Nexx X40 Helmet Review
Not long ago, I offered some ideas on what I thought the dream helmet might be in terms of design and features. To be honest, I didn’t have any particular helmet in mind that might come close to checking most of the boxes But then arrived the opportunity to try out the new Nexx X40.
The Nexx X40 has a somewhat unusual appearance and for good reason; it has some unusual features.
The first thing you’ll notice about is the polycarbonate faceshield that extends all the way down over the chin bar. Then you notice that the Pin Lock-ready faceshield covers the large, non-closable vents in the chin bar—a design that seems counterintuitive.
But the faceshield has a small vent in it that doesn’t seem to line up with any other venting—rather, it opens directly into the eye port and floods that part of the helmet with air when you flip it open.
The chin bar vents come into play when the shield is partially open to the first setting (with easily noticeable detents for each of the five positions) or when the shield is removed and the peak is added.
The retractable smoke-tinted sun visor doesn’t extend down as far as some other helmets I’ve seen with this feature, and it proves to not be a bad thing. It works well to simmer down direct sunlight and doesn’t come in contact with the rider’s face or nose. The actuation button is on the left side of the helmet, which differs from some others that have the button on the top left side of the shell.
Next is the chin bar itself. It isn’t made of the same X-Matrix material as the shell. It is a beefy bit of polymer that is designed to give the X40 a unique degree of versatility. By pushing a button located at each end of the chin bar, the whole thing can be unlocked and removed allowing the helmet to work as a true ¾ coverage open face helmet—no need to own two helmets if you prefer an open face style for some of your riding and full-face for the rest. The peak can be added in full-face mode or ¾ coverage mode.
To keep the look of the helmet clean, a pair of small end caps are included that snap into the slots left when the chin bar is removed. Going without the chin bar allows the X40 to shed about .22 lbs, as well. Ironically, a removable chin bar was one of the attributes of the dream helmet I mentioned in that earlier article.
Ventilation is another criteria I mentioned for a dream helmet; and if vents have shutters I’d prefer that they be able to be operated without having to take off riding gloves. The X40 has vents—big vents—and the simple toggle design allows easy opening and closing with gloves on.
Just push down on the end and the vent end pops up—no slides, switches or buttons to try to find and operate. Twin intake vents catch the wind atop the brow of the helmet and large dual exhaust vents that open the same way allow the air to flow out the back.
One of my complaints about some helmets is that their crown vents set at the very top of the helmet where they may catch good air when the rider is in a very aggressive head-down riding posture as on a sportbike, but don’t do as well for riders in an upright riding position. The X40’s intakes are more forward on the helmet’s brow and do a nice job bringing in fresh air when the riding position is upright.
In terms of impact protection, the X40 is both DOT (FMVSS 218) and ECE 22.05 compliant. While it’s not the same as my dream universal helmet certification, it comes about as close as you can get. ECE 22.05 is a high-value criteria because the helmet must actually pass all the certification tests conducted by an independent lab before it can achieve certification.
Under DOT rules, the manufacturer itself is the only certification tester prior to marketing. Unless the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pulls some samples already on sale, tests them and finds that they actually don’t meet the DOT standards—which all happens only after the helmets are already on the market—DOT certified helmets don’t undergo testing by an independent third party (the exception to that being if the manufacturer opts to go for Snell Memorial Foundation approval, but that is not mandatory).
Last but certainly not least, ECE 22.05 impact attenuation standards are somewhat higher than the DOT standards. For more, visit helmet certification standards.
The X40 shell is comprised of a hybrid material called X-Matrix, which consists of multiaxial fiberglass, 3D organic fibers, special aramid fibers and carbon reinforcement. It isn’t quite as light as some shells that are entirely carbon fiber, but it isn’t as expensive, either and with the whole helmet weighing under three and a half pounds including the chin bar, it is still a light helmet. The full carbon-fiber version is not yet available in the U.S.
At present, the only color options are black and white. Conspicuity is aided by reflective material in the fabric portion of the bottom of the cheek pieces which are visible when the helmet is on, in openings on the shell aft of each end of the eye port and a larger area above it on each side and on the rear of the helmet in the X40 logo.
Rider view is among the best available—the DOT and ECE 22.05 standards share the requirement that peripheral vision be available to a 210 degree arc (a minimum of 105 degrees each way from the midline of the helmet). The X40 literature indicates it provides peripheral vision through a 228 degree arc. The large eye port dimensions make using goggles easier, as well.
The liner is comfy and sizing using the Nexx recommendations is spot-on for me. The lining material is X-Mart Dry Fabrics, hypoallergenic, removable and washable.
The retention system is the typical 7/8” wide nylon strap with padding but with the quick-on, quick-off Micrometric buckle in place of the typical double D-ring set-up. This is another of my criteria—a retention strap buckle that is quick and easy to use, even with your gloves on.
The Micrometric buckle works with a rigid nylon serrated tab that slides into the buckle, clicking in small increments until the best fit is reached, which allows the user to instantly snug it up to exactly the right fit. No threading straps through rings. To open the buckle, simply pull down on a tab and it opens immediately. Nice.
Wind noise and buffeting can be a little distracting and I have found the helmet, the bike and wind conditions all play a part in how much of a factor this is on any given ride.
To sort this out for each helmet I have a look at, I try to ride in a variety of weather conditions (calm/windless, windy/gusty, crosswinds etc.) and on a bike with no windshield, a shorty windshield (top edge of the windshield is below the sightline) and tall (the sightline is through the windshield).
I want to do that because I’ve noticed that sometimes a helmet that is quiet and stable at highway speed on a bike with no windshield can feel like it’s getting an MMA beat-down when behind a shorty windshield at highway speed, but quiet and calm again behind a full-height windshield. Some helmets, on the other hand, seem less affected by all this but may have annoying wind noises like whistling or buzzing.
The X40 performed well under each of the conditions I used it in whether the vents were open or closed, but I didn’t have much time in very high or gusty wind conditions. The plush adjustable chin curtain appeared to contribute to controlling interior wind noise. I tend to concede that any helmet regardless of price would probably have some degree of buffeting, lift and wind noise under adverse conditions.
Because of the unusual faceshield, the number of angular features and the unique overall shape of the shell, I had expected some sort of wind whistle to show up during use. That didn’t happen, even with the face shield not down against the chin bar nor with all the vents open or all closed.
Riding with no windshield or a tall windshield in calm conditions, a minimal background wind rush sound was present, with very minimal buffeting, with a shorty windshield buffeting and wind noise was about on par with that experienced with other helmets–moderate.
With the optional short peak in place, which mounts to the faceshield hinge mechanism, wind noise is what you would expect—fairly prominent with no windshield in place, moderate with one.
Some full-face helmets we’ve looked at have quick-removal cheek pieces that provide loops to facilitate their removal by simply pulling on the loops for emergency helmet removal. That feature is not present on the X40 because the removable chin bar makes helmet removal for emergency airway management unnecessary.
All that said, how does the X40 perform? Though not tested in cold weather riding conditions, the Pinlock shield would seem to promise cold-weather functionality, even without any shield heating option.
Even breathing directly on the shield with the Pinlock in place didn’t fog the view. Most of the ride time was in fairly high temperature, high-humidity conditions. It was a comfortable fit on day-long riding situations, even when the temperatures got high.
Visibility out that huge eye port is superb and the dark sun visor is great out in bright direct sunshine, but in areas of mixed shade and sun, I tended to flick it up because for me, the shade is a little too dark to allow quick identification of deer, dogs and so on that could be standing in the shadows.
The deployment and retraction operation of the sun visor mechanism is crisp and positive with a notable detent position to lock it up out of the way when retracted.
The helmet’s light weight kept fatigue from being an issue, even after hours in the saddle and with the chin bar in use. The padding on the chin strap is a little more plush than some I’ve used and with the Micrometric buckle, it is possible to easily get a good fit where the strap is virtually unnoticed.
So, judged in the context of my wishlist for the dream helmet, how does the X40 fare? (Probably an unfair thing to do.) Remarkably well, in fact. It checks quite a few of the boxes and comes close on others. Is it my new favorite helmet? Time will tell. How well it does on your wishlist will depend on what features you favor; one thing’s for sure, if versatility is one of them, the X40 is worth a look.
Quick specs (as reviewed):
- Helmet: Nexx X40 Plain (Arctic White)
- Distribution: Nexx North America—see the website for retail locations
- Configuration: Full face—convertible to ¾ coverage with removable chin bar, multi-transformational
- Country of origin: Portugal
- Shell material: X-MATRIX Shell (multiaxial fiberglass, 3D organic fibers, special aramid fibers and carbon reinforcement, 2 inlets and 2 outlets air-vents (Air Dynamic System) “glove optimized” for easy gloves-on operation, chin bar has two non-closable vents, intercom compatible
- Available shell sizing: XS to XXL
- Weight (claimed): 1550 g (3.41 lb.) with chin bar, 1450g (3.19 lb.) without chin bar (±50g)
- Certifications: ECE/22-05 and DOT (FMVSS 218)
- Shield/visor: Lexan polycarbonate, clear, anti-scratch and with easy locking system and Quick Release System, PinLock ready external shield and smoke-tinted retractable internal sun visor.
- Retention system: Padded nylon strap with Micro-metric quick release buckle
- Special features: Includes Ergo Padding System for size adjustment, adjustable chin curtain, Cloth carrying bag included, reflectors on the front, lateral and backside X-Mart Dry Fabrics in the comfort liner, removable and washable lining
- Warranty: Two years
- MSRP: $349.95