The Bell Full-9 is less expensive than other carbon-shelled helmets we tested. You can certainly get a quality full-face for much less, but we think the carbon Full-9 is a solid value. The Full-9 is highly protective and carries all of the major impact protection certifications. It is also quite comfortable with soft lining fabric and relatively good ventilation. Bell has also incorporated some unique features like their Eject Helmet Removal System and an integrated GoPro mount. While we loved the protection and comfort levels of the Full-9, testers found the visor design to be less refined than others, which presented itself in the form of annoying rattle. That said, this is a quality full-face helmet for downhill riders.
Bell Full-9 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Built in GoPro mount, well-ventilated,most comfortable fabric in test, great visibility, excellent peripheral
Cons: Expensive, no center screw on visor - it rattles
Our Analysis and Test Results
Bell has a long and storied history in the realm of helmets. Known for their lower-end models, Bell now has a strong hold on the higher end market as well. With the introduction of the Full-9 helmet in 2013, Bell reemerged as a ready-to-race company. Drawing inspiration from their already successful Moto-9, which was developed for the demands of motocross racing, the California based company sought to create an industry-leading cycling specific full-face helmet. Enter the Full-9.
The Full-9 scores well in the comfort metric. The XT-2 Extended Wear interior lining is the best-feeling fabric of any helmet tested - Bell really knocked it out of the park on this one. It wicks moisture nicely and never carried and odor, which some fabrics can.
The Giro Disciple MIPS is a supremely comfortable helmet at a great value. The Best Buy 7Protection MIPS also delivers excellent comfort levels.
The Full-9 is a highly protective helmet that inspired confidence in our testers. The lightweight carbon shell provides loads of coverage and feels very sturdy. Bell uses all the state of the art machines in testing their helmets. The anvil test is used to measure the G-forces that pass through the helmet to a head form when the helmet is dropped from a predetermined height.
To meet ASTM and CPSC standards, a bike helmet must register less than 300 G's when dropped from a height of two meters. The Full 9 has a rating of ASTM F1952-00ASTM F2032. They also do a BMX rating for all 20-inch riders out there - CE EN1078CPSC Bicycle. If you are injured, you can use Bell's Integrated Eject system, which allows safe removal of the helmet due to a recess in the EPS that allows the cheek pads to quickly slide out.
The Full-9 slots into the middle of the pack at 39.8-ounces. It is a little on the heavy side, likely due to the liner/fabric. It is so incredibly comfortable that we are generally okay with the weight.
We don't put too much stock into weight, especially for helmets that are intended to be worn strictly when you're mobbing downhill.
The ten vents and three brow ports are well-placed to allow for excellent airflow. The Overbrow Ventilation intakes and Velocity Flow Ventilation are among the best designs in our test. There are ten total vents with three brow ports that intake air and push it through internal vent channels. While this helmet isn't nearly as airy as some of the lighter and better-ventilated enduro helmets, we feel that it is quite good for a downhill-specific lid. This wouldn't be our first choice for pedaling up to our descents on warm days, but if you're shuttling or riding lifts it has all the ventilation you need.
The visor design on the Full 9 was one of our least favorite aspects of this helmet's design. It works, but we feel that other helmets in this test have superior visor designs and better execution. It is relatively easily adjustable, even with gloves on. The length and width are also good, but not having a middle screw makes for a rattly helmet. The use of one less screw is puzzling and sacrifices stability. The rattling visor can be distracting on the trail and presents a safety concern for us.
The Full-9 held up nicely through all the rigorous riding at Whistler Bike Park and the high desert heat. The only negative we found was the lack of a middle visor screw. This caused the integrity of the side screws to always loosen and never stay tight. We hope Bell will address this in the future.
You'll find a camera mount, flying bridge visor, and breakaway screws.
The Full-9 also comes complete with decent ventilation, magnetic cheek pads that are removable, and MERS (magnefusion emergency release system). We also appreciate the full carbon shell, which makes this model lightweight.
Adding to the list of extras, the Full-9 has a speaker system (speaker pockets and audio cable), a padded chin strip with a d-ring closure, a helmet bag, and XT-2 extended wear interior.
Tthe Bell Full 9 is a solid value. It has all the great features of the 100% Aircraft or Troy Lee Designs for $50 cheaper, and offers superior comfort. The lack of a middle visor screw is annoying. Great value and supremely comfortable, you won't be disappointed.
Overall, we loved this helmet. The fit, function, and aesthetics are spot on. We feel that it offers high levels of protection and would be comfortable recommending this helmet to anyone who is pushing the envelope while riding big bikes downhill.
— Dustin Schaad