Be McQueen on any Sunday with Bell’s new helmet

Bell Helmets

Here’s the deal. I couldn’t afford even the opening bid when the Bullitt Mustang crossed the block a few years ago, and the Manx buggy from The Thomas Crown Affair will likely elude me for life. The Husqvarna from On Any Sunday will forever be a dream.

So what’s a man to do to to get his McQueen fix on a budget? Bell helmets just announced a great option.

Using its Custom 500 half helmet as the base, Bell partnered with the McQueen estate to create a replica of the helmet worn by Steve and the rest of the U.S. contingent during the 1964 International Six Days Trials (ISDT, now known as ISDE) off-road race. This was the first year the U.S.A. entered a team in the historic European multi-day race, an event first held in 1913, only paused for the first and second world wars, and still active today. That means you or I can put #278 on the numberplate of whatever bike we own and do our best impression of McQueen, which should be easy: According to Chad McQueen, Steve’s son, the man had motorcycles on the mind more often than not.

“My dad loved riding motorcycles more than anything,” said Chad. “Much of my childhood memories with my dad revolve around motorcycles. We loved going on two-wheeled adventures together and I’m thrilled to see this helmet come back to life considering my dad and I always wore Bell helmets.”

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Paris Match via Getty Images

The helmet is painted in a simple, blue and white scheme accented with some red pinstriping and a tasteful little signature from the man who inspired the lid on the back. The visor is a period-correct 510-style, too.

Though not identical to the original Bell TX that would have been worn during the 1960s, that’s not a bad thing. Safety technology has come a long way in 60-plus years, and a helmet is meant for safety, not style. It’s always nice when you can get both in a lid, though.

Josh Sawyer

Will slipping this new helmet on make you as cool as the characters McQueen played? Probably not, but if you want to try, be sure to hurry. This is a limited release that will include a special 278 decal featuring Steve McQueen’s name and the 1964 ISDT details, along with a keychain featuring McQueen’s name and a black leather helmet bag for transporting and storing your new helmet safely.

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    It will be interesting if the non-native* fanbase of McQueen is large enough to keep the legend alive.

    Elvis impersonators, festivals and such have kept that going (though arguably as a caricature) while most musicians and actors (of the Elvis level of movie quality) of that era are obscure, forgotten, or remembered for one thing that may not even be their actual most impressive accomplishment (i.e., Buddy Holly songs being used as background music in commercials but no profile for Buddy Holly in modern pop culture unless you are a Weezer fan and then Buddy Holly is a fashion look mostly to do with the glasses…).

    McQueen for a lot of people under 50 is a red cartoon car that sounds like Owen Wilson…

    *non-native may not be the correct word, the term eludes me –I am referring to those that are fans of something after it happened, never witnessed it when it was originally popular, possibly even born after said event happened or person has passed away.

    It is an interesting thing to think about. McQueen legacy has always been interesting to me partly because he passed nearly a decade before I was born. Therefore I know just as much of the less lovely things he did as the really cool stuff. I like this helmet and would wear one, but not because it’s tied to the name, but more the event and period of time. a lot of people I know my age are the same way. We still lust after the On Any Sunday Husky, but not because of who rode it.

    A vintage style helmet is popular because of the nostalgia and image of the period, same with vintage cars and bikes. The McQueen factor only really applies in that sense (as previous posts have stated, many were born after he died). For those that didn’t live thru the 60s and early 70s, vintage is the only way to get a taste of what those who did are always raving about. That said, this is a safe and stylish looking helmet, so if putting Steves’ name on the back sells a few, that’s not a bad thing.

    Only a couple decades too late on this one. Fewer and fewer people of McQueen’s demographic are still riding.

    I do love all of the vintage style helmet offerings that have popped up in the last few years. A vintage helmet fits if you have a vintage/vintage style bike. I don’t McQueen has that much sway on anyone at this point. Most of the people that do know of him really only know about Bullit anyway.

    Aside from the paint scheme which is cool, it will look like a mushroom on your head. not at all like the original.

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