The Bell Moto-9 is a major improvement over the Moto-8. It looks and fits better, offers more comfort and convenience and has increased safety features.
Bell is one of the best-known names in dirt bike helmets and street bike helmets. My first was a used Bell Moto-5 purchased from the local bike shop. I loved that thrashed, smelly lid because I didn’t know any different; fortunately I’m a little more discerning about head protection these days. Now 15 years and four generations of helmets later, Bell has once again become my go-to helmet with the new Moto-9.
The Bell Moto-9 dirt bike helmet was introduced this year after being developed with riders like James Stewart. This isn’t an upgraded Moto-8; it’s a completely new lid from top to bottom. I tried the Moto-8 and was generally displeased with the fit and materials, so when the Moto-9 showed up I was nervous at first, then greatly relieved. The styling is much better for me with a thinner chin bar and clean lines, and the interior is light-years better. The eyeport is nice and wide and the roost guard is unobtrusive (and removable).
Bell uses a “TriMatrix Composite Shell.” This is a blend of three materials: carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass. Adorned in the Stunt graphics with Pearl colorway (also available in black), we haven’t seen any chips and the pearl is great at hiding scratches. The visor matches the helmet perfectly is the easiest to adjust of any helmet I’ve ever worn. There’s no screw under the middle of the visor. This “Flying Bridge Visor” design only uses mounting screws on each side, and those are metal “QuickFlip” fasteners that require no tools. Simply flip out the tab, loosen by hand, adjust the visor up or down and tighten again.
By far my favorite feature is the Magnefusion Emergency Release System (MERS). This is a pretty fancy way of saying that it uses magnets instead of snaps, and it’s pure genius. The cheek pads are held in place by a trio of magnets, just like they would be with traditional snaps. From a safety standpoint, these are capable of being removed while the helmet is still on the rider’s head. Many injuries happen, or are made worse, after a crash when the helmet gets yanked off. Once the cheek pads are off, the helmet can be removed without putting dangerous force on the neck and spine. The MERS system is designed to work specifically in conjunction with the Eject Helmet Removal System. There is a foam insert in the top of the helmet which can be removed to make room for the Eject system. I don’t have one installed in mine, but the Moto-9 was makes it easy to adopt this life-saving technology.
The Bell Moto-9 Stunt Helmet comes in Pearl (left) and black for $480. It’s expensive, but the build quality and features are worth it for our editor. Bell passes DOT and SNELL M2010 standards and offers a five-year warranty.
From a day-to-day standpoint, the magnets are plenty strong to keep the pads in place and still pop out with ease whenever they need a rinsing. In the past couple years I’ve become more of a stickler about washing helmet liners. Often the cheek pads are the worst because they are exposed to mud and dust. Because it is so easy, I pull them out more frequently than snap versions and never have to worry about one of those cheap plastic connectors breaking. There is also a magnet on the chin strap. Once the strap is passed through the D-rings, simply fold the end up and it pops into place without having to search around for the connector. It’s like having electric start on a dirt bike – unnecessary, but you’ll never go without after trying it. I curse every time I fumble with another helmet’s chin strap.
The liner does use conventional plastic snaps, however, there are no annoying plastic tabs to tuck in along the top or rear edges. Hopefully Bell will go full-magnetic in the future. The D-ring has a nice feature as well with a sizeable tab built in. Grab it, pull and the chin strap comes undone – very simple.
We like the Bell so much that it gets used on Adventure Touring rides in additon to ATV, dirt bike and UTV testing.
The pads and liner themselves are extremely comfortable. They don’t rub on the cheeks even with beard stubble. I wear a size Medium and the Bell fit just like it should. Interior padding has not broken down and loosened despite repeated washing and regular use. Bell calls its liner “X-Static.” It is antimicrobial and antibacterial that wicks moisture. My ears are a bit large and bend easily, but they fit easily into the Moto-9 without having to get tucked in.
Venting is a high point for the Bell. The chinbar has a stainless mesh mouthpiece and vents along the side. Two intakes are tucked under the visor and the top of the eyeport is lined with openings. The rear of the helmet has nine exhaust ports: one directly on top, four on the upper rear, above the goggle strap, two at the base and another pair along the bottom edge.
It isn’t the lightest helmet and I feel some neck fatigue when wearing the Moto-9 all day. Also, with a $480 pricetag, the Moto-9 isn’t cheap, but it’s a helmet that I feel offers some features that help justify the value. In addition to all the great aspects listed above, it also includes a five-year warranty and padded helmet bag. It’s incredible how convenient and time-saving the MERS system is, plus it helps promote advanced safety technology. Venting is top-notch and details like the D-ring and visor screws make this a complete package for head protection.