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A little history of Bell Helmets!

Do you know that the company that makes Bell helmets did not start out making helmets? It was a company that sold auto parts -- Bell Auto Parts -- started by George Wight in Bell, California, in 1923. In 1933, Rogy Richter went to work for Wight. Richter was a car racer who built the Bell Special from parts found in the company's junk yard. This was not a helmet, but rather, a midget race car. Richter had a racing career where he won numerous championships and set several records. In the course of his racing career, he saw a number of friends die in car race crashes.

In 1945, Richter purchases Bell Autoparts. In 1954, the first Bell helmet is manufactured: the "500." It was a car racing helmet, used in races including the Indianapolis 500. Cal Niday was the first to use it in the Indy 500, and he credits it with keeping him from serious injury when he crashed hard into a wall. In 1955, the Los Angeles police required helmets for its motorcycle officers. Bell eventually supplied

motorcycle helmets to more than 800 police departments. In 1961, more types of Bell helmets came out. From auto racing helmets, to helmets for sports like hockey, skiing, skydiving, baseball, football, to helmets for police and firemen.

The ski helmet was adapted for bicycle racing. In 1970, standards were set for bicycle helmets. And in 1975, the Bell Biker is introduced. And as they say, the rest is history. In 1983, the first Bell bicycle helmet developed for racing is introduced: the VI Pro. The company continues to produce bicycle helmets using available technologies, like the Microshell technology (1989), and the in-mold bonding process (1990). When mountain biking became popular, helmets for this were also made. Bell Helmets, Inc. -- a company with an interesting history.

About the author:

Mike Yeager

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