Helmets wrap snugly around our heads, with the interior conforming to the contours of our noggin and the chin strap cinched around our lower jaw, keeping the helmet securely in place. Some helmets do this with tolerable comfort; others do this poorly, resulting in achy heads, sore ears and chafed necks. And then there are helmets that are genuinely comfortable, so much so that you look forward to putting them on, to having your head wrapped in a satisfying embrace. The new Shoei Neotec is that sort of helmet.
An improvement upon the Multitec flip-up helmet that has been in Shoei’s lineup since 2006 (and is still available), the Neotec is said to be more aerodynamic, quieter, better ventilated and equipped with new features. The shell is made using Shoei’s proprietary Advanced Integrated Matrix (AIM) construction, which comprises three layers: fiber-reinforced matrix, compound structure (layers of organic and glass fibers) and synthetic resin. Shoei says AIM offers “ideal dampening of impacts, good elasticity, light weight, and enormously high strength and resistance to penetration.” Wind tunnel testing led Shoei’s engineers to incorporate a dual-ridge face shield bead and the chinbar’s “Vortex Generator” lip, and to eliminate the face shield lock for better airflow and less noise. Like the RF-1100, the Neotec’s shell has an integrated rear spoiler for improved stability at speed. The Neotec’s six head sizes (XS-XXL) are covered by three shell sizes, resulting in a closer fit between the rider’s head and the impact-absorbing EPS liner rather than using too much or too little comfort padding to make up the difference.
Wind tunnel testing also informed the design of the Neotec’s ventilation system, which has intake vents on the chinbar and crown and an exhaust vent on the back that takes advantage of negative pressure to create suction. Compared to the Multitec, the chin vents are smaller but the crown vents are larger, and they are set within a pronounced air scoop that draws in an impressive blast of refreshing air. The design makes sense because the Neotec will most often be worn by touring riders on motorcycles with large windscreens, where airflow is most consistent at the top of the rider’s helmet. Ventilation is further enhanced by air tunnels within the Neotec’s dual-layer, multi-density EPS liner.
The Neotec has Shoei’s QR-N quick-release base plate that facilitates effortless shield changes and has a patented, spring-loaded design that ensures a tight, waterproof seal. A wider, taller eye port necessitated the new CNS-1 face shield, and the QSV-1 retractable sun visor is a first for Shoei. Both the shield and visor are 3D injection-molded and block 99 percent of UV rays, and the face shield comes with a Pinlock anti-fog insert.
Everything about the Neotec looks and feels premium, from the shape of the shell to the plushness of the removable, washable interior (multi-layer cheek pads are available in different thicknesses), from the ease-of-use of the vents, sun visor and chinbar to the stainless steel components in the 360-degree Pivot Locking System. After weeks of use, the Neotec has proven to be one of the most comfortable, quietest flip-up helmets I’ve ever worn, on par with many high-end full-face helmets. And its many improvements over the Multitec have added only 1.6 ounces to its weight (64.8 ounces).
The Shoei Neotec helmet is available in sizes XS-XXL in solid ($648.99) and metallic ($662.99) colors and comes with a five-year limited warranty.
(This Gearlab article was printed in the August 2012 issue of Rider.)