The new AFX FX-50 helmet is perfect for city riding, scootering or touring.
It features a quality build and outstanding visibility along with good looks and style.
AFX has upped their game with improved quality, comfort and good looks and the FX-50 also represents a strong value.
This is the second helmet in our 2011 AFX review series and it has reconfirmed our assertion that AFX has improved their quality and feature set in their 2011 helmet lineup.
This was observed in the FX-39 DS (review), which has become very popular with motorcyclists due to its excellent design and low cost which, when you work out the maths, equals a great value.
I'm betting the new FX-50 will repeat that success, based on the number of emails sent by webBikeWorld visitors asking about this helmet.
I don't wear an open-face helmet very often but just by coincidence, a friend asked me to help out with some courier document delivery tasks in Washington D.C. recently, just as I was evaluating the helmet.
That's when I discovered that the FX-50 is a perfect city helmet. An open-face design isn't usually well suited for fast country riding on a motorcycle without a fairing, but in the city, it's a peach.
The nearly unlimited visibility, good balance and comfortable liner, along with great styling and even the little peak on top all work together to make this the city helmet to have. And not to be outdone, touring riders should also find a lot to like with the FX-50 when behind a big fairing.
The quick-release buckle and the bright yellow color also add to the city usefulness factor and on top of all that, the price is right too!
The FX-50 is brand new for 2011 and although most AFX helmets come in a huge variety of graphics and colors, so far the FX-50 is available in solid colors only.
This may be a nod to those conservative touring riders, but my feeling is in reality the helmet doesn't need a lot of fancy graphics to show off the design anyway. The overall European-influenced shape is complimented by the solid colors and the styling has a touch of Trials helmet blended with its Enduro, Jet and open-face styles.
The current color lineup includes Silver, Black, Matte Black, Pearl White and a Wine Red color that also looks very nice. But the yellow shown here is my definite favorite. AFX calls it a "Yellow Solid" on their website and "High-Vis Neon Yellow" in their printed catalog.
It's not really a high-vis neon, so I'm assuming the catalog went to the printer's before the color palette was finalized. But this actually turned out to be a bonus I think, because those neon colors can fade pretty quickly, in case you haven't noticed. The bright sunny egg yolk canary yellow used on the FX-50 is perfect, because it's bright, it's cheerful, it puts a smile on your face and it improves visibility all at the same time.
The overall fit and finish and the paint is perfect on this one, with a nice shiny gloss finish and no overruns, orange peel or thin spots anywhere. The paint on the FX-50 is also finished with a clear coat.
The helmet has a solid feel and the DOT shell feels exceptionally solid and stiff for a helmet of this type, which is also a testament to the design. The short peak on top is proportional to the size of the helmet and it is also fairly solid as these things go. It can be removed and the helmet converted to a true open-face design, although I haven't tried it because I think it looks perfect as is.
Score: I'll give the AFX FX-50 an "Outstanding" rating for design, paint and overall quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
This helmet is a size large and the AFX size chart indicates that it will fit a 60-61 cm head and I agree.
The internal shape is what I'd call a "Slight Round" in the webBikeWorld head shape estimation categorization scheme. It's a comfortable and roomy fit and the interior padding is fairly thick with a slightly firm feel, so the shape should fit a wide majority of riders.
The shell feels robust and stiff for an open-face design, with just enough flex at the cheeks to make it easy to put the helmet on or take it off.
We're waiting for confirmation on the shell size breakdown, but since the helmet sizes for the FX-50 are listed in two columns as XS-M and L-XXL, I'd guess there are two shell sizes to cover the range.
[UPDATE: Shell sizes confirmed with AFX. XS-M is in the smaller shell with the small EPS liner. L-XXL is the larger shell with the larger EPS liner.]
The liner material used in the FX-50 feels nice and soft, similar to the FX-39 DS (review) with a texture that is sort of a cross between microfiber and polar fleece and it's not scratchy at all. The liner and cheek pads are removable and washable and are made from a hypo-allergenic and anti-microbial material, according to AFX.
The ear pockets of the FX-50 are roomy and deep but the EPS liner that surrounds the head bisects the ear pocket about half-way up at an angle, making speaker placement slightly difficult. The speaker must be attached to the top half of the ear pocket over the fabric-covered EPS, because the bottom half of the pocket that has no EPS is an odd shape and has the chin strap anchor locations.
My sunglasses fit into the helmet but the liner doesn't have any special features for this other than the split between the cheek pads and top of the helmet liner. So just like it is on any helmet, fitting eyeglasses will vary, depending upon head shape and eyeglass type.
More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, along with the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: I'll give the AFX FX-50 an "Excellent" rating for comfort and liner materials and padding and a fit that should satisfy the majority of riders.
The face shield used on the FX-50 has excellent optical qualities and it measures 2.20 mm thick. It's claimed to have an anti-scratch coating and it's UV resistant. Tinted shields are also available.
The face shield rotates through three stiff detents. It does not have a lift tab so the wearer must raise or lower the shield with the fingers. It's not really a problem, as are the limited number of detents, because fogging shouldn't be an issue with this open-face design.
The face shield has better build quality and optical quality than AFX face shields in the past and the rotating mechanism feels sturdy, although it is stiff enough to make the shield twist slightly if it's grabbed on the sides. Hold it in the center and it should be fine.
The top of the eye port has a narrow gasket to seat the face shield and the seal is tight with no obvious gaps.
The FX-50 also features an internal sun shade that is operated with a slider on top of the helmet. The slider assembly is nicely integrated into the overall helmet design and it works very nicely.
The slider can be stopped in any intermediate position, which is a plus. The internal sun shade has a quality feel and good optics, but it doesn't drop down far enough, probably due to the smaller overall shape and the futuristic styling of the helmet design. The internal sun visor could stand to drop down another 25 mm or so.
Also, the bottom edge of the internal sun visor is curved and has an indentation for the nose. Since it doesn't drop down far enough to come anywhere near the nose, at least in this size large helmet, it would have been better to have a straight edge along the bottom.
The eye port provides nearly unlimited horizontal visibility, with only the bottom cheek parts of the shell appearing in the peripheral vision. Of course, the visibility out the bottom of the helmet is unlimited and the shape of the shell and the fit make it the same at the upper part of the eye port.
This makes the helmet perfect for city riding, where you must be constantly sweeping the vision back and forth, watching for cars and pedestrians and bicyclists pulling out from the side and doing frequent over-the-shoulder head checks. In fact, once you wear the AFX FX-50 in the city, you'll never want to wear any other type of helmet!
Score: I'll give the AFX FX-50 an "Outstanding" rating for the overall quality and operation of the face shield, the seal along the top of the eye port gasket and outward visibility. I'll give a "Very Good" to the design of the internal sun shield.
The open-face design of the FX-50 means you'll have unlimited air flow around the chin whether you want it or not. I rode with the helmet on a motorcycle without a fairing, but the face shield doesn't keep the wind from blowing around the lower part of my face.
I'm not sure if I could get used to it and I haven't been able to so far. It makes me wonder every time I see a motorcycle rider wearing a tiny helmet and a pair of sunglasses. What the heck happens when bugs, bees and stones pop them in the face?
The face shield on the FX-50 protects the rider from that type of chaff, but you'll have a lot of wind on your face. Where the helmet really shines is on a big touring bike, like Burn's workhorse K1100LT. The big fairing blocks all the wind, which means that it's much more comfortable to wear the FX-50 than a full-face helmet.
I fortunately decided to try the FX-50 during my Washington D.C. delivery duties and that's where I really discovered the benefits of this helmet. The slow speeds (less than 40 MPH) and stop-and-go traffic, along with the requirement to see what's going on all around you brings out the benefits of this helmet for city riding. The slow speeds in semi-warm weather make the open-face design desirable also.
The FX-50 does have a top vent. It opens with a small push-button, which lifts the vent cover in front. It's closed by pushing on the vent cover itself. It's a very narrow opening, although it directs air down into the helmet liner through two accessible holes in the EPS. I don't feel much of a difference whether the vent is open or not, but there's enough ventilation anyway due to the open-face design that it doesn't seem to matter.
There are two large exhaust vent holes in the back, and these do seem to help pull air through the helmet. So although I don't really feel the air on the top of my head when the vent is open, the helmet remains relatively cool.
Score: Since our rating system is biased towards full-face helmets, it's difficult to rate the FX-50 in our table other than to say that ventilation shouldn't be an issue.
Surprisingly, the FX-50 is a fairly quiet helmet. The shape at the sides, the thicker padding and the deep ear pockets help in this regard. The air seems to flow smoothly over and around the helmet, which also helps.
The only noise issue is a wind rushing or slight low whistling noise caused by the slot in the front of the peak. The wind passes through the slot, making a sound. It can be stopped by placing the hand on it and since it seems to be a styling issue only, it could probably be resolved by making the molding solid rather than slotted.
Other than the noise from the wind due to the open-face design, noise levels are well controlled in the FX-50 and I've probably worn full-face helmets that are louder.
Note that our helmet evaluations are normally a combined effort of several riders over time, on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens.
Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality ear plugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems).
Always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual.
Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit; the type of motorcycle and windscreen; wind speed and direction and even the type of clothing that is being worn. For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: I'll give the AFX FX-50 an "Excellent" rating for slightly better than average noise control.
An open-face helmet can fool you when it comes to weight and the FX-50 did just that. I was thinking it would weigh in rather light, and it feels so well balanced when wearing it that I was surprised when we put it on the scale and read 1525 grams.
This makes the FX-50 the heaviest open-face helmet we've reviewed. Other open-face helmets in this range include the Zeus ZS-608A (L) at 1416 grams; the GMAX GM 27 (L) at 1427 grams; the Zeus ZS-608A (XL) at 1429 grams and the Zamp JS-1 (XL) at 1497 grams.
Note also that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: I'll give the AFX FX-50 a "Neutral" rating for its weight and its good balance.
The FX-50 comes with a pair of side covers which fill in the attachment points for the peak. I have not done this and don't plan on it so I'm not sure how it works or what the helmet looks like without the peak.
Like the FX-39 DS, the FX-50 has a "Microlock" ratchet-type chin strap system, but there is no loop for the extra length of strap. The strap is longer than normal, so this is somewhat of a problem. It can be tucked in under the secured chin strap or you can cut it and then heat it with a flame to seal the end.
AFX offers a "lifetime" warranty on their helmets. The expected life of the helmet is 5 years, so in effect, this is a 5-year warranty, which is outstanding for a helmet in this price range.
The helmet is labeled as meeting the DOT safety standard and it is currently sold in the U.S. only.
AFX said that they "keep parts for every model we have ever sold for 10 years. After our distributor stops stocking parts in the 5th year, the replacement parts are offered at no charge for dealers and consumers".
The company also offers a "no questions asked accident replacement policy, if you have an accident with any AFX helmet and return the helmet to our office, you may choose any current AFX helmet as a no charge replacement. We used these survivor helmets at shows and schools to educate the benefits of helmet safety."
Over the last 14 years they have replaced more than 70 helmets -- and it's interesting to note that AFX said 90% of those were dark colors.
The AFX FX-50 confirms our belief that the company has dramatically improved the quality of their products for 2011.
The FX-50 would make an excellent choice for touring or city use or for slow off-road plunking. It represents and outstanding value with a list price of $99.95 and street prices in the range of $85.00.
As with all AFX helmets, the 5-year "lifetime" warranty and parts support and the accident return policy are the icing on the cake. I can highly recommend the FX-50 as a solid choice for an open-face helmet.
Note: Item provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
From "H.R." (June 2015): "This has been my main commuting helmet since I bought it in late 2011, that is, until the visor acquired a couple of matching and growing scratch marks right at eye height.
I couldn't find what caused them, but they kept growing until I realized that when the visor was fully raised these two points rubbed against the design on the underside of the peak. They didn't happen right away because the peak and visor are both held tight by screws under the side reflectors.
As the screws worked loose from wind and other riding vibration, the scratches started to grow from small lines to growing circle points.
I don't see the point in buying a replacement visor since the structure of the peak prevents putting any protective cover -- so you go with a peak, or the visor, or remember to never ever raise the visor all the way.
This problem has been spotted by a couple other reviewers at sellers' websites."
From "K.S." (February 2014): "I recently purchased this helmet largely based on this review as well as seller video reviews. I commute to work daily and I really like the helmet. I was able to purchase at about $70 and I am surprised at the higher end features available at this price point.
My favorite is the sun shield which was the main feature I wanted. As described, it's easy to manipulate the slide with gloves and while riding. No fumbling with the control like other more expensive brands.
I got a medium in Hi Viz yellow based on the size chart and find it a bit snug even though my measurement was exactly mid range at 58.5 cm. I've only worn it one day so I expect that to change as the liner breaks in.
Being able to ride with the face shield up at speed is also nice and is a huge improvement over my old 3/4 helmet with a snap on face shield. Very glad I got it."
From "B.B." (September 2013): "I just purchased the AFX FX-50 (September-04-2013) and they must have done something about the distance the internal visor drops down because it almost hits my nose, so it could not drop any further down for me, also make sure you have the helmet sitting properly on your head first when judging the visor drop.
Fit is stated correctly and since my head is oval it is a little tight in the front but not too tight. The finish work is good and overall for the money it can't be beat and it is a plus for convenience.
One thing I did not realize is (that) the shield does not rise up enough to get out of the line of sight when sitting on my Concours 14. That's not good, the "embossed edge" on the bottom on the shield is right in my sight and it won't rise higher even without the visor."
From "C." (March 2013): "Mine just came in, only five days from motorcycle Superstore link. Again good reviews help select great riding stuff.
The AFX FX-50 is the exact weight of my Bilt air pump full face helmet. The AFX fits like the size chart they show online. Every helmet brand seems to have a different size breakdown, so keep to the middle as much as possible. At 22-1/2 inches for my head diameter, they suggested a Medium for AFX in this model. Just snug enough to break in right, it is just a touch tight right out of the box, but feels great on the first ride while moving.
The silver finish is better than I expected, bright and good contrast with the dark air and sun screen controls looks great, and I canít fault it at all, everything works well. would have bought the yellow color to match my jacket shoulder area, but decided the highway patrol might "follow the bouncing yellow ball" with a radar too easy, silver is the next bet.
Good fit on parts, solid detents on the shield, large and smooth sun visor operation with no noticeable distortion. The dark visor could drop a bit more, could be a bit darker, forget the nose relief, but the end result is at least as good as my other road helmet, that cost twice as much, and the AFX looks better, in my opinion.
Havenít tried ear plugs yet, but the noise level is comparable to my closed face, all bikes and helmets make different noises, but this is an acceptable sound level. I did put a strip of filament wrapping tape under the center vent opening, the review suggested that it created a bit of air noise so I stopped that first.
What is hard to believe is the added visibility of the helmet. it is like doubling the viewing area compared to a full face model. The instruments are easier to read, city traffic is not nearly as difficult to cope with either. Being able to see and avoid a traffic situation is safer, in my opinion, than a chin bar and a way smaller vision area.
Yeah, on the freeway for hours at high speed, colder weather, late nights, the full face is king, but in town the blind spots are too big. A summer days ride is a lot more pleasant when you can see more of it, and if it gets too bright simply slide on secondary sun glasses. Easier to talk to others when gassing up too, thatís plenty of reasons to have several helmets to fit the riding situation youíre involved with.
I would be happy to recommend this as an important piece of safer riding gear. Thanks to web bike world for another great series of gear reviews."
From "M.T." (April 2012): "Similar to another reviewer, I was looking for a Bell Mag-8 (review) replacement, and liked the look of this and your review seemed to confirm.
I actually would rate this helmet as a very good Mag 8 replacement. The Bell Mag 8 as your original test confirmed is an unusually quiet helmet, I find the AFX to be equally quiet. I thought about waiting for you to do a Mag 9 test, but the sizing (see note below) and price swung it for the AFX I have tried another open face (A Caberg Hyper X) which worked well with a previous bike but with my current set up , its face shield vibrates horribly due to air coming off the top of the bikes screen. With the Bell (and now the AFX), I can ride with face shield up and no vibrations.
I think this is mainly down to the way the peak on these helmets locks the shield in the up position. I'm riding a BMW F650 GS Twin with a Touratech Desierto screen in the high position, and I am about 5'8". I know from experience that a helmet that is good for one bike, screen and rider may prove less good when any one of these things change.
SIZING: And finally one other important point about AFX helmets. Its in your review but not highlighted. Most manufacturers seem to be standardized on 57-58 cm for Medium and 59-60 cm for large. Not great if like me you have a 58+ cm head. I often find Medium a bit tight and large usually a bit loose. No surprise then that I found medium helmets that are sized 58/59 (one half size off most manufacturers) usually have the best fit for my head.
This is the case with this AFX, the only other helmets I have found with this sizing are Schuberth and so I own one of those also ( BMW badged). This sizing anomaly of AFX and Schuberth (maybe some others) may be worth highlighting on your FAQ page for other "in-betweeners" , :-) Thanks for a great ( probably the best) biking site, I won't buy a helmet unless you guys have reviewed it first!"
UPDATE From "M.T." (June 2014): "I sent comments on the AFX FX-50 and you posted them April 2012. I was just looking to replace that helmet and accidently twigged that the same helmet is now sold in Europe as a Spada RP388. As a result of this I also noticed that the AFX FX-39 helmet is also sold in Europe as the Spada Sting. Pricing looks comparable so your European readers might be interested."
From "C.L.M." (March 2012): "After reading your review I went to the local Honda dealer and ordered an FX-50 in yellow. I was looking for a helmet to replace a large Vemar Jiano (review) and a small Bell Mag-8 (review).
And don't get me started on manufacturer's erratic sizing! The medium seemed very snug without being tight, so I took delivery and started using it.
It's not a loud helmet, but it is busy. There's a bit of rumble underneath and a heavy rustling around the sides, plus that obnoxious whistle. I'm definitely going to cover those windows. There's also turbulent wind noises from the peak that I don't get from the Bell. It's a definite improvement on the Vemar, though.
The curve of the sun visor is perfect, with no noticeable distortion. On the Bell I have foam inserts that slip over the chin straps and fit the ear pockets. The lower anchors of the AFX make that very difficult.
Finally, the crown of the helmet seems deep and the padding in the rear is hard and a little large, so it presses into my brow and the base of the skull and gives me a head ache after a while. This should go away as the helmet breaks in to the shape of my head, but it is a little annoying.
I was hoping to replace both helmets, but the Bell will still be my touring helmet until I get something as quiet. It feels a lot lighter than the Vemar, and much quieter, so I have replaced that helmet. Overall, it's not a bad helmet. I would probably buy it again, given the chance. But I'll probably be getting another Mag-8 for the highway."
From "H.R." (August 2011): "After waiting most of the Summer to be able to buy it in yellow, a local Yamaha dealer was finally able to get one for me. And I really like the FX-50 for riding my Honda Nighthawk 750 behind a Plexifairing 3.
While your review lamented that the inner tinted shield didn't go down far enough, for me the open space was needed. I wear bifocals, and if I had to look through the tinted shield on the lower part, it would impair my ability to see the speedometer (Some of my riding sunglasses have gradual lightening of the tint to almost clear on the bifocal bottom).
Except in mid-winter, I ride with an open face helmet, and in the hot and humid Alabama summer ride last weekend I found the partial sun shield more than enough to block the wind and leave my head ventilated on the highway.
One thing needed with the helmet package would be directions on taking off the side reflector panels so you can access the screws to keep the visor tight, or to remove it if you so choose. There is no obvious way to pry them up, and I had to call the very helpful people at AFX support to be reassured on how to pry up those panels."