Shoei RF-1200 Helmet Review

Ever since the first Shoei RF-series full-face helmet was introduced in the mid-1980s, every time a new version is announced it’s a bit worrisome at first, since it seems unlikely that Shoei could possibly improve upon the current model. Almost without exception, however, sliding into each new one—RF-105V, RF-200, RF-700, RF-800 and so on—has brought ever-increasing levels of comfort and quiet. Heck, I can remember begging for extra RF-900s because it seemed like it was the one, man…then giving them all away when the RF-1000 showed up.

Shoei RF-1200 Upper Vents
The three upper vents in the RF-1200 can be easily operated with gloves on.

Now we have the all-new RF-1200, and Shoei has done it again. First, for those of you who have suffered from “Shoei head” in the past because the rounded shape of the earlier models put pressure on your forehead, be advised that newer Shoeis for the American market have more oval interiors to better fit our North American noggins. The RF-1200 is more compact than its RF-1100 predecessor, with a wind-tunnel-developed shell design that also makes it more aerodynamic and the lightest Snell-approved full-face Shoei to date—my size-large RF-1200 weighs 56 ounces, 3 less than a large RF-1100, in fact. Four shell sizes within the XS-2XL size range insure a good fit, and after a short break-in period it now feels like it was custom-made for me. The cheek pads are available in multiple thicknesses to further customize the fit, and incorporate a new Emergency Release System so that they can be easily removed by EMTs and the helmet safely lifted from the rider’s head without neck strain. The soft comfort liner is fully removable, washable and replaceable, wicks sweat away and dries fast, and feels snug and soft without being hot or claustrophobic.

Shoei RF-1200 Air Tunnels
Air tunnels within the Multi-Layer dual-density EPS liner channel air from vents.

Underneath the comfort liner, the dual-layer, multi-density EPS foam that does most of the cushioning in an impact has channels molded in to flow air from the three closeable vents in the forehead area. Four exhaust vents underneath the rear spoiler—two of which are closeable—draw air through the helmet, and a three-position chinbar vent helps keep the face shield fog-free. I noticed the vents flowing lots of air with them opened, and could easily tune the airflow with the vent levers, even with gloves on. In case it still doesn’t stay fog-free, the redesigned face shield is Pinlock ready, and a Pinlock anti-fog insert is included.

Lots of innovation went into the RF-1200’s new CWR-1 face shield design, which is scratch-resistant, injection molded to be distortion-free and blocks 99 percent of UV rays. Thick new reinforcement ribs top and bottom help it sit tightly against new dual-lipped seals on the helmet eyeport, and spring-loaded, quick-release base plates allow easy shield changes and pull the shield tightly against the helmet when closed for a wind and waterproof seal. The shield lock has been redesigned with no moving parts yet can still be used to secure it in the closed position or slightly open for further defogging as with the old lock. Five-stage rotating dials on each plate let you fine-tune the shield fit, too. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to ride in the rain with the RF-1200, but the shield snugs up so tightly when closed I can’t imagine it leaking. Detents hold it in any of seven positions between fully closed and open.

Shoei RF-1200 Back
Redesigned rear spoiler saves weight. Note red release tabs for cheek pads.

Everything about the new RF-1200 is first-class, from the fit and finish to its luxurious comfort and highly advanced shield system. The helmet flows a lot of air if desired, yet with the vents closed is among the quietest I’ve ever worn—quieter even than Shoei’s own GT-Air. In addition to being more compact, I suspect some of the weight savings comes from going with a plastic spoiler instead of the RF-1100’s molded-in one, and the larger clavicle scoops in the lower sides.

The Shoei RF-1200 comes with a removable breath guard and chin curtain as well as the Pinlock insert and in sizes XS-2XL (the RF-1100 is still available in 3XL). Pricing ranges from $485.99 for solid colors, to $498.99 for metallics and $589.99 for graphics.

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  1. H, thanks for this review. I’m torn between the GT-Air and RF-1200. One thing I can’t check in the store is air flow, do you have a feel for which one of these ventilates better?



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