Words by Brice Minnigh
Photos by Anthony Smith
Bell has long been known as an innovator in the protective headgear world, and it is upping the ante in 2013 with the new Full-9 full-face mountain bike helmet—a sleek, stylish piece of gear that incorporates several state-of-the-art safety features into its functional design.
Though the Full-9 certainly benefits from the trickle-down technology afforded by its older motocross brother, the Moto-9, it has been designed exclusively for downhill and BMX—and is compliant with ASTM downhill and BMX standards in addition to the regular CPSC and CE bicycle helmet requirements.
But one of the things that first struck us about the matte-black carbon version of the Full-9 that is pictured here is simply that it is matte-black carbon. Yep, it's carbon, and it's all black. Just like the New Zealand rugby team uniforms or the daily attire of your average Slayer fan. It's punk rock and speed metal, all rolled into one no-nonsense helmet that leaves you ready to shred A-Line or the Mont-Sainte-Anne DH course without looking like a Bible-thumping teenage motocross racer.
That's a good thing, because the very helmet photographed here will be protecting the head of Graham Agassiz as soon as he recovers from his recent leg injury. And let's face it: Graham really should be wearing a helmet that matches the style and precision of the frighteningly huge airs he's been throwing for the past few years.
Oh yeah, I also should mention that the Full-9 has been designed with heavy input from the fastest downhiller in the world: Aaron Gwin, who pretty much owned this year's World Cup DH circuit with his paradigm-setting performances. If the Full-9 is up to Gwin's exacting standards, one could imagine it's up to those of the everyday bike-park ripper or BMX rat.
The Full-9, which was quietly introduced at Crankworx Whistler and is expected to be available to the public in February 2013, features 10 vents and three brow ports and weighs 1,050 grams.
Among the helmet's main safety features is its integrated accommodation of the Eject Helmet Removal System, which allows first responders to a possible spinal injury to remove the helmet from a rider's head without moving the neck and risking secondary spinal injuries.
It also comes with magnetic cheek pads that allow for easy removal after crashes or simply for air-drying in between runs. All this style, safety and function can be yours for a price of $400. Or those riders under age 18 can hold out for their parents to buy them one for Christmas or their birthday.
In addition to the matte black version, the Full-9 will be available in four other colorways—so if hardcore and death metal aren't your speed, you'll be able to rock a Full-9 with a more pop-feel appeal.