Shoei Neotec – helmet review

Everyone’s head is different and although I’ve got one that fits snugly inside Shoei helmets, I have been astounded by the fit provided by Shoei’s newest modular offering, the Neotec, which includes a completely removable lining to make efficient cleaning a reality.

It is at the top of their price range, but if you consider that you’ll probably pay over £400 for luggage or perhaps even a jacket, what your head’s worth? Of course, none of us want the unthinkable to happen, but wearing a helmet that fits as comfortably and is as quiet as this Neotec, already ensures a relaxed ride, meaning you’ll be more attentive.

Wind noise can increase fatigue and affect concentration on a long ride, so it’s interesting to note that although I found the Neotec quiet when measured against other lids, opening either of the vents did make a profound difference to volume.

The top vent has two opening positions; for half and full air-flow. Both focus wonderfully cooling jets of air on the upper forehead and the rearmost exit vents ensure comfort, if a little added noise, in the summer. I was testing the product as the first snow flurries arrived, so cooling jets of air were definitely not my priority, but try as I might, I couldn’t get the airflow to stop entirely.  Whether this is by design or was a fault, I’m not sure, but the vent was certainly easy to reach when on the move.

The lower vent, mounted in the chin piece, is so easy to use it’s unreal. It’s a simple flap that stays securely in the position you left it, but which takes no effort to move from open to closed with a gloved hand, even a thick winter glove. The bad news is that while the vent permits an efficent flow of air, it does the same with water on a rainy day, rapidly coating the inside of the visor and making visibility tricky.

Historically, a lower vent ensures demisting, but the Neotec is equipped with the ‘pin-lock’ system which you’ll find a miraculous de-fogger if you’ve never used it before. This does mean that a small plastic ‘pin’ is located on either side of the visor, but the pins are black and the visor aperture design is so wide you don’t notice their existence.

The few extra degrees of vision that the visor offers is a revelation for ‘full-face’ style helmets and Shoei have done a great job with their double bead sealing, ensuring the visor remains tightly closed without any of those interminable whistles. Of course, you may never need to open the visor because of the ‘flip-front’ nature of the Neotec and the fact the opening mechanism has got to be the best on the market. Both the finger and thumb ergonomics and the functionality when either opening or closing the front of this helmet, are simply superb. The stainless steel locking mechanism oozes quality.

The same can be said of the interior dark sunshield, a first for Shoei flip-fronts. They’ve never wanted to compromise the frontal impact protection zone apparently, which is why it hasn’t been a feature on earlier models, but on the Neotec, the outer shell has a raised section which accommodates the internal sunshield. What’s interesting, is that when the inner shield is lowered, noise decreases even more and that annoying flow of freezing air to the forehead abates. There’s a little chin skirt to curtail updrafts and it really works.

The chin strap is double D style on the Canadian spec model that I used initially and it works too, meaning every time you wear the helmet the strap is correctly adjusted. The British model I later bought however, has a ratchet system. Maybe one of them was a counterfeit model? A strap isn’t like other functions on a helmet, so never needs to be adjusted when you’re on the move. Why complicate things?Shoei Neotec white Overland magazine

The argument over whether full or open face helmets are better when travelling – one offers more protection while the other makes you more accessible to humanity – is one that will run and run. A flip front is the compromise I prefer. Closed for a cold mountain pass and open in the heat or when I’m in a town.

The Neotec is understated, coming in 6 muted colours (and yellow) and retails from around £450 but is starting to appear cheaper. Hunt around if you’re interested.