Gear: AGV AX-8 Dual helmet

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I’ve only had the chance to wear this new AGV AX-8 Dual helmet for a quick ride to Sean’s house and back, but I’m so excited about it that I wanted to go ahead and share. Even after just a quick blast up and down the 405, I can tell this is going to be my new favorite helmet. Think of it as the adventure touring version of Rossi’s AGV GP-Tech, just with much better vision, much better ventilation and, unexpectedly, it’s appreciably lighter too.

Photos: Sean Smith

Both Grant and I already love our GP-Techs. Like the AX-8, they’re made to the light and safe ECE 22.05 helmet safety standard rather than America’s hard, heavy and corrupt Snell M2010. Putting them on is like wearing a pillow, they’re exceptionally stable at high speeds, ventilate well and, surprisingly, are very quiet.

That last thing, the quietness, is not something you can say about the AX-8. Maybe it’s all the ventilation or that extended chin bar, but this is a very noisy helmet at speed. I tried it with the peak in place and with it off. It’s possibly a little quieter with it off, but there’s not a huge difference. Other niggles include some susceptibility to cross winds and buffeting as you approach 100mph with the peak in place. So far I’ve only tried the AX-8 on an FJR 1300, so it may fare better on other bikes. It’s most noticeable when turning your head to do a lifesaver, when the wind blast catches the helmet’s side.

Other than that, the AX-8 is simply incredible. We have two issues with our GP-Techs: a visor mechanism that makes swapping them a little bit of a pain, frequently requiring tools and somewhat restricted upwards vision, particularly while hanging off aggressive sportsbikes. Neither complaint applies to the AX-8, it’s visor hinges on metal screws rather than some elaborate, flimsy plastic mechanism and the viewport is literally the largest I’ve ever looked through, both sideways and up and down. It’s actually a little spooky not to see the edges of the aperture hovering in your peripheral vision, it’s almost as if you’re not wearing a helmet.

Peripheral vision is a bit of a funny thing. Humans can only use about 90° of vision to either side and the minimum helmet standard is 105°. Twisting your eyeballs sideways in the AX-8 only reveals the edge of the aperture’s bottom angle, not any portion of its sides. This may not increase vision over a standard helmet, but it does lead to an incredible sense of openness.

Actually, I lied, I do have one other issue with the AX-8: tinted visors (shields if you didn’t grow up in England) aren’t yet available. With the peak removed, you need one too as there’s nothing there protect against the sun at all. With most helmets, even ones without peaks, you can twist your head down to block it’s glare, but the AX-8’s aperture is so huge that there’s simply no hiding. Guess that peak is staying on until black visors do become available, which should be very soon.

But the most distinctive thing about the AX-8 isn’t its futuristic looks, ability to convert from peaked full-face to no-peak full-face to peak-and-goggles dirt helmet, it’s the weight. At 1,400g for a size medium, it’s noticeably lighter than the GP-Tech, which was already the lightest helmet I’d ever owned. It’s a full half pound lighter than the Snell-certified Arai XD3, which is of a similar adventure touring design. I’m betting that large aperture helps drop a few grams, as does the Kevlar/carbon/fiberglass shell.

The AX-8 also has one more vent than the GP-Tech, a center-mounted one on top. The cover of the sliding chin vent also pops off if you’re really going to hit the trails. With everything open on the way to Sean’s, I was actually a little bit chilly on the highway, even in relatively balmy 68-degree weather. I’d say that’s proof all this ventilation works. Everything closes though. It’s actually incredible that this lighter, more ventilated, equally spec’d helmet comes in $100 cheaper than the GP-Tech at $400.

As you can see in these goofy photos, the AX-8 has three different configurations: peak and visor, no peak and visor, peak and goggles. The chin piece doesn’t extend out quite as far as a traditional dirt helmet, but the goggles still fit comfortably and easily. Even standing still and breathing heavily to try and force it to, the visor refused to fog one iota. It seals tightly on its rubber gaskets.

That big aperture does have one downside. The visor has to be so large that flipped up, its two fangs do encroach on your vision a little bit. I’m thinking that’s more quirk than flaw and is something I’ll get used to.

These looks, the versatility, the vision and the ventilation, I think I’m in love with this helmet already and I’ve maybe put 50 miles on it. With that black visor, this could become the nicest helmet ever made, which is saying a lot for this brand and this price point. I’ll report back after a few more miles on a few different bikes. Of particular interest should be aerodynamics at high speeds on the track and general whether or not it can really work on a dirt bike. Initial impressions are summed up by one word though: wow.

AGV

Don’t forget that HFL subscribers qualify for personal discounts at Urban Rider, which currently has the AX-8 Dual in stock.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

    Shit, this very likely guarantees I’ll be buying a helmet if my dealer comes through on the AGV trade-in offer. Thanks for getting some first impressions up, Wes.

    What’s the internal shape like – round, intermediate oval, long oval?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Oh god knows. My head fits an Arai Corsair, Bell Star, AGV GP-Tech and this. Like any helmet, fit is everything, so try it on before you buy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

        Yeah. I’m wearing a Corsair now, used to have a Shark RSI – very different shapes but still fit. Damn. I’ll give my shop a call tomorrow, since email is apparently inconvenient, and see if they’ll get one in.

        Then, it’s time to scream at AGV for a smoke visor.

        I found a check for $125 this morning. I chalk it up to very convenient destiny.

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

          Gave my dealer a call this morning. They’ve only just heard of the AGV offer and don’t have the full details. I suspect that means they’re not sure if they want to participate, so now I’m waiting for an eventual callback.

          Destiny is in question, as they’re the only AGV dealer in the area.

          • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

            Call came in: the only AGV dealer in the area isn’t participating. So, the next option is ordering online. Guess I will wait a bit and hopefully they’ll get one in stock that I can at least try on.

            AGV – if you’re reading this, send a Medium to MotoLiberty in Dallas, TX. I’d appreciate it.

      • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

        That’s strange, i owned a Corsair and now use a Viper-GT and couldn’t stand the GP-Tech. I literally had to take it off immediatly because it pressed in all the wrong places.
        Does this one’s insides feel like the GP-Tech’s?

        I does get pretty hot in a fullface and i’ve been trying to get my hands on a (solid color) Icon Variant to try it out but it’s not very well ditributed in france. I guess there’s always the Schuberth J1…

        • noone1569

          +1 on the Variant. Very well vented and comfortable. Lighter than my Shoei too

  • Michael

    My last helmet, a terrific GMax, did it’s job extremely well last weekend, and goes up on the shelf.

    While I heal I’m looking for a replacement and it might be this one.

    Question: Is it gay if I get it painted Dazzle camo, just like Wes?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Super gay, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

      • Sean Smith

        You’re just saying that to make yourself feel better about our lunch date.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          That was a pretty gay lunch.

  • Frosty_spl

    No it’s not gay. I want a dazzle camo helmet too.

    • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

      We all do. I reckon we are all gay for that helmet. Maybe Wes a little bit too.

  • Glenngineer

    This looks awesome, but I’m a strom rider, so a loud helmet is the last thing I want.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler
      • Glenngineer

        I wear ear plugs pretty much all the time, but it’s still fucking loud in my EXO1000.

    • ursus

      I don’t find it to be a loud helmet. It may even be quieter than my RF1000 around town and is much lighter. I personally couldn’t stand the Leight earplugs and really like the EAR Soft plugs with the 33 NRR. I keep a bowl of them near the door.
      The visor sits far enough away from my face that I feel much less crowded – visibility is fantastic – and it is not as susceptible to fogging. I will probably be able to avoid putting a fogshield on it for much of the year. It works fine in rain.

  • GoFasterPB

    Finally got to try one on and check this out over the weekend. Definitely light, but still felt like a solid, high-end helmet.

    In the past AGV helmets haven’t fit me well (Shoei X-11, Hornet fit like a glove), but I found an AX-8 XL at a shop over the weekend and the shape felt good. The XL was one size too big so can’t say for sure, but it wasn’t round peg into oval hole like last GP-Tech I tried.

  • Tommy

    Wish this would have came earlier. Not super stoked on my icon variant.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

      What’s not so bueno about your Variant?

    • noone1569

      Yeah, why not. I’ve not nothing but love for mine.

  • Liquidogged

    Sweet helmet. Here’s a question for you learned helmet people: how come my Scorpion EXO-1000 – not a fancy helmet by any means – is just about the only reasonably priced lid with a flip down internal sun visor? Seriously, once you have one of those, you cannot ever go back to changing visors. This futuristic AGV becomes instantly quaint to me because it forces the wearer to change visors. I just don’t get it. Does the odd shape prevent that kind of thing in this helmet? Did I miss the “internal sun visors are for squids” memo? I think they’re the greatest thing to happen to helmets since safety standards.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      They’re heavy and their mechanisms are questionably safe. Plus, you’re looking through two, potentially three, pieces of plastic to see forward, which can be annoying. I’ve tried everything and just swapping to a black visor is my preferred solution.

      • Kirill

        I think the heaviness is fundamental to Scorpions, my EXO700 is heavy as hell compared to every other helmet I’ve ever worn. Meanwhile, my HJC with a flip-down visor feels like the helmet equivalent of a Chevy Cavalier, light because of cheap materials and poorly built.

        As for the AX-8, I can’t help but feel that it would utterly ridiculous on a sportbike rider

        • http://www.anotherdamndj.com evilbahumut

          I wear a Shift Off-road helmet on the road and track on my 690 Duke. Scares kids, looks fine.

  • Janak

    I have the AX-8 DS Black.. also love it.. man its loud especially with a full system… but my sunglasses fit perfectly… Also waiting on the black or Polarized visor… great review

  • T Diver

    Are Arais the only helmet with vents cut in the top on the visor? I wear glasses and fog sucks balls. Foggy glasses is my main concern with helmets and it seems like the most expensive brand is the only one with visor vents. Now that’s gay.

    • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

      Sparx is the only other brand I can think of that does.

    • Miles Prower

      I’ve had many helmets in the past decade.

      My two Arai helmets, even with their shield-mounted eyebrow vents open, fogged most easily. They were pretty much useless in the winter unless I kept the shield partially open.

      My cheap Shark and expensive Schuberth helmets, on the other hand, rarely fog up.

      I wear glasses too.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

        Agreed. The brow vents did little for fog, but they do provide noticeable ventilation.

      • T Diver

        That’s good to know. Really. You are the first person who has given me feedback on glasses and helmets. It is a HUGE factor for me when riding. Especially at night. I will check out the Schuberths. Gracias friendo.

        • Restless Lip Syndrome

          I swap between glasses and contacts depending on what I am riding. My Shark RSR2 fits every pair of glasses I have very comfortably. Glasses and visors do fog up if it is cold, but I also don’t use any “anti-fog” solutions to prevent it.

        • Denzel

          Try a Shoei Hornet DS. I wear one with glasses, rarely ever fogs. But on the other hand, it’s rarely below 40 here in Seattle. I wear it on the rare days it’s sunny. Love the peak for sun.

    • Tony

      I stuck a ResPro mask into my Arai last winter and it worked great. You can hear your own breathing a bit more and there is some adjustment necessary to make sure the pinch at the bridge of your nose isn’t too restrictive.
      http://respro.com/products/urban-commuting/motorcycling/foggy_mask/

      • T Diver

        Do you wear glasses with that?

        • Tony

          Yes. I wear thick-framed glasses without issue. The helmet makes it a bit of a production to get the glasses on and off, but that’s a separate issue from the Foggy insert. It sticks to the cheek pads and goes between the pads and the chin strap. Haven’t had any problems with it moving around yet.

  • Sean

    Had an XD and totally enjoyed it, have the ICON variant now and love the fit. For me I find that the peak on a “street” helmet is the best thing ever and the larger visor area is excellent too. The Reflective nature of the varant I bought is what sold me on the ICON but I’m glad there are a lot more choices with this type of helmet now.

  • Michael

    How much air leaks around the visor when it’s in place?

    One thing about my gmax was that it leaked air which was fine most of the time, but not when it’s cold.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Didn’t notice any air leaks, the visor seals tightly on the rubber gaskets.

  • aristurtle

    What’s all this whining about Snell M2010 coming from, anyway? My HJC helmet meets Snell M2010 and it’s only a few grams heavier than their previous M2005 helmet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

      In general, Snell-rated helmets tend to be heavier than their ECE-standard counterparts. That’s one of the reasons. I would have expected your M2010 model to be lighter, as the newer standard moved Snell closer to alignment with ECE, but not fully.

      Beyond that, it comes down to the Snell’s questionable testing methodology and how much force is transferred in an accident versus ECE.

      • aristurtle

        Right, I get the tradeoff between total energy management vs. impact force. But every helmet-related post on this site includes some side-rant about how the Snell Memorial Foundation is corrupt or something.

        I mean, Snell M2010 allows a 300G maximum acceleration and ECE 22.05 allows 275G, I get that that’s important and everything but I feel that the difference might be a little overstated at times. (edit: this sentence is false, see below)

        (Either way, USDOT allows 400G, and also doesn’t actually test the helmets before letting manufacturers put a compliance label on them, so either one of Snell/ECE has to be better than that).

        edit: actually, that 300G is from M2005, M2010 allows 275G as well:
        http://www.smf.org/standards/m/2010/m2010_final
        (section E4.4)

        and like I said, ECE 22.05 allows 275G:
        http://live.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs/r022r4e.pdf
        (section 7.3.6)

        so I’m not really sure where this nonsense about Snell being “hard, heavy, and corrupt” is coming from when both standards specify the same amount of impact acceleration.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Snell is, at best, a flawed, unnecessary standard that results in Americans being sold inferior products than the rest of the world. At worst, it very much begins to sound like an attempt at monopoly by a couple of the helmet manufacturers.

      You’re correct in stating that M2010 is less bad than M2005, but I struggle to find value in a second best safety standard. ECE is government funded and objective.

      http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2010/07/leaked-docs-show-motorcyclist-caved-to-advertiser-pressure-fired-editor/

      As for your HJC, I recently had the chance to handle the ECE and Snell versions of the RPS-10 simultaneously. Guess which one is significantly lighter? Not the one being sold to Americans.

      • aristurtle

        Oh, this is about that clusterfuck? Arai pressured that magazine, the (nonprofit) Snell Memorial Foundation found out about Dexter getting fired at the same time as everyone else.

        Regardless, Dexter Ford’s articles (both the NYT article and the earlier one for Motorcyclist) were rife with factual errors as well (at one point he says that the USDOT standard mandates a maximum acceleration of 250G, which isn’t remotely true and a cursory glance at the actual FMVSS document would have told him that). Then he says that the Hurt Report didn’t show any lower fatality rate for riders wearing a Snell helmet. Well, no shit: the Hurt Report was done in 1975 and Snell didn’t create a motorcycle-specific standard until 1985. Then he concludes by saying that a non-Snell DOT helmet will be safer, which isn’t true by either metric as the standards are looser for both impact acceleration AND energy management, so there’s no guarantee that it’ll be softer in a low-speed crash OR hold up to a high-speed one.

        And the USDOT standard is “government funded and objective”, and it sucks. Snell charges a flat fee (of less than a dollar) per helmet and charges for testing at cost, they don’t care if it’s a $500 Arai or a $110 HJC as long as it passes their tests.

        So, yeah. If it’s an attempt at monopoly then why does some budget Chinese upstart manage to join the club, and if it’s objectively inferior then why aren’t MotoGP riders wearing ECE helmets rather than Snell? I don’t buy it.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          MotoGP riders are choosing ECE helmets over Snell. That RPS-10 I handled? The ECE one was Ben Spies’.

          • ontheroad

            Trolling to say I really like my RPS-10′s (I have two, had to get the Spies and put it on the shelf…), which are Snell, but wish I had the ECE versions. I’ve been a Shoei/Arai guy for a while and am currently impressed with the RPS, but after the whole debacle and handling some newer ECE helmets I believe I’ll be making the switch to that standard soon.

            Been wanting to check this AX-8 out for a while, thanks for taking care of that for me!

  • george_fla

    Dig the chin bar depth,looks like it would give good frontal protection from flyin debris when using goggles. That seems to be the trend with the Euro helmets that I wish would catch on with the rest of the mfg’s.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I was going to ask if I would look like a damn fool with this on a naked bike, but I checked out the AGV site, and it says that I will not. I just choose option 3:

    “STREET FIGHTER/NAKED version with visor and without peak.”

    • http://wessiler.com x

      you’re gonna take AGV’s word that you will not look like a fool in the helmet that they are trying to sell you?

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

        Well, you can see pics of Wes wearing it in that “Streetfighter” style if that’s your thing. Certainly looks better than my Colin Edwards replica Corsair… I’m no racer.

      • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

        I always rely on the manufacture to tell me what I want. Isn’t that normal?

  • noone1569

    How does this compare to the Variant?

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

      Well, you can remove the peak on the AGV, and it’s about the same half pound weight difference since the Variant weighs almost the same as Arai’s XD3.

      • John

        I don’t mind the extra weight of my Variant.
        That little bit of weight helps it stay in place when the wind kicks up.

  • frankieapples

    I always learn so much reading this site… especially the comments section.

    Is there any truth to there being two different ‘types’ of helmets in that one is a single hit/ single save and the other can sustain multiple impacts and still be considered viable?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Nope. Helmets are like the crumple zones on a car, they reduce impact forces by destroying themselves. If you crash in one, you need a new helmet.

      • Miles Prower

        I’m sure some helmets are better at taking multiple hits than others. In some crashes, your head/helmet might take a single hit, and in other crashes your head/helmet might take multiple hits. I think that was one of the points in Motorcyclist mag’s anti-Snell piece — that helmets which meet one standard versus the other have a better chance of protecting your brain as your head impacts multiple times in a single crash.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Snell is designed around the idea of multiple impacts in the same place, which is why helmets made it are harder. The problem is, you don’t tend to impact the same spot on your helmet multiple times with the same force, you tend to have one big impact, followed by other, smaller ones. ECE is much better under those real world conditions as it protects you in that one big impact much better.

          • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

            I think it’s time to add the “Why we hate Snell” to the Mighty HFL FAQ.

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

              It just sucks. But yeah, it needs an article.

  • Ducky

    Man, I’m jealous of your soft smooth silky hair Wes =D

  • Ducky

    The thing I like the most about this helmet is the futuristic looks (A bit of ODST/Master Chief) and the light weight. It’s absolutely crying out for a smoked visor though!

    As it is, I might be leaning towards the GP-techs for my next helmet. Did they improve the latch mechanisms for those helmets for this year?

  • Critter

    I like the look of this thing.
    How’s it hold up at speed? My current helmet is scary as sh!+ when i look over my shoulder at 85+… the shield lifts a bit and feels like its going to rip off.
    With that big opening and large field of view does it feel like your head will push through the shield in a front impact?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Sounds like a) your helmet’s a POS and b) it’s too big for you.

  • Critter

    Yes, my helmet, or atleast the way the shield attaches, is a POS (HJC Modular). The shield lifts a bit at high speed and feels like its going to rip off. The helmet itself fits very well. I’m asking about this one cause it looks pretty badass and i’d like to get a new one this season.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Well, the shield stays closed when you look over your shoulder at speed, as it should. It’s not quite as aerodynamically stable as the GP-Tech (which is a road racing helmet), but it definitely works well.

  • Liquidogged

    Really, weight is a big deal? I feel like I’m living in the stone age, but I don’t really give a damn about the weight. I’m not a big guy and I’ve never felt like any helmet I ever tried was uncomfortably heavy, even for weeks-long trips on naked bikes. 500 grams here or there, who cares? The safety standard thing is a bigger issue.

    Oh and Wes, on the EXO-1000 it’s one additional piece of plastic, which has the advantage that it’s always protected and never gets scratched. It must add something like 250 grams to the helmet… which I think is more than worth it to avoid the whole visor change dance, even with how easy it is on this particular helmet. To each their own. I do find it funny that badass dudes on badass bikes would hem and haw over the weight of a helmet. And I address that to the general populace here.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

      I’m not sure how big of a deal weight is by itself, but I don’t believe it’s the primary concern. It’s worth noting when comparing similar items and it is traditionally a side effect of a helmet made to meet a specification that many feel is less safe than another. All else equal between two helmets, I’d go for the lighter one.

      Then again, I’m no badass. If I really cared much about weight, I would drop the two grand on a full exhaust system, another few grand on lightweight wheels, go to a thinner chain and blah blah blah.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

    Wes – few questions on the AX-8 Dual. Visor mechanism is a screw, so tools are required to remove it?

    Also, I’d be interested in some impressions without the peak attached. Still a problem with head checks?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I use a quarter or nickle, works great.

      Aerodynamics all depend on what bike you’re riding. The FJR was a bit weird, on everything else, it’s been utterly stable.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

        Awesome. Question two: any idea when smoked visors will be available in the US? I checked on Urban Rider’s site and didn’t see them there.

  • Sean