A true helmet for little groms and any young adventurous rider, the Bell Spark Jr. offers the look and performance of an adult enduro mountain biking helmet in a pint-sized package.
Complete with integrated MIPS technology, thick, moisture-wicking pads, and 13 large vents working side-by-side with deep channels in the helmet’s foam core, the Spark Jr. is our favorite helmet for young mountain bikers. From fit to sizing, our review outlines everything you need to know about the Spark Jr.
***The Bell Spark Jr. has been discontinued. We recommend looking at the Bell Nomad Jr. MIPS**
Bell Spark Jr Overview
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: Neighborhood to aggressive riders wanting a high performing helmet with grown up styling.
SIZE: 50 – 57 cm
ADJUSTMENT SYSTEM: Dial adjust
WEIGHT: 345 g
- Fun, modern mountain biking style
- Superior air flow to keep heads cool
- Integrated MIPS protection
- Sweat pad on the forehead to prevent dripping sweat
- Thick, moisture wicking pads
- Lightweight design
- Standard buckle (not non-pinch)
- Non-locking chin strap sliders
Bell Spark Jr Review – Results of our Testing
The Spark is sized to fit heads 52 to 57 cm in circumference and was a great fit for our testers aged 7, 10 and 12. As a recommendation, you should always measure your child’s head circumference to ensure a proper fit!
Designed for a more aggressive rider, the Spark Jr. is deeper to provide extended coverage along the sides and back of the head. To highlight the extended fit of the Spark Jr., we compared it to the Bell Nomad Jr., which retails for $20 less than the Spark. The Nomad Jr. also features MIPS technology and mountain-bike styling but has a wider size range of 50 to 57 cm.
7-year-old with a 52 cm Head Circumference
Both the Nomad Jr. and the Spark Jr. fit our 7-year-old tester, but the Nomad’s shallower build places the helmet higher on the head. The deeper Spark provides additional protection down the sides and the rear of the helmet but was almost too deep for our 7-year-old. Extending down to his eyebrows, the Spark rested on the top of his sunglasses. As a result, if your young grom prefers wearing sunglasses while riding, be sure they are equipped with smaller, kid sized sunglasses (Uvex Sportstyle glasses shown).
12-year-old with a 56 cm Head Circumference
Although older and having a larger head circumference, the Spark Jr. has a similar fit on our 12-year-old tester. Being older and more likely to ride at higher speeds, the extended coverage of the Spark Jr. is especially beneficial. The Spark Jr. does provide more room for sunglasses for her as compared to the 7-year-old, but not nearly as much as the high set Nomad Jr..
10-year-old with a 57 cm Head Circumference
The shape and design of the Spark Jr. as compared to the Nomad Jr. was especially noticeable with our 10-year-old with a round head. The narrower Nomad was too narrow for him to get on, while the wider Spark was able to fit. While it fit, the Spark Jr. offered little room for growth, so for him, the adult sized Spark, versus the Spark Jr., would be a better purchase option for him.
Spark Jr. vs. Nomad Shape
A side-by-side comparison of the Spark Jr. versus the Nomad Jr. clearly shows the difference in their shape. The Nomad is designed for a smaller head and its foam core is actually much narrower than the Spark. As a result, the Spark is much better suited for wider heads than the Nomad.
Built for the ambitious young rider, the Spark Jr. not only comes with MIPS, it takes it one step further with an integrated MIPS system. MIPS stands for multi-directional impact system, which provides additional protection to the head and neck from steeply angled impacts. Upon an impact, the MIPS system allows the helmet to rotate around the head, thereby preventing a portion of the angular forces from tweaking the head and neck.
On most MIPS helmets, the MIPS consist of a separate internal plastic layer that works independently of the helmet’s internal adjust cage (the cage that controls the fit of the helmet). The MIPS system on the Spark is an integrated system which allows the MIPS layer and the helmet’s internal adjust system to work together as one.
As an added bonus, the MIPS anchors are covered on the Spark. Located beneath the pads, the anchors are safely tucked away to prevent long hair from being snagged on the anchors. The extended brow pad on the front of the helmet helps to pull sweat away from the face and prevent it from dripping down the face.
Weight, Air Flow and Padding
Although the Spark is technically a larger helmet than the Nomad, it’s actually several grams lighter. The Nomad comes in at 353 g while the Spark is 345 g. While the integrated MIPS system plays a slight role in lightening the Spark, the deep pockets in Spark’s foam core, which allow for additional air flow, play a larger role.
Running down the middle of the helmet, as well as front to back between all 13 vents, the Spark provides superior air flow with air channels. These air channels are recessed into the foam and allow the air to flow underneath the red MIPS liner, between vents, and eventually out the back of the helmet. The Nomad has a few air channels between the air vents, but they are not as deep or prominent as the Spark’s.
The pads on the Spark are also a step up from the Nomad’s as they are thicker, more numerous, and constructed out of moisture-wicking material.
The visor on the Spark is more smoothly integrated into the design of the helmet than the Nomad’s. The Spark’s visor attaches to the helmet via three plastic anchors, versus the Nomad’s two. Neither visor is adjustable.
Unlike traditional visors on helmets, the visors on the Nomad and Spark are placed higher on the helmet, significantly above the bottom of the helmet’s foam core. The higher placements provide relief from the sun without compromising visibility while leaned forward on the bike.
Bell Spark Jr. Helmet Bottom Line
The Bell Spark Jr. is a top-notch helmet fully equipped to tackle everything from neighborhood riding to intermediate mountain biking trails. With MIPS technology, lightweight design, and superior air flow, the Spark Jr. will keep your young grom’s bucket cool and protected. As compared to the cheaper Nomad Jr., the Spark Jr. is especially beneficial for kids with longer hair (covered MIPS anchors) as well as those with round-shaped heads.