Nexx-USA imports from Portugal a variety of high-end helmets

Publish Date: 
Dec 6, 2010
By Arlo Redwine

Dealer Expo attendees of the past two years may have noticed a booth for a new helmet brand: Nexx. Those who strolled by without bothering to take a closer look may have assumed that the helmets were low-priced Asian fare. But in reality they’re high-end and made in Portugal. In fact, the company’s latest helmet is a full-carbon helmet retailing for $599.

An engineer who’d been working for another helmet company founded the manufacturer, Nexxpro, in 2001. All the helmets are designed and made in a small town in Portugal, and are now distributed in more than 40 countries.

Nerijus Puida and Jose Jube founded Nexx-USA in the summer of 2008 to distribute the brand in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Headquarters for the distributor are in the Los Angeles area, but it has contracted with a fulfillment company in Indianapolis for receiving and shipping.

In the beginning, Nexxpro manufactured only open-face helmets — all designated X60 — in a variety of styles, each in three or four colors. All models feature a removable-and-washable liner, a PC Lexan shield, and buckle attachment for the retaining strap. The most popular styles, Puida says, are the vintage models with leather covers available in five colors. The second most popular is the Air model with mesh vents on top. “It’s a very cool and industrial-looking helmet and gives you nice air flow during the summer,” he says. Depending on the style, the X60 retails for $199 or $279. Click here to read a favorable review posted by WebBikeWorld.com in May 2009.

The X60 comes in sizes XS to XXL. In addition, there are two kids sizes that “actually fit some ladies as well,” Puida says. “It’s a much smaller shell.”

Several Harley-Davidson dealers, typically not known for experimenting with outside brands, are stocking the X60 helmets. “We were surprised,” Puida says. “Some of our stronger dealers are Harley-Davidson dealerships.”

Nexx offers sun visors for any of its open-face helmets. The visors retail for $49 and come in clear, slightly tinted or darkly tinted.

At about the time Nexx-USA was opening for business, Nexxpro introduced a slick-looking modular helmet, the X30 Maxijet (not shown). Nexx-USA imported the $349 model for a time but is now fazing it out. “When you close it, the peripheral vision is limited,” Puida says. “So we decided it was too much liability.”

A much more significant model, introduced in Europe about a year ago, is the XR1R full-face helmet. Nexx-USA was stocking it three months later. WebBikeWorld.com also gave the racing-style model a glowing review, and retailer RevZilla has posted a descriptive video on its website (also posted at the bottom of this article). The helmet has a tri-composite shell made of carbon, Kevlar and organic fiberglass. In manufacturing the helmet, Nexxpro uses two shells, one for sizes XS-L and one for sizes XL-XXXL (the company also uses two shells for its open-face helmets). The weights of the XS and XL models are only 2.87 lbs. and 2.98 lbs., respectively. The shells are combined with EPS with three densities.

Ventilation is accomplished through an open-or-shut chin vent and two adjustable head vents that have multiple degrees of openness. Four vents in back comprise the exhaust system. A breath guard and chin curtain are removable.

The plush lining and cheek pads are removable, washable and anti-allergenic. The ear padding gives riders the option of folding it into a double layer (forming an “Anti-Noise System”), or not doing so if they wish to accommodate a communications device.

In an industry first, each XR1R comes with an Ergo Padding System, which is a separate package containing extra attachable padding. “You can half-size the helmet, or you can adjust based on your head shape,” Puida says. “So if you have a more oval face, you can put extra padding on the sides. Or after you wear the helmet for a couple of months, you can take the liners out, put in extra padding and bring it to its initial sizing.”

The anti-scratch Lexan visor has a locking system and can accommodate the largest Pinlock system on the market due to the helmet’s large face opening. Nexx-USA has taken the XR1R to track days and track clubs, and a few racers wear it. “The peripheral vision is unbelievable,” Puida claims. “You can see the horizontal and especially the vertical. For racers, the field of vision is second to none.”

Shield removal and installation requires a screwdriver. To make the retainer strap more comfortable, a Velcro closure is underneath the D-ring closure.

The XR1R comes in 21 colorways, including the all-carbon-fiber model mentioned earlier (click here for WebBikeWorld.com’s full-carbon review, posted in August). Retail prices are $410 for solids, $459 for graphics and $599 for the full-carbon that weighs only 1,200 grams, or about 2.64 lbs. Puida claims it’s the lightest helmet available in the U.S., adding that the tri-composite XR1R is lightest after it and Akuma’s carbon-fiber helmet.

“We feel we have very good product, comparable to any other top-notch product on the market,” Puida says. All helmets distributed by Nexx-USA are DOT- and ECE-approved.

Available colorways are constantly changing. “We’re still a new company,” Puida explains. “Sometimes you think this color is going to be popular, and then something completely different is, so it’s going to take us a little time to get the history. Then we can adjust the orders.”

Dealer margins for Nexx helmets range from 35 percent to 50 percent, depending on the model mix and order size. The suggested initial order is 12, providing a 40 percent margin. The minimum order is six, and shipping is always free with at least a six-unit order. A display for eight helmets is in the works.

Nexx-USA has a strict MAP policy: no advertising below MSRPs and no eBay sales. “As far as I know, there’s no Nexx helmets on eBay from the United States,” Puida says. “There’s maybe some distributors or dealers from other countries selling, but not in the U.S.”

Nexx-USA does sell consumer-direct on its website, www.nexx-usa.com, but Puida says it’s a small portion of overall sales. “Our goal is to sell to our dealers, but the United States is so big and we still have a pretty small dealer base. A lot of the parts of the country are not covered, so we have to do sell online just to survive.”

Venturing beyond helmets, Nexx-USA recently signed a deal making it the exclusive North American distributor of Rotobox carbon fiber racing wheels. Puida claims they are 2 to 3 lbs. lighter than BST wheels. People are “blown away” when they pick them up, he says. “Even a couple of MotoGP teams say they’re very interested in using them next year.”