With MIPS technology and mountain-bike styling, the Bell Nomad Jr. is a great mid-priced kid’s helmet for the adventurous young rider. Fully equipped and ready for action, the Bell Nomad Jr. is a mountain-bike styled helmet that is one of the highest-quality helmets for kids ages 6 to 12.
***NOTE***This review was originally based on the Nomad Jr. (black helmet shown in the review below). In Fall of 2022, that helmet was replaced by the Bell Nomad Jr. 2 (blue helmet shown in this review).
While we loved the Nomad Jr., we are not fans of the Nomad Jr. 2 and do not recommend it. Since the original Nomad Jr. has been discontinued, we’ll first jump into our issues with the Nomad 2, but will leave our original Nomad Jr. review below in case someone is lucky enough to come across the older version.***
Concerns with the Bell Nomad Jr. 2
We came across two main issues when testing the Nomad Jr. 2 – (1) fit and (2) difficulty in adjusting.
Like the original Nomad Jr., the Nomad Jr. 2 has the same size range of 52-57 cm, but we found that it doesn’t offer as great of a fit as the original Nomad. Although the original Nomad is still a great fit on our 10-year-old tester with a 54 cm head circumference, the Nomad Jr. 2 is not.
The Nomad Jr. 2 sits much higher on his head, providing much less protection to his face and head in the event of a face plant. In the picture above, you can see that it looks like the blue Nomad Jr. 2 helmet isn’t quite pushed down onto his head all the way, but it is. Even with the dial-adjust fully loosed and the helmet pushed down until it touches the top of his head, the Nomad 2 is sitting as low as it can go on his head.
Our rider’s original Nomad Jr. helmet, which he uses on a regular basis, sits much lower on his head and provides more coverage to his face and forehead. By comparing the distance between his hair line and ear to the bottom of the helmet, you can visually see just how much higher the Nomad 2 sits on his head.
The second concern we had with the Nomad 2 was the difficulty in reaching the dial-adjust knob in the back of the helmet. If not placed carefully on the head, the dial-adjust knob gets tucked under the helmet, making it impossible to reach in order to adjust.
If the dial-adjust is held down when placing over the head, the bottom portion of the dial is reachable, but is still hard to adjust since you can’t reach the top of the knob in order to grip it.
Considering kids old enough to fit in the Nomad Jr. size range are usually putting on their helmet on their own, the difficulty in reaching the dial adjust will likely cause them to not properly adjust their helmets when riding. As a result, the Nomad Jr. 2 is less likely to be able to properly protect their heads in the event of a crash.
What to Buy Instead?
If you are looking for an “MTB” style helmet for your young rider, we would recommend the Giro Tremor MIPS. It offers a great fit and is priced very similar to the Nomad Jr. 2. You can find our full review of the Tremor here.
Original Bell Nomad Jr. Helmet Review
- Fun mountain bike styling
- MIPS protective system
- Large vents for good air flow
- Large visor
- Narrower than other helmets, does not fit on round heads
- Standard buckle (not non-pinch)
Bell Nomad Jr Bike Helmet Review
With in-mold construction for durability, a large visor for sun protection, 13 large air vents, and MIPS multi-impact protection, the Nomad is fully featured for just $50. Youth sized at 52 – 57cm, the Nomad provides a “grown-up” look for cruising the neighborhood as well as for hitting the basic trails.
Size and Shape of the Nomad Jr.
Universally sized to fit heads 52 to 57 cm in circumference, we tested out the Nomad Jr. on 7, 10 and 12-year-old kids with head circumferences ranging from 52 to 57 cm. Although all three kids fit into the helmet’s head circumference range, the more narrow Nomad helmet was only able to fit 2 of our 3 testers.
As a comparison, we had the same testers try out the Bell Spark Jr. (now discontinued), which is listed for head circumferences 50 – 57 cm. Less narrow and more round in internal shape than the Nomad, the Spark was able to fit all three of our testers.
Both helmets fit our youngest tester, but the Nomad’s overall design is not as deep as the Spark. As a result, the Nomad sits significantly higher on our 7-year-old’s head than the Spark. Because he wanted to wear sunglasses during his ride, the higher-set Nomad was actually a slightly better fit because the bottom of the Spark hit the top of his sunglasses. The Spark, however, does offer more coverage along the sides and back of his head.
7-year-old Tester with a 52 cm Head Circumference
With a larger head size, our 12-year-old tester comfortably fit both the Nomad and the Spark. Although older, the deeper Spark still fit much lower on her head than the Nomad. Compared to other youth helmets, however, the Nomad coverage on the rear is very typical. For older and more aggressive riders, the extended coverage on the Spark would certainly be beneficial.
12-year-old Tester with a 56 cm Head Circumference
Having a very round-shaped head since he was a baby, we weren’t too surprised to find the Nomad did not fit our 10-year-old tester. The Nomad was simply too narrow to fit over his head. Wider than the Nomad, the Spark did fit, but offered no room for growth because he was already at the maximum of the helmet’s head circumference range.
10-year-old with a 57 cm Head Circumference
Shape of Nomad vs. Spark
In a side-by-side comparison of the Nomad Jr. and the Spark Jr., it’s easy to see that the Nomad is a much narrower helmet than the Spark. As a result, if your child has a round head, the Spark will likely be a much better fit for them.
MIPS Multi-Impact Protection System
The Nomad Jr. comes standard with the MIPS protective system. MIPS is designed to prevent strain on the neck and head as a result of impacts from steep angles. To minimize injury when faced with an impact, the inner MIPS cage will allow the helmet to rotate around the head to prevent angular strain on the neck.
The one downside of MIPS helmets is the rubber anchors that can catch on longer hair. This was a concern with the Nomad Jr.
Although the MIPS anchors are set lower in the helmet than the pads, longer hair, especially if not pulled back, can get caught on those yellow rubber anchors. While we haven’t had an issue with hair being pulled while riding, hair can easily get pulled while removing the helmet.
The Spark Jr., however, has a more advanced MIPS system that allows the anchors to be placed underneath the pads. As a result, if your child has long hair, we would recommend upgrading to the Spark.
The Nomad Jr. comes with a large, removable visor. The visor is attached with two plastic tabs that hold the visor firmly in place, but are not designed to hold the visor in place in the event of a face plant.
The visor on the Spark Jr. is slightly more integrated and has three points of attachment, but it’s also not designed to withstand the impact from a face plant. If your child is an aggressive downhill mountain biker, a full-face helmet would be a better option.
The dial-adjust system on the Nomad Jr. and the Spark Jr. are exactly the same. The gear-like knob that you turn to adjust the internal cage is small but was easily used by our 7-year-old tester. The buckle on both helmets is also a standard buckle, without any non-pinch protection.
Comparison of Bell’s Kids’ Helmets
In addition to the Nomad Jr., the Sidetrack is another Bell kid’s helmet with mountain bike styling. The Sidetrack is available with and without MIPS and has the same size range as the Nomad at 52 – 57 cm.
The Sidetrack, however, has lower coverage in the back than the Nomad, but a smaller visor in the front. Which is best for your child really depends on your child’s choice of style, whether you want MIPS, and the importance of extended rear coverage (never hurts to have more, but does lead to a sweatier head).
|Bell Sidetrack Youth
|Bell Nomad Jr.
|50 – 57 cm
|52 – 57 cm
Bell Nomad Jr. Bike Helmet Bottom Line
Providing plenty of ventilation, MIPS protection, and durable in-mold construction, the Nomad Jr. is a great helmet for kids ages 6 to 12-years-old who want a “grown-up” mountain biking look. Due to its narrow shape, the Nomad is not suitable for round-shaped heads. Exposed MIPS anchors also make it less ideal for kids with long hair.
For more recommendations on bike helmets, check out our list of 10 Best Kids Bike Helmets.