With high velocities, convoluted riding positions (tucked in, hanging off) and physical exertion on hot, sunbaked tracks, racing puts special demands on a motorcycle helmet. Racers need a helmet that’s lightweight, aerodynamic, comfortable, well ventilated and able to provide the utmost in impact protection. Even if you don’t race, these are desirable qualities in a motorcycle helmet, especially one used for sport riding and touring on America’s highways and byways.
Shoei has completely redesigned its flagship full-face helmet, now called the X-Fourteen. (Its predecessor was the X-Twelve, but perhaps X-Thirteen was considered unlucky, for the same reason that many tall buildings don’t have a 13th floor.) Everything is new, from the shell shape to the aerodynamics, ventilation, face shield and comfort liner. The strong, lightweight shell is made of Shoei’s proprietary Matrix AIM+ multi-ply blend of fiberglass and organic fibers, and our size medium test helmet weighs 3 pounds, 9.6 ounces. Input from MotoGP racers Marc Marquez and Bradley Smith and wind tunnel testing guided the redesign of the shell shape, which has ridges on the chinbar and along the top to reduce drag and improve stability, and the rear stabilizer, which has replaceable rear flaps for fine-tuning air flow. There’s also a removable lower spoiler attached to the bottom of the chinbar; it’s made of flexible plastic, and sitting the helmet on my desk (at work) and a shelf (at home) distorted its shape. The X-Fourteen slices cleanly through the air on bikes with and without fairings, and head checks to the side are easy with no loss of stability.
Inside the helmet is a dual-layer, multi-density EPS liner that optimizes impact absorption and has molded-in tunnels so air can pass unrestricted through the helmet. There are six intake vents on the front and six exhaust vents on the back. A new cheek pad cooling system routes air from the chinbar intake through channels in the EPS liner to air holes cut into the cheekpad foam. With all of the vents open, airflow through the X-Fourteen is excellent and the noise level (without earplugs on an unfaired bike) is reasonably quiet. Even more impressive is the new 3D Max-Dry Custom Interior System, a removable, washable, replaceable comfort liner whose position can be adjusted by up to 4 degrees within the helmet to allow the best possible upper field of vision when riding in a fully tucked race position, and the inner pads can be replaced with others of varying thickness to customize fit. Fitting snugly on my head, the X-Fourteen is one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve ever worn. The comfort liner is compatible with glasses, and it includes ear pads and a removable breath guard and chin curtain. The helmet secures with a classic D-ring chinstrap, and, in the event of a crash, the Emergency Quick Release System allows the cheek pads to be easily removed without straining the rider’s neck.
Shoei has done a fantastic job with its update to the X-Fourteen, creating a helmet that should satisfy racers and sport/sport-touring riders alike. It’s available in sizes XS-2XL (distributed over four shell sizes), in solid colors for $681.99-$692.99 and graphics for $807.99-$839.99, and comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
See your dealer or visit shoei-helmets.com