Date reviewed: December 2017 | Tested by: Steve Rose | Price: £369 | www.shoeiassured.co.uk
Sometimes, when you look at a collection of crash helmets it’s difficult to see why one costs £100 and another is four times that amount. From a simple ‘materials and construction’ perspective, it becomes even harder. How can one collection of composite, polystyrene and fabric be worth £400 when the one next door is a quarter the price?
I’m not sure I know the answer, but I do know that after 35 years on a bike being comfy, cool-headed and able to see clearly is something I’d happily pay extra for…never mind the protection.
Shoei’s NXR is a perfect example of this. £369 is a lot of money, but I can wear it all day and still feel fresh and able to concentrate, it keeps my head warm in winter and cool in summer, I can see clearly out of it in all weathers, clean the visor – inside and out – in seconds, and I trust that, should the worst happen, there’s nothing better out there that’ll save my brain.
Some of this stuff is open knowledge. A salesman can show you the features and the simple visor-change mechanism and you can read about the safety on the Sharp testing website. They can explain about the complex, lightweight, composite shell, designed to be aerodynamic and quiet. The multi-density, liner that absorbs impacts effectively. But some of it can only be discovered after you’ve spent the money.
Shoei’s AIM shell builds layers of glass fibres with organic fibres and polyester resin to build a strong, light construction. There are three shell sizes and seven different helmet sizes available. Shoei talk a lot about active and passive safety, which, if I read it right is all about how being comfy and clear headed prevents accidents (passive), but should you have one the quality of the helmet will protect you (active)
First impressions are how light it feels, weighing in at just 1310g including the anti-mist Pinlock insert and two summers’ sweat and baked-on grime. That’s lighter than most full carbon helmets and I’m guessing it’s down to the clever shell design which has a small cutaway at the base.
Three top vents, one in the chin and one big exhaust at the back work well for a road helmet, but are not quite as dramatically cooling as the best race lids.
There’s a very wide field of vision, absolutely no fogging with the Pinlock fitted and a fit so snug that with the chin curtain also in place the NXR is surprisingly draught-free even on the coldest winter mornings. The visor stays down at high speeds despite not having a physical clip like many other lids, but it is also simple to lift for a quick blast of fresh air or to release an unwanted wasp.
Visor removal and replacement is the simplest, best and most robust of any system I’ve used, making everyone else’s system seem like a bad and potentially expensive joke.
Not as plush as a Shark or even some Arais, especially on the forehead, but not uncomfortable either. I regularly wear this helmet for seven hours-plus and have never had a problem with it. The lining absorbs sweat well and wicks it away. Is it bad to admit that in 14,000 miles I haven’t washed the lining? Sorry. Hopefully I’ll never need the emergency tabs that allow quick removal, but it’s good to know they are there.
It’s a tight fit and getting it on and off when hot and sweaty needs a good tug. But once on it’s comfy enough to not really notice.
A simple, but effective double D-ring strap is easy to use with cold hands, hasn’t frayed despite being exposed to all manner of flapping Velcro and was soft enough to not aggrevate a freshly shaven chin before I grew a beard.
I’ve done around 14,000 miles in this helmet, most of them long trips, many of them in foul weather and I have yet to find a serious fault with it. The (Pinlock-assisted) visor always stays clear, and despite being a very snug fit, I get home with no aches, pains or pressure points anywhere.
Shoei’s simple lever system means I can get the visor on and off in seconds for cleaning, the easily removable cheek pads for emergency workers are an essential feature and the chin curtain stops draughts getting up the front and making my eyes water on cold, winter mornings. The visor opens easily but locks shut and never pops up at speed, vents can be easily opened or closed even in thick, winter gloves and the strap is both comfy, soft and easy to undo with frozen, winter hands.
These are the details that make the difference. Those small things that separate a £400 helmet from the competition, but make a huge difference on the road. Let’s take this down to basics - being able to concentrate and focus on the road ahead makes the difference between enjoying a motorcycle and, er, let’s not go there, but you know what I’m saying.
When I pull this helmet on it feels like a part of me. I become a motorcyclist…a different person. That sounds pompous, but it’s true. ‘Motorcycle’ mode is a different state of mind – no longer the mumbling, stumbling, middle-aged fella, I become someone else. I know it sounds daft when I write it down but it’s true.
And I don’t feel like that in other helmets.