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Over the past decade or so, I have worn modular helmets exclusively. They have their advantages and disadvantages but one simple feature about them makes the decision easy for me: I can put one on and take one off without having to remove my glasses. I am not willing to give up that convenience and I don't want to wear an open-face helmet.

So, for the past year or so, I've been debating on buying a high-quality modular: not just "high quality," but a helmet that is reputed to be "the best modular you can buy." In today's world of modulars, the Shoei Neotec/Neotec2 and the Schuberth C3/C4 Pro are widely regarded as the best available.

The only thing that held me back from a purchase was the rather exorbitant price tag each one carries, so I decided to follow the philosophy of the Ancient Persians and consider this buying decision while drunk, and then again while sober. Following the philosophy of Modern Planalp, I carried this to the extreme and relied on numerous cycles of inebriation and sobriety and, after many cycles over the course of a year, my decisions slowly meshed and I decided to buy one.

I still balked at the price ($700 for either the Schoei or the Schuberth) but I figured if I just laid off the beer for a couple of weeks I'd have the money I needed so that's what I did.

The question remained: Which one to buy? Unless you're fortunate enough to have a high-end retailer around that might happen to carry both or unless you want to order both and return one, there's not much you can do. In the end, I chose the Shoei as more than a few reviews I read of the Schuberth mentioned quality-control issues and in the end I just preferred the looks of the Shoei and followed the advice "You can't go wrong with either one."

I was upgrading from an HJC IS-Max 2 I'd been wearing for the past couple of years, a $200 helmet. In choosing the Shoei, the main issues I was trying to address were noise and wind gusting. I ride a VStrom and they're not exactly aerodynamic machines, with lots of gusts and drafts coming from various components ahead of the rider. So, how did I fare with the new Shoei?

No point in going into the nuts and bolts as there are myriad reviews available, but these are my impressions of the Neotec2.



Noise. Is this helmet quiet? Yes, yes it is. It is very quiet, at least compared to the HJC or any of my other past modulars. I went out for a three-hour ride this morning and started off wearing earplugs and was amazed. After awhile, I decided to try to judge the new Shoei against my old HJC and removed the earplugs. The noise level of the Shoei without earplugs was comparable to the HJC with earplugs. After that experiment, I went back to the earplugs and reveled in the quietness. I was on a couple of lonely stretches of interstate and at speeds up to 100mph the Shoei remained extremely quiet, not reaching "automobile-level" quiet, but the difference was remarkable.

Gusting/Tugging The Shoei is very slick. It's a tad on the heavy side weighing in at a little over 4 pounds but the weight is negated by the complete absence of airflow disruption around the helmet, to include riding in headwinds and crosswinds no matter what your speed. No gusts emanating from any motorcycle components or the windshield seemed to disturb the helmet or jostle my neck at all. Again, I was very pleased with this outcome. I can already tell this helmet will add a lot of comfort to multi-hour stints in the saddle. Speaking of comfort, even in its new and stiff state, I noted no issues after wearing it for 3 hours: no hot spots, no discomfort at all (except for the cheek pads as noted below).

A couple of drawbacks: The neck roll and cheek pads on this helmet (to which it owes its quietness) are immense and it's actually been a challenge getting it on and off without removing my glasses, although once it's on there are large eyeglass temple grooves that result in no binding to your glasses. After some practice I'm finally able to get it on and off without disturbing/straining my glasses, but it requires awkward hand placement to both spread the helmet and compress the bulbous cheek pads at the same time. Getting it off is easier, as I've learned to just rotate it to the rear and slide it more less off the back of my head instead of lifting straight up. I would note that my glasses have pretty wide frames and that doesn't help matters any.




Right now, the cheek pads are quite orthodontic in nature, but I'm sure they'll compress over time as I wear the helmet in. You can buy different thicknesses of cheek pads but I"m not sure if you have to pay for them, or if Shoei/The Dealer will let you do a one-time swap shortly after purchase. I don't think I'll need to do that, but it's nice to know I can if necessary.


"Seems Like There's Not Enough Room For A Head In There"

The only other thing it's going to take some getting used to is that with the micro-ratchet chin strap, the chin strap is so short it looks almost vestigial. In places where it wasn't necessary to lock my old helmet, I still liked to secure it by running the strap through my luggage rack and then using a plastic snap on the chin strap to secure it. I can't do that anymore and now have to permanently keep my gun cable lock secured on the luggage rack so I can slip the Shoei's extremely short chin strap through it and buckle it. The cable lock is there if I want more secure storage, passed through the chin bar of the helmet. I don't have one, but if you use a standard motorcycle helmet lock, you're SOL. One the bright side, I like the micro-ratchet system latch/lock/whatever you call it.

A couple of things that really shine: The visor is outstanding. It's the beefiest visor I've ever seen and offers no distortion whatsoever. As long as it's bug-free, it's hard to tell if it's up or down. Comes with a Pinlock insert that I'm looking forward to trying out when the conditions merit its use. The visor has 6 secure detents. If you have the visor up and lift the chin bar, the visor closes at the same time. Vents are simple and easy to operate. The slider for the internal sun screen is on the left side and is easy to find and operate. The sun visor isn't just up/down. You can stop it at any level if you want to and it will stay there. When you close the visor completely, spring-loaded hinges actually pull the visor back against the visor "gasket," creating a very tight seal.

Included in the package is a special tool to completely remove the internal sun visor if you want the whole thing out to clean or if you need to replace it. Also comes with a small bottle of silicone lubricant for the visor hinges.

So, the verdict? I wouldn't go so far as to "recommend" it as the cost and benefits can only be judged by the user. Still, no buyer's remorse here. I'm glad I shelled out the money for it and plan on keeping/using it for quite a few years. I wish I would have bought one sooner.

Of course, the $700 question: how long will it be before I drop it?
 

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I have a Neotec, and it was a vast improvement over the Multi tec.

The Neotec II is yet another step up. After 40+ years of riding, the Pinlock system is fabulous. Yes, I know the Pinlock wasn't around in the '80's (!!), but it's nice now to not have to adjust your exhales in cooler weather. Does that make sense ? You'd have to somewhat control your breathing in order to not fog up the visor.

I would think you'd have to pay for any new cheek pads.

Another great feature is being able to remove the entire helmet liner for cleaning. Think of the times you've removed your helmet, and your head was just sweating profusely. Nice to clean those pads in the washing machine; and use those small mesh laundry bags that are used for delicate items.

The only reason (for me) to move up to a Neotec II would be if I were going to install a comm system. The helmet is designed to incorporate a Sena and/or Cardo I believe.

Other factor is life of the helmet. I'll probably go 6-8 years total on this helmet. I don't believe in replacing every 5 years. A little aggressive and pricey when you're buying top grade products.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The only reason (for me) to move up to a Neotec II would be if I were going to install a comm system. The helmet is designed to incorporate a Sena and/or Cardo I believe.
Yes, I read where it's made to readily accept the Sena SRL-2 system but not sure what else. Not my thing but sure it's handy for others to have such a "plug and play" setup.
 

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I have an HJC flip up style helmet. Have had it for 12 or so years now. It was $200 when I got it, don't think they make that model anymore. Its been great for me, flip up/down clear visor, flip up/down tint visor, and the flip up/down front.
Real nice to flip up at a traffic light or going through town on a warm day, with the tinted visor down.
Im sure the one in the pic's is better quality.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I should note since they play a role in this that I usually use those SilentEar earplugs that look like a cross between a tit and a badminton shuttlecock.
 

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I have a Shoei X-12. It's going on 8 years old and I just rebuilt it with new pads and a visor. I look at it like this: the tree huggers piss and moan that a styrofoam take-out container will not degrade for trillions of years. I think that is a bunch of bullshit to make us feel bad about putting styrofoam in a landfill. The helmet manufacturers say that styrofoam will degrade really quickly and you need to replace the helmet every 5 years. I think that is a bunch of bullshit to make us buy new helmets every 5 years. What I did was average out the two numbers and I figure that my x-12 will last for about 100,000 years. I'm good to go.

I was on a ride-about this week, circumnavigating California. It was hot. My Sena, which was double sticky taped to the helmet, fell off twice before I got some new Gorilla tape and stuck it back on. Now I can't get it off. Having a helmet that was designed for Sena products would be interesting.

I should note since they play a role in this that I usually use those SilentEar earplugs that look like a cross between a tit and a badminton shuttlecock.

"Sorry, that's all I got", Tom tittered.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I generally replace a helmet within 5 years, but not as a "rule of thumb." It's usually because I've dropped it and broken something or messed up the visor and used that excuse to say, "Well, no point in paying for a new visor: might as well get a new helmet" or it's just getting worn out and subsequently too loose.

Billy's Crash Helmets is about the most neutral site I've seen for helmet reviews. It was the only site that mentioned the chin guard of the Neotec2 came open on impact 30% of the time during testing while a lot of much cheaper helmets held up 100% of the time.

I believe Shoei has several models of helmets that come with all the Sena pockets/nooks/crannies built in.
 

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Billy's Crash Helmets is about the most neutral site I've seen for helmet reviews. It was the only site that mentioned the chin guard of the Neotec2 came open on impact 30% of the time during testing while a lot of much cheaper helmets held up 100% of the time.
I also found Billy's to be a good resource when shopping last year. I believe he quotes SHARP regarding test results. Nolan is the only manufacturer that has 100% latch success across all models tested. I think that's great (I bought one) but that is but one metric (non-latch related tests, loudness, etc.).

My last helmet was a Shoei (ancient) but my riding style and personal income:expenditure ratios have changed since then.
 

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I have a Shoei X-12. It's going on 8 years old and I just rebuilt it with new pads and a visor. I look at it like this: the tree huggers piss and moan that a styrofoam take-out container will not degrade for trillions of years. I think that is a bunch of bullshit to make us feel bad about putting styrofoam in a landfill. The helmet manufacturers say that styrofoam will degrade really quickly and you need to replace the helmet every 5 years. I think that is a bunch of bullshit to make us buy new helmets every 5 years. What I did was average out the two numbers and I figure that my x-12 will last for about 100,000 years. I'm good to go.

I'm not a fan of the modulars. If I were in the market for a new helmet I think I'd get the Shoei GT-II.
 
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I do some work with several helmet manufacturers. I have a Shoei RF1000 stored at a friends house. It is a 2009 model but has not been used bar a couple of outings in the last 6-7 years.

When I asked the head of product a year ago (I'm not saying which manufacturer) whether he would ride with it he told me "yes as long as the interior foam is in good shape".

Make from that what you will.

Various guys have told me that statement was the biggest gift to the helmet industry... and the guy himself said that he only picked 5 years because it was off the cuff in an interview & that was approximately the new model cycle... nothing scientific.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Update: After close to 20 hours of wear, I found myself still annoyed by having to put so much thought into donning this helmet over my eyeglasses. It could be done, but was a pain in the ass and I didn't want to use a $700 helmet as a tool to destroy a $500 pair of glasses.

I decided to replace the 35mm cheek pads with the 31mm cheek pads. Problem solved. I can get it on and off now without thinking about it and the fit of the cheek pads still feels fine. Just needed that extra 4mm of clearance on each side to keep the pads from snagging my eyeglass frames.

For what it's worth, I measured my glasses and they're exactly 6 inches wide temple-to-temple and I'm sure are a lot wider than most people wear.

I would also note that taking my glasses off, putting on the helmet and then putting my glasses back on was impossible. Maybe with some narrow frames you could do it, but I was out of luck. Then again, if I wanted to do that I'd just buy a regular full-face.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I would also note I've always wondered why somebody doesn't make a motorcycle helmet with built-in earmuffs like a military flight helmet. They say earplugs are preferable to earmuffs but a combination of earmuffs/earplugs is always good. Seems like a modular or 3/4 helmet that can be spread apart could support built-in earmuffs. That's what we used in the Army in UH-60 helicopters which are the most godawful noise you've ever been around: incredibly, even painfully loud. The combination of SPH4 helmets and foam earplugs was always pretty effective. Seems like it would be a nice design in a motorcycle helmet.
 

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This helmet has inflatable earmuffs.

Reviews

I just went from 35mm pads to 43mm pads in an attempt to make my X-twelve quieter. I haven't tried it out yet. In a trial-fit I found that I may have gone too far. After I have worn it for an hour, if I come out of it looking like a guppy I'll know that I should have gone for the intermediate option.
 
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Well I'll be darned. I had never heard of these helmets with the inflatable ear cups/muffs. Interesting.
 

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$700 helmet?

I too debated whether or not to take the plunge then a friend of mine who is a motor cop said it was the best helmet he’s worn. In my personal experience, Shoei’s are top notch quality wise and worth every penny.
I happened to be in a local dealership getting some farkles for one of my rides and inquired if they had a Neotec II and the parts guy gave me the standard “no, but I can order one for you” answer. He they said he could knock 20% off the retail price. If you’ve been looking, you know you can’t find Shoeis on sale unless they’re closing out an old model. I would say that believe it or not, you may be able to get a better price at the stlealership. Worth a try anyway.
On another note, I sis add the SLR20 com system and it’s pretty good. The sound quality is not as good as the Cardo packtalk but it does integrate seamlessly into the helmet.
I’ve dropped the helmet no less than three times and sent it to Shoei to check out. They said it was fine; which further lends discredit to the five year replacement notion.
 

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Well I'll be darned. I had never heard of these helmets with the inflatable ear cups/muffs. Interesting.
With the Inflat-O-Bulb on the chin bar and the comm unit on the side, they aren't the least bit gimmicky, fiddly, or affected by wind, either...
 

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I have a Schuberth C3 Pro. It was my first modular hat. I had been skeptical of modulars but now that I have one I think it's pretty cool. I like to be able to take a quick break by the roadside to grab a drink of water without having to take my head off. My only gripe is that I wish the drop down tinted lens dropped down another half inch.

The high end helmets are pricey but it costs a lot to fix a busted melon. I remember my first helmet, a Bell 500 TX that listed for $37.50.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
With the Inflat-O-Bulb on the chin bar and the comm unit on the side, they aren't the least bit gimmicky, fiddly, or affected by wind, either...
But wait! There's more! In addition to their helmets, they sell kits to modify other helmets.

https://www.quietridemuffs.com/installation_shoei.html

I'd buy a kit for the hell of it and modify my old HJC IS-MAX2 just to see how the earmuffs work, but while they have compatible kits for some HJC helmets, they don't seem to have a kit for the IS-MAX.

I'm not willing to experiment with the new Shoei.
 
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