Helmets for on the road and off.
We love ADV riding, but more importantly we love the sense of crazy surrounded by a sense of practical. To go the places we go on a ADV bike shouldn't be possible, but everything about ADV riding is about its purpose. Little time is spent devoted to the look or fashion of a piece of ADV gear--with some exceptions like Rev'it's great looking gear.
So for this list of gear, we picked out favorite ADV helmets on the market. Most we've had first-hand experience with. And every ADV helmet we've tried we've worn them on more than just an Adventure bike. Jesse rides cruisers with an Arai XD4 and occasional an AGV AX-8 DS EVO and Jim Downs rode the KTM 390 Duke with a Nexx XD-1. So while they're marketed for the ADV market the helmets are far from brand-exclusive. With large visor openings, typically high safety ratings, a sun visor, venation and good looks, they're some of the best everyday helmets there are. We could care less how we look… well, sometimes.
Not only is it great looking with a mean-looking removable peak visor and graphics, it’s also has solid aerodynamics at higher speeds, diffuser vents and exhaust ports, and sculpted side cowl vents for some of the best ventilation an ADV helmet can provide.
It’s one of the staff's favorites as it's comfortable and moderate to good sound cancelation. The comfort comes from the patent pending FCS (Facial Contour Support) cheek pads, Dry-Cool technology and peel away micro fit so you can get the optimal fit for you nugget. It comes in four color schemes.
The Variant is tested in the wind tunnel for ideal aerodynamics and high-speed stability, and delivers good visibility through the anti-lift visor, which also has an extended eyeport and zero distortion optics.
One of the less expensive options, it retails for $300-$350 depending on graphics and retailer (link at price). The Variant also gets high marks as an ADV helmet thanks to its removable HydraDry wicking liner. The shell is made with a Fiberglass/ Dyneema/Carbon matrix, coupled with a dual-density EPS core.
Icon also has a carbon-fiber version, which weighs in around three pounds depending on the size.
Price for carbon-fiber version (pictured above): $520-$550
Price: $350 (pictured below)
Shoei Hornet X-2
If there was ever an ADV helmet that looked streetworthy, it’s the X2. The replacement for the Shoei Hornet DS, the X2 Seeker balances great on road and off road design and capability. Marketed to he a great all-around helmet with decent venation and all-weather protection.It was created to toe the line between street and trail riding while not compromising either. The Advanced Integrated Matrix Plus Multi Fiber shell construction results in a smaller, lighter and more aero friendly shape. Improved air intake and ventilation means hard riding won’t result in sweat and discomfort.
The XD-1 is worth a serious look for its features and versatility. It's not a common name like Arai or Shoei, but we've just recently had the chance to check out the brand and so far love it. Made with some of the same construction, materials and general quality, but at often a comparable or better price.
For the XD-1, the lightweight composite shell is made with multi-axial fiberglass, 3D organic fibers, special aramid fiber reinforcement and carbon fiber. It can go between off-road and street riding thanks to its removable full face polycarbonate Lexan shield and removable peak. There’s also a very exclusive internal drop down sun shield with an impressive 80 percent tint for those blinding rides. There’s also good ventilation, an emergency release lining, a visor extender and even camera mount supports to capture your more adventurous rides. So far this has been Jim's favorite ADV helmet, look for a full review soon.
AGV AX-8 DS EVO
As great as the AX-8 DS was, the EVO is even better thanks to numerous upgrades like an improved visor and visor mechanism for smooth operation and better visibility, a top-mounted supplemental vent for increased moisture and heat relief, beefed up interior padding and a better base edge to accommodate back protectors and decrease the likelihood of neck injuries.
Jesse has been torn between the Arai and the AGV Evo, although he does admit the Arai is more quiet and the check pads make for a comfortable fit for his shape head. The AGV does have a lighter feel and a bigger opening in the visor, however.
The EVO’s carbon, Kevlar and fiberglass shell construction is light and strong, as well, making it tough and less fatigue-inducing on longer, harsher rides.
This one’s the bargain of the group. Unfortunately, the current staff has not tested this exact helmet, although we crash tested it a while back. It used to be the case that AFX made bargain helmets, and you could tell. But they’ve upped the ante in the ADV segment, and it shows. You get a very affordable ADV helmet that can double for street use with its full face shield that also has far better optics than the FX-37 it replaces. Plus, it’s UV protective and scratch resistant. The liner and cheek pads provide improved comfort, and they’re hypo-allergenic and anti-microbial, as well as completely removable and washable to rid sweat and stank. Another great feature are the dual lift tabs in the center of the face shield, so you don’t have to hunt for leverage.
Honorable Mention: Bell MX-9
One helmet we've been excited about since it's introduction at the AIM Expo last year, is the Bell MX-9. Another ADV helmet with big emphasis on street/off-road versatility (essentially it just means you can pop-off the visor for a more street bike look). Bell has a ton of new options and designs for the helmet. At the time of publication, our Bell is being shipped to us now for a review, we'll have a full report soon. Expected to weigh around three pounds, it's one of the lightest and cheapest in the category.