The Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS is Bell’s latest incarnation of the MX-9 helmet, with a MIPS liner to add an innovative form of additional protection.
MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System, 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 and, according to Bell, it reduces the amount of energy transferred to or from the head.
Thankfully I didn’t need to test the effectiveness of the MIPS liner in an impact, but its presence didn’t impede the comfort of the helmet at all. When it was on my head I had no idea the MIPS liner was there – if it improves safety without hindering comfort then Bell have done a good job.
The MX-9 doesn’t boast the plushest of liners, but comfort overall is good. The most detrimental issue is weight as my size-small review helmet weighed in at a relatively hefty 1765g. After a few hours of riding in this helmet, it does become fatiguing.
The visor change system was refreshing to use after the long-winded process on the Arai Tour X4 I reviewed previously. The MX-9 Adventure’s tool-free visor change is not the fastest in the world as, like the Arai, the peak must be removed before the visor can be taken off. However, unlike the Arai, the Bell has thumbscrews so there is no need for a screwdriver.
It is possible to ride without the peak fitted, but you have to fit the two base plates and a blanking plug for the top peak screw. All of these parts are supplied with the helmet, but they are a little fiddly to fit and I suspect I’d have lost some of the bits if I kept the helmet for much longer.
With the visor removed and the peak fitted, it’s possible to wear goggles with the helmet, but my Oakley O-frames didn’t fit in the aperture particularly well. This meant that sometimes the goggles weren’t sealed to my face and the wind could get through. I always found it embarrassing turning up to work looking like I’d cried all the way there.
At motorway speeds the peak would catch in the windflow and drag my head back a little, but as I tend to wear adventure-style helmets I became used to it quickly. It is still something to be aware of as the combination of weighty construction and drag from the peak may be too much for some people.
Airflow in the helmet is good, but only the chin vent closes. This can be a problem, especially when it’s cold outside and icy air is being blasted at your face, and I wouldn’t wear this helmet in winter without a windproof balaclava.
The other issue with the always-open vents is noise. Without earplugs the noise was unbearable but with them in I had no real problems.
The Bell has an anti-fog coating rather than a Pinlock insert, something that always makes me apprehensive. On this occasion I needn’t have worried as the anti-fog treatment worked perfectly, even though I tend to breath quite heavily, especially when I’m riding off-road.
I used both clear (standard) and dark visors (an optional extra) in my time with the lid and there was never any serious fogging. I’d still prefer the reassurance of a Pinlock insert but this visor does a great job of staying fog-free without one.
The visor operation took me a few rides to as the tabs to open it are in the centre. This is great because you can use either hand to open the visor. However, on occasion I struggled to locate the tab and ended up with my thumb in the vent.
Overall the Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS is a good adventure-style helmet that offers good value for money.
The huge visor aperture and anti-fog coating mean vision is fantastic. I’d still prefer a Pinlock because in the event of the anti-fog deteriorating it would be cheaper to replace an insert than a whole visor.
There could be more ventilation but more importantly, there should be a way of closing the vents.
Fit & Comfort
I normally wear a small in helmets and the Bell was true to size and comfortable. The weight of the helmet took its toll on longer rides.
The helmet is well thought out and nicely designed. It’s relatively basic, but the quality is commensurate with the price. I had no problems with mine and would expect it to last.
This helmet doesn’t have a lot of features but any additions would have pushed the price up. Although a chin curtain would have been appreciated.