Bell MX-9 Adventure Blockade Helmet
The MX-9 was the first of the replacement helmets I bought in the spring sales frenzy.
Purchased from Revzilla on closeout for $99, this is the blockade graphics version. Note, the link above is for the standard colors since this is a closeout graphic. For my purposes, the color wasn't as important because I was looking for sale items, thus could only choose from what was on sale. Looking at the date stamp on the back, it appears this was a late 2014 model.
Let’s review the points for this helmet:
- Cheap - (score 2 of 2) The normal cost for the MX-9 ranges from $190 to $220, depending on color, graphics, and store. I got this one on sale for about $100, so WIN on this price point. Even without it being on sale, though, I do believe the material, build quality, and color options make this worth the higher price points.
- Light Weight - (score 1 of 2) At 3.5lbs, the helmet isn't super light, but it does meet my sub 4lb requirement. It feels light on the head and is well balanced.
- Comfort - (score 5 of 8)
- Airflow (1) - Kinda hard to measure this without being on the bike, so I sat in front of a high speed fan to judge this . I figure, if I can get enough air flow in front of a fan on high, then I can get enough out while cruising along a trail - or while sitting in traffic. This helmet has one vent on the chin, and two passive vents on the top that flow through to two on the back. Air comes up from under the chin in a manageable amount, but I ended up cracking open the shield to get a little more. Unfortunately, the shield doesn't crack just a little, it opens an inch, producing way too much air. Ultimately, if riding at a normal clip, the airflow is enough. But if you're crawling along, I'd want a better way to manage air intake.
- Proper Fit (0) - The advertised shape for the MX-9 is an intermediate oval. The padding is nice - snug, but not too bad. I could see it relaxing into a comfortable fit. Unfortunately, it fit weird at the crown of my head, creating a pressure point. It was only noticable at first, but I could tell if I wore it for any length of time, it would cause a serious headache. Another issue I have with Bell helmets in general is the way they set their chin straps so far back. Basic anatomy dictates a strap be angled forward, to cradle the throat, but Bell consistently angles their straps down dead center of the neck. It's just plain uncomfortable. For these two reasons alone I have to give 'Proper Fit' a zero.
- Materials (2) - In the material department, the helmet has top score. The padding is plush and material soft. The shell felt solid and the trim was nice and neat. The peak is made of relatively thick plastic with 3 solid points of contact.
- Aerodynamic (1) - Difficult to judge this without wearing it on the street. There is a large opening under the peak for airflow. Like most modern helmets, the face shield is nicely curved, and should pose no problem. Because this is a total unknown, it's given a point for general modern design.
- Comm Ready - (score 2 of 2) There are large ear pockets, perfect for speaker placement. The chin area is clear enough for a microphone. The edging may be too tight to slip a comm cradle between the plastic shell and foam insert, but if the clip can open at least a 1/4 inch, it can still be used. Otherwise, 3M Dual Lock velcro is always an option.
- Sunblocker - (score 1 of 4)
- The Peak (1) - The peak is made of a relatively thick plastic that has limited movement. Unlike some peaks that have a slot adjustment, the MX-9 offers only 2 fixed settings that are set by the top screw. It allows the peak to either be above the site line, or drop down just enough to act as a minor sun block.
- Interior Drop-Down Sun Shade (0) - This doesn't have one.
- Shell Size - (score 2 of 2) Another win for Bell is the 3 shell sizes. This means No Bobble Head YaY
- Accessories - (score .5) The MX-9 has several nice accessories that can help turn it into a 4 season helmet. There is the breath box (.1), several face shield styles, including a transition shield (.2), and both a passive snow shield (.1) and electric snow shield (.1)
General observations, likes and dislikes
Bell helmets are kind of a hit-or-miss for me. While over all, they have some truly outstanding styles such as the Moto, Rogue, Mag-9, Pit Boss, Star and Qualifier, I've yet to find one that fit right and was comfortable. I hoped the MX-9 would be different because it is such a successful model that has a history of great reviews. Unfortunately, Bell just doesn't seem to be my company. Just because Bells don't fit me, however, doesn't mean they aren't perfect for someone else. So if you have success with the fit of this manufacturer's helmets, add 2 points to my score.
And while this helmet does not offer an internal drop-down sun visor, it does allow users to wear MX goggles with the face sheild down, so theoretically you could wear clear goggles and add a smokey visor. Personally, I can't wear MX goggles because they hurt my nose. But if you like doing this, you might want to add 1 point for sun protection.
Would I recommend the MX-9 to someone else? Yes. Most definitely. It's light weight, well built, has great accessories, and has been around long enough to be a proven favorite with the adventure riders. This one just isn't for me.