Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS Motorcycle Helmet Review [ADV Ready]

Bell MX-9 Adventure Review: Off-road helmet

I was looking at newer technology helmets to protect my brain in the event of a get-off, and high on my list was MIPS. MIPS—Multi-directional Impact Protection System—is a slip pad that is supposed to move a bit in any direction to reduce rotational motion that can be transferred to the brain. The Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS has that protective feature—it’s right in the name! With the standard anti-fog, anti-scratch, ProTint photochromatic faceshield standard, the MX-9 Adventure MIPS has DOT and ECE certification plus a five-year warranty.

The medium-size Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS helmet tipped our scales at 3 pounds 10.8 ounces (1668 grams), making it one of the lightest ADV helmets we’ve tested. The weight feels evenly distributed, so I don’t notice it at all, except when the peak grabs freeway speed air on head checks.

You don’t need 65 mph wind to feel the air flowing in and through all the venting. There is a huge, glove-friendly, switched air vent in the chin guard, plus two small jaw area vents that are always open. Just above my hairline are two more always-open vents that direct air straight down to the top of your head—I stuck a screwdriver in to verify it is a straight, wide-open path. The MX-9 Adventure has four always-open exhaust vents in the rear—two high and two low. I have ridden in light rain and didn’t feel any moisture incursion, but I am concerned that the always-open front top vents will let rain in should I encounter a downpour.

The MX-9 Adventure’s peak doesn’t create any extra noise. The space from my chin to the front of the helmet is wide open to the elements and sound, which is good for me—I like the ambient sounds of my tires on changing terrain and pavement. If I want to block any of it out, I just turn up my tunes or wear light earplugs.

The always-open top vents are quiet when the peak is on. When I take off the peak for long freeway rides, the top vents are very loud at freeway speeds. On the first freeway ride without the peak, I pulled off the freeway, took out my handy duct tape, and covered both holes. The quiet was a welcome relief with the holes covered. If it is a hot day and I need the top vents open with the peak off, a long freeway ride will necessitate me wearing earplugs.

I rode many hours on both the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike and my 2007 Yamaha Venture with a shorty windshield. I rode with the peak installed and without it. The peak catches the wind on lane change head checks and general sightseeing head movements. If I am going to ride more than three hours continuously at freeway speeds, I will undo the three thumb screws, take off the peak, and stick it in my pannier.

A leading feature of the Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS is its ProTint photochromatic faceshield. The ProTint shield darkens and lightens quickly, getting dark enough to make a real difference on a bright, sunny day. In cloud cover, it only slightly darkens. When getting into areas that are darker due to rain, it will still tint, thought no dark enough to be distracting. The ProTint faceshield is a pricey $150 option for the standard MX-9 Adventure; if you’re an all-day/multiday rider, it’s worth the premium.

One weird little distraction happens when you raise the photochromatic faceshield to ride with it open for a while. Some of the sections of the peak block the sun from hitting the shield. The shield thinks it is no longer daylight and changes to clear. When lowered again, the shield has a zebra pattern until the clear areas darken.

There is a bright orange warning sheet inside with the helmet manual that clearly states to not use the peak if you are using the ProTint shield. It’s an odd warning, given the Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX arrives with the peak and ProTint faceshield installed. I found it momentarily distracting, though not as much of a safety hazard as Bell’s lawyers do. Use your own judgment.

Regardless of which faceshield is installed, the entire system is top-notch. The faceshield strongly detents fully open when I want a full face of air. It goes up and tucks next to the peak, out of general view.

The faceshield also allows for the elastic straps of my goggles, in both the open and fully closed positions. If I am running goggles but hit a particularly dusty or ‘buggy’ area, I can lock the shield down without taking off my goggles. The bottom of the faceshield has a continuous ledge that makes it easy to open with either gloved hand. A good-sized tab dead center makes closing with either gloved hand a no-miss proposition.

I wear a medium in most helmets, and have an intermediate oval head shape. The medium Bell MX-9 Adventure fits me comfortably snugly. There are no hotspots. The cheek pads allow for sliding stiff temple frame glasses in by squeezing between me and the wick-away, anti-bacterial, soft, microfiber foam. There are no dedicated channels in the foam for glasses, though I can comfortably align them and they stay put—I buy and ride with narrow-temple glasses for that reason. I can see where wide temple sunglasses could be an annoying pressure-point on all-day rides.

I mounted a Bluetooth unit using its slid-up clamp. I gently poked around between the shell and the EPS liner and found a one-inch-wide channel directly in line with the chin strap. The speaker ports are quite large, so I could move the highly directional speakers around to point right into my ears. I was expecting to have to use the stick-on mount but was pleasantly surprised to be able to use the clamp.

The Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS runs $350 and comes in Matte Black only, for a Darth Vader look with the Pro

Tint shield darkening in the sunlight. If you want a clear faceshield, along with a choice of 10 colors, the standard Bell MX-9 Adventure MIPS can be had for $230 MSRP. The MX-9 Adventure in the Marauder Matte/Gloss Blackout colorway is $260, including a Dark Smoke faceshield and a clear shield. Add in the $150 ProTint shield, and you’ll have an MX-9 Adventure with three faceshields—ProTint, Dark Smoke, and clear—for $410. Keep in mind that the Dark Smoke and clear faceshields are $40 each, so getting the DLX with three screens would cost you $430.

The Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS is an all-day, comfortable, adventure-style helmet with the extra benefits of MIPS protection and an effective photochromatic faceshield. It has excellent slow-speed ventilation and a large eyeport for head checks to watch for obstacles from branches above to rocks and potholes below. I still remember my first Bell helmet—my parents bought it for me in 1964. They had a choice, and selected Bell for their 12-year-old. Fifty-eight years later, their little boy is back to Bell Helmets.

Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS Fast Facts

  • Sizes: XS – XXXL
  • Color: Matte Black
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 10.8 ounces (medium)
  • Certifications: DOT and ECE

Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS Price: $350 MSRP

Bell MX-9 Adventure DLX MIPS Review Photo Gallery