That was only about one month ago and an FX-140 was sitting on his doorstep when he arrived back from the show.
Since I’m pretty much the de facto flip-up evaluator around here, I quickly took on the task of riding with the helmet to prepare this report.
We wanted to get a review posted as soon as possible, because only 930 FX-140 helmets total have been manufactured and it’s not clear at this time whether the production will be re-started.
So if you’re interested, better get yours today! Demand will help drive a decision by AFX on whether or not to make some more.
This is a webBikeWorld “Quick Look” review and I’m going to rip through it as quickly as I can, in a shortened format, so we can get it published asap for your enjoyment and edification.
The AFX FX-140: Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
The FX-140 helmets displayed at the Dealer Expo all exhibited very good overall quality, according to Rick. But, that is to be expected at a dealer-only motorcycle show.
The example I evaluated and which is shown in the photos was pulled directly from stock and sent from Parts Unlimited, the exclusive distributor of AFX Helmets.
So we’ll have to assume it’s a valid example of the FX-140 quality that a regular customer can expect.
This one is very nicely made, with a violently eye-popping Safety Orange color that is so bright, it completely baffled the sensors on both the DSLR and the video camera.
More helmets should come in this color; it’s especially noticeable in twilight, where the red/orange color seemingly glows brighter than anything surrounding it.
The paint is nicely applied, with a very even coat and not a micron of orange peel. Look close enough and a tiny dust bump here and there can be found, but at a sub-$120.00 street price, who cares? I’ve seen worse on helmets costing twice as much.
The moving parts aren’t SCHUBERTH or Nolan quality and AFX doesn’t make any pretensions that this is the case.
Overall quality is perhaps a little better than expected; I’ve seen some awful flip-ups for around the same price. In fact, some of the parts are much better than expected.
For example, the top vents snap open and closed with a solid feel that is better probably than many other helmets at a much higher price range.
The liner is very generously padded and has a comfortable fabric and it seems more expensive or plush than expected. A large chin curtain and extended neck roll definitely help keep noise levels low.
The only real let-down is the quality of the clear face shield and the internal sun visor, both of which have some waviness reminiscent of previous-generation AFX helmets.
We thought that problem was banished with the company’s move to meeting both DOT and ECE helmet safety standards, but somehow, the face shield on this FX-140 isn’t up to snuff.
Various tinted face shields are available as an option, so it may be possible to replace this one with something of a bit better quality.
UPDATE (May 2012): This just in from AFX: “We discovered that there were some manufacturing issues with applying the liquid hard coat to the FX-140 modular shield.
The application process resulted in what would make the shied look like it had optical distortion. We have corrected the issue by re-polishing the lens and switching to a different hard coat application method.
Any FX-140 helmets produced prior to today could have hard coating not applied correctly so we are going to replace the shields to any consumer that has an issue with the shield for the life of the product (5 years).
We want to thank you for pointing this out to us, without your immediate input we may not have discovered the hard coat issue.”
Score: We give the AFX FX-140 a “Very Good” rating for paint and build quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
The size large FX-140 is said to fit a 59-60 cm head and I think that’s correct, so apparently the sizing is accurate. It has a neutral to slightly round internal profile and the padding is generous.
The helmet has a special design for the “neck roll” along the bottom of the helmet. It’s extended or wider than normal and a large chin curtain made from the same type of fabric forms a small circle around the bottom of the rider’s chin.
This helps to keep out the lower-frequency wind noises.
The liner is removable and the ear pockets are very generous also, but unlined.
The ear pockets are deep enough that you may have to add some foam backing to the speakers to move them closer to the ear.
The unique external shape of the FX-140 places the chin strap in a slightly off position, which may bother some riders.
I find that if I push the helmet down and forward from the top once it’s on, I can find a better location for the chin strap, which uses a micro-lock clip, by the way.
The helmet shell will fit a clip-in type of intercom system and I fitted and used the excellent newInterphone F5 (review) during my brief evaluation of the helmet.
Score: We’ll give the AFX FX-140 an “Excellent” rating for fit and comfort and internal shape.
AFX FX-140 Face Shield, Eye Port and Visibility
As I mentioned earlier, the face shield on this FX-140 has some irregularities and waviness, so it’s not the best quality. That’s too bad and I’m not sure if the optional face shields are any better.
(NOTE: See update above; AFX is replacing all of the face shields for FX-140 owners).
The face shield doesn’t quite seal tightly enough against the eye port gasket, so some water leaks in during our “leak down test”; i.e., pouring water along the top of the closed face shield.
The face shield rotates through three detents and although there’s no first small opening for defogging, the shield can be cracked open a touch to provide some ventilation.
The outward visibility is actually very good in the vertical plane and about average side-to-side. The internal sun visor rotates with a friction slider on the lower left-hand side of the helmet.
It’s adequate and has a smooth edge along the bottom but, like most of these devices, it could have more travel to remain out of the rider’s line of sight.
Rotating Flip-up Visor
The rotating flip-up visor opens with a centrally-located button under the front of the chin bar.
The visor rotates up and into a light detent in the raised position, but then it can also be rotated all the way to the rear of the helmet.
The FX-140 is not homologated for riding with the rotating flip-up visor in the full-rear position and honestly, other than being a curiosity, there’s no real advantage I can think of why you’d want to leave the visor back there.
But, it can be done if so desired.
The locking tabs are plastic, although the rotating visor does seem to have a tight fit when it’s closed and I can’t pull it apart to defeat the lock. Of course, this is the weak point of any flip-up helmet, but many of the modern designs use a single or double metal hook arrangement.
Overall, the rotating flip-up visor works as expected for a helmet in this price range.
Score: We’ll give the AFX FX-140 a “Very Good” rating in this category for the face shield and eye port.
The FX-140 has a small chin vent that flows air through three small slots along the top of the chin bar. It’s about average for a helmet of this type.
The two top vents work independently. There is one on either side and a small raised button is pushed to snap each vent open or closed. It’s difficult to tell the difference, as the thick helmet liner blocks most of the direct air flowing into the helmet.
A large integrated rear exhaust adds to the styling of the helmet. Overall, the ventilation is about as expected for a helmet in this price range.
Score: The AFX FX-140 ventilation system gets a “Neutral” rating, with average ventilation top and bottom.
AFX FX-140 Sound Levels
The overall shape of the FX-140 and the generous padding, combined with the wide neck roll, help keep overall noise levels relatively low.
In fact, I think the helmet is probably one of the quieter flip-ups I’ve tried and it’s definitely a lot quieter than anything else in this price range.
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 wBWEarplug 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.
We don’t weigh the helmet until just before the review is posted, to avoid any bias. One can never tell — sometimes a helmet feels lighter than it is and sometimes it feels heavier.
This AFX FX-140 seemed light, so we were surprised when it hit the scale at 1860 grams (4 lbs., 1-5/8 oz.).
The styling and shape does give it a different feel and fit when riding and some owners report the “fish bowl” effect. My answer to that is, well, don’t look at yourself in a mirror when you’re wearing a motorcycle helmet.
I don’t think the weight is that bothersome on this helmet because the styling helps flow the air smoothly over and around the shell, despite the slight “egg” shaped feeling due to the overall shape.
Note also that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBWMotorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBWMotorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: The AFX FX-140 gets a “Neutral” rating for weight with good balance.
The FX-140 has a “microlock” chin strap retainer. The shape of the helmet puts the chin strap in a location that can be slightly uncomfortable for some riders, as noted above.
The chin strap padding is thick, however.
The helmet meets the DOT safety standard when sold in the U.S. and the ECE 22.05 standard when sold in Europe. But it’s the same helmet and the same shell and construction, so effectively, it meets both standards.
The AFX FX-140 is definitely unique and the price is right. It’s actually rather quiet, especially for a helmet in this price range and the Safety Orange color alone is worth a try.
Simply put, there’s nothing like it in this price range, no doubt about that.
On the other hand, it does show its price constraints, but AFX will be the first to admit they’re not trying to sell you SCHUBERTH or Nolan quality at rock-bottom prices.
It is what it is and the FX-140 offers way more style and even a little better functionality than probably any other flip-up helmet you’re likely to find for less than 120 bucks.
From “H.R.” (December 2014): “When I first bought my FX-140 in early 2013, I sent it back for distortion in the inner tinted sun shield.
The replacement still had the distortion, but not as bad, or I didn’t think so until this Fall when I needed to use it for more than a few minutes.
The problem isn’t straight ahead, but about one-quarter of the way in from the ends, like a transition between two pictures that are badly photo-shopped together. And I thought that maybe it is all corrected by now.
I sent an email to their customer service, told them about the distortion, and they immediately sent me a replacement without asking for any questions or for me to send the original. High marks for customer service.
But when the new shield came in, it has the exact same distortion, which seems to say they never checked the old stock.
But this made me focus on another problem with the inner shield.
Aside from distortion, a greater bother was that once lowered it never sat tight in the helmet. It felt like it was loose on the hinges, vibrating or bouncing around when lowered.
I used to think that this was because the shield wasn’t fully lowered in place, or not installed onto the helmet properly.
Once I pulled the shield out and looked at some demo videos of the helmet online, The reason is the huge gap between the padding and the shell where the shield sits.
The top picture below is my medium-size FX-140 with the chin bar moved out of the way and the inner shield removed, looking at the rather large gap between the padded frame that holds my head and the shell.
Now that I looked closer, I can see the spacing washers that create the gap.
Below it is my medium-size FX-50 which holds the inner shield tight. (And, I should add, the FX-50 shield has zero distortion even though I bought this a year before the FX-140).
On other features from your 2012 review, I’m probably not going to put the sun shield back in but will still use the helmet. I like the other features, though I am starting to wonder if the spacing gap compromises the protection.
The safety orange has had its value proven to me more than once, as I’ve seen drivers of cars starting to come out in front of me stop suddenly when they “suddenly” notice me. I credit the helmet.
I’ve watched drivers in cars for decades and the reactions when I have the bright helmet is different, so I feel like the helmet color alone makes me more visible when riding around town in the winter.
After this experience plus the high-viz yellow on my FX-50, other colors are no longer an option for future helmets.
Some reviews here and at stores on AFX and other helmets with this type of quick release non-D-ring chin strap systems have complained about the lack of a snap or other built in way to hold the excess strap out of the way.
To that I ask, what excess strap? Once I get the size down, the excess strap length is cut off, which just means that no one else can use the helmet unless they are my size, and I don’t share helmets.”
From “R.S.” (March 2012): “I purchased the yellow hi-viz version of the one you reviewed. As usual, your review of the helmet was spot-on with accuracy. I like it and just hope that its DOT rating provides reasonably good protection.
But in the words of the local Arai Helmet rep, ‘you get what you pay for’.”
From “E.A.” (March 2012): “I have to agree with L.D. (comment below) on this helmet. I had mine (XL, Hi-Viz Yellow) less than a day before returning it. It was a gorgeous helmet, but the little nits were enough for me to return it.
The top vent buttons were hard to push back and forth.
And because of the short throw of the buttons, it was difficult for me to determine if I had actually opened the vent or not. I probably would have gotten used to it though.
I was of a different opinion from “Burn” on the intercom fitting. The Chatterbox XBi2 clip didn’t appear to fit well on the bottom of the black trim strip or between the trim strip and helmet shell.
“LD” had room in the chin bar, however my chin was rubbing against the bar. Consequently I would have had trouble with the intercom boom mike.
My biggest complaint involved the opening and closing of the helmet. I could hear the helmet creaking as I moved the chin bar up and down. I was afraid of the plastic hinges breaking during the operation.
And the plastic hooks locking the chin bar looked really very flimsy.
Once you snapped one of those things while locking or unlocking the chin bar the helmet is no longer usable. Same goes with the latch lever in front of helmet; it’s not really sturdy looking.
Like he said, “It is what it is…'”
From “G.W.” (March 2012): “I have had the AFX 140 for about two months now and I like very much. There is nothing wrong with my face shield or tinted face shield. It is the quietest helmet I have ever owned.
I have been wearing Nolans for the last 15 yrs., and I like this one better than any of the Nolans.
I rode in heavy rains for two days and it never leaked a drop, even with the shield cracked open. Even with it closed the only time it fogged up was at a long traffic light. I found the lining to be very good, better than the Nolan.
For me it is a very good buy. Way to go AFX. Thanks for making such a good helmet!”
From “L.D.” (March 2012): “I was super excited after seeing pictures of the AFX-140, I own a few of their helmets and have been very happy with them, mainly open face and dual sport models.
I ordered a Silver in my usual XXL size. Alas my enthusiasm was short lived once the helmet arrived and I got over its alluring appearance. I am sending it back.
The good: Really like the adjustable cambuckle-style quick-release retention system, makes for easy attach/detach operation even with gloves on.
Nice sun visor, large enough to be useful. Good all around visibility through the face shield.
Ample room in the chin bar area so it won’t rub against your chin.
It’s nice to be able to flip the front chin bar 180 degrees to the back, makes for a better weight distribution compared to the traditional 90 degree lift for most flip-up helmets.
But that’s about all it is good for, the helmet isn’t certified to be operated with the chin bar in the rear position.
The bad: The face shield and the sun visor were both optically flawed on this particular helmet, the world would become wavy when glanced at it through the either one.
The effect would amplify if you used them in conjunction. The chin straps flaps are so narrow and small that it makes it difficult to securely hold on to the helmet securely, especially on the buckle side, to get the helmet on.
I kept hitting the plastic body on the buckle side which has a sharp edge and ended up with some skin removed from my finger.
The chin strap location is poorly thought out, it puts a lot of undue pressure on your jaw bone an becomes almost unbearable after 30 minutes or so.
The ventilation is almost non existent with this helmet, you will cook in it in hot weather.
The noise level is rather high, my open face FX-44 / FX-50 are quieter than this thing.
The lining is made of rather cheap material and doesn’t stand up to what I have gotten from AFX in other helmets. It is very thin and provides very little comfort when you have the helmet on, I could feel the Styrofoam inside the helmet pressing against my skull.
Alas, I think AFX should have let this helmet die on the design table instead of trying to resurrect what seems to be a very flawed helmet in every respect for a flip-up model.
They would be better off starting from scratch and designing one that lives up to their standards and quality. I personally would not recommend this helmet to anybody, there are far better choices out there both in this price range and quality.”