AFX FX-11 Helmet
and LED rocker switches highlighted with
chin vent cover will not close on my helmet.
the gap between the side plate and the
helmet shell. This causes lots of
high-pitched noise while riding.
The AFX FX-11 Lightforce Helmet
by Lori B. for webBikeWorld
| Owner Comments (Below)
The AFX FX-11 has two very unique features: a built-in,
battery powered ventilating fan system and an LED light similar
to the one included on the
Shoei Syncrotec Police Motor Officer motorcycle
helmet we reviewed recently.
The fan and the light are powered by the same
Switchblade power system found on the Shoei
Police helmet. The batteries are rechargeable, and
the FX-11 is supplied with a recharger, which plugs into
a small lead that is hidden in the liner of the helmet.
The goal of the powered ventilation system is to
provide forced-air circulation in hot weather. The
LED light can provide illumination at night for roadside
repairs, packing gear or reading a map.
While the concept sounds logical, after using the
helmet I have mixed feelings on the merit of both.
The combination of the battery pack, fans, LED and
associated wiring makes the FX-11 one of the heaviest
helmets we've reviewed.
The helmet shown here is a
size XS, as in "Extra Small". It weighs a whopping
1771 grams, or 3 lbs., 3 oz., and it feels every bit of
Think about that for a second -- this size XS helmet
weighs more than all but 3 of the 44 helmets we've
reviewed, and the majority of those are size XL.
Here's another way to look at it: the extra-small
FX-11 helmet weighs almost as much as the size XL
S1, which was so heavy that it gave the reviewer
neck and back pains.
For comparison purposes, see the
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart
illustrating the weights of the various helmets we've
Powered Ventilation Fans and LED Light
The distinguishing characteristic of the AFX FX-11
Lightforce helmet is it's battery-operated ventilation
fans and LED light.
AFX claims that the FX-11 is
the "world’s first, and only, motorcycle, off-road, and
snowmobile helmet equipped with a fully integrated and
rechargeable power system".
We have no doubt about the claim, and the LED light
might be useful to someone riding in the dark, but does
the powered ventilation system really work, or is it
just a gimmick?
The fans and the light are powered by a 7.4 VDC,
600mAh Lithium Ion battery. The helmet comes with
a charger that is plugged into a lead that is hidden in
between the liner and shell on the lower left-hand side.
AFX claims that the battery pack will power the
system for up to 20 hours. The system recharges in
about one hour.
The waterproof rocker switches for the fans and the
LED light are located inside the chin bar. The
photo on the left illustrates the switch locations; it
was difficult to capture them in a photograph, so we
outlined them with white circles.
The central rocker switch turns the LED light on or
off. The light is located on the left-hand side of
the eyeport in the liner. The light should only be
used with the visor open to prevent glare at night.
The fan switches are located on either side of the
inside of the
chin bar. The left-hand switch turns on a fan that
draws air in through the chin vent and blows it on to
the rider's face.
The right-hand switch turns on a fan that exhausts air out
of the helmet, through the lower external vents on
either side of the helmet, located down near the rider's
A small folding instruction sheet that came with the
helmet advises against using both fans simultaneously.
The noise level increases when either fan is switched
on, although the fan noise fades into the background
My feeling is that the fans do not add anything extra
to a normal helmet ventilation system. Let's face
it -- once you get moving on a motorcycle, the air
pressure is normally high enough to flow enough air into
Although I didn't try it, I suppose that the fans
could offer good ventilation if riding behind a big
fairing on a touring bike. But I'm not sure that
the weight penalty and the added complication is worth
Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
I've looked at a few AFX helmets in motorcycle shops a
few times in the past couple of years and I have not
been overwhelmed by the quality.
First impressions count for a lot in motorcycle
helmets, and a helmet will have a certain feel to it
when it's first picked up off the shelf. The feel
of the paint, the weight, the visor and other details
transmits a strong signal to the potential owner.
I like the graphics of the AFX FX-11 Lightforce,
although on close inspection, the graphics are simple decals applied
over the matte paint. This might not be obvious or
visible in these photos.
The outline of the decals
can clearly be seen when I look at the helmet up close, and they have kind of a thin look.
It's possible that if the helmet had a shiny gloss
clearcoat that my feelings would be different, but I do
think that the low price of this helmet has forced many
compromises, although as we've demonstrated many times,
low price doesn't necessarily have to mean low quality.
I can say that I'm not impressed at all by the
quality of the moving parts, like the vents and the
visor. Right out of the box, I could not get the
sliding chin vent cover to close or the brow vents to
open. After several weeks of use, I've given up on
trying to close the chin vent; the plastic-like door
just won't slide into position.
I was able to force the sliding brow vent cover to
the open position, and the only way it will close again
is if I force it with a tool. It doesn't seem to
matter though; the helmet liner is not perforated on
top, so little air flows in over the rider's head
anyway. And the fans in the chin bar also seem to
prevent air from flowing in through the chin vent.
The visor has about half-a-dozen indents to hold it
up in various positions as it is raised. The
rotating mechanism on the sides of the helmet are
covered with plates, and a screwdriver must be used to
change the visor.
One of the things that I find
most annoying is the large gap between the side plates
and the helmet, illustrated in the photo above.
This is both a quality faux pas and also catches a lot
of air when riding, which makes the helmet rather noisy.
The helmet fits my size XS head perfectly. I'd say
that the FX-11 has
somewhat of an oval/square head shape inside. For more information on
helmet fit and head shapes and in choosing and fitting a
motorcycle helmet, see the
Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page.
The liner seems very thin but is comfortable enough
for me, although it's not as plush as some other helmets
I've worn. Squeeze the liner in certain places and
it doesn't compress very far until the hard shell can be
felt. This is actually kind of strange; the shell
feels very hard, not like the foam liners I can feel
behind the liner on other helmets.
The fans can be noisy when they are on at low speeds,
but the noise fades into the background at higher
speeds, overwhelmed by the noise from the air flowing
through the gaps in the side plates. It's not the
noisiest helmet I've worn, but it comes close.
The liner is thick enough at the neck area to block
some of the noise created by the turbulence coming off a
windscreen. AFX added a small section of padding
at the back of the helmet at the lower neck, which seems
to help in this regard.
The AFX FX-11 helmet uses a standard D-ring attachment system.
There is little padding under the chin straps. The
loose end of the helmet strap also does not include a
keeper, which is a definite oversight, in my opinion.
I mean, after all, how much would it cost to add a
plastic snap to the end of the strap? Without it,
the strap flies in the breeze, which is very annoying.
To make matters worse, the strap seems longer than most,
so there's more of it flying around.
After riding with this helmet for several weeks, I
asked myself two questions: 1) Does the powered
ventilation system work better than normal vents?
2) Would I buy the helmet even if it didn't have the
fan and LED light?
My answer to both was no.
Although the powered fan and light seem like an
interesting approach to the problem of helmet
ventilation, my opinion is that the disadvantages
outweigh the advantages. The system adds too
much weight; the fan mechanism seems to block
non-powered air from entering the helmet; and the
fans don't seem to do much above 20 MPH or so
Addressing question number 2 brings
me to the quality problem. From what I've
seen, AFX still has a way to go to match, for
example, HJC quality in my opinion. The FX-11
retails for $149.95, which is only a few dollars
less than the
HJC CL-SP we reviewed recently, which has so
impressed the webBikeWorld staff. Although I
haven't worn the CL-SP (it's a size XL, way too big
for my petite head), just handling it brings forth a
world of differences in quality levels.
I'll take a pass on the FX-11 and
wait to see what new helmets might be in store for
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From "S.D." (10/08): "First...the good stuff:
I purchased this helmet before
seeing your reviews on it. The fans are great under
2 opposite circumstances.
(a) When in slow traffic or stopped
at traffic lights during the hotter months. If
you are not moving fast enough, then the fan helps
make up for the missed air flow. I have tried
this helmet on both a cruiser and a GL1800 Wing and
agree that once moving fast enough, the air flow
from the wind will overpower the fans. But,
when not moving fast enough, the fans are a nice
option to have.
(b) I ride during the winter months
as well. One of the annoyances that I've had
with FF helmets is fogging of the shield when
stopped. Even with anti-fogging coatings such
as Rain-X applied, the shield still tends to fog
from your breath. Before, I simply cracked
open the shield to prevent this, but this was always
a hassle to do at every stop, and leaving the shield
open in stop and go traffic defeated the other
purpose of a shield in that it kept the cold air off
my face. The exhaust fan really helped
eliminate this fogging w/o having to open the
My helmet vents operate fine and it
has a strap keeper on it...unlike the one you
reviewed. A very nice one at that. The
noise is about average for helmets that offer
pockets for the headset speakers. They do this
by removing the foam in the pocket area to
accommodate the speakers and in turn reduce the
sound insulation from the outside of the helmet
shell. The quietest helmet I own does not have
the recesses for the speakers in it, so I guess the
noise is a given if you wear headsets.
Now...the bad stuff:
The finish is poor to say the least,
but it's about what I expected. I got the
Matte Silver version because I don't care much for
graphics on a helmet. I prefer the smooth
clean look (personal tastes), I guess, but also
prefer a gloss finish. I had planned to
clearcoat the helmet if I liked everything else
The fit is way too narrow for us big
headed folks. I bought the largest size they
offer and it is still too narrow for comfort.
I normally wear an XL, but had to swap it for an XXL
just to get it past my ears (I don't have big
My son normally wears a L and he
complained that it also fit tight over the ears when
putting it on. Also, the headset speakers
still press against my ears even though the ear
pockets are recessed to accommodate them. I
guess the folks over in Taiwan have smaller heads
than in the US.
The other complaint is that the
cheek pads pressed to much on my cheeks and became
very annoying after only about 30 minutes. I
remedied this by having the upholstery shop sew a
line down through the middle of each pad to help
pull it away from my cheek bones.
The helmet fits my son better than
me so I gave it to him. In general, FF
(full-face) type helmets tend to be too narrow for
me. I have yet to find one under $300 that is
not. The bottom line is that I'll stick with
my current style (open face with flip shield) since
my wife prefers this type also since they are
lighter and she tends to feel a little
claustrophobic in a FF helmet."
From "LBike": "I read Lori B's review of the AFX FX-11
Lightforce Helmet and I'd like to give her something else to consider. She
disliked the weight and questioned the usefulness of the fan. The weight
is the about the same as any other helmet on the list she suggested, which
averaged at about 3 1/2 lbs.
BUT THE MAIN appeal of the helmet is the fan. It appeals
to us fat guys that hate to stop at lights in the Arizona heat!! I always
wear a helmet, even in AZ, and it is FREAKIN MISERABLE -- especially at
intersections that take way too long for the lights to change! Yeah, at
80mph the ventilation is great. But at 20mph in traffic, or at a stop, us
chubby dudes suffer inside a helmet.
I'd pay an extra $500 for a bike helmet that had a GOOD fan it
it. If someone thinks that is too much money, they don't suffer like us
fat boys! I've lived in Seattle as well, and the traffic + lights are
equally as abominable.
Just something for her to consider.... :)"