Bell Full 9 Helmet: First Look

Mar 8, 2013 at 0:50
by Mike Kazimer  
Full 9

Bell has a long and storied history in the helmet world, but in recent years the company seemed to have taken a pitstop. They were still a presence on the lower priced, mass market side of things, but lacked a high-end, cutting edge professional grade helmet. With the introduction of the Full 9 helmet, Bell has reemerged, fueled up and ready to race. 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. Led by Amy Martin, an energetic, tattooed mechanical engineer with a passion for safety, the team at Bell created the Full 9 over a two year period, a period which included extensive real world testing on the head of the fastest rider on the World Cup circuit – Aaron Gwin. The final version of the Full 9 is scheduled to be available at the end of March.

Full 9 Details

• Full carbon shell
• Eject Helmet Removal System compatible
• Certifications: ASTM F1952-00 DH, ASTM F2032-06 BMX, CE EN1078, CPSC Bicycle
• Overbrow Ventilation

• Magnetic, removable cheek pads
• Integrated, breakaway helmet camera mounts
• Built in speaker pockets
• Weight: 1050 grams
• MSRP: $400 USD

  The Full 9 is available in five different colors, and in six different sizes ranging from XS to XXL.

  The helmet on the left has Shock Doctor's Eject Helmet Removal System (an aftermarket addition) installed. This system allows the helmet to be easily removed by first responders, decreasing the likelihood of further head, neck or spine injury. The Full 9's cheekpads are secured via magnets, and are easily removable to further facilitate helmet removal, as well as making it easier to keep them clean.

  The integrated camera mounts, compatible with both GoPro and Contour cameras, have a breakaway feature designed to keep the camera from causing unnecessary head or neck movement during a crash. This isn't a single use feature - if the camera comes off during a crash, it's easy to push it back onto the mount and continue riding (providing you emerge unscathed).

Behind the Scenes: Designing the Full 9

  Where helmets are born. The Dome houses Easton-Bell's engineers and designers, as well as the testing and rapid prototyping facilities. This is where the Full 9 came to life, inspired by Bell's much-lauded Moto 9 helmet.

Inside the Dome

Bell has the ability to design a new helmet completely in house - they have graphic design, rapid prototyping, impact testing, even wind tunnel testing capabilities all under one roof. A helmet like the Full 9 can go from a sketch on a piece of paper all the way up to a final version ready to be sent off for production without leaving the building. The actual production of the Full 9 takes place in China, in the very same factory where Fox and Troy Lee helmets are made, along with composite parts for Boeing aircraft.

The heart of the design facility is called The Dome, a brightly lit office area where the number of tattoos outnumbers the number of collared shirts by a huge margin (Danny Sun, Bell's senior illustrator, is also a talented tattoo artist). Sketches and concepts are tacked up on the low cubicle walls, and helmets in various stages of design are scattered on every available surface. It's controlled chaos, a gathering of talented engineers and artists with a passion for artfully executed functionality. Inspiration can come from anywhere - shapes and colors found in nature, or from Bell's long history. Since the company has been around since 1954, there's a wealth of racing heritage and style to draw from. From Evel Knievel and Steve McQueen to James "Bubba" Stewart, Bell has a history of putting helmets on some of the wildest speed demons around.

  The hallway leading into the workspace is lined with helmets from various stages of Bell's history. The helmet on the left is a V1 Pro from 1983, a significant helmet because of the increased attention paid to adequate venting. That's a bomb disposal helmet on the lower right, underneath Bell's first full-face bike helmet from 1984.

  Sketches and concept drawings are everywhere, a testament to the creative minds Bell's artists and designers possess.

  Once a helmet goes from the initial sketching stages, "eggs," half scale models of the helmet, are hand carved from foam. These models allow engineers and graphic designers to begin working to bring the initial concept to reality.

  The Full 9's egg, with a prototype signed by Aaron Gwin in the background. Although he is no longer riding for Bell, Gwin provided valuable feedback throughout the project.

  Bell houses an impressive array of 3D printers and scanners (the scale helmet and chain were both 'printed' using the 3D printing machine on the left).

  Helmet graphics are carefully designed to ensure they wrap correctly over the shell, without any unusual bulges or distortion. Graphics are often applied to a helmet via a water decal, and then covered with a clearcoat.

A Tour of the Easton-Bell Test Lab

Bell does extensive testing of their helmets in house before sending them off for certification. This allows them to be certain that the helmets will meet or exceed the various safety standards, as well as test new design concepts without needing to outsource. It's infinitely more convenient to walk into the next room to test a new design than sending it off and needing to wait for the results. The focus of our visit to Easton-Bell was on helmets, but the testing of wheels, handlebars, as well as helmets for other sports (football, lacrosse, etc...) takes place here. There was a particularly nasty looking machine designed to fire an object (like a baseball) directly at a helmet, testing its behavior when hit with a projectile. The test center even houses a small wind tunnel - paying $5,000/hour to rent a wind tunnel was getting old, so Bell decided to build their own, which allows them to test helmet venting and aerodynamics.

  An assortment of head forms silently await usage during helmet testing. Up to 600 helmets will be destroyed during the development of a new design.

  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.

Views: 8,635    Faves: 9    Comments: 1

bigquotes I take a lot of pride in my work - I don't take my job lightly by any means. It's people's safety, it's people's heads. It's a matter of life or death sometimes. - Amy Martin, Bell Product Manager

  Amy Martin, Bell's product manager for bike and motorsports, holds a Full 9 after impact testing.

A Note on Helmet Standards
When it comes to helmets, safety is the most important feature. A few years ago, there was an upswing in the number of riders wearing DOT approved helmets - the reasoning was that a helmet designed for the high speeds of riding a motorcycle on the highway would be more than adequate for bicycle riding. While understandable, there is a flaw in this logic. DOT helmets have a much stiffer outer shell, and therefore are much less capable at absorbing slower speed impacts, the type typically encountered by cyclists. Energy absorption is the key component of a helmet's ability to prevent injury – the outer shell of a helmet needs to be able to transfer the energy from an impact into the expandable polystyrene (EPS) inner portion of the helmet. With a DOT helmet, it takes a much greater force to transfer the impact energy past the outer shell, which means that for cyclists there is a greater chance of an injury compared to a helmet designed specifically for cycling. For this reason, riders should wear a helmet designed specifically for their sport

  This device tests the breakaway point of helmet straps.

  It's not an easy job being a test dummy. Helmets are tested at different temperatures and in wet and dry conditions to ensure they can hold up to real world usage.

  Seeing your helmet on top of the podium is what every design team hopes for. Gwin put the Full 9 to the test, and quickly stepped onto the podium with it during the 2012 World Cup season, but has since left the squad. For 2013, a number of athletes on the World Cup circuit will be wearing the Full 9, including the Lapierre team, Madison Sarencen, Mick Hannah, Justin Leov, Bryn Atkinson, and Jill Kintner.


  • 24 0
 Integrated camera mount is a great idea great job bell this has made itself onto my Christmas list
  • 18 2
 Props to Bell and IMBA for hooking up 3 trail projects in the US with financial and technical assistance.

Sorry for the blatant plug but...
Vote for "Launch Bike Park / Spring Mountain PA" for Downhill Trail.
  • 14 3
 I have been Troy Lee for years, not only for design etc etc but for me they fit better. I must admit though this looks amazing and should it fit I just may go Bell 9 than D3!
  • 6 36
flag will-castaneda (Mar 11, 2013 at 7:39) (Below Threshold)
 I feel way safer with my head in my d3, first go find three photos of cracked d3's. and for something lighter, and that I know my head will be in the safest helmet. I would much rather use my d3. Plus by the looks of it this helmet has butt loads of padding. a good helmet with a indestructable shell and lining shouldn't need a foot of pads. It also look idiotic on your head. The D3 passes moto tests with flying colors, it just has too many vents. It's the most low profile safe mtb full face out there. Haters gon Hate but it's true. Keep your D3
  • 24 2
 I've seen loads of cracked D3's and even watched a kid fracture his skull in one... your points are invalid.
  • 14 0
 I'm a d3 owner myself but wcastaneda cut the bullshit, a d3 is safe but it's nothing special, a POC is just as good if not better, same with the other helmets like the new fox for example or the remedy
  • 2 0
 Yea I've ridden with a d3 and love it but nothing compares to my Moto 9. I've clacked my head numerous times and never feel a thing. I may look like a bobble head on the move but that's what I am comfortable with
  • 9 0
 I've only worn two different helmets, the Fox Rampage and my current helmet is the Bell Drop. I love both of them. The Drop to me is much more comfortable. I'm in the market for a new helmet this year, I might have to give this new Bell a shot.
  • 13 1
 Suicide Girl+ Fullface is sick!
  • 10 0
 I love this kind of article ! Super interesting ! Thank You PB
  • 6 2
 I have the same question I have every time a new ff comes out. Will they make one big enough to fit me? Hopefully the xxl will do the job. I'm defo trying one at the end of march anyhow. Tidy!
  • 30 4
 who are you, the elephant man?
  • 4 1
 I'm with rightthen, I have the same issue. Sometimes it's not fun having such a big head. My SixSixOne XL is tight on my chrome dome, very unfcomfortable.
  • 5 64
flag trozei (Mar 11, 2013 at 7:15) (Below Threshold)
 I've ridden without a helmet for probably 8 months now because I can't find one that fits.
  • 2 0
 Depends on the company, Giro make some pretty big full face helmets, since giro and bell are the same company, sizes usually are pretty similar.
  • 3 2
 Same here. I like that they offer a xxl size. I wear moto helmets now, not because I think they are safer but they just fit my big head better. bicycle helmets seem to size so small, even troy lee d3 xxl fits smaller than most xl moto lids.
  • 3 1
 I have the same XL head problem, Giro's Remedy is the only helmet I've found so far that comes up big enough.
  • 2 1
 Hope helmet manuacturers read this... XXL is often too small. Oval heads are left asside... Please help! Just found out FOX rampage pro is a better fit.
  • 3 0
 troy lees d3 XL fits my melon, super comfy as well
  • 2 2
 Same problem here. I wear a 7 3/4 New Era hat so yeah, big ol dome. I don't own a full face currently but am in the market and don't know where to start! I'd love to just go out and try some on but none of the shops out here have any kind of variety, so I guess I'll have to try my luck online. Although this helmet is SICK I'm looking more entry-level and don't plan on spending more than $150ish. Giro Remedy is at the top of the list right now.
  • 2 7
flag barbarosza (Mar 11, 2013 at 11:17) (Below Threshold)
 its still super ugly
  • 4 3
 troy lee d3 is reallybig. the d2 had a horrible fit, d3 is best fit ever
  • 3 0
 Try the poc cortex, whatever fit you buy they come with spare cheek pads for if its too small for you, it's heaps comfy and pretty light too
  • 2 0
 trozei, wear a freakin helmet man!
  • 1 4
 I know it's bad to not wear a helmet but whenever I go into a store to try them, they don't fit.
  • 3 0
 the poc helmets are all really big. not that i'm selling one or anything...
  • 2 0
 trozei just measure your noggin then look online for a helmet.
  • 7 1
 The colours and design remind me of this.
  • 2 0
 Indeeed !
  • 5 0
 I guess people don't remember who Bob "Hurricane" Hannah is... It's no coincidence that the yellow lightning bolt colour is called Hurricane...
  • 2 1
 who came first Bob or Troy
  • 4 0
 Bob. TLD even did a retro Hannah themed helmet at one point.
  • 4 0
 this looks awesome, all the right featuresand looks sick. Now just make a comp version and i'll buy it
  • 6 2
 Way to step it up BELL! Like the camera mounts and speaker pockets. Would be even better if it was sub $350.
  • 3 0
 Integrated gopro mount is a sick thing to have on your helmet
  • 1 0
 which speakers do you put in those pockets? I have pockets on my d3 and I have no clue where you can even find a speaker, much less a wireless one of that size
  • 5 0
 The Skull Candy Home Brew kit will fit perfectly.
  • 1 0
 thanks man!
  • 1 0
 i want the one with red bull graphics at the 2:03 mark, which of course i can't have, unless i magically become a pro tomorrow. so i guess i'm getting the black one and put monster stickers on it like every other over-caffeinated rider on the trails
  • 1 0
 Thanks for a legitimate review of the helmet and the building/design process. Read a review of this same product on another website (vital) and was very put off with how the author stated that a $400 helmet was for those on a "food stamp budget". He later stated that the remark was for "Jay Leno types" where money was no object. What a tool. Congrats to pinkbike for consistently putting out decent, openminded reviews.
  • 4 4
 I work at a motorbike shop and recently had a bell helmet that one of our customers wanted us the throw away after he purchased a new helmet, so we did some testing of our own just to see how how much of an impact their helmets can take and after seeing the results i bought a bell helmet the strength of their helmets is phenomenal. keep up the good work bell.
  • 2 3
 what does wanted us the throw away mean?
  • 14 2
 How "strong" a helmet is isn't really relevant. It's how good a job it does at keeping the users brain safe that matters.
In most high energy impact crashes that requires the helmet to be "designed to break" rather than be as hard a shell as possible. When the helmet breaks it absorbs energy and takes the peak force out of the hit, plus it helps to deaccelerate the head more slowly = avoiding damage to the brain.

To be honest, I think that kind of crude DIY testing is about as useful, as a dual crown fork on a road bike... Shits and giggles, nothing more.
  • 11 7
 circle with BELL is the worst signature eveer
  • 10 2
 No way, man. It's old school.
  • 3 1
 Ouch! A couple negative reps for digging the Bell logo!
  • 2 1
 I have to agree with huczyn. If there's one thing that puts me off Bell helmets, then its their antiquated Bell logo. How about something fresh and exciting, like your helmets?
  • 3 1
 I think at the 400 USD price point there are better helmets for the money. I think ill stick with either TLD or my Giro. They just seem to fit better.
  • 1 0
 If anybody is interested in this lid but doesn't want to spend the 4 bills I'm selling a new in box XL Aaron Gwin edition for $350 here on PB and I'm open to trades as well...
  • 7 8
 I love the 'drop' helmets by bell and have always wanted a carbon version. I'm not sure about this 'full 9' though, its looks amazing and i like the over brow venting idea. But i'm not sure about the other gimicks, when i think about spending that sort of money on a carbon lid i expect it to be 'sub 1000g' . my composite 'drop' helmet is actually 2grams lighter than this 'carbon full 9' .Do a version with out the camera mounting/speaker routing/and eject system compatibility and lose some grams, then take my £200(ish) Less is More.
  • 13 3
 This is perfect for anyone that listens to music when they ride and uses a GoPro or Contour. Don't change a thing.
  • 1 1
 Don't change it. It's perfect.
  • 6 8
 you run a bell drop. shut up.
  • 14 1
 Not a fan of people listening to music while riding. They usually can't hear when your trying to pass or need them to go a different way. Just my preference.
  • 4 0
 Yeah if they irresponsible, I do it but sound is low when someone talks or tells me to move i'll hear you if not I deserve to get hit riding with friends no need for music.
  • 1 0
 I only listen to music when i ride alone, and if im going to listen to it going to be as loud as possible. My local trails are so short that if there is no one behind you at the top, then there is no one behind you at the bottom.
  • 2 0
 i only listen to music during long climbs. dh with headphones i get unfocused
  • 3 0
 listening music is dangerous on most trails, I don't think it's a good idea to integrate such a system in helmets
  • 1 0
 Why is it dangerous? When i ride listening to Pennywise, BOYSETSFIRE, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Phoenix, anything really, i am so much smoother. I guess i over-think normally, so when i listen to music while i ride i just chill out and just let it all come naturally.
  • 2 0
 That's probably what it feels like, but in all likelihood you're probably riding a significantly slower and sketchier. My friend raced with and without music and he said he felt smoother with it, but was much slower and when i saw him go by he was all over the place.
  • 1 0
 Thanks to for providing the Aston Hill Team with the Bell Full-9 Hurricane lids this season, they are sooo RAD!
  • 4 2
 I am a FOX fan, but this is Realy Cool..
  • 2 0
 Full 9 "Zap" looks amazing.
  • 1 1
 I have a nice scar on my chin from a Bell Moto 5. Wasn't the helmet's fault. I over-jumped a double by 40 feet or so. haha
  • 1 0
 Im not much into fullfaces but man that stealth black one looks dope and helmet overall seems legit.
  • 2 0
 I love the stealth raw CF helmet!
  • 2 0
 Kinda looks like a session
  • 1 0
 I have run Bell products for years and will continue to do so. Kudos Bell, nice work.
  • 2 0
 Hmm anyone else wondering how it will work with a leatt?
  • 1 0
 Yes...but is there anything that you can see that would suggest it doesn't work with a neck brace?
  • 2 0
 No not at all! just for guys with short necks like me haha helmets like my remedy seem to restrict my range of motion a bit, so i'm just wondering if this is a better option. I know D3's are suppose to be great for this, but it is always good to have options!
  • 4 0
 Leafs1...yeah, our engineers definitely took Leatt braces into account when designing the Full-9. We had a lot of experience concerning the interaction between Leatt braces and helmets when we designed the Moto-9, and we applied that same experience to the Full-9. The Full-9 is compatible with Leatt braces.
  • 1 0
 I'm getting this helmet.
  • 1 0
 take my money! I want this shit soooo badly and can't find it anywhere. anybody know a line on one?
  • 1 0
 I love the integrated speaker!
  • 1 0
 And btw, it look nothing like any D3 I've ever seen.
  • 1 1
 can anyone tell me please were to get a contour mounting bracket like that? cheers
  • 1 0
 it comes with the helmet
  • 1 0
 That last Full 9 pic makes me want to get into Moto Cross...
  • 1 0
 I'd like to be the guy who sculpts the helmets out of chocolate.
  • 1 0
 The all black carbon one is smexy
  • 1 0
 excellent helmet,love it.
  • 1 0
 Will there be a non carbon version? Why D rings?
  • 1 0
 blackdawg...we're always developing new helmets, and we really wanted to hit 2013 with top-tier products...hence launching with a carbon version. As far as the D-rings...that was a direct pull from our moto helmets. Our enginners have found that D-rings provide the most secure, customizable, and comfortable fit.
  • 1 1
 Thanks Bell, I appreciate the response. If I can have any input, I sometimes find D-rings cumbersome to get off with gloves, especially when it's hot outside and you just want the damn thing off Wink
  • 1 0
 no questions asked, this is on my list of great things to buy list!!!
  • 1 0
 Snazzy. I'll pick one of those up for sure
  • 1 0
 the head forms look like something out of Star Wars!
  • 1 0
  • 2 0
 Seconded! Speakers, camera mount, sick graphics all in a carbon fiber package! What's next?
  • 2 3
 Some nice features speaker eject system camera mounts how much is the question
  • 4 0
 An unnecessary question. The MSRP is listed right after the first paragraph, under 'Full 9 Details.'
  • 2 0
 read the article, then ask questions. it clearly says $400 MSRP
  • 1 0
 It says $400 at the top of the article..

Such a sick helmet! Love all the design features!

I want!! Smile
  • 1 0
 i love it
  • 4 4
 that bell logo... the lid, hate that logo..
  • 1 1
 Its still a very ugly helmet !
  • 1 2
 There should be camera mounts on the sides of the helmet because the top angle just doesnt cut if for mountain biking
  • 1 0
 you can still stick a go-pro adhesive one on the side if you want...
  • 1 0
 Yea I know, it was just a thought
  • 1 0
  • 1 1
 Who achily wants a helmet that says bell on it
  • 2 2
 Looks kind of like a TLD
  • 2 0
 I think you might just be thinking graphic wise, TLD's 2 year old Zap D3 graphics.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, I only meant graphics wize.
Below threshold threads are hidden

You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2022. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.014622
Mobile Version of Website