Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Shoei GT Air helmet review

Having piled on around 7,000kms of wearing since May 2013 when purchased, I thought it about time to dish out the goods on a long term review of an outstanding touring helmet - the Shoei GT-Air,

I'm going to break it down by 'factors that usually annoy Dan' in the following sub sections, starting with my favourite all time number one helmet-rage factor. 

Noise

After riding from Queensland to Melbourne with a Arai Dual Sport XD 4, anything would seem quiet I guess, but the Shoei GT Air is a whole-other-level on the noise front. It is almost too quiet. I can hear myself breathing.

They have clearly done a lot of work on the inners of this lid the fit is supremely snug and sucks your head into position when you pull it down over your ears. There is a chin curtain so the fit is snug all around and this means one thing. Whisper quiet.

If you have ever ridden a Ducati for a period of time, say 10hrs in a day, you will know that ear plugs are a necessity if you have any respect for your hearing. I have done long rides without my ear plugs and paid dearly for it later that night with tinnitus like ringing in both ears, shouting at everyone to repeat themselves until the ringing abates.

Not worth it, wear ear plugs on every long ride now. I’m getting too old for this going deaf shit. But this helmet makes wearing those earplugs all but those really long trips, redundant. You don’t need them. Whisper quiet, seriously.

Balance

I never thought of this before wearing this helmet, but I am guessing many others have, and that is how important a good balanced lid is. You have to remember that your head is the heaviest part of your whole body and your neck is holding that up. Put a lid on top of that and I reckon balance is obviously quite important.


It was also one of the first thing I noticed after donning it in-store. It just disappeared. Amazed I made some sort of remark and the salesmen gave me some spiel about the design and hours spent in the wind tunnel rah rah that I forget now but I vividly remember thinking wow, this is perfectly balanced. I don’t have bobble head. That has been none more obvious in Melbourne's precarious crazy weather.

I went out for a scoot to the gold fields thinking it was a nice enough day but got caught up in some serious annoying crosswinds at one point and was again reminded how good a balanced lid is. A DS lid will rip your head up and off backward in a headwind, but the GT Air with all of it's groovy padding and millions of hours of R&D was again, just incredible. the airflow up and over and through your helmet makes drag almost non-existent.

Obviously strong wind is going to rip you around a bit but having a nice balanced lid can really make a difference to your long term touring comfort, and I am pitching this lid firmly at those in that camp. The way this helmet cuts through the air and provides you with a balanced feeling is actually, remarkable.

Vision

The main screen on this lid is heavier, no doubt improving sound dampening, and it has an oval lip around the outer edges, that at first seemed to me as if I were peering through a video game, it caught my peripheral vision a few times and I was put off by that just a little bit until I adjusted. I think it's for the Pinlock system? It comes with an included Pinlock visor - this is a necessity and should be on all helmets. It works. Lid closed, frozen snorters roaming the streets outside and warm breathing inside the lid and not a single bit of fogginess. It also has another trick up its sleeve. The Pinlock is a bit of fiddly thing to fit but well worth a careful ten minutes to get it right.

Internal sun shield

Pros

This thing can be weird and it's taken some getting used to but what a clever little gadget to have. I don’t wear sunglasses when I ride anymore, and I used to religiously as I have really sensitive eyes. Full on sunlight is the enemy to me really, thanks to MS and Hypothyroidism I NEED sunglasses to go outside period. So this really weirded me out, could I really ride a full 8-10hr day without sunglasses? The answer a resounding yes. Easily and in full comfort with no behind the ear pressure where my previous Oakley Fives Squared used to bight in. Really easy to flip up and down with a gloved hand, it’s a really simple system that really works.

Cons

I have noticed though that it does fog up pretty easily when the full face is completely closed. The Pinlock is on the clear main screen so the sun shield screen can fog up under normal breathing in the colder months, not so much of a problem in the summer. Cleaning this sun shield in the middle of the outback whilst covered in a million flies that are having sex on you isn't really simple (or fun). It isn't polarised, so sunglasses would still be better. Or a polarised sun shield maybe Shoei?

Chin strap

You might think what about it? But trust me, if you get one that is too short or not padded enough it can be super painful. This one is reasonably nice, long enough and has the decent padding that other helmets I've had lack for under your chin. Unfortunately, for some reason that have deemed to put the press stud up really high which makes clicking it in quite a feat in gloved hands which is one sole annoyance I have with this lid.

Weight

Seriously, I know why they called it the GT AIr. Because it feels like air to wear. Wow, marketing did their job on this number! Seriously though, this is an average weight helmet compared to other brands, they get lighter (and more expensive than this) but the design and balance outweighs that here for me. It's not full-carbon lightweight, but none of the carbon fibre helmets I have tried on fit anywhere near as well as this does.

Design

Aimed squarely at the older segment (+35 yo) folk I’m guessing who probably do more touring than that younger set (+20 yo) you won’t find all the racey design with dragons, flames, racing boards or crazy graphics. What you will find is a strong set of different colours and some pretty mean looking racing stripe variations. I opted for a White design called the Wanderer TC -6 from Peter Stevens and have no regrets. Learn more about why wearing a white helmet can save your bacon in the Aussie heat.

Verdict

This is an excellent top of the line touring helmet that you will really appreciate on the daily commute or the long haul. Even though it is the mid to top end of domestic motorcycle helmets, I’d buy another one in a flash. It's the only head I've got.

Product Link