Do you do the dreaded East-West commute? Travelling East every morning and West every afternoon means riding into a rising sun and setting sun during the winter months, and often a tinted visor isn’t enough so your left hand comes off the ’bars to block the light.
The solution is a multi-purpose helmet like the AGV AX9 I was recently asked to test. With its peak in place it’s an adventure helmet, which is just what you need for that winter commute, shading your eyes from the direct sun. It also converts quickly to a conventional road helmet and the visor can be switched out for goggles in the dirt.
The AX9 is a modern helmet constructed of Carbon+Aramid+Glass with removable/washable padding, excellent ventilation and an aerodynamic design.
The AGV AX9 has a multi-position peak, but you need to choose what suits and live with it a little bit – it’s a five minute job requiring screwdriver to alter, requiring the removal of a couple of covers, the removal of the visor, switching out of a couple of small components and reassembly. It can all be done with a coin but is easier with a screwdriver. All the fuss is necessary because in the lower position the visor can’t be allowed to open fully, it would hit the peak, so AGV provide parts to make sure that doesn’t happen.
For the winter commute it’s definitely worth the trouble to set the peak in the lower position – it does a much better job of blocking the sun.
While the standard clear visor is out (which, incidentally, comes with a Pinlock anti-fog insert in the box) you could fit an optional tinted visor. A simple visor change is a two-minute job with a coin and doesn’t require removal of the peak.
Winter riding can be cold, but AGV has addressed this with a removable wind stopper under the chin, a well sealing visor and closable vents. This helmet is at least as warm in the winter as my road helmets, and the custom-designed PinLock anti-fog insert means you can seal it shut and leave it that way, blocking out the cold.
I found the peak to be more of a help than hinderance up to around 90km/h – beyond that and it would catch the breeze a bit much for comfort, so if you’re riding at that speed or faster for any period of time, convert the helmet into a conventional full face lid.
AGV provide plastic plugs in the box to cover the screw holes of the peak, so it’s as easy as popping off the screw cover on the peak, removing four screws and pressing in the plugs. Switching to dirt bike mode is just as easy, but this time there’s only the two screws of the visor to remove.
The facial opening is big enough to comfortably accept dirt riding goggles, unlike some adventure helmets. There’s space for the arms of your glasses and bluetooth comms gear.
For the summertime commute remove the wind stopper under the chin, open up the vents and maybe switch out the visor for a pair of safety glasses, either tint or clear, to get excellent airflow.
Adventure helmets like the AGV AX9 feature a large chin vent, because dirt riding can get exhausting, so airflow in this area is better than road helmets.
The model I received is called the Pacific Road Matt; its black, white and red graphics have a matt finish which really does look awesome. There are three other graphic combos and a cool carbon-look model as well as plain black and white.
What didn’t I like? Well, there are some compromises. The extra ventilation of the chin area means the visor is an odd shape, so you can’t look through its bottom edge, and because of the peak it doesn’t rise fully out of your line of vision. Having to use tools to change visors is so 20th Century for road bike riders. I also found wind noise to be quite loud, but I’m almost loath to say so, because wind noise is heavily influenced by the bike you’re riding, your speed and even the shape of your head.
For adventure bike owners and East-West commuters having a lid like the AX9 is a bit of a no-brainer, for everyone else it’s a useful tool to have in the shed.
– Nigel Paterson
More info: agvhelmets.com.au
RRP: From $699