Suomy Apex Helmet Review
Mid-Level Price = Mid-Level Helmet
Safety, comfort, features and style are the main considerations when shopping for a new helmet. And then there’s price. If all helmets were created equal, price would cease to exist as a purchasing decision, but helmets are unequal, so most helmet manufacturers offer a selection of models to create a tier of affordability.
For 2011 Suomy is introducing the Apex. With MSRPs starting at $285, the Apex is Suomy’s low- to mid-tier lid, priced far below Suomy’s top-line Spec 1R ($573) and Spec 1R Extreme ($720). All Suomys are both D.O.T. and ECE 22.05 compliant and come with a 5-year warranty.
The Apex weighs a claimed 2.95 pounds and its shell (available in three sizes: M, L, XL) is constructed of a combination of Aramid and carbon-composite fabric that is thermo-reinforced with resins. At the rear of the helmet is a new polycarbonate spoiler meant to decrease aerodynamic turbulence and reduce head buffeting. In our testing, its stability at high speeds was good, not feeling any less stable than other helmets I’ve worn.
Suomy helmets run small. I normally wear a medium with other helmet brands, but the size Large Apex fit me best. Although there were no extreme pressure points, the way in which the Apex sits on the crown of my head felt as if it was made more for rounded skulls than oval ones.
The Apex comes with 15mm cheek pads. These, however were so tight my jaw was being forced open when riding, so I ordered and installed 10mm cheek pads. The difference in width made the helmet fit too loosely. To get the proper mix of snugness and comfort I used a combination of 10mm and 15mm cheek pads.
What I determined is that the foam comprising the cheek pad material is simply too stiff. An increase of 5mm per cheek pad shouldn’t cause the kind of extreme difference in comfort I experienced. The 15mm pads should break-in over time, but I couldn’t wear the Apex with those size cheek pads installed long enough to break them in.
Internal material covering the cheek pads and headliner isn’t 1500 thread-count Egyptian cotton, but it is equal in softness to competing helmets in this price range and does boast hypo-allergenic and anti-bacterial treatments. The headliner receives the same treatment, is removable, and both it and the cheek pad material are machine washable.
Like Arai, the Suomy Apex utilizes a smooth, non-ratcheting system when raising or lowering the faceshield (a feature I wish all helmet manufacturers would adopt). The Apex comes with a clear shield, but a variety of other shields exist, including light and dark smoke, iridium and tear-off-ready racing faceshields.
Replacing the faceshield, however, is another matter. Whereas most helmets have some manner of quick-release mechanism, the Suomy Apex requires a special tool for removing the faceshields (a butter knife will suffice in a pinch, but a tool, really? Is this 1992?). To remove the sidecover the tool is inserted between the sidecover and the helmet to compress a release button (repeat on opposite side). Be careful, the simple action of this operation can scratch the paint of the sidecover.
After the sidecover is removed, the process of installing the new faceshield is modern and simple. Apex shields are of the anti-fog and anti-scratch variety, and are interchangeable between the Spec 1R and Spec 1R Extreme models.
Suomy claims the Apex is constructed with an oversized neck roll, but it doesn’t appear any larger than competing helmets. When riding in normal conditions wind noise seems average for a helmet of this price.
The air intake/exhaust system is also of average operation. It functions and helps keep fresh air circulating inside the helmet, but it doesn’t break new ground in the arena of helmet air-conditioning.
Known for eye-catching graphics, the Apex continues Suomy’s penchant for fashion statements with the Flowers model seen here, retailing for $330. More covert offerings, such as gloss and matte black, list for just $285. A Max Biaggi replica retails for $400.