Here’s my review of the Shoei Neotec Helmet from a long distance riding perspective.
The more long distance riding I do on my Super Tenere (or on any other of my bikes) the more important it’s become to have a helmet that is not only comfortable but also has features that will save time in fuel stops and short breaks. My Nolan N61 has served me well for the last three four years and 75,000kms plus but as the rides are getting longer there’s some chinks forming in the relationship.
As you may have read, I recently completed a 50CC Gold Ride from Newcastle to Perth and followed on with a Saddle Sore 8000K. I’ve been looking at flip face helmets for a while and I decided I should retire the Nolan before subjecting myself to back to back 2000km days. I tried the Nolan N 104, the flip face seemed a little flimsy to me but the fit was OK.
I also tried the Shark Evoline 3, I like the way the chin guard flips all the way over the back but in reality it’s unlikely I’d ride it with an open face config. The fit however was no good for me, too narrow for my spherical melon.
I put the Shoei Neotec on and my head felt like it was home. So I bought it, a nice silver one, my first non black helmet in quite a while. It was more expensive than the others mentioned, oh well.
First stop was Dale at Dale McLean Motorcycle Electronics to have it fitted out with the Starcom Helmet Unit. Unlike the forerunner for the Neotec (the Multitec) the Neotec has a good amount of space for the speakers so installation of the unit into the helmet was a breeze. I didn’t go with the boom mike, it is unlikely that I’ll need to talk into the Starcom while the helmet is flipped up, I went with the wired mic stuck to the chin bar with sufficient cable to allow it to flip up and down. That done I was good to test the new helmet out.
So the first test was the 50CC because I left at 3.30am the morning after I bought the helmet and had the starcom fitted. Nothing like taking a chance on new gear, no turning back if it does’t work out!
The first day of the test I rode a touch over two thousand kilometres from Newcastle Beach to Ceduna in South Australia in a heatwave. I took the helmet off twice during the 20 odd hours it took to ride the distance. I flipped the face up at service stations and no comments were passed by the operators. One out of the two times I took it off I forgot to put my earplugs back in, &*(##. So in terms of comfort and stop efficiency in very difficult conditions the helmet was fantastic.
Only one service station operator commented about me leaving the helmet on in the whole trip (Elliston SA on day 5) and I was so used to having it on by that stage it surprised me. But I wasn’t asked to remove it.
Walking around with the helmet flipped up took a bit of getting used to, it was a little “forward” heavy if that makes sense. Being tall I also managed to bang it against things a couple of times and opened a fridge door giving it a bit of a nudge, but I soon got used to keeping it clear of obstacles. The helmet is solidly built and didn’t mark or show any signs of scratching.
The helmet locks up and locks down so it doesn’t fall down when you have it in the up position and are walking around and the chin bar is down solid when you lock it down. No problems with it jamming, the flip mechnism works just fine.
The Neotec also has a retractable sun visor that slides down inside the clear visor. I didn’t really think I would use that when I bought the helmet but it became indispensable when riding due west for long distances in the afternoon straight into the sun (or for that matter due east in the morning). I always wear sunglasses in the daytime and yellow tinged driving glasses at night under my helmet, and there was plenty of room for them to fit comfortably inside the Neotec. In the late afternoon I found myself using the sunglasses and the tinted visor to protect my eyes, it was FANTASTIC!
I also managed to change into my night glasses at the pre dusk fuel stop and ride with them on and continued protection from the tinted visor until the sun went down and it was time to retract the visor. This save me additional stops and the time required on at least three days of the trip. I was very pleased with this! The tinted visor is easy to clean as well.
At no stage during the day, or during the 8,700kms or so I rode in 5.5days did the helmet cause any problems with my ears, compression or friction. I was very happy about that! I flipped it up a couple of times at low speed going through towns, it was fine for a breather but I wouldn’t have it flipped up at speed. I rode it with the visor up and the tinted visor up, the visor up and the tinted visor down so you really have some comfort based choices depending on what you are doing.
Given much of the 5.5 day ride was done in 40 degree plus heat the ventilation in the helmet got a good workout and it’s great. The only down side of this, if you could call it one, is that on three occasions on the trip a bug/moth got sucked down into the helmet through the holes in the upper vent and I could feel them squirm until I applied some external pressure to the top of the helmet…… yes I know, eeeww!
Communication with other riders is also improved when you are stopped. Flip the helmet up, yell and you may be heard. Not an option with the Nolan.
I did ride for a couple of hundred k’s without the earplugs in. The helmet’s no more noisy than the Nolan which I’m happy with, but I would still never recommend riding a long day without them, the wind noise will get you in the end. Perfectly fine for around town though.
I haven’t used the Neotec in the rain yet. It came with a Pinlock Anti fog screen that connects to the clear visor that I didn’t put on, there wasn’t really much chance of fogging up or wet weather on this trip. I’ll edit this review when I’ve given it it’s water wings.
Probably the only other comment I have about the helmet is that as an elderly, somewhat hair challenged individual the interior padding on the helmet left some very fetching indentations in my head that took a day or so to fully resolve. Not an issue if I had hair I’m sure but if you are a baldy like me. This might settle down as the helmet beds in, I don’t know. I don’t recall it being an issue with the Nolan.
The Neotec also seems a little heavier than the Nolan. I guess it makes sense, there’s more to it and definitely more out front but the additional weight it didn’t cause me any issues on the trip.
The Shoei Neotec flip face helmet is now one of my favourite long distance riding accessories. The comfort on long days, the time savings at fuel and drink stops, the multiple configurations of visors etc depending on the time of day and conditions and the fact that you can leave it on pretty much all day without any dramas was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise. I won’t be throwing the Nolan away, but it’s now a short ride helmet only.