One of the rules of Iron Butt riding is that you shouldn’t try out new gear on a ride. If it get’s uncomfortable or doesn’t work life can get ugly on a 19 hour day in the saddle. Let me say up front that I broke this rule recently with the Nexx XD1 and I’m glad I did.
After wrecking my Shoei Hornet in an off on the Africa Twin and trying out a Bell MX-9 (review coming later) I was looking for an adventure style helmet that I could use during my first and possibly Australia’s first Dusty Butt attempt. A Dusty Butt involves riding more than 1600k’s on dirt in one day with sufficient documentation to have the ride verified and certified by the Iron Butt Association in the USA. That day was to be a small part of a bigger adventure.
I’d seen the Nexx XD1 in magazines, of most interest to me initially hs the retractable sun shield with a purported 80% tint. I love this feature in my Shoei Neotec, it’s great for LD riding. I also wear glasses while I’m riding, clear/yellow at night and sunnies during the day. I find the drop down sun visor a very handy addition to the glasses particularly at those times of the day you might need to change over (sunrise and sunset). My biggest issue with the Bell MX-9 is that there are no channels for sunnies and wearing them under the helmet is very uncomfortable. I’m not really into tinted main visors because of the amount of night riding I do, but they are available for the Nexx. I also liked the prospect of taking the peak off the XD1 and using it as a road helmet if I ever felt the need, as you can see to the right.
Time was short to source a helmet I’d be completely happy to take on the upcoming ride so I rocked down to the local Nexx stockist (Brisans) with my favourite skull cap and sunnies to try one on. The first thing I noticed was that the XD1 was really light compared to other road and adventure helmets I’ve owned and tested.
The helmet comes in two shell sizes, XS-M and L-XXL. I’d read that the Nexx sizing is similar to other helmets, I didn’t find that. I’m usually an XL and I needed the XXL on the XD1. However the coolmax fabric liner in the helmet felt really comfortable and the glasses went on without any undue pressure on the side of my head. Nice. The one I tried was the plain white, which was $100 cheaper than the coloured ones which retail for AUD$799.95.
The sun visor is controlled by a slider high up on the helmet. It was a bit tricky to find up there but that’s something I got used to over time. However the sun visor itself didn’t come down as far as I expected, certainly not as far as the Neotec. The bottom of it was in my field of vision more bringing a tinge of disappointment to the experience but it was not a fatal flaw. The retractable visor had a curve for the nose but really with the distance under it it didn’t need to unless a rider had some sort of elephantine super snorkel.
The peak was shorter than you’d expect however there is a clip on extension in the box. I could see the reason for that, good thinking Nexx. The chin wind guard was installed on the helmet, it was a little bit flimsy around the edges but in all likelihood I wasn’t going to leave it on anyway despite the fact that it appeared it would stay on if it was left there. The liner was soft and very comfy, tightish in the right areas and I could feel the support right around my head without undue pressure, or an absence or pressure, in any particular place.
The Nexx XD1 also has a bluetooth module option designed by Sena for the helmet they call the “X-COM – NEXX Intercom system”. Brisans had a helmet there with the unit installed, very nice fitment and unobtrusive. I wasn’t going to buy the coms unit though, I have a few helmets and like interchanging my old SMH-10’s between them. It was nice to have the speaker areas and microphone position already available though.
The helmet looks and feels like it’s good quality. Good paint, well put together, nicely finished.
I’d seen enough, I bought it on the Tuesday. The first time I was to use it was on Friday on a 1700+k day ride Newcastle-Wilcannia-Ivanhoe via the Cobb Hwy and to Renmark for the 2nd IBA Muster.
Setting up the Nexx XD1
The Nexx XD1 comes with a swag of goodies in the box that include
- A pin-lock visor shield
- The peak extender
- The chin wind guard
- An off road front vent cover, to replace the more solid “on road” one if you want to.
- Some 2mm and 4mm ergo padding to allow you to alter the fit if you need to
- An assortment of plastic parts you can use to modify the helmet to mount video camera’s on the side and top of the helmet.
- A nice helmet bag
- Another soft bag to keep the bits and pieces in, including the pin lock shield.
My initial setup was to take the chin wind guard off and install the SMH10 unit. The speakers were logically a perfect fit. The helmet liner actually covered the speakers with a light layer of perforated foam which keeps your ears away from the roughish speakers. That’s great if you are a bit of a wingnut like me!
There was dedicated channel for the microphone wiring and a dedicated flat spot for the mic itself that you can see in the photo below. Awesome
The Sena SMH 10 mic and speaker unit went on almost perfectly with the standard hard clamp without any modification to the helmet. The double sided tape option would not work due to the curved shape of the helmet exterior. I needed to put a bit of the Sena foam between the outside of the clamp and the helmet to fill the gap and stop the outside of the clamp unit from flexing when tightening it but it’s solid and the bluetooth unit itself can be removed and replaced without any dramas. Happy enough there, although the specific Sena unit would be a better option if this was your only helmet.
I didn’t install the pinlock visor, camera mounts or need any fitment adjustments. I had a quick look at he peak extender, instructions will be needed for that and I didn’t have the time for that before this ride.
Riding in the Nexx XD1 – Adventure Setup
I wore this helmet during 5 days riding. 1700+ k’s the first day, tar and dirt. About 670ks Renmark to Roxby Downs. A 1680k’s day on dirt around Roxby Downs, Lake Eyre and Coober Pedy then a 2 day ride home through Broken Hill (670ks then 1150ks). A shade under 6000kms in five days riding. The longest day in terms of time was the first day I wore it – 21.5 hours for the day. So it got a workout.
Riding in the Nexx XD-1 – Road Setup
Taking the peak off wasn’t a drama. Undo the screw at the top, flick the lever on the sides of the visor and replace that area with some blanks from the spare parts stash. It’s a 5 minute job and while I was at it I also put in the pinlock, easy as pie. Fog was going to play a part in the ride. So the road trim test was a mostly wet 460km ride to Canberra followed by a 1680km ride in 20 hours round and round the ACT and a fair weather 460km trip home the next day. 2600kms in less than three days on my Super Tenere.
Let’s start with the gripes.
I found the double D ring fastener a little bit fiddly, I think it’s because there’ a little more strap prior to the press stud fastener than I’m used to holding to direct the strap though the rings. Or maybe the strap’s not as stiff as some of the other helmets I have. No biggy, just took a bit of extra effort to get the helmet on, although I didn’t get used to it after 5 days of riding.
I wear ear plugs pretty much all the time. It’s required with this helmet, it’s noisy in Adventure Trim and while appreciably less so in Road Trim still noisy. It’s not as quiet as the Hornet or Neotec in their native setups. The noise wasn’t fatal for my appreciation of the helmet. It’s worth noting that people on the phone could still hear me speaking through the Sena at 110kph and I could hear my music just fine.
The optics of the visor and sun visor don’t seem quite as good as other visors I’ve peered through. That’s a hard one to quantify but sometimes things just looked a little off. The retractable sun visor doesn’t come down far enough as I’ve mentioned above. It’s deep enough to keep the sun from shining into your eyes when it’s high but it leaves a line across your forward vision. Riding straight into a setting sun meant having to angle the helmet down somewhat to properly protect my eyes. I don’t have to do this with the Neotec. I needed my sunglasses on for the lower part of my visual field at those times. Perhaps the peak extension might also help add shade to the picture in this circumstance. I soon got used to looking through both or one though but would still have preferred more coverage and a seamless view.
Riding without glasses for long distances at highway speeds presented a bit of a challenge. The helmet directed more air onto my eyes than I would have liked drying them out. So on a long ride you’d better wear something to protect them and take eye drops with you if you don’t want a case of redeye the next day.
The Lexan visor doesn’t provide UV protection, so wear sunscreen on your snorkel. The visor on the Neotec does have UV protection BTW, the Bell MX-9 does not. The marketing material for the XD1 shows you can take the visor off and use goggles. I’m not sure it’s the right helmet for that, it seems to me that the dust and crap might then create some issues with the dropdown visor with the opening of it’s cavity exposed. I daresay the dropdown sun visor wouldn’t be functional if you were wearing goggles. If I’m wrong let me know.
That wasn’t too bad, now the positives.
You really notice how light the helmet is. The Africa Twin provides an upright riding position but the differences in fatigue on your neck and shoulders over the long haul as compared to, say, the Neotec with the internal visor are marked. The lighter weight is a huge plus for this helmet, particularly considering all the features it has. The weight combined with the aerodynamics made standing in this helmet at speed a non-issue. Awesome!
The standard peak cuts through the air nicely and doesn’t vibrate. The “lift” remains pretty neutral in the riding position up to, let’s guess, 140kph without forcing your head down or giving you some nice cervical traction . Turning the head to the side to look over your shoulders doesn’t try to rip your head off and I can’t complain about the helmet’s areo performance in stiff cross winds. In its standard form if offers less eye shading than other ADV helmets. If you do a lot of off road I’d fit the extension. It’s equally as good in road trim, no problems there.
I’ve taken it on a spin on my CBR125R cruising along at 100+kph and it’s pretty good in the lean forward sportsbike (sic) position too.
Ventilation is great, I left the top vents half open (shut, half and full are the options) and the front chin vent open for the whole off-road ride and temperatures varied from 9 degrees C to 30 degrees. I didn’t get unduly cold or hot in the helmet. The visor can be opened a click and stays put to minimise the fog causing issues. In this regard it’s as good as any helmet I have used. Where some fog got on to the inside of the visor it quickly cleared. My glasses didn’t fog up under this helmet which would likely have happened in some others I’ve worn.
The wide, deep Lexan visor offers plenty of visual field peripherally, you don’t have to twist your head off to see over your shoulder. No complaints on that score, plenty of vision.
The pinlock screen worked great in fog and while riding in the rain allowing me to close the top vents and lock the visor down. No rain got into the helmet, even during a few torrents, except for three or four drips down the back of the visor and it didn’t fog up. Keeping the visor locked down will likely mean your glasses, if you are wearing them will fog up so there’s a choice to make there.
It’s a little tight for space in front of the chin as opposed to more “enduro” helmets and the Shoei Hornet but there’s no problems getting the mouthpiece of a Camelback up to your lips for a drink while riding along. Nexx say that the chin areas is designed that way to reduce breast injury in the case of a frontal impact. The camel back wouldn’t work with the chin wind guard obviously.
The helmet liner remained comfortable, didn’t get sweaty or stinky for the whole trip. Where it got a little damp from sweat it dried quickly. I used the road style front vent and while I was in the dirt I didn’t get to follow many other vehicles. When I did the dust didn’t become a problem inside the helmet. I wore a balaclava for 20 hours under the helmet in the Canberra cold and the noggin stayed warm for the whole ride.
I’d read that some people had problems with the cheek pads unclipping when removing the helmet. That wasn’t an issue for me. Over the numerous times I had the helmet on and off in this trip everything stayed where it was supposed to be.
There’s a couple of improvements that can be made to this helmet, the depth of the sun visor and maybe the noise, but nothing at all to hate about it. There is however a huge amount to like about it. It’s light, feature packed, decently priced and to put it on straight out of the box and rack up 6000k’s in five days of riding in ADV mode and another 2600 or so in road trim without a single sore spot, pressure area, abrasion or gotcha, it’s bloody comfortable!
I’ll probably stick to the Neotec for long road only trips just for the noise factor. But if you don’t have the space for multiple helmets and you are in to road riding and touring with some dirt and adventure thrown in the Nexx XD1 is pretty much a perfect all-round helmet that doesn’t really compromise on usefulness or quality on any front. And with all the gadgets you get with it you can spend some time making it the best it can be for how you want to use it. You’ll see me in mine quite a bit I expect.
Here’s a link to the tech spec brochure put out by Nexx for the XD1.