For 2023 Bell updated their entry-level Sanction full-face helmet, and they’re offering it in two models. Consumers can choose between the basic Sanction 2, or spend a little more and get the Sanction 2 DLX, which includes a few added features (most notably MIPS crash protection).
The new Sanction 2 and Sanction 2 DLX boast a nicely updated appearance versus the previous Sanction helmets. They also offer good ventilation and comfortable interior padding. Check out my launch article for full details on the updated Sanction 2 helmets: In this article, we’ll cover how they feel on the trails.
Sanction 2 DLX:
The Sanction 2 DLX fit me pretty well overall and presented no comfort issues throughout my test. Although I have a narrow, shallower head, I do find Bell’s helmets a bit shallow themselves. Also, their sizing splits at 55cm, and my 56cm head fits a little snugly in their size XS/S. They fit me well enough to ride in comfortably, but perfection would be if my head sat a bit deeper in the shell.
I’d have to say the Sanction 2 DLX is pretty good warmth-wise for a full-face DH helmet. Its vents do allow generous airflow over the top of the head, and the chin bar vents are OK, but there’s nothing groundbreaking about the Sanction 2’s airflow. I guess for $180-200 Bell’s not giving up the advanced ventilation system found on their much pricier Full 10.
I’m usually not too excited about Fidlock buckles, but the Sanction 2 DLX’s seemed better than others I’ve previously tested. If you even get the two ends of the buckle close to each other, they find each other and snap in very easily. It’s easy to undo with gloves on too, so I appreciated the Fidlock buckle on the Sanction 2 DLX.
The face opening on the Sanction 2 DLX worked fine with most of the goggles I tried. My Smith Squad and 661 Radia goggles fit nicely, but a larger pair of Leatt Velocity 5.0’s didn’t work out, winding up sitting too high on my face. On the trails, I noticed it’s easy to find the back panel that guides your goggle strap with your hands.
I’ve ridden several helmets with MIPS, and there’s usually a little noise associated with the shifting of the liner. While I remember noticeable creaking from Bell’s Spherical MIPS systems, the Sanction 2 DLX’s MIPS Essential liner is quieter. You can still hear a shifting sound, but so far there have been no creaks from my DLX.
Bell’s visor is just visible in its lowest position. Fully lowered it will keep the sun off your eyes, but it can be lifted right out of view when sun protection is not needed. The visor lifts up pretty high, but not high enough to stash goggles on the forehead. There’s ample room for a POV cam under it, but there’s no mount included on or with the helmet.
On the bike the Sanction 2 DLX didn’t seem too heavy. It’s not bad, but not amazingly light at 963g (size XS/S). Bell is nearly spot on about weight, as the sticker claims 960g.
The base model Sanction 2 is almost the same helmet as the DLX model above, but it doesn’t get MIPS, the anti-microbial Ionic padding, or the Fidlock chin buckle. Otherwise, it has the same ABS shell/EPS liner and the same interior padding layout.
I found there wasn’t a noticeable difference in the fit between the Sanction 2 and the DLX model. I wondered if the MIPS system would make the DLX fit a bit tighter, but it doesn’t seem to. The base model Sanction 2 remained perfectly comfortable through all my test riding.
The Sanction 2 offers the same ventilation, visor, and goggle fit as the DLX model described above. One added note: I was happy to find the Sanction 2’s chin bar sits low enough to provide a great field of view. I liked the new Fidlock buckle on the DLX, but I don’t mind the basic buckle on the Sanction 2.
Bell’s ventilated DH Air padding keeps all of the vents fully open (DLX and base model). That said, your goggle straps do sit over the two higher rear vents. One benefit of the non-MIPS liner is no noise whatsoever!
Without the MIPS system, the XS/S Sanction 2 full-face weighs a bit less than the DLX at 941g. The sticker is slightly optimistic, claiming 930g.
The Sanction 2 and Sanction 2 DLX full-face helmets are available now. The Sanction 2 DLX comes in seven colorways (including some wilder graphic options), and sizes XS/S, M, and L. MSRP is $180 for stock colorways, or $200 for special colors or signature models.
The Sanction 2 comes in five colors, and this model offers an XXS size (in select colors only) in addition to XS/S, M, and L. The Sanction 2 retails for $120.