AFX FX-87X Snowmobile Helmet Review
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
Convertible helmet for motorcycle and/or snowmobile use is a bit clumsy on the road.
Many of those visitors have also suggested the AFX FX-87X helmet as a potential candidate for a webBikeWorld review, so here it is.
Since I seem to be the de facto webBikeWorld Enduro helmet Testmeister, it was a natural to assign me the job of locating and reviewing an AFX FX-87X to add to the résumé.
However, there's a bit of a twist to this tale. I'm admitting right up front that I mistakenly thought that the AFX was another Enduro style helmet, but, in fact, I discovered that it does not meet the definition of the genre.
We loosely define an Enduro-style helmet as a motocross or off-road helmet that includes both an attached sun visor brim on top and a clear visor that can still be operated when the sun visor brim is attached.
The AFX FX-87X has the sun visor brim, which can be removed but cannot be used with the double-walled clear snowmobile visor. So the helmet is either an off-road helmet or a snowmobile helmet, but, for reasons that will become clear, it doesn't work very well as a motorcycle street helmet.
By the way, the Airoh S4 (review) is probably the most flexible with regards to the definition of Enduro styled helmets because it's a true "three way" helmet. It can be used as an off-road helmet with the sun visor brim attached and the clear visor removed; a street helmet with the sun visor brim removed or and Enduro-street helmet with everything attached.
The AFX FX-87X has some nice features, although I will say that we haven't been a fan of AFX quality in the past, such as the AFX FX-11 (review).
I consider companies like AFX, THH, EXL and the like to be in the "fourth tier" of helmet manufacturers, with players like Shoei and Arai at the top of the heap, HJC in close second and up-and-comers like KBC and Scorpion in third. There are way too many excellent helmets at very inexpensive price points to be mucking about trying to save 10 bucks with helmets in the fourth tier.
Our FX-87X was ordered with the matte orange color that surely acts as a "see me" beacon to other vehicles. The only other available color is matte black. The paint is rather nicely applied on our example, although when I run my hands over it I can feel tiny traces of dust embedded in the paint. But overall, the paint thickness and color makes up for the few flaws, in my opinion.
AFX did a very nice job on the gasket that surrounds the eye port and overall the helmet demonstrates better quality than I expected, although whether or not this just demonstrates my lowered expectations or true gains in quality is unknown at this point.
The chromed plastic chin vent cover is a nice touch and the rocker switch vents at the brow are properly applied and have a nice, firm feel when they're opened or closed.
The only pick I can think of to nit is the application of the exhaust vents in the rear of the helmet. The plastic sliders feel rather flimsy and the curvature of the plastic mounting does not match the radius of the helmet. I'm afraid that something may catch the end of one of the sliders and break it off, although this has not yet happened.
But overall, I'd say this is about the best quality AFX helmet I've come across, so my feeling is that it gets a thumbs-up in the fit and finish department.
Our FX-87X is a size XL but my opinion is that it fits like a size large. It's at least 1/2 to 1 size smaller than the "standard" size XL's I'm used to, so potential owners who really do need an XL may find that an XXL will actually fit better.
Although the helmet is available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL, I'm surprised that AFX doesn't offer if in larger sizes because I would assume that snowmobile riders may want to wear a thicker Balaclava under their helmets, which may require a helmet that's a size or two bigger than they might normally purchase.
The bottom line is that the XXL may not fit a snowmobile rider with a size XL head who is wearing a thick liner. As always, try before you buy.
The FX-87X feels like it has a perfectly round internal shape to me. When I'm wearing the helmet and stick my finger under the liner up along my forehead, there's no wiggle room at all, which tells me this is not a "long oval" shape.
The liner looks pretty basic and it doesn't feel very thick when I run my hands over it, but it's actually rather comfortable. I have no problems with the quality of the liner or in the way it's been applied; again, although it's a basic liner that uses generic helmet liner fabric, it doesn't have any hanging threads, glue overruns or the like.
The inside of the EPS-lined chin guard is covered with a type of pebbled vinyl. Overall, the inside of the helmet and its fit and finish are nicely done.
For more information on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet, make sure you take a look at the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, which also includes a discussion on head shapes.
The FX-87X in size XL weighs 1799 grams (3 lbs., 15-1/2 oz.) with the sun visor brim attached and without the double-walled clear visor. The clear visor weighs 162 grams, or 5.75 oz.
This makes the FX-87X one of the heaviest helmets we've ever reviewed (see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a comparison chart of all helmets). I was surprised when I put the FX-87X on the scales, because it doesn't seem as heavy as it really is.
Possibly the extended chin bar balances the weight towards the bottom of the helmet, so it doesn't feel top heavy and is balanced more evenly than it might be if the weight was carried higher up.
AFX provides a double-walled snowmobile dual-lens visor with the FX-87X. It's not something we're used to as motorcycle riders; the double walls provide a very blurry, tinted view that I do not think is suitable or advisable for motorcycle riding in the street. The visor does seem to work to prevent fogging, but I'm not sure if that's due to the double-walled design or to the huge vent across the top of the visor.
The visor is designed to not fit across the top of the helmet, unlike a full-face motorcycle helmet visor. It has a foam gasket along the bottom, but the top allows the air to come up under the helmet, pass over the back of the visor and out along the gap in the top. This helps to prevent moisture buildup on the inside of the clear visor.
The problem with this when riding a motorcycle is that the air comes up in a huge gust under the extended chin and rushes up past my face and over my eyes, causing me to quickly get a bad case of dry eyeball and super-ticklish nose.
It's really breezy in there when riding on an un-faired motorcycle, but it's not so bad behind the barn door fairing on Burn's K1200LT. But my feeling is that for general motorcycle use, this type of snowmobile/street helmet is not the best solution, although perhaps motorcycle riders in locations with hot and humid weather will benefit by the extra air flow.
By the way, just for the record: AFX does recommend the FX-87X for street, off-road and snowmobile use.
Speaking of air flow, the FX-87X does a decent job of it. Like other Enduro-style helmets and off-road helmets with their larger protruding chin guard, there's plenty of room for the air to come up underneath, making it difficult to truly evaluate the effectiveness of the vents that are built into the helmet.
But the two top rocker switch brow vents do seem to flow some air into the top of the helmet, although the helmet liner has a solid piece of foam-backed padding at the top of the rider's head, so there's really no direct channel to flow the air over this area.
As with most motorcycle helmets, it's difficult to tell whether or not the rear exhaust vents are contributing to the ventilation system or not.
The FX-87X is actually fairly quiet. The liner and the overall shape seem to work together to keep noise levels low. I haven't noticed any elevated noise levels from the vents either.
Of course, the air blowing up in the front does keep the helmet sounding a bit busy, but I can cover the opening under the chin guard with my left hand to evaluate overall noise levels, which seem low.
Remember that we always wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs and an extra helmet liner when riding, and we strongly recommend that you always wear hearing protection also. See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
One of the attractive features of the AFX FX-87X to one of our visitors was its Snell approval. But there may be a catch. The AFX website is confusing with regards the standards which the FX-87X helmet meets. It's listed under the "Off-Road ATV" section as "Safety standards met or exceeded" for DOT, ECE and Snell.
It's also listed under the "Snowmobile" section as "Safety standards met or exceeded" for DOT and SNELL.
Then there's also a FX-87 available in multiple colors and listed in the "Off-Road ATV" section which is apparently the same helmet but without the snowmobile clear visor. It also is listed as "Safety standards met or exceeded" for DOT, ECE and Snell.
Finally, there's an FX-87X Youth helmet listed in the Snowmobile section, available in sizes Youth Small, Youth Medium and Youth Small. That helmet is listed as "Safety standards met or exceeded" for DOT and Snell.
The Snell Memorial Foundation website lists only an AFX FX-87 as meeting Snell 2005 standards. There is no FX-87X listed. I'm not sure of the requirements for testing various sub-categories of models for Snell, DOT or ECE approval, so it's hard to say whether the FX-87X has really met the Snell and ECE and the DOT standards or not.
The helmet has a very wide chin strap which is annoying because it presses up against my "Adam's Apple" and across my throat. The extra length of chin strap does not have a snap to keep it from flying about, which is also an annoyance.
AFX says that the FX-87X helmet liner is "fully removable", but I haven't been able to figure out how to get this one out of the helmet; it seems like it's very tightly connected and I'm loathe to break anything.
The helmet also comes with an additional breath guard that somehow attaches to the inside of the chin guard. I haven't been able to figure out how to do this. There were no instructions in the box that the helmet came in, although the helmet does come with a helmet bag.
The helmet also comes with a bag of parts that allow the owner to remove the clear visor and attach the sun visor brim. It's all relatively straightforward but not something that I would recommend doing on the road.
I have mixed feelings about the AFX FX-87X. This is the first time I've used a helmet with a snowmobile winter visor and I don't think it's suitable for street riding on a motorcycle.
The helmet looks and feels better when used when the clear visor is removed and the sun visor brim is attached, and it's a good bargain for that type of use. I suppose if an off-road motorcycle owner also had a snowmobile, this could be the perfect helmet.
More wBW Motorcycle Helmet Reviews
|wBW Review:AFX FX-87X Motorcycle/Snowmobile Helmet|
|Manufacturer: AFX Helmets||List Price: $109.95|
|Colors: Matte Black or Matte Orange||Made In: China|
|Review Date: December 2006|