After just over 300 miles riding with the new Shoei Neotec II, my first impressions are that this is a very good helmet indeed. In fact, I’d go as far as saying I’ve never ridden with anything better.
I’ll be writing a follow-up review when I’ve racked up a significant amount of miles with the Neotec II, but these are my initial thoughts and observations.
I have to admit to being a real fan of flip-front helmets. Having broken my jaw in three places in an accident when I was wearing an open-face helmet, they stay on the shelf in the shop. I also don’t like open-face helmets after the experience of being blasted by sand, hammered by heavy rain and actually cut by hail – all in the same day. I’m not that keen on full-face helmets either, because I know there’s something better for my needs. I suppose you could say that what I want is the best of both worlds. I want a helmet that’s going to be practical in all sorts of conditions and comfortable to wear for hours of riding at speed.
I always think of modular helmets as being flip-fronts, but then I’ve never been a technical sort of chap. I like flip-front helmets and have been wearing them for getting on for 20 years now. Of course, they have had their disadvantages. The main issues being that they are usually noisier and often heavier than a full-face helmet. You do have a join, hinges and so on. Plus of course, as they are a ‘modular’ helmet rather than one piece, there’s a fair bit more strength that has to go into the design.
One of the reasons I like flip-fronts so much is that I want a helmet that I can pop open in a hurry if I want to talk to someone; a mate, or to ask directions, or to see if there’s room at the inn. I also love the opportunity to flip up the front when I’m approaching a police checkpoint in some distant land, or a border crossing. People are way less intimidated by those whose face they can see.
Flip-front helmets are also more practical when I’m doing such things as rolling onto a ferry. I’ve more visibility and whoever is directing motorcycle traffic has the joy of eye-to-eye contact with me. If you’ve travelled with your bike on a ferry you’ll know exactly what I mean. I also like them because on really sweaty days I can flip the front up to catch a few moments of breeze, and views always look better when not looking through a full-face front. More on this in a moment…
Out of my last five helmets, three have been from Shoei. I like the quality – they seem to be amazingly well made. There’s nothing flimsy about them, but this new Neotec II is remarkably light too. Many people say that flip-fronts are too noisy to wear on a long ride. For sure some are, but this one is the quietest I’ve come across by a long way. I suspect this has something to do with the new aerodynamic design, the fibreglass composite shell (Advance Integrated Matrix or AIM), the redesigned cheek pads, and the removable air deflector that fits inside the chin piece.
The first time I wore it, just to check if it wasn’t my imagination playing games, I stopped and took my ear plugs out. I rode the 150 miles home without them and was surprised how quiet the helmet still was. Of course there still is sound so I’ll carry on wearing plugs in the future, just to be on the safe side. Talking of ears, I was pleased to find that there’s more room around the ears than in the original Neotec. I like that a lot, in part because I wear glasses and those arms have to go somewhere. Another bonus of this helmet is that I can take it on and off without removing my specs.
The padding inside the helmet is removable so you can clean it, and you can change the size of the cheek pads if you need to. I must find out what the covers to the padding are made of. Some in the past have made my skin itch – this didn’t, even after hours of riding.
The chin strap connects with a ratchet that works very smoothly, and both that and the chin vent are easy to operate with gloves on. The venting to the visor is a great improvement on its predecessor and in fact it’s better than any flip-front I’ve tried to date. The visor is a real improvement on the last model too. It has a recess into which the anti-fog pinlock screen fits. I haven’t managed to mist this visor up yet.
I very much like that I can get a mil or two of gap under the visor of this helmet. As a wearer of glasses, that’s brilliant. Still on the visor for a moment, I was sad to see that the thumb lip for opening and closing the visor is still on the side. I much prefer them in the middle so there’s a nice smooth raise and lowering movement. However, even though it’s on the side with this visor, the movement is really good, and of course the bonus is that I’m not moving my hand in front of my face as I would be with a centred thumb lip.
The Neotec II has a high locking position, which is another huge upside of the new design, and dual homologation means you can ride with the chin up or down. Going back to vents for a minute, there is a top vent on the helmet. When it’s open it works amazingly. I’m finding it stiff to open, but hopefully this will ease up with wear.
I particularly like flip-front helmets that have sun visors that can be pulled down when needed. The sun visor with this has an easy to find slider on the side of the helmet, and to my delight when it’s fully down it doesn’t hit my nose. I have a good-sized schnoz, so that can be an issue with some lids I’ve tried.
Something else that I might like is that the Shoei Neotec II and Sena SRL comms system have been designed to work together. I’ll let you know how it goes if I can get one sorted. I’ve never used Sena equipment before, so I’m curious.
The Neotec II comes in a range of colours and graphics.
UK MRRP: Plain £549 Graphics £599
Review by Sam Manicom.