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AFX FX-55 Review

AFX FX-55 Review
A True Modular Multi-Sport Helmet
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
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Summary

The AFX FX-55 is a true "modular" helmet, in that it can be converted to one of 7 different styles by using the included parts.

This "many helmets in one" concept isn't new but it is rare and, to be honest, still yet to be perfected.

We first came across the concept in the HJC IS-Multi (review) from 2010 and the FX-55 looks very similar to that design.

The FX-55 can also be worn in its base state, as a sort of modern European-styled version of a dual-sport helmet.

The most distinguishing characteristic of the FX-55 is its huge face shield, which provides virtually unlimited visibility, a real safety factor.

The helmet also has a few avant-garde features, such as the clear sliding cover over a top vent that is somewhat reminiscent of the big "sunroof" on the Caberg Ego (review).

I think the FX-55 works best in its base format or as an open-face trials-type helmet with the peak attached and no face shield. But moving back and forth between formats is pretty easy with the included parts, so anyone inclined to experiment should have lots of fun.

In fact, there are at least 9 different ways to wear the FX-55 -- and probably more. Here's a series of photos we took of the FX-55 in its various guises:

AFX FX-55 Slide Show
  • afx_fx55_front_quarter_view
  • afx_fx55_front_quarter_view_face_shield_open
  • afx_fx55_front_view
  • afx_fx55_front_view_chin_bar_removed
  • afx_fx55_rear_quarter_view
  • afx_fx55_rear_vent
  • afx_fx55_rear_view
  • afx_fx55_side_view
  • afx_fx55_side_view_chin_bar_removed
  • afx_fx55_side_view_motocross_version
  • afx_fx55_side_view_visor_open
  • afx_fx55_sun_visor_deployed
  • afx_fx55_three_quarter_style
  • afx_fx55_top_vent
  • afx_fx55_trials_version
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
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The AFX FX-55: Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

The FX-55 is of the family tree that contains the AFX FX-41 DS (review), but the FX-55 has more of an adventure-touring ambience while the FX-41DS is a dual-sport design. That said, I'm not really all that sure if there's a difference between those two riding types...

The paint on this silver version is very nice; as with all AFX helmets, it's not Shoei quality but the entire FX-55 helmet probably costs less than it costs Shoei to paint one of theirs.

The quality of the moving parts on the FX-55 is very good for the price also, although with more moving and removable parts on the FX-55 comes increased complexity and, perhaps, the need to reduce costs for the various production molds.

Everything fits together nicely though and actually we were impressed at how easy it is to convert the helmet from one form to another, which isn't always the case with other true modular multi-helmets we've reviewed.

For example, the big wheeled "dial" screws on the sides are easy to remove, which is necessary to remove the peak and/or face shield as you're swapping out the parts.

The removable chin bar also clicks in and out of its receiver with a fairly solid feel and it feels more firm than one might suspect.

The one issue we have is with the large peak. The plastic could use an increase in thickness or some reinforcement ribs or it should be anchored more firmly to the helmet shell. It attaches only by those side screws and it feels too flimsy and this results in a lot of vibration when you're riding. It's especially noticeable when the peak is hit with turbulent air from a windscreen of the type found on most adventure-touring bikes -- just the type of motorcycle owned by the primary customer for this helmet.

Otherwise, the overall quality and feel is commensurate with the price; the FX-55 lists for $169.95 but can be found at a street price as low as around 50 dollars less than that.

Score: We'll give the AFX FX-55 a "Very Good" rating for design and overall quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system..

AFX FX-55 Configurations
AFX FX-55 Helmet Fit, Internal Shape and Liner

This FX-55 is a size large and I'm going to call it a "Narrow" to "Slightly Narrow" internal shape. "Narrow" helmet shapes seem to have gone the way of the Dodo, so many riders with a narrow head shape should be pleased.

Now that's not to say that the helmet won't fit other head shapes, but the size large seems to me to run about 1/2 size small, which sort of magnifies the internal shape and narrow fit. If you have more of a "Neutral" shaped head, you may want to try the next size larger.

The size large should fit a 59-60 cm head, which is about one size range less than listed by the AFX retailers. I don't think a 61 cm head will fit inside a size large FX-55 or if it does, it will be tight.

The liner fabric is smooth and comfortable and the lining has a richer appearance than one might expect for a helmet in this price range. The padding is on the thin side of average in the size large, although this may not be the case for other size helmets, depending on the shell size to head size ratio.

However, it makes choosing the correct size and internal shape more important. Match the two though and you will find a good deal of comfort.

The slightly thin padding -- at least in the size large -- result in ear pockets that are slightly shallower than average but this may actually work to your advantage should you wish to install intercom speakers. The closer you can get the speakers to your ear, the better (and louder) the sound.

Speaking of which, it's difficult to fit a standard intercom clamp to the FX-55 due to the removable chin bar, so you'll probably have to use the stick-on mount type.

AFX FX-55 Internal Shape

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:  We give the AFX FX-55 a "Very Good" rating for shape, comfort and padding.

AFX FX-55 Helmet
AFX FX-41DS and FX-55 Helmets
The AFX FX-41 DS (review) dual-sport (L) vs. the AFX FX-55 adventure-tourer on the right.
AFX FX-55 Face Shield, Eye Port, Visibility and Peak

Surely the most useful feature of the FX-55 is its absolutely huge face shield and the amount of visibility it provides. It's as close to unlimited as you'll find in anything outside of an open-face helmet, even when the FX-55 has its chin bar installed.

This is a safety factor, especially for newer riders, as it makes it much easier to take a glance over the shoulder and actually see what's there. The outstanding visibility carries through for all of the 7 different helmet configurations (.pdf) of the FX-55.

The face shield doesn't have a defined lift tab but the chin bar has a recess that allows a thumb or finger to hook the face shield for a lift. Of course, the face shield is also easily removable and it rotates through three light detents.

The internal sun visor operates from a slider on the left side of the helmet. As long as you take care to correctly orient the helmet on your head with the chin bar pushed down to the correct location below your chin, the sun visor has enough travel for good coverage and the optical quality of both the clear face shield and the sun visor are both surprisingly good.

As noted however, that peak is the main fault of the FX-55; it's just too flexible and it vibrates and flutters in the wind. This problem is exacerbated because the peak isn't anchored along the top, attaching to the helmet only with the rotating screw "dials" on the side.

AFX FX-55 Eye Port Visibility

Score: The AFX FX-55 gets an "Outstanding" for unlimited visibility.

AFX FX-55 Top View
AFX FX-55 Ventilation

The narrow chin bar has a small chin vent that flows air up along the top of the chin bar and not through it. But there's no chin curtain and a lot of air flows up under the chin bar anyway, so a vent is rather redundant. Using the FX-55 in any of its other configurations means the chin vent isn't needed either.

There are four vent assemblies on top of the helmet, with two sliders on either side and a large center vent with two ports. There's another large vent in back of this, covered by a clear slider. The top vent system looks efficient but the design of the liner on upper part of the inside of the helmet prevents a lot of direct air flow on the rider's head.

Nevertheless, the helmet is cool enough and there's an adjustable rear exhaust vent as well.

Overall, the ventilation system on the FX-55 is acceptable but the upper ventilation might be a lot more effective with a different liner configuration.

AFX FX-55 Ventilation

Score:  We rate the ventilation system of the AFX FX-55 as "Excellent".

AFX FX-55 Removable Chin Bar
The chin bar removes using the red sliders. It incorporates a chin vent.
AFX FX-55 Sound Levels

This is where it gets disappointing, as the FX-55 seems louder than average, probably for several reasons. First, the peak vibration and flutter does cause a significant amount of noise. When I hold the peak steady, the noise levels are considerably reduced. Again, if the peak were anchored more securely to the helmet or had a stiffer design, the noise levels probably would also be reduced.

Due to the design of the side plates and the chin bar, the helmet also generates some noise around the sides. Overall, the FX-55 is louder than average, especially when riding behind a smaller windscreen that generates turbulent air around the upper half of the helmet.

AFX FX-55 Noise Levels

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: We'll give the AFX FX-55 a "Neutral" rating for worse than average noise control.

wBW Video: AFX FX-55 Helmet
AFX FX-55 Video on the webBikeWorld YouTube Channel.
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Helmet Weight

This FX-41DS in size size large weighs 1747 grams (3 lbs. 13-5/8 oz.). That seems reasonable for this type of helmet and the weight is distributed evenly.

Other than the issues noted with the peak attachment, the aerodynamics of the FX-55 are good.

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:  We give the AFX FX-55 DS a "Very Good" rating for its acceptable weight for this type of helmet and its good balance.

AFX FX-55 Helmet Liner
The Liner is comfortable and well-padded, although the padding is a bit soft.
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Miscellaneous

The FX-55 has a "Microlock" ratchet-type chin strap system, but there is no loop for the extra length of strap. The webbed chin strap is longer than normal, so it either hangs loose or the owner can cut it and melt the end to prevent unraveling. The fabric chin strap cushions underneath are adequate.

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 both DOT and the ECE 22.05 safety standard (more) and it's sold in both the U.S. and Europe.

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."

wBW Opinionator: AFX FX-55
Picks...
  • Good overall quality.
  • Nice styling.
  • Huge eye port and forward visibility.
  • True modular conversion features.
  • Outstanding warranty.
  • Comfortable liner and padding.
Pans...
  • Thin and short chin strap padding may be an issue.
  • 7 different formats but none outstanding.
  • Sizing runs smaller than expected.
  • Noise control issues.
Conclusion

The AFX FX-55 is like a Swiss Army knife or multi-tool of the motorcycle helmet trade. It can do a lot of things and it is most useful I think in its base format, as an adventure-touring style with the peak and chin bar attached. But like a Swiss Army knife, there's no one thing it does very well -- other than provide the rider with immense visibility out the eye port.

That huge face shield and eye port is, in fact, the helmet's best asset by far and it makes a real difference in riding, as you will suddenly be able to easily see things you completely missed wearing a traditional full-face helmet.

Overall the quality of the FX-55 is very good, but the peak design does ruin the picnic here because it vibrates and moves around in the wind, especially when it is hit by any turbulent air coming off a windscreen.

As with all of these multi-helmets, however, the question remains: do you really need a helmet that converts to 7 different styles? Don't forget, if you're on the road, you'll have to make sure you carry and don't lose all of the parts needed.

That said, there are a lot of FX-55 owners out there. I'd bet they use it in the base format and perhaps in the the open-face-with-peak format as the two most popular configurations.

Dual-sport and adventure-touring riders may be better of opting for the AFX FX-41 DS (review) however and for a true an off-road helmet design, try the AFX FX-21 (review), a very nice motocross helmet, also at a very reasonable price.

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wBW Review: AFX-FX55 Helmet
Manufacturer: AFX Helmets
List Price (2014): $169.95
Colors: Black, Matte, White, Silver and High-Viz Yellow.
Made In: Taiwan
Sizes: XS to XXL Shell Sizes: 2
Review Date: November 2014

wBW Dual-Sport Helmet Reviews: AFX FX-55  |  AFX FX-41DS  |  Caberg Tourmax  |  AGV AX-8 Dual EVO  |  Arai XD4  |  Fly Trekker DS  |  AFX FX-39 DS  |  X-Lite X-551  |  Icon Variant  |  AFX FX-37 DS  |  Arai XD3  |  Simpson GS3 MX  |  Zeus ZS-2100 B  |  HJC CL-XS  |  Arai XD  |  Airoh S4  |  Shoei Hornet

wBW Off-Road and Motocross Helmet Reviews: AFX FX-21  |  Fulmer RX4  |  Airoh Terminator  |  Airoh Trr  |  Airoh Aviator  |  AGV AX-8  |  Vemar VRX7  |  Shoei VFX-R Air Pastrana  |  Marushin X-Moto Squadron

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Your Comments and Feedback

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From "D.B." (April 2015): "Your FX-55 review was, as usual, quite thorough except for a couple of points. Let me preface this by saying that my previous helmet was the Shark Evoline 2 (review), the purchase of which was based on your excellent review of that helmet.

As to my "faults" with your review...it comes down to what you ride and who this helmet is intended for. In my case, I ride an SYM HD125 scooter, with a very large Isotta windscreen attached. This bike is my daily commuter.

According to me (and a conversation I had prior to buying with the folks at SYM), this is a "city" jet pilot-style commuter helmet as it's base configuration. Meaning in normal, default use, it would have the helmet and the short visor. That's all; no facescreen, no chinbar, no large peak. Those items are added as weather requires, be it rain or cold.  I purchased this helmet in August, as soon as it was available, and I've been delighted with it's comfort, quality, and bang-for-the-buck value.

Far lighter than the Evoline, and I simply add what I need as conditions arise. Perfect for commuting. My other issue with your review, very minor indeed, is the lack of mention of the lower helmet covers. Were they not included with your sample? Semi fiddly to install, but they do serve a protective function. Thanks again for all your hard work!"


From "J.R." (November 2014): "Thanks for the review of the FX-55 -- very good as usual. However, it did not address one of the big questions I have with this helmet: is the eye port large enough to wear goggles with this helmet?

Also, any comments on the noise level in the helmet when worn with the chin bar and face shield and without either the small or large peak?

The reason I ask is my intended use would be mostly paved road touring with an Ďadventureí bike that occasionally sees some unpaved use  (no singletrack = no peak needed). Iím thinking this helmet could give me the lower speed / unpaved option of opening the main visor but maintaining some eye protection with the drop down sun visor. Or, if the dust is getting really bad and coating the inside of even the sun visor, Iíd have the option of breaking out the goggles."

Editor's Reply: Yes, goggles will fit but the helmet is louder than average in all configurations.

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