AFX FX-39DS Supermoto Helmet & Shield – Review

Looking for a budget supermoto helmet that will turn heads, yet be stealthy at the same time? Yes, I know that sounds like a contradiction, but that is what I was going for when I decided to buy this AFX FX-39 Dual Sport helmet. I already had street and dirt bike helmets, but none of them would cut it, in my opinion, for supermoto duty. I needed an entirely different helmet for this kind of riding. What do I do when riding my street legal supermoto? Pure hooliganism. These bikes aren’t meant to go fast, so I don’t need a high-tech aerodynamic motorcycle helmet, and a dirt bike helmet with goggles for eye protection just doesn’t work for me.

Fit

I would say that I have a pretty average or round-shaped head and this helmet fits well. I normally wear a size medium, which is what my FX-39DS is, and would say that it fits true to size. The chin-strap, unlike a D-ring style, is easy to adjust and works great. It’s a ‘set it and forget it’ feature that’s very easy to clip in and out of, and it has yet to come loose while riding. However, the end of the adjustment strap has nowhere to go but flop around while riding. It is annoying if I don’t tuck it into my jacket or helmet.

Comfort

A helmet that fits properly is more than likely going to be comfortable because… well, it just fits! This AFX lid is no different. The cheek pads and lining are soft, and form well to my face without any noticeable pressure points. I haven’t done any day-long rides because I don’t tour with my supermoto, but I have ridden for a couple hours in an evening and didn’t have any discomfort.

Noise

If there’s one major thing I don’t like about this helmet, it would be the wind noise. Yes, it’s pretty loud, especially with a naked supermoto (no fairing). But, that’s not that big of a deal for me since I wear ear plugs.

Ventilation

Riding up into the high 80s and lower 90s (Fahrenheit) my head didn’t have any problem staying cool. It has a vent on the chin bar, which, in my honest opinion doesn’t do much since air is already coming up underneath the helmet. It also has vents for the forehead, on the top, and the rear for letting hot air out. I do not live in an extremely hot climate, but I would imagine it can cope as well as any other full face helmet with all the ventilation.

Function

FX39-DS Helmet w/ Silver Mirror Shield
FX39-DS Helmet w/ Silver Mirror Shield

I previously mentioned that the new chin-strap retention system functions very well for quick fitting and removal. The shield works well and stays in place. It would be nice if it retracted a little bit higher, but that is a minor complaint. The only time I flip it up is occasionally when I stop. As far as vision goes, some people complained about distorted vision due to the extreme curvature of the shield compared to a standard motorcycle helmet shield. Most, if not all, of those people said that they got used to it after wearing it for some time. I did not have this problem, even from the beginning.

I am using the Mirrored Silver face shield with the FX39 that I bought as an accessory. After I figured out how to swap the shields it was pretty easy and can be done in about a minute or less. I didn’t realize that the new shield came with its own components so I don’t have to swap them out from the original shield.

Quality

For as cheap as this helmet is, the quality is really pretty good. I have only used it for one season, but nothing has broken or fallen apart like some of the motorcycle helmets have that I own. My AFX FX39DS is flat black, and the paint looks great. It looks similar in quality to $300+ helmets in its category. I have nothing to complain about in the quality department.

Style

Other than the price tag, the styling was probably the biggest reason why I bought this helmet. It looks like some of the most expensive dual sport helmets while keeping the price low for us “budget-minded” riders. Combined with the mirrored silver shield, the FX39 looks straight-up “Boss”. I looked at other dual sport helmets in this price range, and some of them I would not even want to wear because they look hideous.

Safety

Last, but certainly not least, are the safety ratings. The AFX 39 dual sport helmet is DOT and ECE-22.05 certified in all sizes except 3XL and 4XL(which are only DOT rated). DOT is the rating that is commonly used in the United States, while the ECE standards are based in Europe and are used in over 50 countries across the globe.

Pros:

  • Looks great
  • Very affordable
  • Comfortable
  • New chin-strap feature is easy to use
  • Vision is nice and wide
  • DOT and ECE certified
  • High quality for its price-point

Cons:

  • Noisy
  • Loose chin-strap end flops around
  • Shield doesn’t fully retract

 

I will continue to use this helmet for my supermotard riding days because it fits well, looks awesome, and protects my noggin. Maybe some day I will upgrade to an almighty Arai or Shoei Dual Sport helmet, but right now I’ll stick to my Bang-For-Buck gear.

Click Here To Buy My AFX FX39DS Helmet!

-Tom Stark

CRF50 Vs. PW50 – Best Kids Dirt Bike?

Buying a dirt bike for your kid can be one of the best feelings for both your kid, as well as yourself. Choosing the right one can be a hard decision, but either bike can fit the bill. There’s a few major differences between the Honda CRF50F/XR50R (Same bike, just different body style), and the Yamaha PW50, so lets see what each of them have to offer.

Engine Comparison

CRF50F
CRF50F

For both being 50cc, the engine’s are quite a bit different. The Honda has an air-cooled four-stroke with a three speed semi-automatic transmission, while the Yamaha has a two-stroke, oil-injected engine with a centrifugal-clutch. They are both pretty much bullet-proof as long as you regularly change the oil and keep the air filter clean.

Neither have electric-start, but the Honda engine is a more versatile. In stock form it’s already more powerful and has three gears, making it easier for your kid to get past certain obstacles. The aftermarket has a lot more to offer as well for the CRF/XR 50. It is one of the most popular pit bikes for adults, so there’s plenty of engine, suspension, handelbars, and other hop-up parts available to fit the riders needs.

However, if you want a light and mellow power-band without having to change gears, the Yamaha is a great starting point. It also has a throttle-lock feature that you can set to lock the throttle at a certain position so that your kid doesn’t hold it wide open and get into trouble as easily.

Suspension

Neither have that good of suspension from the factory. The CRF50 is going to be a little better, but still isn’t good enough for racing on. Of course, these are just kids dirt bikes for beginning riders, so they are plenty good for trail and play riding. The Honda once again has plenty of aftermarket options for forks, shocks, and swing-arms if you are willing to shell out the dough though.

PW50
PW50

Size

Size may be the most important factor, depending on how small your little boy or girl is. If you’re looking for the lowest seat height and lightest bike, the PW50 has the CRF beat. Its seat height is only 19 inches, and weighs a shocking 86 pounds when wet with fluids. This is substantially lower than the 110 lbs of the Honda.

In The End…

It depends on the nature of your kid. If your boy or girl is small and barely knows how to ride a bike, the PW50 is probably the better choice, due to it being smaller, lighter, and smooth on power. However, almost all kids grow out of the PW’s within the first year, so there’s a good chance you’ll be needing another bike soon after. Whereas the Honda will last a little longer since it’s a little more powerful, has a 3-speed transmission, and plenty of aftermarket parts for upgrading. You can usually get a couple years out of the ol’ Honda 50 before needing a bigger dirt bike, depending on how fast your kid grows and learns.

What’s Hot?

Honda:

  • Bullet-proof 4-stroke engine
  • 3-speed semi-auto trans.
  • More versatile
  • Plethora of aftermarket parts
  • It’s red

Yamaha:

  • Mellow 2-stroke engine w/ simple oil-injection
  • Low seat height and light-weight
  • Low maintenance engine and shaft drive
  • It’s blue…?

Hopefully this will give you a better idea on which little dirt bike to buy for your kid to get into this awesome sport. Feel free to leave a comment or question. Have fun, and remember to wear proper safety gear!

-Tom Stark

Carburetor Tuning With A JD Jetting Kit – Review

Is your dirt bike running poorly, fouling spark plugs, or often hard to start? If you’ve never opened up the carburetor on your dirt bike, there’s a good chance that it needs to be re-jetted. JD Jet Kits are one of the cheapest and easiest way to tune your bike for maximum performance. Some benefits of having a properly jetted bike are: better throttle response, little to no plug fouling, easier starting, more efficient, and more power. If it can really do all of things, then why do so many people not do it? You know, that’s a good question…

Re-jetting a dirt bike carb is very simple to do. It’s as easy as loosening the carb clamps, unscrewing the float bowl or throttle cover, and swapping out a jet and/or needle. If you don’t know how to properly jet a dirt bike, check out this article: “Jetting 101“. However, don’t be scared by all of the information, as this kit is easy enough to use for anyone that’s not as mechanically inclined.

A JD (James Dean) jet kit comes with various main jets and multi-tapered needles. Don’t worry, though, as you don’t need to be an expert to know which ones to use. There’s a needle for high elevation riding, and one for closer to sea-level riding. The kit also comes with instructions and recommendations on which jet to use for almost every model dirt bike available.

JD Jetting Kit
JD Jetting Kit

The installation usually takes about an hour or less, and your dirt bike will be up and running better than it was from the factory. I don’t know one person that has had anything negative to say about this jetting kit. It does cost more than buying a few individual jets, but it can save you a lot of time and headaches in the long run because you won’t have to do nearly as much testing, if any.

Before you buy that $800, or even 150 dollar “hop-up’ part, I think you should check this kit out. You will be thanking yourself when you have a crisp-running bike and are tearing it up on the track or trails.

Click Here To Buy My JD Jetting Kit!

-Tom Stark

Yamaha YZ125 Review – Is It The Best 125 Two-Stroke Ever?

Since there’s not much hope in the economy coming back in the near future, dirt bikers are resorting to things that will give them the best bang for their buck. As a result, 125cc two-strokes have been rising in the used market. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually. First of all, you can rebuild the top-end for $150 or less, which can be done in your garage with a little mechanical motivation and patience. They are great dirt bikes to start out on for motocross, as they teach you how to control the throttle, clutch, and controls. Probably the best part about a 125 2-smoker is that they’re an absolute blast to ride! They’re light, quick, snappy, and besides, who doesn’t like the smell of race gas and pre-mix in the morning?!

Which Decade?

Yamaha hasn’t changed their 2-strokes for a while. However, this doesn’t mean it’s outdated. In fact, that’s quite the opposite, as Yamaha has been building quality 2-stroke motocross bikes for years. As long as they make them, riders continue buy them. They are often the first dirt bikes to sell in a dealer, but let’s take a look at why these bikes are so popular in the first place.

1990’s YZ two-strokes are fairly similar. In ’96 they made some changes that lasted until the end of 2001. These are still considered some of the best motocross bikes, especially the 1999 model. They are fast, reliable, and are just a great overall bike.

In 2002 the frame changed, making it lighter, narrower, and more flick-able. However, many people didn’t approve because it switched to a 5-speed transmission. 125’s have a narrow power-band as it is, and some riders just like having that extra gear.

2005 and 2006 are biggest years for the Yamaha YZ125. In ’05 they changed to an all aluminum frame, made some engine changes, as well as changing back to a 6-speed transmission.

2006 Yamaha YZ125
2006 Yamaha YZ125

Power

Power has never really been an issue when it comes to the YZ125. In amateur ranks, these small-bore two-strokes can hold their own against 450’s with the right rider. Of course it can be harder to ride them faster, but they have the ability, and it’s extremely fun doing it. Although 125’s are known to have little to no bottom-end power, the YZ125 has always seemed to have a little more torque down low than the others in its class, making it manageable if you need to lug it in tight areas. Once you get to the mid-range you can start to feel the inner-beast come alive, especially on the later models. As soon as you hit the power-band on one of these tiddlers, you’ll know why they are so addicting. It may scare you at first if you’ve never ridden a two-stroke motocross bike, but you’ll be begging to do it again and again until there’s no more premix in the tank… Throw a pipe on this thing and get it properly ported, and you have race-ready engine on your hands (not that it isn’t with a stock engine).

In 2005, the YZ125 got a new engine and carburetor, which greatly improved the bike. It’s so crisp and fast that you don’t need to touch the bike to be competitive. Although, as the saying goes, it’s easier to make a fast bike faster… Slap a pipe on there, get it ported, run some race-gas, re-jet, and she’s ready to haul the mail!

Handling

While it’s light, fast, and flick-able, some people don’t like the way YZ125’s handle as much as other late-model 125’s. The CR125 has been at the top of its class in the handling department since the 3rd generation chassis came out in 2002. That bike handles extremely well with comfort. The 2002 and newer YZ125 are not far behind though, so don’t let that be the determining factor.

2005 was the first year of the aluminum frame, which is still claimed to be one of, if not the best 125 two-stroke made. It’s lighter, faster, handles better, and just overall rides more like a modern motocross bike.

Suspension

Yamaha continues to provide top-notch suspension in their motocross bikes, and the YZ125 is no different. The older bikes from the 90s left something to be desired compared to modern mx bikes, but in the 2000’s they have some of the best suspension out of the box. Bottoming-resistance is one of the leading factors of it being at the top of its class. The ride isn’t as harsh as some of the other bikes, but like any other motocross bike, you will want to get it re-valved if you weight less than 140lbs or more more than 170lbs depending on what kind of riding you do.

In 2006, which was the last year of any major updates, the YZ125 received new SSS forks, which are considered a big upgrade. If you can find a good deal on clean ’06, buy it! If you find a nice ’05, I would definitely buy that too. For someone that’s not a pro rider, you probably won’t notice much of a difference between the two. Besides, most racers get their suspension re-valved for their weight and riding style anyway.

You Should Get A YZ125 If You:

  1. Want a light, nimble, quick bike
  2. Like mixing gas and the smell of premix
  3. Want to go back and learn the basics
  4. Like snappy power
  5. Want a dirt bike that’s cheap to maintain
  6. Want to rub it in when you beat friends on four-strokes
  7. Don’t want to make the jump all the way to a 250F
  8. Want to rebuild top-ends at home

You Shouldn’t Get A YZ125 If You:

  1. Don’t like mixing gas or the smell of premix
  2. Want a smooth and very predictable power-curve
  3. Like checking valve clearances
2001 Yamaha YZ125 2-Stroke
2001 Yamaha YZ125 2-Stroke

I’ve owned my share of YZ125’s, and they’ve all been great. The most reliable motocross bikes I’ve owned, and they’re just so much fun to ride. Of course, the newer the better, but even a 1999 YZ125 is a great bike to get started in this awesome sport. Check out my other articles on how to find deals on used dirt bikes!

-Tom Stark

 

UClear Bluetooth Helmet Communicator Boomless HBC100 Review

When you hear “Helmet Communicator”, what comes to mind? Usually a large pair of headphones, a big boomed-mic that sticks out in front of your face, and wires dangling down to connect to whatever device you’re using. Fortunately for us, modern technology is increasing every year, and now the UClear Bluetooth Boom-less Helmet Communicator available to the public. It has so many unique features, and is “Military Technology”, so you know you’re not getting cheap Chinese junk. When I got asked to test out UClear’s HBC100 motorcycle communicator, I jumped on the opportunity because I love technology, and I figured YOU would want to see a real-life review on it. Now when going in to this, I was a little skeptical since I hadn’t dealt with helmet communicators before, and seeing that this was the world’s first “boom-less” system I didn’t know what to expect.

HBC100 Bluetooth Communicator

Talk On-The-Fly

That’s right, you can answer, talk, and even call people on your cell phone while riding, without even having to touch it! It’s easy to use, even if you’re listening to music through your phone. Just pause the music and hold the volume buttons down for a couple seconds to activate the voice command. The capabilities are whatever your phone supports!

No More Boom-Stick!

Uclear’s HBC100 is the first boom-less helmet communicator on the market. What’s better about not having a boom? For one, it takes up much less space in your helmet (especially if you have a full-face), there’s nothing to hit your mouth on, and Uclear’s military technology helps cancel out wind-noise at well over 100MPH.

Bluetooth – The New Wireless

Do you remember the days of having umpteen cords just for a couple of speakers? Fortunately for you, those days are long gone… Bluetooth is the way to go now, and it’s easier than ever to use it. Just turn the communicator on, hold down the volume buttons for a few seconds, then turn your phone’s Bluetooth on and the HBC100 will show up on the available devices. Press ‘connect’ and you’re done! No more cords dangling down through your clothes that can get caught on things and ripped off. Once you’ve synced your phone, next time you just turn Bluetooth on and it will automatically sync when the communicator is turned on.

Sound Quality?

If you can’t hear the person on the other end of the conversation, what’s the point of having a communicator? Based on some outside variables (more on that in a bit), the Uclear HBC100 sound quality is surprisingly good. If you’re just having a conversation through via Bluetooth  it’s just as good as using your phone for you and the person on the other side. Wind noise was not an issue. Even going 70mph on a naked street bike, the wind was hardly noticeable. In fact, you can often hear the bike humming through the gears just as much as the wind.

Isn’t Wind A Factor?

Didn’t we just go over this? Yes and no. Yes, wind is always a factor. Does it affect the sound quality? No, not with the UClear. Where wind comes into play with a helmet communicator is how well the rider can hear. If you’re cruising down the freeway at 70mph or more with no wind protection, it’s going to be pretty hard to understand what the other person is saying. Or if you’re listening to music, it’s pretty much useless. That’s why it’s best to have a full-face helmet that is good at blocking wind noise. Not only will it be hard to have a conversation with the constant noise of wind rushing past your ears, but it’s just plain noisy and annoying. Unfortunately, I’m still using a cheaper motorcycle helmet that doesn’t offer many luxuries. If you’re going to be using a helmet communicator, just keep in mind that a quality helmet is just as important.

What’s Hot?

  • Boom-less microphone
  • Voice activation answering and calling
  • Stream music wireless through bluetooth
  • Rider intercom with other riders in your group
  • Boom-less Microphone with Active Noise Cancellation (effective to 147 mph)
  • Can sync with up to two devices simultaneously via bluetooth (e.g. mp3 player and phone)
  • Battery life (10-15 hours)

What’s Not?

  • Music isn’t the greatest quality because of wind noise
  • Glasses are more difficult to get on
  • Speaker velcro glue isn’t perfect

What Other Consumers Are Saying:

  • It doesn’t get better than this
  • Top bluetooth headset
  • Best Helmet Communicator Ever!
  • Great product for the price
  • No more wires!
  • An Impressive & Functional Product

Overall Impression…

If you go back-to-back with other helmet communicators in its price range, there isn’t much of a comparison as far as capability and quality. Bluetooth is the way to go, and it is very easy to use. I like the voice activation features, once again making it completely hands-free (unless you want to change the volume). It’s not perfect, but it mainly depends on how well your phone is capable of picking up your voice.

I often stream music while commuting on my bike, and I can go directly from music to answering my phone without touching anything (phone call supersedes music is a built-in feature). I have not tried the rider-to-rider intercom yet, but I’m sure it’s just as good or better than every other part of the system I’ve tried. And last, but not least, it’s a boom-less microphone that derives from military technology. For real, the absolute only cord is the one going from the speakers to the communication box, which is also on the helmet so they will never get tangled.

No matter what helmet communicator you get, wind noise will always be a factor. That’s why it’s good to consider a higher quality helmet that blocks out noise better than less-expensive helmets. If you already bought a helmet and don’t want to upgrade yet, there’s a couple other options for cancelling wind noise. The easiest way is sticking one of these Wind Stopper Skirts on your helmet. It’s cheap, and will make your conversations/riding experiences much more enjoyable.

One final thing I think I should add since I like to know every little detail about high-buck products before throwing my hard-earned money out there… If I could, I would only ride during the day. However, since I started working second shift, I do a lot of day and night riding, which forces me to keep a clear visor on my helmet. This is why I use sunglasses during the day, and even safety glasses at night if it’s warm enough. Since the HBC100 speakers are installed in the ear cavities of a motorcycle helmet, it makes putting glasses on a little bit tougher, depending on the size of them. I don’t have a problem riding with glass for an hour or so, but if I were to go on a road trip, it would get annoying and my ears would be sore after. Ultimately, if you’re like me and ride days and nights, the best option is to buy a helmet that has a built-in sun-shield. Yes, you’re going to pay more for one, especially if it offers good wind blocking, but if you want to be able to see and hear I believe it will be well worth the price.

As far as dirt biking goes with this wireless communicator, it mainly depends on how loud your bike is. I would not recommend using it for motocross racing, unless you just like listening to some tunes to keep you calm and have a safe place to keep your media player. On the flip side, if you’re on a trail ride with some friends, having the HBC100 can be very useful. If someone goes down and/or gets hurt, the sooner the others know about it the better (every minute counts, especially if you’re out in the mountains).

Technology is getting better and cheaper these days. Right now, this helmet communicator is hard to beat at its price. For more specs and reviews, or to Buy My UClear HBC Bluetooth HERE!

-Tom Stark