After years of swearing by full-face helmets, lately I find myself reaching for a flip-up-style lid for commuting and longer rides. Although “modular” helmets tend to be a bit heavier and noisier, being able to leave it on and flip up the chinbar to expose your face (namely your mouth to speak, eat, drink, smooch, etc.) is worth a couple trade-offs. Safety isn’t really an issue, since the quality modulars all have solid metal latching systems and the same impact-absorbing EPS foam in the chinbar that is used in the head form.
In the past the Cadillac of modular helmets has been the Shoei Neotec, primarily by virtue of its comfortable fit, relative quietness and solid feel. Its other features are exceptionally well done, too, like the built-in, drop-down sunshield, removable, washable liner and cheek pads, easy one-handed chinbar operation and headset-readiness (e.g. speaker cutouts in the ear area).
Sequels rarely live up to the original, but Shoei has blown that notion away with the new Neotec II. While it returns with all of the best qualities and features of the original, Shoei has also made definite improvements in the Neotec’s performance and convenience.
First up is the integration of an optional headset system created with Sena called the Shoei Rider Link, or SRL. Although the original Neotec accommodated most headsets well, the Neotec II has special channels in the EPS for the SRL headset wiring and integrated battery and control compartments that help make installing the $299 SRL a snap. It has the same audio feature set as Sena’s 20s and 10C headsets, too, so you can connect phone, music, GPS and up to eight riding buddies with a one-mile range, 10-hour talk time, voice commands and more. The audio sounds great, phone calls are clear and easy to make (when stopped of course) and by using Sena’s app the volume can be boosted enough to hear the audio wearing earplugs.
Shoei went with four shell sizes for the XS-XXL Neotec II size range to ensure a good fit with minimum weight (about 5 ounces more than the original in large, with the SRL installed). The shell shape has been significantly enhanced overall, and several changes were incorporated with the help of Shoei’s wind tunnel for better aerodynamics and noise reduction, including soft “Noise Isolator” wind deflectors on the cheek pads and a “Vortex Generator” lip on the bottom of the chinbar. Worn back-to-back with the original the Neotec II does seem about 10-percent quieter, though it’s still not as quiet as most of Shoei’s full-face lids. Fit runs slightly larger but I found it even more comfortable than before.
More new features include a super convenient and comfortable micro-ratcheting quick-release chinstrap; new air and watertight beading around the eyeport (that does indeed keep water out) for the Pinlock-ready, 3D injection-molded face shield; more effective intake and exhaust venting, with a new chinbar vent that is harder to close accidentally; and a dual-lock system for the chinbar that holds it securely in the open position (this was requested by the numerous police departments that use the Neotec).
The Neotec II isn’t so much a helmet as it is a superior system for protection, comfort, convenience and communication on a motorcycle. The new venting flows significantly more air, the shield seals tightly and with the included Pinlock Evo fog-resistant liner installed you’re essentially impervious to the elements. I love the new QR chinstrap, and much appreciate the reduced noise. As before the upper eyeport edge is a bit low, so you have to tilt your head back farther on sportbikes, but otherwise the Neotec II is more than ever my go-to modular helmet for commuting and long rides.
The Shoei Neotec II retails for $699 in solid colors and $799 in metallics or graphics. The $299 Sena SRL system is available exclusively through Sena and its dealers; see sena.com for more information.
For more information, see your dealer or visit shoei-helmets.com.