Has your kiddo ever wanted a helmet just like yours? That can be a reality with the Bell Spark Jr, a minified version of the adult-size Bell Spark*.
It has all the features of a grown-up helmet including MIPS technology, an integrated visor, and large vent holes. In comparison to most kiddie helmets, the Bell Spark Jr is a step up in terms of aesthetics and fit.
Its mountain bike oriented design offers a
Review in a Nutshell
- Aesthetically-pleasing, looks “cool”
- MIPS technology
- Large vent
holdes Integratedvisor that’s much larger than most kids helmets
- Rear dial is too small for little hands to operate
Price & Where to Buy:
Bell Spark Jr MIPS Detailed Review
Large Vent Holes Provide Breathability
One of the biggest problems with most kids helmets is their lack of breathability. The Bell Spark Jr doesn’t have that problem. The vent holes are considerable and provide good airflow through the helmet. There is also an airflow channel down the center of the helmet. If your child rides in warmer weather or frequently ends up with a sweaty head while riding, the Bell Spark Jr is a good choice.
We also like the padding inside the helmet. The material is porous and doesn’t get as sweaty and wet as the pads on cheaper helmets.
Fuss-Free Adjustment and Retention System
It’s always difficult to get kids to stay still long enough to properly adjust and fit their helmet. That’s why we appreciate when helmets are designed to make adjustments quick and painless.
The Bell Spark Jr has easy-slide splitters around the ears that can be adjusted in only a few seconds. We also found that they stayed in place nicely and didn’t slip around.
The straps come out of the sides of the helmets (as opposed to the interior of the helmet) which provides for a shorter strap and less chance of getting twisted. In fact, we haven’t had any issues with the straps twisting.
The buckle is simple for kids to snap and unsnap on their own, although it is more difficult to operate than a magnetic buckle like the one of the Woom helmet, especially when children are wearing gloves.
The retention cage does a good job of snugging up the helmet, and we haven’t had any issues with fore-aft movement of the helmet. The only thing we aren’t crazy about is the rear fit dial which is small and isn’t rubberized. While I was able to adjust it for my son, it was hard for him to do himself. Again, we prefer the design on the Woom helmet or the Kali Chakra, both of which are large and easy for small hands to operate.
MIPS Technology Provides Peace of Mind
The Bell Spark Jr comes standard with MIPS technology. Not sure what MIPS is? In a very simplified version, it’s an additional layer between your child’s head and the shell of the helmet that reduces rotational force. For a more detailed explanation, read my post on MIPS.
While there’s long been controversy over the effectiveness of MIPS and whether or not it’s just a marketing ploy, recent third-party studies are making it clearer that MIPS is safer. In any case, this is your child’s brain we’re talking about. I for one, appreciate that the Bell Spark Jr has MIPS and it helps me sleep better at night knowing I’ve done the best I can to help protect my child as he takes his riding to new levels.
Large Visor Protects Little Faces and Eyes
The integrated visor on the Bell Spark Jr is substantial and does a great job of protecting little faces and eyes from
We also like that in the event of a faceplant a large helmet provides some level of impact protection.
Bell Spark Jr Vs The Cheaper Bell Sidetrack
The Bell Spark Jr is a step up from the more affordable Bell Sidetrack. While both helmets have a similar look and feel, the Bell Spark Jr is a higher-quality helmet. It has nicer padding, bigger vent holes, a bigger visor, and a nicer buckle. (We really don’t like the buckle on the Bell Sidetrack).
That said, the Bell is a nice helmet too, and it also comes in a MIPS version so you’re not sacrificing a lot. If you’re looking to save a bit of money, go with the Sidetrack. If you’re looking for a helmet that offers maximum ventilation, comfort, and sun protection, choose the Spark Jr.
- Read: Bell Sidetrack Review
The Bell Spark Jr only comes in one size and fits heads with a circumference between 50 and 57 cm. That makes it the same size as the Bell Sidetrack Youth and the Giro Tremor, and a good choice for grade school age children.
If you need a smaller helmet, you might want to check out the Bell Sidetrack Child or the Giro Scamp.
Colors and Design
As mentioned previously, the Bell Spark also comes in an adult version and a women’s version and the adult designs match the kids. This is convenient for kids like my son who like looking just like mom and dad out on the trail.
Comparison Chart: Bell Spark Jr vs Other Competitors
Not sure if the Bell Spark Jr is the best choice for your kiddo? Here’s how it stacks up against the competition.
|Helmet||Style||MIPS?||Magnetic Buckle?||Weight||Head Circumference|
|Kali Chakra Youth*||MTB||No||No||245 g||52-57 cm|
|Giro Tremor MIPS*||MTB||Yes||No||306 g||50 - 57 cm|
|Troy Lee Designs A1*||MTB||Yes||No||346 g||48 to 53 cm (Youth)
50 to 54 cm (XS)
|Melon*||Skate-style||No||Yes||280 g||52-58 cm (M/L)|
|Bern Nino*||Skate-style||No||No||360 g||52-55cm|
|Giro Hale MIPS*||Traditional / Road||Yes||No||247 g||50-57 cm|
|Bell Sidetrack MIPS*||MTB||Yes||No||340 g||47 – 54 cm (Child)
50 – 57 cm (Youth)
|Bell Sidetrack (non-MIPS)*||MTB||No||No||310 g||47 – 54 cm (Child)
50 – 57 cm (Youth)
|Bell Nomad Jr*||MTB||Yes||No||353 g||50-57 cm|
|Woom||MTB||No||Yes||270 g||53-56 cm (M)|
|POC POCito Omne SPIN*||Traditional / Road||No||No||326 g||51-56 cm (S)|
|Thousand Jr*||Skate-style||No||No||390 g||49-53 cm|
|Smith Wilder Jr||MTB||Yes||No||269 g||48-52 cm|
|Lazer Gekko*||Traditional / Road||Yes||No||310 g||50-56 cm|
|POC Pocito Crane*||Skate-style||Yes||No||51-54 cm (XS-S)
55-58 cm (M-L)
|Nutcase Little Nutty*||Skate-style||Yes||Yes||48-52 cm (Child)
52-56 cm (Youth)
|Bontrager Jet WaveCel||Skate-style||No||Yes||540 g||50-55 cm|
|Smith Zip Jr MIPS*||Traditional / Road||Yes||No||269 g||48-52 cm|
Bottom-Line: A Kiddie Helmet a Step Above Most
The Bell Spark Jr isn’t a cheap kids helmet–either in terms of price or construction. It’s a top-shelf, high quality mountain bike oriented helmet designed for smaller heads.
In fact, the only way to get a nicer helmet for your child is to upgrade to an XS adult helmet like the POC Trabec. That comes with an even heftier price tag and weight penalty, making the Bell Spark Jr a sweet spot in the world of kids helmets.
Read Even More Helmet Reviews
Want to do your research before you buy? Check out these resources for our favorite helmets and links to additional reviews.
2 thoughts on “Bell Spark Jr MIPS Kids Helmet Review”
Do you have any comments on recently released safety warnings for Woom helmets?
First off, I think Woom has done the right thing by temporarily stopping sales of the helmet. Obviously, any safety concerns should be taken seriously. That said, I’d certainly like to see additional testing done to replicate the consumer reports findings before I’d panic or withdraw my support of the helmet. The Woom helmet had previously passed all standards for certifications both in the U.S. and in Europe. Those tests are done in independent labs. In our experience, it’s also been a great helmet. I hope that additional lab testing is able to demonstrate that the helmet is safe.