Helmets are a funny thing, very similar to mobile phones these days – you spend a small fortune on getting a top of the range, modern piece of kit, then one drop and you’ve got to replace it! When you’re riding on the road, you aren’t likely to knock your helmet unless you come off the bike, in which case you usually need to replace quite a few items. You don’t tend to come off the bike unless you’re in an accident. Whentrail riding however, you will fall off quite regularly, usually at much slower speeds, but more often. Realising this, I quickly set out to find an adventure-ready, cost-effective substitute.
A friend recommended that I pick up a Bell MX-9 Adventure. Being an owner of a Bell Bullitt and a Bell bicycle helmet, I was familiar with the brand and the build quality. The first thing that I noticed about the MX-9 was the price. You can pick up one of these for around £190.00 depending on colour and retailer which is definitely on the budget end of the motorcycle helmet market. It’s a perfect price point for a high-impact-risk helmet but is the quality up to scratch?
The MX-9 Adventure comes in a handful of different colours to suit your current outfit or bike, and 3 different shell sizes, instead of one shell to fit all of the internal head sizes. You can also order extra cheek pads to tweak your sizing to suit you exactly.
Both the peak and the visor are removable by the screws that can be loosened by hand which allows for quick removal/ fitting when on the road. This can come in really handy when you’re doing some motorway miles, you can take the peak off easily to reduce the wind buffering and then re-attach it when you get onto the trails.
My Time with the MX-9 Adventure
My first few trail rides were ridden while wearing my trusty Arai Axces 3. This is a really well-padded helmet and even on the cold winter mornings, I found myself taking it off after every trail to cool my face down after all the physical exertion of navigating the bike up and down muddy tracks.
This was the first immediate difference I noticed with the MX-9. There is less padding and much more ventilation to let the air flow through to lid. Coupled with the massive field of vision and the light build (around 1.5kg), I don’t think I’ve had to take off the MX-9 at all to quickly cool off.
I usually have a 20 minute blast up the 70mph dual-carriageway every week to meet my trail riding buddies and this is the only time I don’t really enjoy the helmet. Anyone who owns a Triumph Tiger 800 knows that the air-flow with the screens are notoriously bad. Couple that with an airy, adventure helmet and you’ve got an uncomfortable ride. When you look straight forward you get a lot of wind noise. Look slightly up or down and the air flow forces the helmet to move even further in that direction. Removing the peak definitely makes a difference, but I wouldn’t take it on a long trip that involved lots of high-speed miles, especially without a significant touring screen on the bike.
It’s also worth noting that the airflow I mentioned earlier can be heaven when you’re hot but a nightmare if the weather is very cold, especially at the higher speeds. The chin area in particular takes a bit of a beating as there is no collar on the underside. Buff or balaclavas recommended!
The visor doesn’t have a pin-lock but does have an anti-misting treatment on it. This does seem to work really well and only starts to steam up if I’m hot and riding a trail with the visor shut. Because of this, I picked up a set of Oakley riding goggles to go with the bike which I now never take off. As expected, the visor set up allows you to keep the visor on the helmet and close it, while keeping the goggles on. This comes in really handy if it really starts to rain or you have to shoot up a motorway between locations.
I haven’t had chance to have an off and test how well the helmet works in a crash, but the newer MX-9s come with MIPS (Multi Directional Impact Protection System). Basically, the shell and the liner have a low friction layer between each other so that in the event of a crash, the shell can move slightly in relation to the head and therefore reduce rotational motion upon impact. This is great for any scenario but especially adventure riding as you’re almost definitely going to hit your head at a funny angle.
In a nutshell
Wouldn’t recommend for adventure touring, unless maybe in a hot country. But a fantastic option for local trail riding and at a great price point too so you don’t have to worry about knocking it if you come off.
- Lightweight and airy which is great for when you’re hot and sweaty on a trail
- Great Price
- Peak and visor can easily be removed
- Easy to use with goggles, visor can close over the goggles without moving them
- Great Bell build quality
- Not a great helmet for motorway riding.
- Lots of airflow inside the lid, especially as you speed up. Can get very cold in winter on longer stretches of road
Recommended Online Retailer
If you’re thinking of purchasing the MX-9 Adventure, or any helmet online then we’d strongly recommend the UK-based website SportsBikeShop.
With over 80,000 products and free UK delivery for orders over £25.00, they are a one-stop-shop for all things motorbike. We love ordering from them and we’re sure you will too (if you don’t already).
By clicking through to them from any of the links here on our site and placing an order, we get a small kickback from the company as a thank you at no extra cost to you! It really helps keep the lights on at 9to5ADV.