The FX-95 is the top-of-the-line helmet in the AFX 2011 lineup.
It has an improved face shield and rotator and the helmet now meets both DOT and ECE 22.05 safety standards.
It represents yet another outstanding value in the new 2011 AFX lineup and its low price means they'll be selling them as fast as ice cream cones on July 4th.
This is the third installment in the five-part 2011 AFX helmet review series on webBikeWorld.com.
This time, we're jumping to the FX-95, which is the top-of-the-line helmet in the AFX lineup for 2011.
The FX-95 replaces the FX-16 that previously held that position. Although we didn't review an FX-16, there are a few significant differences between these two helmets.
These differences include a difference in the safety standards for the AFX top-line helmet. The FX-16 met the DOT safety standard in the U.S. and it was also Snell approved, while the new FX-95 meets DOT and ECE 22.05 safety standards.
This is consistent with the company's plans to market helmets in Europe for the first time.
AFX has a very sharply defined target market for their helmets, which must sell within the $50.00 to $150.00 price range, based on the arrangement with Parts Unlimited, the U.S. distributor for the AFX brand.
This presents a difficult challenge to be sure. But, in somewhat of an ironic twist, these constraints also present an interesting challenge and it has pushed the company to develop a razor-sharp, no-fat focus on each and every item in the product line.
Consider that AFX must make a profit, as does the distributor, Parts Unlimited. But the retailer also takes a hefty chunk. On top of all that, AFX helmets are routinely discounted by around 35% -- but all of those palms still need greasing. This means that everything must be scrutinized to eliminate waste, including design, manufacturing, sales, distribution, supply chain and marketing efforts.
The entire AFX product line has been undergoing a revamp over the last year or so, with a new attention to quality and detail.
This is, of course, good news for motorcyclists and based on our experience with the five AFX helmets in this series, we can definitively state that the helmets now offer a lot of bang for very few bucks -- the perfect solution for hard economic times. And the FX-95 indeed has a lot of "bang".
Before we begin the full FX-95 review, here's a special announcement. AFX has kindly allowed webBikeWorld.com to be the first to announce the news of a special edition FX-95, the 911 Tribute helmet.
AFX has always supported various charities and rider groups, and the new 911 Tribute helmet takes this to another level. Only 911 copies of this helmet will be made, and a portion of the proceeds for each helmet will be donated to the Tuesday's Children organization, a non-profit charity that provides support to the children of those affected by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and others affected by global terrorism.
Each 911 Tribute version of the FX-95 has a serial number and comes with a certificate of authenticity and a special carrying bag and they have a list price of $139.95.
In addition, six specially numbered FX-95 helmets will be auctioned on eBay with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity. The six helmets include:
For more information on the AFX FX-95 911 Tribute Special Edition helmets, please visit the AFX Helmets website.
Each AFX helmet model is available in a wide variety of colors and graphics, and the FX-95 is no exception, with about 20 different color combinations available.
This helmet shown in our photos is painted in what we call the "Screaming Canary Yellow" livery. It's the same color found on the helmet in the previous installment in this series, the AFX FX-50 (review).
I like this shade of yellow better than the so-called "High Visibility" yellow/green color found on other brands of helmets. The slight green tinge in the typical high-viz yellow color gives me about the same feeling in my stomach as drinking a quart of buttermilk. And I have my doubts if the typical high-viz yellow/green helps improve visibility over the AFX shade of yellow or even a white helmet, for that matter. I'll take the warmer, sunnier AFX version any day.
In fact, we have noticed that the "high viz" yellow/green color can look very washed out in 5500K bright sunlight, which may not have the desired safety effect (although it does tend to "pop" at dawn or dusk).
The paint on this FX-95 is very nicely applied, but keep in mind this isn't an Arai or Shoei. In this price range, one doesn't expect ultra-lux levels of quality. If you look closely enough, you may find a couple of very tiny dust bumps here and there and a rough edge or two.
But when you consider that the list price of this FX-95 is 80% less than a Shoei RF-1100 (review), all of a sudden, the finish on the FX-95 looks fantastic indeed.
And, it will look even better when you take a peek at the price tag and discover that this FX-95 in "Screaming Canary Yellow" can be had for as little as 90 bucks -- so it's not only a screaming color, but a screaming deal to boot! In any case, the paint is covered with clear coat that feels like it will protect the helmet without problems.
Seriously though, the paint is of very good to excellent quality, and probably the only issue to nitpick is that the exhaust assembly on top of the helmet is a very slightly different hue than the paint on the helmet, probably due to the plastic molding process.
This only shows up in certain types of lighting, and if you look hard enough, you may be able to see it (depending on the quality of your computer monitor!) in the following photo:
Overall, the quality of the fittings and moving parts on the FX-95 is also very good to excellent, with the clean and good-looking shape helping out also. The moving parts, including the vents and the face shield, all operate without problems and with a good tactile feel.
The liner material and padding on the FX-95 (and the FX-90, which will be reviewed next in the series) is very comfortable and I can easily say among the most comfortable of any helmet I have worn in recent memory.
The padding is thick and the fabric used to cover it feels especially soft next to the skin. AFX says that the material used is both anti-microbial and anti-allergenic, so perhaps that is what makes feel softer than average.
The liner and cheek pads on the FX-95 are removable and the EPS is even covered by a mesh fabric to give the inside of the helmet a more finished look than many others.
The face shield is noteworthy -- and I'll describe that in a minute -- because the FX-95 has a very nice mechanism for raising and lowering the shield, with a good feel and even a locking lever.
Score: Overall, I think the AFX FX-95 offers a surprising amount of quality at the price and it gets an "Excellent" rating for paint, design and overall quality, raised to "Outstanding" considering the current going street price of this helmet. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
This FX-95 is a size large and it fits as expected and just about perfect to size for a 60-61 cm head. The internal shape is pretty much the classic definition of "Neutral" and the relatively thick padding means it should fit a wide range of head shapes on either side of neutral.
Most of the AFX helmets come in two shell sizes, due to cost considerations, with the L through XXL sizes using the larger shell. The larger shell size doesn't feel too big in either the FX-90 or the FX-95 and I'm guessing that the XL and XXL sizes have slightly thinner padding inside to provide room for the required head size.
The liner fabric has a couple of different textures, which not only improve the feel but also give the inside of the FX-95 a richer appearance than one would expect at this price range. The padding feels good around my cheeks and it is located properly to surround my lower jaw.
In fact, between the more comfortable fabric, the thick padding and the good looks of the FX-95, I would definitely rate the comfort as better than the Arai RX-Q (review), a much more expensive helmet with a rather rough-feeling liner. The material used in the FX-95 seems to do a good job at absorbing moisture also during our recent and sudden switch to 95-degree plus temperatures.
The FX-95 also comes with a chin curtain installed, which is 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.
The ear pockets of the FX-95 appear to be larger than normal and they have a nice flat plastic surface towards the outside, which helps for mounting a set of speakers. However, I did notice for some reason that the rear part of my left ear doesn't quite fit in the pocket, probably an anomaly for this helmet only. I am able to squeeze my straight-temple sunglasses inside the helmet without problems.
webBikeWorld Internal Shape Estimator: AFX FX-95
|Narrow||Med. Narrow||Slight Narrow||Neutral||Slight Round||Med. Round||Round|
|Helmet Internal Shape Examples (see more Motorcycle Helmet Shapes)|
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-95 an "Excellent" rating for comfort and liner materials and padding and a fit that should satisfy the majority of riders.
The face shield operating system installed on the FX-95 has a few higher-end features, thus it is different than the mechanism installed on the FX-90 (currently in the evaluation process). The FX-90 is a slightly less expensive helmet (and it has a rounder internal shape), and this is one area that made the difference.
The face shield on the FX-95 has excellent optical properties; it measures 2.15 mm thick and is labeled for EC use.
The rotating mechanism works smoothly and it only takes a light touch to raise it through its 6 detents. The first detent is a small defogging position, which is a definite plus. The smooth operation of the mechanism means that there is very little twisting as the face shield is raised or lowered.
The shield has a lift tab at the lower left and the FX-95 also has a shield lock, which can be used to lock the face shield closed for those high-speed, over-the-shoulder traffic checks.
The eye port has a thick gasket, which seals the face shield for the most part, although there is a very slight gap on the left-hand side of this example, which allows a tiny amount of water to leak in if it is poured from the top. I haven't worn the helmet in the rain but I have a feeling that this shouldn't be a problem at speed.
The gasket does fully surround the eye port. We tried adjusting the rotating mechanism on the left-hand side but were unable to adjust the face shield for a tighter fit.
The visibility out of the eye port on the FX-95 is about average, with some of the helmet shell appearing in my peripheral vision. This may be due to the fact that the size large is the smallest size using the larger shell size. Visibility is good; just not as outstanding as some other helmets.
webBikeWorld Eye Port Visibility Estimator: AFX FX-95
|Visibility||Poor||Below Average||Average||Above Average||Outstanding|
|Top to Bottom||■|
|Side to Side||■|
Score: I'll give the AFX FX-95 an "Excellent" rating for the overall quality and operation of the face shield; a "Very Good" for the sealing of the eye port gasket and also for outward visibility.
The vents on the FX-95 are nicely integrated into the overall design, with a silver-colored slider on a black background for the top vent, a black chin vent and to auxiliary vents on either side of the chin matching the colors at the top.
The slider on the top vent works well, albeit with a slightly loose feel. The air vents through the EPS are somewhat disappointing, however, because they are blocked by the helmet liner and vents don't provide as much air as I think they could. I can't directly feel air flowing on to the top of my head...but on the other hand, it doesn't feel unusually warm up there either.
The chin vent system works very nicely however. It consists of a horizontal slider over the opening at the top of the chin bar. It has a small arm that sticks out from the center of the chin vent and when the arm is pushed left or right, the sliding cover opens or closes the vent; the center position is closed.
When the vent is open, the air flows up on to the back of the face shield. It's actually an easy system to use and it's an interesting new take on the classic chin vent, and it provides a better than average amount of air flow for the FX-95.
The helmet also features auxiliary chin vents on either side of the chin bar. These are the trim pieces seen in the photos that are covered with silver plastic sliders.
When the sliders pushed towards the rear, the vents open and the air comes in through a pair of round holes that run through the chin bar, one on either side. The holes are located just in front of the cheek pads, which block the air slightly but the overall effect of the chin vent and the auxiliary ports is positive. The chin curtain also helps to focus the air on the rider's face.
The FX-95 has a very large breath guard that is easily removed; I don't find these very useful and removing it improves the air flow, especially when the face shield is opened to the first position for defogging.
The helmet has a pair of exhaust vents under the assembly on top of the helmet, along with a pair of small slots located under silver-colored plastic trim bits at the lower rear of the helmet.
Overall, the upper ventilation system on the FX-95 could probably be improved by redesigning the liner to allow the air that enters through the EPS lining to flow directly on to the rider's head. The chin vent system works well, although if the side auxiliary vents and their internal passage were placed closer to the center of the chin bar, air flow might be increased.
webBikeWorld Opinionator: AFX FX-95 Ventilation
|Location||Poor||Below Average||Average||Above Average||Outstanding|
Score: I'll give the ventilation system of the AFX FX-95 a "Very Good" rating.
The clean design of the FX-95 shell and the relatively thick padding provides a relatively quiet interior that does a good job at controlling the noise levels. The basic wind rushing noise heard on any helmet is present, but the low profile vents don't have any unusual whistling or other sounds.
I do notice some lower-frequency noises around the bottom of the helmet when riding behind a windscreen that directs air towards the bottom of the helmet. I think this may be due to a slight mis-match of my head shape to the helmet and the thick padding in the size large that may leave a wider space between my neck and the outer part of the shell.
I have noticed that when I ride with a tight-fitting jacket collar or with a jacket with no collar, the noise is reduced. Some taller collars can create a Venturi effect between the bottom of a helmet and the shoulders, increasing wind noise at the bottom of the helmet. In any case, this is highly variable and will depend on the rider's head shape, clothing, motorcycle type and several other factors.
Overall, I'd rate the FX-95 as about average to slightly better than average in its ability to control noise volume.
webBikeWorld Opinionator: AFX FX-95 Noise Levels
|Location||Very Quiet||Quieter||Average||Louder||Very Loud|
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 earplugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems) and (usually) a helmet liner. It is strongly recommended that hearing protection is used when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page 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-95 an "Excellent" rating for slightly better than average noise control.
The FX-95 in size large weighs 1678 grams (3 lbs., 11-1/4 oz.), which is near the average helmet weight of the 167 helmets we have reviewed to date and not bad for a helmet that meets both DOT and ECE safety standards.
Other helmets in this weight range include the GMAX GM68S (XL) at 1677 grams; the Zeus ZS-2100 B (Enduro, size XL) at 1680 grams; the Bell Sprint (XL) at 1688 grams and the Bell Star 2010 (XL) at 1696 grams.
The FX-95 fits well and the weight is evenly balanced, with no problems to report. There is a slight pressure movement when I turn my head right or left when riding, but I believe this is caused due to the thicker padding for this size large, which uses the larger shell size. The thicker padding allows slightly more movement of the helmet.
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-95 a "Very Good" rating for its weight and its good balance.
The FX-95 has a European-style quick release chin strap system, and this one works very well and I don't notice any difference in thickness compared to a D-ring system. The chin strap seems longer than normal and it doesn't have a snap for a retainer, so it must be tucked up under the chin strap once the helmet is on. I don't suggest modifying a chin strap but this one could probably be cut and the end melted with a flame once the desired length was found.
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-95
The new AFX FX-95 is another outstanding value in the AFX helmet lineup for 2011. It offers good, solid features and both DOT and ECE protection at a rock-bottom price. The yellow color may also be a safety factor but if you don't like it, there are plenty of other color combinations to choose from.
As with all of the other AFX helmets, there is also the outstanding 5-year "lifetime" warranty and parts support and the accident return policy to consider, making this one of the best helmet bargains of the year.
wBW Product Review: AFX FX-95 Helmet
|Manufacturer: AFX Helmets||List Price: $139.95 - $149.95.
Other Sources: The AFX FX-39 DS at Amazon.com
|Colors: Solids and graphics.||Made In: Taiwan|
|Sizes: XS to XXL. Shell Sizes: Two||Star Rating (1-5):|
Review Date: June
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.
Rating Scale is subjective: Unacceptable, Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.
From "T.H." (January 2012): "First, a huge "thank you" to webBikeWorld for providing so much valuable information on helmets. Among many other things, it prepared me to shop and then speak intelligently with the fine people at RevZilla.
I needed to replace a too-tight-on-the-forehead helmet and really didn't want to break the bank to do so. After reading your review of the FX-95 I called RevZilla and explained what I was looking for and needed to resolve. "Chris" there concurred with my assessment and fixed me up with a hi-viz yellow in medium.
Note that I was a little skeptical because my head measures at the high end of most manufacturer's "medium", even at AFZ's somewhat generous sizing. (RevZilla's excellent return policy certainly eased my concern). Now, having ridden about 150 miles with this helmet I can report that I'm delighted with it.
The fit is perfect (and I now have some idea of my head shape!). Ventilation is much better than it's predecessor's (I can actually feel air moving when I open the vents), I'm delighted at how yellow this helmet really is, quality seems excellent, and with the breath guard removed it is vastly superior in terms of not fogging my glasses.
To the extent that fogging is virtually no problem. Reader/reviewer "MPF" (below) observed that his FX-95's cheek pads tended to push his glasses up. I'm not having that problem, but I have noticed some pressure on my Adam's apple from the clasp, as he noted. For me, that isn't as much of a problem, and certainly no deal-breaker.
However, it does provide a use for the excess strap-end noted in the review; wrapping said excess around the clasp conveniently mitigates the problem!
So: A DOT-ECE rated Hi-Viz helmet, $89.95 delivered, with a great guarantee, that fits my slightly-oval head to a "T". Excellent!
As an aside, I note that neither the accompanying literature nor the AFX website reference an offer of free replacement for helmets that have been through an accident, so I deduce that program has been scrapped. Just an observation, not a complaint."
From "M.P.F." (July 2011): "I recently purchased one of these helmets in the yellow color. I have to agree with this review - it is an impressive helmet with great features.
Unfortunately, it didn't work for me for two reasons. The first is that the cheek padding pushed my eyeglasses up and it took a lot of finagling to get them to stay in position.
I could probably have worked with this, but the problem that made this helmet untenable for me was the quick release chin strap system. The latch has a rectangular plastic piece that bit into my Adam's apple something fierce. Painful and impossible to accept. My current helmet has a d-ring attachment that I find to be simple, secure, and comfortable. IMHO some things just don't need fixin'. I would consider trying the FX-90 if it came in yellow."