Review: AGV leans slightly back toward the road with its new AX-9 adventure helmet
After 10 years on the market, AGV has updated its flagship convertible adventure lid – the AX-8 – with a new AX-9 that takes things to the next level in comfort, touring capability and high-speed aerodynamics.
The AX-9 is a nifty convertible adventure riding helmet that strikes a slightly more road and touring friendly balance than its predecessor, which angled more toward the hardcore off-road rider.
You can run it in four different configurations by adding and subtracting the visor or the peak. Pull the visor and stick your goggles on, and you can go full enduro mode. Take the peak off as well and it's a goggled-up bruiser look. Run the visor with no peak, and enjoy the AX-9's most slippery streetfighter aeros for freeway riding.
With everything attached, a new aerodynamic profile makes the peak much friendlier at highway speeds than its predecessor – especially when you run it at the lower of its two adjustable angles.
Whatever you do with the visor or the peak, it's a lot more fiddly than your average road lid. Everything's held on using slotted screws that need a 10 cent piece or a screwdriver to open. On the positive side, that means if you're going somewhere dusty enough to break out your goggles, you can put the screws back in and make sure no grit gets in the mechanism.
When it comes to comfort, AGV has tricked the AX-9 up with some of the same premium interior liner materials that the outstanding SportModular flip face runs. Everything that touches your head or neck is super-smooth Shalimar, and it feels a million dollars, at least while it's not full of dust and crud. Thanks to a carbon/aramid/fiberglass construction, it's light at 1.45 kilos (3.2 lbs) – and there's a full carbon version available that drops the weight by about 6 percent.
Ventilation is terrific through the chin vent in particular, which can be opened or closed from the outside and the inside. You can pop out the filter piece altogether to clean it, or just to ride around looking a bit more like Bane out of the Batman movies.
The visor is ultra-wide, giving you more than 180 degrees of peripheral vision to work with – that's great in traffic. It's also pretty tall, with 110 degrees of vertical vision available, as well as very optically sharp and fog-free thanks to a Pinlock 70 anti-fog insert that comes in the box. It's worth noting that the AX-8 had a wider visor port top to bottom, thus making it slightly easier to run goggles with, but our fruity-looking Fox goggles fit in fine, even with the visor still attached.
The AX-9 has no built-in drop down sun visor. Most of the competition don't either – weird exceptions coming in the high-end Schuberth E1, the hundred-buck Bilt Explorer, and a handful of others from brands like Scorpion, LS2, Shark and Nexx. I don't know why this is so – adventure helmets, like adventure bikes, are designed to do a bunch of touring, and given the choice, I'd prefer to tour in any helmet that's got a built-in set of sunnies than one that doesn't, peak or no peak.
Unlike its predecessor, the AX-9 is very easy to stick a Bluetooth comms unit into. I've clipped a Sena 10C onto the side, and it's easy to tuck the wiring away tidily behind all the removable inner padding. There's removable sticky pads covering up tailor-made speaker pockets, it's ready to go.
On the road, it's light, cool, airy and reasonably quiet, as well as having a feel that borders on luxury from the inner liners. Visibility is great on head checks and peripheral vision, and even though the peak is pretty big, it's aerodynamically pretty neutral at its lower setting. I find it a great lid to rack up miles in.
If you want to go another step in the direction of road-focused touring, you can look over toward the Schuberth E1 with its flip-up chin, flip-down sun visor, integrated comms system and appropriately stratospheric price tag. But at US$499, or US$549 with graphics, or US$629 in full matt carbon, the AGV AX-9 is a lovely thing to stick your head in for long periods of time.
Check out our review video below.