Bell Full-9 Fusion Full Face Helmet
Bell has been in the helmet game since 1954, when Roy Richter founded the company and launched the iconic 500 helmet. To put that in perspective, that’s about one year after the invention of the first helmet to feature a hard outer shell coupled with a shock absorbing interior, developed in 1953 by Professor C.F. Lombard of University of South California. Bell would go on to become a major player in the head protection game, the company is for example credited with the introduction of the first full face motorcycle helmet for on and off road use in 1971. Fast-forward to today, and Bell is still among the companies leading the helmet charge, with a full line of both powersports and cycling helmets in the line-up. The latest addition to the DH helmet range is the Full-9 Fusion helmet, which builds on the Full-9 carbon helmet but uses a lightweight fiberglass shell instead. We’ve had a first sample in our hands for a bit, read on to see what we think of it.
Bell Full-9 Fusion Highlights
- Lightweight fiberglass shell
- 10 vents, 3 brow ports
- Breakaway visor screws
- “Flying Bridge” visor
- Integrated breakaway camera mount
- “Overbrow” ventilation
- “X-Static” padding
- Certification: ASTM F1952-00, ASTM F2032 (BMX), CE EN1078, CPSC Bicycle
- Warranty: 1 year free of defects in materials and workmanship
- Crash replacement program: available to US customers and in some international locations
- WEIGHT: 1046 grams, size M, verified
- MSRP: $240.00 USD
The Full-9 came to market for the 2013 season, and we lauded it as “the best full face you can get for $400” at the time. The Full-9 is loaded with features, but 6 years is a long time and Bell needed to address some recent developments in the market, notably the appearance of MIPS. MIPS, short for “Multi-Directional Impact Protection System”, was not a mainstream feature at the time the Full-9 was introduced, but today most brands incorporate MIPS or other similar technologies in their helmet designs. For the introduction of the Full-9 Fusion, Bell added MIPS but also took the opportunity to rework some other aspects of the helmet to hit a lower price point and reduce the weight. The Full-9 Fusion replaces the Transfer-9 in the range.
The result of the redesign is a reduction in weight of about 70 grams, and a drop in price from $400 down to $240.
Looking through the specs of the new Full-9 Fusion helmet, it gains MIPS and keeps a number of features from the Full-9, such as the “Overbrow” ventilation, the integrated breakaway camera mount, the visor and the X-static soft liner. To hit the new weight and price goals, Bell dropped the magnetic quick release cheekpads and went with EPP for the chinbar liner as opposed to the EPS of the Full-9. Also gone are the “Soundtrax” helmet speaker pockets, which probably won’t be missed by many. Unlike the Full-9, the Full-9 Fusion is not compatible with the “Eject” safety release system (a small inflatable bladder which can be used by emergency personnel to push a helmet off the head without disrupting the neck or spine). The result of the redesign is a reduction in weight of about 70 grams, and a drop in price from $400 down to $240.
On The Trail
Two things stand out when you first pick up the new Full-9 Fusion: it’s pretty big, and it’s pretty damn light. 1040 grams for a full face DH helmet is usually carbon territory, so we were pleasantly surprised with the Fusion’s lack of heft, especially at this price point. The Transfer-9, Bell’s previous $200 fiberglass helmet weighed in at 1250 grams, so this Full-9 Fusion brings a considerable improvement in this aspect. As for the overall shape, it is still the same imposing and fairly rounded profile, with a chin bar that sits fairly close to the face and a large opening that will easily accommodate any goggle.
All the Full-9 Fusion wants to do is shred – and there is nothing wrong with that.
The interior of the Full-9 Fusion is soft and very enveloping, and the fit runs true to the advertised size. There are not many vents in the shell itself, which further accentuates the enveloping feeling. The “Overbrow” air channels do a decent job of directing air through the helmet and around your head, but this is still very much a helmet that’s built to go down hills only. Between the chin bar’s proximity and its relatively small vents, you’ll feel your hot breathe on your face pretty soon if you try to wear it on any climbs. Bell has the very good Super DH if you are looking for a more versatile solution, because all the Full-9 Fusion wants to do is shred – and there is nothing wrong with that.
The Fusion’s visor is adjustable, and it will remain out of your field of vision even in the lowest position. On the topic of vision, Bell provides a neat solution to the problem of where to place your POV camera: a breakaway mount that clips directly into the helmet shell. The mount has been improved since the very first generation of the Full-9, it now has a little rubber foot to help stabilize it. It also comes with two mounting options, the ubiquitous GoPro mount and a flat version that you can use to stick any other mount onto. Other than that, there is a soft helmet bag included in the box, but no extra cheek pads or other spare parts.
Things That Could Be Improved
Although the Full-9 Fusion is meant primarily for uplift-assisted riding, we still think it could be given slightly better ventilation. This is only really an issue on hotter days, but the helmet does tend to run fairly warm.
To further improve the safety aspects of the Fusion, we’d love to see some kind of quick-release cheek pads here. We understand that the magnetic cheek pads of the Full-9 were a bit heavy and expensive, but a mechanical solution based on the snap closures is not hard to find.
Long Term Durability
This is only a First Ride kind of review, so we will hold off final judgement on durability until we’ve put some more miles in. The quality of the materials and the workmanship on display are of high level, and our previous experiences with Bell helmets certainly bode well in this aspect. Everything seems to have been assembled with care, there are no unsightly traces of glue on the shell, and the interior stitching is clean and well finished off.
What’s The Bottom Line?
We’ve always liked the original Full-9 helmet, and the Full-9 Fusion takes everything good about it and pares it down to a lighter and more affordable package. The key safety features are all there, and the helmet is very comfortable and confidence-inspiring on the head. It does tend to run a bit warm, so if you live in a very hot climate you might want to consider other options, but other than that you could do a lot worse than putting the Bell Full-9 Fusion on your short list.
More information at: www.bellhelmets.com.
About The Reviewer
Johan Hjord - Age: 45 // Years Riding MTB: 13 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)
Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.
Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord
|Product||7iDP M1 Helmet|
|Riding Type||Trail, Freeride / Bike Park, Downhill, Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Other|
|Number of Vents||17|
|Construction||Lightweight Polycarbonate Shell|
|Certification||CE, CPSC, AS|
|Size||XS - XL|
|Weight||1 lb 15.7 oz (900 g)|
|Miscellaneous|| • Lightweight polycarbonate shell• 17 Large vents provide cold air intake and heat exhaust• Large eye port for greater field of vision and improved google fit• Available in 6 colors and 5 sizes
• Complies to CE, CPSC and AS standards