Tested: Shoei Transitions light/dark Photochromic visor review

Shoei transitions visor review_02


Date reviewed: August 2023 | Tested by: Steve Rose | Price: £189.95| www.shoeiassured.co.uk


Being able to see where you’re going is hard enough on a motorcycle. Filth, flies and farm crap all make it hard enough to see through a visor at the best of times. Low sun in winter, bright sun in summer and an early start in the morning or late return home at night are all the reasons many of us need to pack a spare visor on most long trips. Drop down sun visors are a halfway house, but they are far-from optically perfect, tend to mist if you use them in winter and some companies (Arai for one) won’t fit them because they believe it compromises protection.

Imagine a visor that was dark enough when needed to cut low winter sun or bright summer glare, but switches back to completely clear when it gets dark or cloudy? No more misted drop-down sun visors or carrying a spare visor and all from the company that makes your helmet, so you know it’s every bit as well made, protective and snug fitting as the standard clear item.

Shoei’s Transitions visor is better than a drop-down sun visor because there’s only one sheet of plastic to look through, doesn’t mist-up (with a Pinlock fitted – you can’t fit a Pinlock to a drop-down visor) and optically about as perfect as can be (which most drop-down visors aren’t).

I’ve been using it on my Shoei NXR2 for 12 months including summer, winter and spring.


Pros & Cons

  • Simple to use
  • Changes quick enough both ways to not cause problems
  • Shoei quality
  • Expensive
  • Not legal
  • Worry about scratching it with every winter wipe of the visor
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In full dark mode just 30% of light gets through – almost as little as full-on race visor


How dark does the Shoei Transitions visor go?

At its darkest, the visor transmits just 30% of light which is almost the equivalent of a full dark visor (which are 24-30%). At its lightest, 80% of light is transmitted through the Transitions visor which is almost as much as a full clear visor (85%).


Is the Shoei Transitions visor legal for road use?

The simple answer is no because at its darkest the visor doesn’t transmit enough light. Helmet laws are driven by the United Nations Regulation no 22 (which is where the ECE-22 comes from in the helmet standard ECE-22 05 etc) which was last updated in 2016. These regulations don’t allow for photochromic visors and state that a legal visor must transmit at least 50% of light, which is the equivalent of a light smoke visor (in Shoei’s range, other manufacturers may differ).


Will I get prosecuted for wearing a Shoei Transitions visor?

In principle, yes, you might, but in reality, the chances are low because having a visor that adapts quickly to changing light conditions is a good thing and most police officers would understand that.

If you get stopped when the visor is dark enough to be noticed the sun will be bright enough that you can argue it is the safest option. If you get stopped in the dark (when wearing a dark visor might typically get you nicked0 the transitions visor will be clear so no one will notice.

Just supposing though that you were involved in an accident 50 metres into a dark tunnel where the evidence suggested you’d hit something that you hadn’t seen, then in such cases, you’d have some explaining to do, although how that would differ from wearing sunglasses or taking a hand off the handlebars to lift your drop-down sun visor is hard to say. And let’s remember that just because the darkest setting is 30% transmission, as soon as you enter the tunnel the visor will start to clear and who’s going to be able to prove that the visor wasn’t transmitting 51% at the moment it all went wrong? I’d suggest the accident investigators would have more important things to worry about.

My suggestion (personal opinion, taking my Bennetts T-shirt off for a minute) is that as riders we all make decisions and judgements about personal safety every time we ride. If you think a photochromic visor adds safety to your ride, use one. I do and I’ve been very glad I have this visor fitted through all of the last 12 months – winter and summer.


Shoei Transitions photochromatic visor

Realtime video of how fast the Shoei Transitions visor changes from light to dark

How fast from clear to black and back again is irrelevant because the visor continually adjusts to the light available.


How quickly does the Shoei Transitions visor go from clear to dark?

Most of the time the transition is gradual, so you don’t notice. As the light gets brighter, the visor gets darker and vice versa. An entirely unscientific test in bright sunlight removing a box covering the visor and then counting showed that the visor starts to go dark almost immediately, is around half-tinted after 20 seconds and what seems like almost fully dark after a minute or so. On a much brighter day or riding in southern Europe it would probably go even darker still. That sounds like a long time to go fully dark but in practice the initial transition is so quick you don’t notice.


How quickly does the Shoei Transitions visor go from dark to clear?

Sorry, I can’t answer this one scientifically because I don’t have the kit to measure when it is fully dark or even fully clear and the cardboard box test doesn’t work in reverse.

In a random sample of three tunnels in the south of England in bright sunlight, I never had even the slightest issue with visibility when entering the tunnel. This is mostly because most road tunnels have some kind of lighting inside and because I’m not an idiot and don’t speed up on the entrance. Dartford Tunnel on the M25 is the longest one I ride through at around a mile. It has some lighting inside but the change between bright sunlight going in and basic illumination inside is significant and the visor cleared quickly enough for me not to even think about having to lift it up.

My unscientific conclusion is that the visor changes from what is probably about 40% transmission in typical UK summer sun to 50% (the legal minimum) in less than 20 seconds.


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In full clear mode the Transitions visor is a fraction darker than a clear visor


How does the photochromic transition work?

When photochromic molecules in the Transitions lens are exposed to UV light, they change chemical structure and that alters the way light travels through them. The reaction works best in warm conditions. In colder weather the transition takes longer. I used this visor through winter 2022 which was cold but not as bad as winters can be. When I turned towards low sun the visor still darkened quickly enough to take away the glare in a matter of seconds before tinting further. In such conditions they probably weren’t getting below 40/50% transmission so, on entering a tunnel (I go through Dartford regularly which is well lit) I had no problems.


How durable is the Transitions finish on the Shoei visor?

I always look after my visors carefully, cleaning them properly every time I ride. The cost of this visor has made me take even more care of it and so far, the finish has remained perfect. No scratches or scuffs or damage to the coating. 


Hard to capture the difference between fully clear and dark because on exposure to light the visor changes quickly


Shoei Transitions visor verdict?

In performance terms this is a product that really delivers. It’s a proper high-quality Shoei visor that adjusts quickly and effectively to different light conditions to help you feel safe and in control whatever the weather.

I’m a huge believer in passive safety where a product’s comfort and ease of use makes the rider feel more relaxed and less stressed for longer, which in turn allows them to focus on the road and the ride. That’s exactly what this visor does. Fit-and-forget. It’s very impressive.

Whether it is worth the asking price depends on how often you ride in changing conditions, how much you like drop-down sun visors or sunglasses as an alternative and, how long the Transitions coating will survive the hostile environment of a motorcycle helmet in all seasons.

I find sunglasses uncomfortable (and I know a few people who spend as much on a pair of decent shades as this visor), drop-down sun visors mist-up easily and are never optically good enough and my default has always been dark visor in summer, clear one in winter and squint through the low winter sun.

This Transitions visor has done one full winter, half a summer and approximately 7000 miles in all weathers so far. I’ve looked after it well, but the finish and performance are still perfect. I’m very happy with that.