Date Reviewed - January 2019 Reviewed by - Ella Price - £130-170
The Bell MX-9 MIPS is Bell’s latest version of their MX-9 flip front helmet, this time focusing more heavily on safety as it is aimed at off road adventure riders. The impressively low Bell MX-9 price of £100 to £150 is however maintained by saving on un-necessary gadgets and features. The areas where Bell have made cuts are wisely done, for example there are no tech features, no emphasis on easy to use functions, or doubling up on anti-fog systems. There are some factors which could be improved on, for example the potentially overwhelming ventilation levels, but overall the Bell MX-9 MIPS is a real feat for Bell.
Safety has been placed first and foremost in the design of the Bell MX-9 MIPS. They have revolutionised the MV-9 model with their innovative MIPS liner. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System and consists of a secondary low-friction layer inside the helmet that’s implemented by a slip-plane system. It’s designed to rotate inside the helmet during an impact to reduce the amount of energy transferred to or from the head. For those taking part in high impact, fast and risky off-road pursuits, this will be provide great re-assurance. The Bell MX-9 MIPS is ECE and DOT certified so Bell’s claims have been confirmed and their excellent reputation for safety has been further solidified. Additional safety features include a tough poly-carbonate shell. Poly-carbonate has been proven to be up to 200 times stronger than glass, unaffected by changes in temperature and with excellent longevity; providing top notch impact protection for those off-road daredevil activities. Lastly, a traditional double D ring fastener has been used to ensure safety diligence as the user has to create their own secure fitting on every use. This is a typical example of how Bell have balanced costs with functionality without making sacrifices.
The Bell MX-9 MIPS has been designed for those taking part in the high energy sport of motocross and/or adventure riding, therefore maximum airflow was Bell’s goal. This has certainly been achieved with their Velocity Flow Ventilation system which includes three chin vents, two forehead vents and four exhaust vents, all combining to ensure that air is circulated through the channels in the polystyrene lining and through to your head. This ventilation system helps aid the increased respiration from the user, that comes from high energy pursuits, as well as helping to control increases in temperature. It is also perfect for hot weather which makes it handy for cross climate travelling. However, these advantages also lead to the main disadvantage of this particular helmet model. The Bell MX-9 MIPS’ ventilation system’s only vent that you can close is the central chin vent, meaning that in colder weather you might need to wear a balaclava to help you cope with the overwhelming amount of cold air rushing through the helmet.
The Bell MX-9 MIPS boasts a Flying Bridge Visor™. Unlike some of its competitors, there is no pinlock technology included, however there is an anti-fog coating. Users have confirmed that this is more than sufficient, showing that Bell’s aim to reduce unnecessary expenditure in this area, has been successful. This helmet has some great versatile features such as the visor being removable, leaving an eye port that is large enough to allow goggles to be used instead if you prefer. We recommend Fox or Builtwell goggles for the best fit.
Another advantage of the Bell MX-9 MIPS’ visor is that it can be removed or changed without the need for tools, to the darker visor for example which is a handy optional extra. This allows you to tailor the helmet to your individual needs. However, in order to change the visor, you would need to remove the sun peak first which can make the process a little slow. The visor has four possible positions which is good, but one thing to note is that some users found that the ridge used to open the visor can affect visibility when the visor is in the third position, creating a potential safety risk. The opening tabs on the visor are easy to use and centrally located, meaning you can use either hand to open it; a plus which many may really favour as it minimises distraction whilst riding. The visor also sits well in the main frame of the Bell MX-9 MIPS; creating a firm seal to avoid anything entering the eye port area.
The sun peak is a great addition as it helps to keep the sun away from your eyes but it is not necessary, so some prefer to remove the sun peak to create a more aerodynamic helmet. This is especially beneficial if you are travelling at high speeds. The sun peak also has two possible positions, which although do not require tools, can be a little fiddly to change and you would need to make sure you put any small parts that you remove, in a very safe place (small parts are replaceable). An additional protective role that the sun peak plays is protecting the visor from gravel rash if the helmet is dropped. Good to know!
Wind noise can be a bit of a problem with the Bell MX-9 MIPS. The ventilation system, despite being highly effective does not have any vents that can be closed other than the central chin vent. This means that you would struggle to control the amount of air rushing through the helmet. This wouldn’t cause much of a problem if you are partaking in the kind of activities the helmet is designed for such as motocross, however if you did want to use it travelling at speed on roads, you may need to use ear plugs for the noise. Luckily however, the first cracked position of the visor is suitable for speeds of up to 70mph in terms of general comfort which proves that the helmet is still versatile, particularly for a specialised product. Although it is louder than the average helmet designed for road use, it has normal noise levels for an adventure bike. In order to improve the noise levels, you would need to sacrifice on ventilation, which needs to be the priority for the Bell MX-9 MIPS’ target audience of adventurers.
One of the main concerns for users was the impact of the MIPS system on the comfort of the original Bell MX-9 helmet, however, not only has this not been negatively affected, many users claim that you cannot feel it at all. Although Bell have saved money by choosing not to use an overly plush lining, overall it is perfectly comfortable. It is a fully removable and washable comfort liner that’s both moisture wicking and anti-microbial. The helmet is available in three sizes which not only means you can choose a size that is most comfortable, it also adds to the safety features of the helmet as, the more snugly it fits, the more effective it will be in an accident. Having three size options is unusual for cheaper helmet models so Bell should be applauded for this.
The sizing itself is also faultless, however there is a range of sizes of cheek pads available just in case you do find it unsatisfactory. There is also a padded chin strap which is another good comfort feature. Unfortunately, there are a couple of negative aspects to note in this section. The cheek pads have not been designed to accommodate glasses which may be a problem for some users. But perhaps the most significant flaw is the weight of the Bell MX-9 MIPS helmet. The smallest size weighs approximately 1765g, which is slightly more than its competitors and can lead to discomfort and fatigue on long journeys. However, if the helmet is only used in the situations it was designed for such as off-roading and motocross, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue as they are short term activities. In terms of appearance, there is a wide range of graphics available for the shell, for example Pinned, Airtrix, Blockade, Barracade, Scrub, Camo, Raid and Adventure designs; showing that despite focusing on the functionality of the product, Bell have still taken into account personal style and preferences.
By making some careful decisions, Bell have created the ultimate off-road adventure helmet with the Bell MX-9 MIPS. It brilliantly meets the most important requirements of the rider such as safety with their innovative MIPS system, whilst remaining at the very affordable price of between £100 and £150. Most of its negative features are of little consequence and can be justified by considering its purpose and target audience, and the helmet even shows versatility such as the variety of external graphics choices and interchangeable parts. The Bell MX-9 MIPS is the best helmet you will find for off-road adventuring on a budget and deserves an overall rating of 8 out of 10.