I have a Bell bicycle helmet that is probably two years old, and the pads for the front and sides have disintegrated from sweat and are now little more than pieces of fabric attached to the velcro pads inside the helmet. Does anyone know where I can get replacement pads for the helmet? I have looked on retail sites like jensonusa.com and on the bellhelmets.com site and I can't seem to find them.
Here is the list of Bell helmet spares available in the UK:
If your helmet is on there then you can find the product code and Google that for someone online that has that part in stock and can sell it to you. Note that Madison is the UK distributor and has different product codes to elsewhere, so a google of the exact product description might come up good.
Once you know the product code then your LBS should have no problems ordering it for you. Note that helmets change every 2-3 years and you may not be able to get spares for an older model.
Another option is to treat yourself to a new and affordable helmet, this will come with spare pads that you can use on your existing one. Affordable ones have a lot going for them and they still have to pass the same tests as the posh ones.
IMHO the Bell helmets are very poorly designed bits of cheap Chinese polystyrene with straps and fit that are not a patch on the European makes, e.g. MET helmets. the MET helmets have straps where the adjustment buckles don't want to align 90 degrees to your skin (to dig in), a clasp that doesn't catch the skin under the chin or straps that need tightening every time you put the thing on. Then there are the Specialized helmets - to the higher Snell standard than the CPSC 'as tested by the manufacturer' standard used by Bell/Giro (did you know they were the same company?). Of course you could also go 'completely Dutch' and forego the 'nice hat' entirely.
Anyway, if the LBS is useless, consider the 'order by part number' route or get a replacement helmet which will come with enough spare pads for your existing one.
Visit the friendly folks at your local bike shop at a quieter time of the week and ask. Chances are that they will have plenty of spare pads tucked behind the counter. Buy something else at the same time and they might let you have them for a favourable price.
This is one area where a local bike shop can provide the service that you do not get shopping online, where it is all too easy to get the wrong bits and pay postage for the privilege.
They're for sale at any grocery, drug store, or discount store. You just have to walk away from the "cycling" section (which is usually very small in most grocery stores) and to the "feminine hygiene" section (which is much larger). And rather than "helmet pads", look for a package labeled "maxi pads" or some such.
You'll find nice absorbent pads (about 3/8" thick) with an adhesive strip. One pad will last a long time, but they're cheap enough to discard daily.
(Note that I'm being serious -- perhaps not "perfectly serious", but I've used these in my own helmet for decades. And one of the reasons I use them is because I sweat profusely, and they help greatly to prevent sweat running down into my eyes.)
A lot of motorcycle racers use lady's panty-liner pads on their foreheads to minimize sweat dripping down. It could work with a bicycle helmet, too.
The helmet pads are otherwise almost the same cheap fabric they use for headliners in cars. Buy a few Velcro dots and make your own replacements, or a generic pad set from China for $2.69 on eBay. The pads might not line up perfectly with the vent holes, but as long as they create a slight airspace between your sweaty head and the Styrofoam helmet, it doesn't matter.
Sometimes foam weatherstripping they use for doors works, too. I used some to create air channels at the top on one of my helmets.