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RIDE Adventures Blog

Dual Sport Motorcycle Helmet Review: AGV AX-8, Shoei Hornet, Arai XD3

Posted by Eric Lange on May 9, 2011
Eric Lange
Since riding his KTM 950 Adventure down to South America in 2008 and launching RIDE Adventures in 2010, Eric now resides in Oregon for most of each year. Riding is still a regular part of his work though, in that guiding tours is a passion he'll always have, and researching new routes and regions allows RIDE Adventures to continue growing and providing reliable travel services to adventure minded riders and travelers from around the world.

Dual Sport Motorcycle Helmet Review

Adventure-minded motorcycle riders are enjoying dual sport helmets for good reason.  With our (typically) significant wind screens and more upright riding positions, we get to use this breed of helmets peaks or visors built-in to block sun, as we head west after a great day of riding.

The Arai XD3 and Shoei Hornet have staked significant claims in the marketplace in recent years, but having tested a new addition to the field, the AGV AX-8 Dual Sport, its time to share my review of each by category:

Fit: Everybody’s head is a little different, so nobody can outright “win” this category.   Try all three on yourself to determine which is best for you.  Winner: 3-way-tie

Fog-resistance: This is another category very difficult to proclaim a victor, given that it’s nearly impossible to recreate the exact same speed, wind, light, temperature, and humidity with conditions for testing multiple helmets.  Approximately, all three helmets did about the same job in this category, certainly allowing the possibility of fogging up but still being okay in general by simply opening the screen a smidge at the bottom.  Winner: 3-way-tie

Ventilation for Cooling:  Each helmet offers significant intake and exhaust ventilation points, but it feels like the Shoei actually circulates the most.  This could of course be different for everyone, based on head shapes, sizes, windscreens, speeds, etc.  But in this case, Winner: Shoei

WE USE THESE HELMETS On The "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" Motorcycle Tour

Weight: Comparing XL’s to XL’s, the AGV is definitely the lightest at 1490 grams, then the Shoei at 1542, and the Arai is the heaviest at 1693 grams.  Yep, even small differences like that can be felt on something as hypersensitive as your head, so there’s a definite winner here:  Winner:  AGV

Quality of Construction:  These are all pretty high-quality helmets, but the way the liner is designed in the AGV has it a step behind the Shoei and Arai.   Any helmet liner that’s a bit “loose” or shaggy tends to feel inconsistent upon usage, and therefore a little awkward because it always feels different.   Having ridden all 3 helmets the Shoei does seem a step ahead of the rest in terms of the liner, and just the overall functionality of the screen, chinstrap, and assembly.

Riders will definitely be disappointed in how easily the plastic mounting bolts can break away on each helmet, but that is by design, not flaw.  Without breakaway bolts, these peaks could become quite dangerous during a crash or even when riding through trees and branches.  (Hence they need to break away for gaining DOT certification.)  Winner:  Shoei

Visibility:  Not even a contest here.  With it’s motocross-like, ultra-low chin bar, the AGV offers up an enormous viewing portal.  Both vertical and peripheral viewing areas are noticeably larger than the other helmets, and suddenly a full-faced helmet is offering all the visibility you’ll need.  Winner:  AGV

Price: Do your own research depending on your point of purchase, but generally speaking, the AGV is the least expensive and the Arai is the most.  All 3 helmets are on the high-side of the pricing options out there, but anyone who’s ridden in a $100 helmet can typically feel/hear/experience the difference when trying one of the high-end options out.  As we do have one of these being the most affordable though, Winner:  AGV

The Deciding Factor: In the categories above, it sure seems to be a battle between AGV and Shoei for the outright winner.  Keeping in mind that every rider has different height (and torso length), riding positions, motorcycles, windscreens, windscreen add-ons, and riding conditions; without actually trying and testing each helmet, there’s no way of saying for sure which helmet is for you.

THESE HELMETS HANDLE THE WIND On The "Patagonia Experience" Tour in Chile & Argentina

HOWEVER, for this rider, the only helmet to use is the Shoei.  Why?  Let’s call it the “Flutter Factor,” in regards to how much the peak “flutters” while riding.

The designs of the Arai and AGV are such that the peaks (visors) are only mounted by two points on each side of the helmet.  Also, each peak is fairly soft and flexible, considering the wind and buffeting it’s going to be subjected to.

Then look at the Shoei, and notice that the peak is connected at 3 points (top included) and also is made from a slightly stiffer piece of plastic, and the surface area is actually a bit smaller (less surface to be catching the wind.)

What does this mean to you?

Again, each rider will have a different result, but generally speaking, the peak design of the Shoei is far ahead of the other two.  If this “fluttering” of the peak occurs while you’re riding one of these helmets, it’s a major safety issue (not to mention the pain of having your eyes bouncing around in their sockets.)  There are even a few articles out there that talk about how such vibration in your eyes can lead to permanent vision impairment.

So each of these helmets might work just fine for your situation, but if you had to make a quick and final decision right now, go with the Shoei and avoid having the flutter factor become an issue for you.  Until Arai and AGV make a helmet with that 3rd mounting point for the peak, there’s a good chance you’ll experience the same vibrations that make for essentially, an unsafe riding situation.

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