap with an embossed or printed month and year. You can see here, this particular example is 8/82.
Looking for a cheaper, less cliché full face option to complete your look? Try the Moto 3’s younger brother the Moto 4. Similar in style, the 4 sells for around a third of the price while still offering that vintage motocross look you desire. Wanting something even cheaper and more original? Search for vintage Bieffe motocross helmets. They’re of a more late-80s early 90s aesthetic, complete with awesome decal arrangements and sell for around $30 in good used condition.
Here is one heavily worn 1975 Bell Super Magnum three-quarter helmet. From what I can tell the Super Magnum is just a later variant of Bell’s original three-quarter helmet the 500-TX. In comparing helmets it seems the Super Magnum has a bit deeper of a side cut for better peripheral and probably had some updated safety features in the construction. This helmet does not feature any of the Toptex markings found on older Bell-Toptex helmets of the 1960s.
The Super Magnum is DOT and SHCA approved. This particular helmet would not be approved for much of anything safety related, except maybe taking a beer bottle over the head around a campfire.
This helmet has had some aftermarket stickers added, possibly by someone who raced in it at some point. 68 on both sides, blue reflective strips near the jaw line, and a Honda of Boulder, Colorado sticker on the back along with the original Bell front sticker and Super Magnum back. You can probably see from the pictures (and please examine them closely) this things been kicked around, banged on stuff, possibly crashed. On the riders left hand side, near the 6 the 8 and trailing off to the back there’s a series of three small chips that make it down to the foam core. Most other chips are just through the paint. On the back to the right of the Bell sticker there’s a patch of wear that looks like it was caused by some serious friction, like that of a tire. Inside all the soft protective foam is missing. The chin straps still hold tight, but the vinyl covering them is cracked and ratty. Marking on the strap is 7-75.
The Bell -Toptex Shorty helmet debuted in the early 1960s and was popular among motorcyclist through the end of the decade. the low profile and light nature made it a perfect helmet for roaming the cities and country roads on Triumphs, Harleys and small displacement UJMs. The helmet was Snell Memorial Foundation approved, predating DOT ratings and was very similar in style to the Buco Guardian helmets of that day. The shell extends down to about the top of the ear and a vinyl collar in connection with the chin strap secure and protect the rider from excessive wind. A variety of visors and shields were available for the front.
Still trying to figure out the role of “Toptex” in Bell helmets of this era. Originally I figured Toptex simply referred to a shell material, but in patent documents, it seems the name of the company was actually named Bell-Toptex. It seems that in the 70s the company dropped Toptex from the name and or shell material.