The Beck Distribution Corp was a pioneer in motorcycle distributing sourcing OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and aftermarket parts and accessories for foreign bikes to suit American rider’s tastes. The company dates all the way back to the early 1900’s. I would estimate the helmet seen here is from the early-mid 1960s, but have yet to track down an exact date or model number. Vintage American Motorcyclist Magazines currently on Google Books gives hints to the popularity of this three-quarter style helmet and the Beck Corp itself during those early 60s. In 1969 Beck Distribution Corp merged with Arnley Brake Shoe Company and the name and logo were changed to reflect that. So if anything I can say this helmet is at least pre 1969.
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.
Currently available on the BCV eBay Store
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.
This is one cool old Bell R-T helmet with a unique paint job. The Yellow and black appear to be part of a customization. The white around the perimeter and down the center was most likely the original color. The black striping is actually a decal of sorts and not paint. The color scheme and layout hearken the Yamaha YZ of that period and my explain why this particular helmet has extra snap heads have been added around the jaw area, perhaps for a face mask?
Sticker size 7 1/8 or 57cm in place as well as SHCA approval. Chin strap stamped BELL R-T 10-76.