Modern helmet and goggle design has given new life to what would previously have been considered pure off-road helmets.
There’s no reason they can’t be worn on the street.
And — in a surprise to me anyway — an off-road helmet can actually be a heck of a lot more comfortable, especially in the amount of ventilation available.
Besides, they just look cool!
The AGV AX-8 is available in the off-road version shown here and it comes in a wide variety of colors and graphics. An AGV AX-8 “Dual EVO” version has also recently become available; it’s a dual-sport version of the AX-8 and it has a face shield.
But here’s the secret: apparently, off-road helmets evolve more quickly than their street counterparts.
Since we received this helmet about 8 weeks ago, AGV announced that the AX-8 is being discontinued nd will be supplanted by the new AX-8 and AX-8 Dual.
The Dual EVO is a $400.00 helmet, while the AX-8 shown here, with a list price of around $380, can now be found on closeout for as little as $185.
That’s bordering on “steal” territory for a top-of-the-line, composite shell helmet with high-end motocross race features. So get one while you can!
The AX-8 comes in an array of graphics and solid colors are also available for a more subtle look.
This example is the “Spyder” pattern in white, black and gold — a fitting choice for Halloween!
The high contrast white background with black graphics also endows the Spyder with good visibility out on the road — always a good thing.
The paint and graphics are nicely applied and without any faults.
All of the plastic parts and the peak on top fit tightly and they have a high-quality appearance. The helmet also has what feels like a relatively thick clear coat, which should keep things looking good for some time.
The peak makes or breaks an off-road or dual-sport helmet, but this one feels sturdy and it has nicely crafted machined aluminum screws on each side to hold it in place.
The peak can be adjusted slightly for rake to help reduce lift, but the AX-8 seems about average in that regard, so I haven’t changed anything.
The liner feels nicely padded and the material is comfortable.
I was wearing the AX-8 recently and swapping back and forth for the new Arai Signet-Q (review)demonstrated to me that the liner fabric in the AX-8 actually feels a bit softer and it does an excellent job of wicking away moisture.
As the current top-of-the-line AGV off-road helmet, the AX-8 has a very lightweight shell, made from a fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon fiber composite.
The shell comes in three sizes, spanning the range from a very small XXS to a very large XXL.
The helmet has an angular styling theme that is repeated in some of the small details, such as the bottom edge of the chin bar and the front and rear exhaust vents. I like the overall styling, which gives the AX-8 a modern look.
Score: I’ll give the AGV AX-8 an “Outstanding” rating for very nice paint and graphics and a thick clear coat.
The composite light weight shell and extended size range are also a plus. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
AGV AX-8 Helmet Fit, Internal Shape and Liner
The AX-8 has what we classify as a “Slightly Narrow” internal shape, which is good news for many riders because the “Long Oval” head shape seems to be rapidly disappearing as a choice.
The padding in the AX-8 is generous, which provides enough leeway for the helmet to fit a variety of head shapes.
For example, I have a round head but the AX-8 feels comfortable, although the shape probably isn’t quite as perfect of a match for my particular head as the Vemar VRX7 (review) off-road helmet. But the Vemar costs about $150.00 more than the AX-8.
The AX-8 actually feels a bit narrower than the Arai Signet-Q as an example. This size large AX-8 fits exactly to size in my opinion, shown as a 59-60 in the AGV size charts.
The eye port on the AX-8 does appear to be smaller than the eye port on the Vemar VRX7 and the very nice Scott 87 OTG goggles (review)don’t quite fit as well with the AX-8 as they do with the Vemar.
These are the “Over the Glasses” (OTG) goggles, so they’re slightly larger than other types, which may make the difference. There are dozens of different goggle types and brands available and I’m sure others would work just fine with the AX-8.
The “Dry-lex” liner in the AX-8 is removable and washable and it has excellent moisture wicking properties.
There is no face shield on this helmet, so nothing to report on that topic.
The eye port on the AX-8 follows the standard off-road or motocross style, with plenty of visibility in all directions, although like other off-road helmets, the extended chin bar beak is visible out front.
Probably because the AX-8 comes in three shell sizes to span the head size range, the shell on this size large seems a bit smaller than the Vemar VRX7.
The eye port on the AX-8 is also smaller, so although the Scott 87 OTG goggles (review) fit inside the eye port, it’s a bit more snug than with the Vemar.
It’s not annoying, and I might not have noticed it if I hadn’t been wearing the Vemar.
And other non-OTG goggles will probably fit differently.
The peak on the AX-8 is adjustable for rake but I didn’t feel the need to do so. The peak on any off-road or dual-sport helmet has the potential to cause lift, but this one seems less prone than others, so no adjustments were necessary.
As is typical, at speeds over 30 MPH or so, some lift can be felt if I’m sitting upright but it can be reduced by tilting my head down slightly.
The peak on the AX-8 does a good job of blocking the sun and it doesn’t vibrate or move at speed — it feels rock-solid.
Outward visibility is excellent, although the thick goggles do give a bit of the “tunnel vision” effect. But overall, I’ve worn full-face helmets with less peripheral vision.
Score: The AGV AX-8 has good outward visibility for this type of helmet. I’ll give it an “Excellent” rating overall.
AGV AX-8 Ventilation and Air Flow
As in most or all off-road helmets, the open eye port provides a lot of air flow whether you want it or not.
The AX-8 has a pair of small brow vents and two top vents that operate independently. A pair of exhaust vents out back and two small vents on either side of the chin bar complete the ventilation system on the helmet.
The design of the internal padding in the AX-8, which can be seen in the liner photo near the top of the page, covers the top of the helmet, blocking some of the air from the top vents.
The liner is semi-solid along the top and mesh along the sides at the top, which seems to block the air that flows through the helmet.
The AX-8 chin vent is especially large and it provides excellent air flow through the large vents molded into the chin bar. The vent is covered by a removable metal screen with a filter behind.
It can be removed without tools for quick exchange when racing, to keep out debris and bugs.
Overall, I’d have to rate the ventilation as good and the absence of a face shield allows a lot of air to flow in, masking the weak air flow through the top of the helmet caused by the liner blocking the vents.
The Scott goggles have a huge amount of ventilation, which more than makes up for this and overall, the AX-8 has much better air flow than most full-face helmets. This is one of the advantages of wearing this type of helmet on a dual-sport bike.
Score: I’ll give the ventilation system of the AGV AX-8 a “Very Good” rating.
The light weight of the AX-8 is immediately noticeable when the helmet is handled or being worn.
This is noticed also when riding, especially when riding off road, where the lower mass helps reduce tension.
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 AGV AX-8 an “Outstanding” rating for its low weight and excellent fit and balance.
The AX-8 has a long and wide and comfortable chin strap padding. The double D-rings are apparently made from titanium, if I’m reading the AGV product information for the helmet correctly.
The chin strap has a plastic snap to secure the extra length and it feels perfectly located and in proportion to the helmet and shell size.
The three shell sizes span an extended size range from XXS to XXXL. The small shell fits XXS, XS, S. Medium fits M, L. Large shell fits XL, XXL, XXXL. The helmet meets DOT and ECE safety standards.
AGV provides a 1 year warranty from date of purchase or 3 years from the manufacture date.
The AGV AX-8 is a top-of-the-line off-road helmet that is currently on closeout sale at around $150.00 off, making it an excellent bargain.
We plan on reviewing the 2012 version of the AX-8 and the AX-8 Dual EVO (dual-sport version with face shield), but in the meantime, if you’re looking for an off-road helmet, grab one of these while you can.
Get yourself a good pair of goggles and you may be surprised at how well and off-road helmet can work on your dual-sport bike.
I never thought I’d find myself wearing one, but this helmet type can give one a sense of freedom and connection with the road and the outdoors that just isn’t there with a full-face helmet.
I’m not saying that an off-road helmet is a complete replacement for other helmet types, but it can definitely give a different perspective on riding that is both pleasant and entertaining.