New Helmet AFX FX39DS
For the past two years, I rode in the woods with my older, simpler full face helmet. It was nothing special, a Gmax model of sorts, but it was bright red, had a dual-pane windshield (less fogging), and I did not care if it dropped every now and then. Nevertheless, it was heavy, a pain to put on and remove, and the peripheral vision was not so great. Furthermore, now that the sun sets much earlier in the day, I found myself squinting to see the trail anytime I rode in the afternoon. So, last Saturday was my last ride with the Gmax. I experienced all of the above symptoms, got home, and decided it was time to get something more woods friendly.
Despite the fact that I really like the Arai XD series of DS helmets, I can't see myself ever spending that amount of money on a helmet that gets hit by flying gravel, mud, and meets small tree branches more often than not.
I've done some research online, narrowed my choices to a few different helmets, spoke with a few guys I ride with about the goggles vs shield options, and decided to start shopping.
Since I believe in supporting a local business (nothing against online retailers, but I always try local first), I headed down to my local bike shop. 99% of the time they treat me right, and either have what I'm looking for in stock, or can get it within a few days. I forgot to mention that I headed to the shop on Monday morning at 9:15 after I found out that I would be doing a nice DS ride at 11:00. Yeah, I was in a hurry.
The shop had one of the helmets I was considering: AFX FX39DS. There were not many color choices available in stock, and wearing flat black or camouflage during hunting season is not really an option, so I ended up trying the Hi-viz yellow.
First impression: Helmet felt light, well build, with good quality padding. The shield closed tight, chin strap was fully adjustable (and has a nice quick release feature), visor has some adjustment to it, and the price was right. I grabbed it and headed home.
At 11:00, I met six other riders at a gas station a few miles from me, and immediately was subjected to jokes about them needing sunglasses due to my helmet. Whatever. :) The helmet IS bright.
At 4:00pm I was done with the ride and headed home, muddy, dirty, and tired. The one thing that was not sore - my neck. Yes, the helmet is light.
So, after the five hour ride beatdown test:
Helmet performed great. Taking it on and off with gloves was not an issue at all, thanks to the quick release buckle. I must say that I always put the aftermarket quick release on all of my helmets, but this one came with a good quality OEM setup.
It is a little noisier than a full face, especially above 60MPH (street between dirt sections). The visor did great and I could actually see the trail, even with the sun straight in front of me. Surprisingly, the visor did not create any wind issues at higher street speeds.
Helmet was very comfortable, and felt secure on my head at all times. Peripheral vision is great, clear, and natural.
The windshield has only a few open positions and was fogging a little when fully closed. I managed to find a sweet spot where it was cracked open only about 1/8", and it stopped the fogging completely. Maybe, if I was in better shape, I would not breathe as heavily when riding :) But that was the only downside I experienced. I imagine that any helmet would fog at 9mph while wrestling a bike to stay upright on rocky, muddy ground.
I took a few hits in the windshield and visor from low branches (at slow speeds) and there is no damage whatsoever to the finish or parts.
Overall, I'm very happy with it. Up until the day I researched more woods friendly helmets, I never heard of AFX, so I was a little uncertain. Now, however, I'm sold. This helmet will probably replace my Scorpion EXO1000 on most of my summer rides that combine light DS (no real dirt) and distance. I think it would be perfect for a few hundred miles on unpaved, graded or gravel roads on the bigger bike, and it just shines when on the small bike in a nasty terrain.