The FX-90 is the entry level full-face helmet in the AFX 2011 lineup.
It's an excellent value with very good quality and a very comfortable liner.
Ventilation is better than expected and beats quite a few helmets costing a lot more.
The FX-90 also meets both DOT and ECE 22.05 safety standards and it's available in a wide variety of colors and sizes.
It also includes the AFX five-year warranty and accident replacement policy, all at a sub-$85 price point, making the FX-90 a certified bargain.
This is the fourth in our five-part review series on the 2011 AFX helmet lineup.
This time, we're looking at the AFX FX-90, the least expensive full-face helmet made by AFX in 2011.
The FX-90 is the sentimental favorite of the bunch, because it's an unpretentious helmet that offers huge value for the money.
The list price ranges from $75.00 for solid colors to $85.00 for graphics and it would be very difficult to get much more helmet for less money anywhere.
This goes double when you consider that AFX is a well-established name brand and the helmets are backed by a 5-year warranty, parts availability and a free accident replacement policy.
All of the AFX helmets for 2011 are an outstanding value, making it difficult to choose a favorite.
One more interesting tidbit to note before we get started is this: the FX-90 is available in an extended size range, from XS all the way up to XXL.
But if you're in search of magnum sizes, the FX-Magnus extends the FX-90 range -- it's basically the FX-90 but with a hand-laid fiberglass shell.
The FX-Magnus is the AFX "big head" helmet offering, available in XXXL and XXXXL (that's 3XL and 4XL!).
And it will soon become available in more than just plain black.
The last installment in this series will look at the FX-Magnus in size 4XL. Although we don't have a 4XL sized evaluator available, we'll photograph it and describe it, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, pretty much everything you read here about the FX-90 goes for the FX-Magnus also.
The FX-90 is available in a wide variety of solid colors and a huge array of graphics -- an AFX specialty. The "Dare" graphic, shown here in red, looks great and belies the sub-$85 price tag of this helmet.
Besides the Dare graphics, I counted at least 9 other FX-90 patterns you can choose and many more if you figure that each graphic pattern is available in several different color combinations -- including pink!
The choices are staggering, so choosing a favorite isn't easy.
And don't count out the solids; the FX-90 in silver metallic definitely has an upscale look that absolutely betrays its bargain-basement price tag.
As noted in the other reviews in this series, we've been impressed with AFX quality for 2011 and the FX-90 is no exception. This is a solid, no-nonsense, "honest" helmet that delivers a huge amount of value for the money.
Also as noted in the other AFX reviews in this series, remember the word "relative" applies here.
You're not going to get Shoei or Arai quality at these prices, but you will probably be surprised at what 85 bucks can buy...and in today's economy, that's great news.
Factor in what amounts to a lifetime warranty of 5 years and the fact that parts are stocked for every model helmet for 10 years and provided to owners at no charge.
Also, the "no questions asked" free helmet replacement policy if you're in an accident and it's, well, it's a screaming deal, that's all there is to it.
The paint and graphics on this FX-90 are very nicely applied with excellent quality and this graphics pattern has a sharp appearance. The chin vent and top vent covers aren't the most solid feeling pieces we've come across, but they work just fine.
There are some idiosyncrasies regarding the fit of the liner and padding in the FX-90 that I'll describe in the next section and the overall quality of the assembly is very good to excellent.
The liner and cheek pads on the FX-90 are removable and the ear pockets feel roomy enough for speakers.
The face shield installed on the FX-90 isn't as feature-rich as the shield used on the FX-95. It has a stiffer feel and the first opening is too large for defogging.
This is probably the most notable difference between the two helmets.
But the street price of the FX-95 is so close to the selling price of the FX-90 -- which doesn't have the same discounting because the price is cut to the bone to begin with -- it's something to consider when comparing both helmets.
Score: Overall, the AFX FX-90 offers excellent quality at an exceptional price point, so I'll give it an "Excellent" rating for paint, design and overall quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
One interesting feature of the FX-90 -- and probably one of the main reasons that the price can be kept so low -- is the design of the shell, liner and padding.
AFX told us that the FX-90 has only a single shell size, with two sizes of EPS liner to make up the difference.
The single shell size in the FX-90 spans a range from XS to XXL, with the thicker EPS liner fitting the XS to M sizes and the thinner EPS liner fitting the L to XXL size range. The thickness of the padding in the liner apparently makes up some of the differences.
The size large shown here is about in the middle of the size range, and the padding feels thick and comfy, no doubt about it.
But I get a feeling that the generous padding may be compensating for some of the size difference, as the size break for the EPS liner starts at size large, so this is the smallest helmet in the largest size range.
The bottom line is that it is possible that owners of smaller or larger helmets may find more variation from our findings with this helmet than others.
Also, the thick padding may be masking the internal shape slightly.
The FX-90 feels like it has a rounder internal shape than the size large FX-95, but this may be due to the thicker padding in the FX-90 masking the neutral to slightly narrow fit found in the FX-95.
Eyeglasses also seem to fit more easily into the FX-90 then the FX-95, again possibly due to these quirks of sizing and padding.
So our slightly qualified conclusion on the internal shape is that FX-90 in size large feels like it's biased towards a rounder internal shape than the FX-95.
But again, the actual shape may be masked by what feels like thicker padding inside that perhaps is an attempt to make up for the slight difference in shell and EPS sizes.
In any case, the FX-90 in size large is very comfortable and if there is any extra padding, I'm certainly not complaining about it, because it feels great. Indeed, this is my favorite AFX helmet so far in terms of fit and comfort.
The helmet in size large feels about 1/2 size bigger than expected and all of the AFX helmets that we've tried so far do feel like they have a fit that is slightly larger than normal for their size, so if you're on the borderline, you may want to order one size down.
This size large FX-90 should fit a 60.5 to 61.5 cm slightly round head shape.
The FX-90 has a useful chin curtain installed, held by a friction fit between the shell and the EPS. The chin curtain serves as an efficient block for air coming up under the chin bar.
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-90 an "Excellent" rating for comfort and liner materials and padding and a slightly round fit in size large that may differ depending on the size and EPS liner installed.
The face shield rotating mechanism employed on the FX-90 isn't quite as "high-tech" as the system found on the upmarket FX-95.
The difference is that the FX-90 system doesn't allow a small first defogging position and it only raises the face shield through three detents.
But overall, it works without problems and the face shield has a firm seal against the full-length eye port gasket, albeit with a slight gap on either side that doesn't affect the waterproof integrity.
The face shield does exhibit some twist when lifted, due to the stiffness of the rotating mechanism and the fact that the lift tab is over on the left-hand side.
If the lift tab had been placed on the center of the face shield, the twisting effect would probably be unnoticeable.
The basic face shield operating mechanism used on the FX-90 means that the shield is slightly more difficult to remove and replace than the FX-95 shield, as illustrated in the video below. The system works well but the removal/replacement procedure feels a bit stiff and clumsy.
The face shield on the FX-90 has excellent optical properties, however, and this one measures 2.35 mm thick at the center. It is labeled for EC use.
The visibility out of the eye port on this size large FX-90 is better than average, although again this may differ, depending upon the helmet size, due to the padding and EPS quirks discussed above.
Score: I'll give the AFX FX-90 an "Excellent" rating for the overall quality of the face shield and an "Excellent" for the sealing of the eye port gasket and also for outward visibility.
Upper and lower ventilation is handled differently on the FX-90 than it is on the FX-95.
The FX-90 has two separate vents on top with sliding covers, compared to the single slider used in the FX-95.
The FX-90 has a basic on/off chin vent, but it has vent ports that flow air directly through the chin bar; a rare feature on a helmet at this price -- and unfortunately too often not even available on helmets costing much more!
In fact, I think the venting system on the FX-90 -- both the top and chin vents -- are more effective than the vents installed on the FX-95.
The top vent covers and the chin vent assembly on the FX-90 don't feel quite as solid as the vents on the FX-95, but they work without problems.
The top vents are actually fairly effective and provide slightly better than average air flow. They move the air through a pair of direct holes through the EPS and then through some mesh in the head liner and on to the rider's head.
The chin vent works very well and better than average, definitely a surprise -- and a pleasant one at that!
The chin curtain helps to focus the air and the helmet -- at least in the size large -- has a nice and roomy chin area that feels comfortable.
The FX-90 does not have exhaust vents in the upper rear, only a pair of small vents located at the lower portion of the helmet in back.
It's not clear if they actually do anything, and the vents along the side of the chin bar seem to push air in between the shell and the EPS, which isn't really felt by the rider. But, it's possible that this system helps pull air through the helmet.
Overall, the combined upper and lower ventilation on the FX-90 is better than average; again something surprising in a low-cost helmet.
Score: I'll give the ventilation system of the AFX FX-90 an "Excellent" rating.
The FX-90 is average in its ability to control noise levels. The top vents can whistle slightly at certain angles, while the bottom of the helmet seems prone to the louder "booming" low-frequency noises caused by turbulence coming off a windscreen.
This may be due to the size of this helmet; the size large is at the smaller end of the larger shell/EPS liner combination, so the gap at the bottom of the helmet may be wider than average, allowing some of the noises to come through.
We did notice similar noise levels on the FX-95, however. It's not annoying, just average.
By coincidence, I wore a Suomy Spec 1R Extreme (review) helmet back-to-back with the FX-90 and the difference in the lower sound levels around the bottom of the Suomy was noticeable.
I'm assuming the Suomy has a tighter-fitting shell in size large that probably seals the lower part of the helmet more tightly around the lower part of my head.
Note that the rider's head shape and helmet fit can definitely contribute to variances in perceived noise levels, as can factors such as the type of windscreen or fairing, motorcycle, wind conditions and even the clothing that the rider is wearing.
Overall, I'd rate the FX-9- as about average in its ability to control noise volume.
Note that our helmet evaluations are 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 rider's clothing.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: I'll give the AFX FX-90 a "Very Good" rating for average noise control.
The FX-90 in size large weighs in at a relatively light 1524 grams (3 lbs., 5-3/4 oz.), which is an excellent showing, especially for a polycarbonate shell helmet meeting both DOT and ECE safety standards.
This puts it in excellent company, with the HJC FS-15 Carbon (XL) weighing 1514 grams; the ROOF Rover (L), 1525 grams; the HJC RPS-10 (L) at 1525 grams; the AGV Stealth (XL) at 1536 grams; the Caberg HyperX (Modular, size M) at 1541 grams and the AGV K3 (XL) at 1543 grams.
The FX-90 fits well and the weight is evenly balanced, with no problems to report.
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-90 an "Outstanding" rating for its relatively low weight and its good balance.
The FX-90 has a double D-ring chin strap attachment, notable for its wide and thick padding underneath.
The chin strap has a plastic snap for attaching the extra length, but the length seems about 50 mm longer than necessary, something we noticed also on the FX-95.
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).
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.
|webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator - AFX FX-90|
The AFX FX-90 is one more winner in the AFX helmet lineup for 2011.
The combination of features, comfort, colors and graphics at this price, combined with both DOT and ECE safety standards and the outstanding warranty, makes it a superb value.
The choice may be difficult however, because the FX-90's price has been set so low that there isn't much room for retail discounts.
Thus, the higher-spec FX-95 can be found at discount for nearly the same price as the graphics version of the FX-90.
|wBW Product Review: AFX FX-90 Helmet|
|Available From: AFX Helmets||List Price: $74.95 - $84.95.|
|Colors: Solids and graphics.||Made In: China|
|Sizes: XS to XXL. Shell Sizes: One, 2 EPS liner sizes (XS-M, L-2XL)||Review Date: June 2011|