Bell Scout Air Vs Custom 500 The David Vs Goliath Of Helmets

Our detailed review of the Bell Scout Air Vs Custom 500.

Bell Scout Air Vs the Custom 500, the David and Goliath of low profile motorcycle helmets. There is not much to choose between them but we think the Bell Scout Air comes out on top for style and comfort. Read our David vs Goliath low profile helmet review so you can decide.

The Bell Scout Air available from Opens in a new probably the lightest helmet we’ve ever seen come out of Belle’s camp, the big headline here is for around the one hundred and fifty dollar mark you’re getting one pound 12 ounce helmet.

It’s a try matrix composite, DOT ECE rated helmet with 1 pound 12 ounces in weight. For a frame of reference a custom 500 which has more of a retro feel but is still that 3/4 coming around the ears.

That helmet weighs 2 pounds 6 ounces so you’re looking at a 10-ounce swing for about 20 bucks. Keep that in mind as that is huge, that is what should drive you to this helmet.

It does come in five shells, it’s super lightweight and it’s using premium components. So again, for them to be using a matrix design, not a polycarbonate shell is a really nice touch.

It comes with two peaks in the box and you can get a multitude of different visors. The Belle riot helmet might be the one you choose if you’re looking for a more full option.

The first thing I’m going to do here is nitpick, and I’m going to lead with what’s wrong with this helmet and it all comes down to fit.

The rest of the bell helmets are a little bit longer front to back, again that classic intermediate carries through what they got wrong and in my opinion, it’s two things.

What’s Wrong With The Bell Scout Air?

The first one is technical and that is this helmet fits a full size small. So when you are using the size chart, if you’re used to wearing bell helmets use a regular size chart and go up a full size. Again that can be confusing but it’s fixable just by paying attention.

The second thing I take issue with is Belle is known for a fit that sits low on the brow. The custom 500 open face helmets sit really far down, almost to the eyebrows.

Keep that in mind if you’re really looking for that low profile brain bucket look the custom 500 is probably going to be a better option, but remember to use a size chart.

Diving into the rest of the helmet we’ve talked about how lightweight it is and it is an open-faced helmet so you’re going to get a lot of airflow through the helmet itself.

The peaks are super easy to remove. You just pop the bottom off and put the longer shield on. It comes with a tinted peak as well.

It comes down and hugs the ears and hugs the head. The other thing that’s really cool is a lot of times when you get into that around $150 or less mark, what you’re going to see is that the guts of these helmets are not removable, nonmaintainable and non-washable.

This helmet actually flies in the face of the conventional budget helmet. Other manufacturers do that to save cost, what I like about this helmet is that everything from the interior comes out.

From the neck roll to the comfort liner they all pull out. What they’ve done is integrated it very simply into the helmet. The interior is 3D sonically welded to match the cutaways which allow you to breathe in the helmet.

It’s not the most technical setup but it is fully removable, washable, maintainable and replaceable if you get it a little bit dirty.

The inside of the helmet and the rest of the interior have some foam, they are covered in suede and again can be a little bit tight in the ear pocket. If you’re going to install some type of Bluetooth communicator I think it’s a little bit tougher to do on a helmet like this.

Again, it’s a bit of a no-frills approach, what you’re really investing in is the air part of the Scout air which is 1 pound 12 ounces weight. Probably the lightest helmet in any shape or form that carries a decent safety rating and decent materials that we’ve ever seen.

The next step up from here is going to be two pounds six ounces in a custom 500 helmet. Which again, two pounds six ounces feels like you’re wearing nothing at all.

The Bell Scout Air available from Motorcycle House.comOpens in a new tab. is super lightweight and stylish. The deciding factor for you might be the fit, whether or not intermediate oval but sitting higher on your head works for you, keep in mind to use the size chart and go up a full size because it runs small.

The Bell Custom 500

They’ve changed a few things on the Custom 500 recently and the big change is the fitment of the helmet. This helmet now is a low profile design which is really different compared to any other DOT open face helmets on the market.

There’s not a lot of external changes other than they’ve added a fist snap for a flat shield. Some of the accessories might be different but again you’re still going to get a multitude of colors. Metallics graphics, custom artist, they still use it as a canvas because this is the helmet that started it all off.

What you are getting with the Bell 500 is a helmet that sits dramatically lower on your head, they’ve accomplished this by updating the outer shell with a new style of composite fiberglass.

They’ve also updated the EPS and they’re now using five different EPS and shell shapes for six different sizes of the helmet.

Extra small and small, the only ones that are sharing a shell. What that’s allowed it to do is let it sit six inches lower on the head.

You can see it from the front, you can see it from the side, it’s going to have the exact same fitment as the latest and greatest shape that we’ve seen on the Bell RS1.

It’s that new shell shape from bell so it’s going to fit lower, snugger and much more contoured to the head. Where the original Bell 500 or custom 500 from last year is going to be a little bit more round.

The Canvas Bell started in 1954, this was the original helmet that everybody is riding right now. Single-handedly the most popular open-faced helmet we’ve seen over the last three to four years.

The fiberglass composite shell is really lightweight, the new version shaves an ounce off the helmet so two-point-five pounds in weight.

Five snaps on its outside, design bubble shields, flat shields and you have different visor configurations. The options depend on the color of the helmet or the graphic the trims going to change.

Now if you’re still in this market and you want to go even further retro check out the new Bell Bullitt helmet which is a big step up in cost, these bad boys are just over that hundred dollar mark.

The bell bullets are going to be dramatically more expensive but that’s a piece of art where this is really a blank canvas, that bells just doing a ton of creative stuff.

One last thing to call out is that the new two XL which is the top of the food chain from a size standpoint is now a true 64 centimeter where previously it was a 63 and some folks ran into some issues. So again the size range has been refined as well.

We love this helmets bang for the buck factor, style factor, from Bell. Again you can’t ignore the vintage inspiration that goes into the helmet that started it all off when they used to call these crash helmets back in the motorcycle era of the 1950s 1960s.

Our Final Thoughts On The Bell Scout Air Vs Custom 500

Out of the two my favorite is the Bell scout air. For the shape of my head, it’s very comfortable. It has a nice profile and the interior can be removed to clean when it starts to get smelly after some long rides on hot summer days.

The Bell custom available from Motorcycle House.comOpens in a new tab. is a great helmet but I prefer less helmet and more open air. The one thing I didn’t like about the Custom 500 is even though the interior looks great after five minutes my head started getting sweaty.

That OK if you have some hair but if you don’t it can get a little uncomfortable so you would need to wear something to soak up the sweat.

If you need to clean your smelly helmet then check out how you can get rid of the summer bugs and that sweaty odor from your helmet.


Keith Mallinson has been a motorcycle enthusiast for the past 20 years. He has owned a variety of bikes during this time, ranging from sport bikes to cruisers. Keith has a passion for all things motorcycle related, including riding, maintaining, and customizing his bikes.In addition to his personal experience with motorcycles, Keith has also kept up to date with industry news and trends. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and insights with others through his motorcycle blog.When he's not out on the open road, Keith can be found tinkering in his garage, planning his next road trip, or spending time with his family.