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Old 03-17-2013, 08:16 PM   #1
El Gato OP
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First impressions: Shoei GT Air helmet

I've been looking around for a helmet to replace my trusty Shoei X11 for a while now, but my oval head makes finding a helmet the fits properly a bit tricky. On a whim (and partly out of desperation), I popped into the Santa Clara Cycle Gear yesterday to have a look around. Once I got past the aisles and aisles and aisles and aisles of Bilt gear, I found where they've hidden the Arai and Shoei helmets. I went straight for the Arai Signet Q, as this appears to be the defacto standard for us oval-shaped heads. Sure enough, it fit very well but I've never really been an Arai fan -- those side pods on the face shield just don't do it for me.

About this time, Nate came up and asked me if I needed help (big to Nate - he truly knows his stuff about helmets). We got to talking about helmets and specifically what I was looking for, and he recommended I try the new Shoei GT Air. He explained that the GT Air is modeled after the RF1100, which is Shoei's most oval helmet. To my surprise, it actually fit me better than the Arai Signet Q! I wore it in the store for ~15 minutes, and not a hint of pressure or discomfort. Even my X11, which I've had for 5 years, was a good fit, but not a truly great fit.

Fit-wise, it came down to the Signet Q and the GT Air, but feature-wise the GT Air is in a league of it's own. This is Shoei's newest helmet, and it incorporates the internal flip-down sun visor from the Neotec along with lots of other cool gee-wizardry like an included Pinlock visor. OK, so in my hands on on my head, it seemed to be a fantastic helmet, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

I got to put a few hundred miles on it today, and it doesn't disappoint! Here are some initial impressions:

- It's so much quieter than my X11 it's actually creepy. With earplugs in and face shield down, it's astonishingly quiet. It's obvious this thing is designed as a sport-touring helmet and not a race helmet.
- Ventilation is also very good. The top vent creates a pronounced flow of air along the top of the head when wide-open. It has three positions so you can control how much air you want, and all the vent openings are big enough to easily work with gloved hands and have a very positive clicking action when they're moved through their stops.
- The best feature, by far though, is the flip-down sun shade. I used a dark smoke shield on my X11, and always hated having to flip it up on shadier roads like parts of Eureka Canyon and Ice Cream grade to be able to see in the shade. The flip-up sun shade on the GT Air flips up and down very easily, while the clear face shield stays in place.
- Unlike the X11, the ear pockets on the GT Air are deep enough to accommodate speakers from a BT headset without putting pressure on your ears. Also, the position of the slider for the internal sun visor is supposedly optimized so that you can install a BT headset, and sure enough my Sena SMH10 fit perfectly and I was easily able to work the sun shade slider even with the Sena in place.
- The fit and finish, paint quality, liner material are all top-notch Shoei quality.
The optical quality of the face shield and internal sun visor are exceptional, with no signs of distortion even when both are down.
- It is NOT safe to use Plexus on the supplied Pinlock visor. :( It will haze over. (That's a $30 lesson learned).
- After several hours, no hint of any forehead hotspot. I can't remember the last time I rode without having a nice red spot on my forehead at the end of the ride.

So, my first ride impression is that this is a fantastic quality helmet with some great features. If you're an intermediate oval head looking for a world-class touring helmet, you should give the Shoei GT air a look. If you're in the south bay (SF bay area) you may also want to pop over and talk to Nate at the Santa Clara Cycle Gear (I always like to recognize great service, especially when it's at a place that often gets trashed for its service).




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Old 03-18-2013, 03:23 AM   #2
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I'm looking for my next helmet to replace my Arai Profile. This might be on the list, but I'm a little concerned that it doesn't pass Snell 2010? I don't want to get into a snell pissing match, but it seems odd. Any thoughts?
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Old 03-18-2013, 06:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by levain View Post
I'm looking for my next helmet to replace my Arai Profile. This might be on the list, but I'm a little concerned that it doesn't pass Snell 2010? I don't want to get into a snell pissing match, but it seems odd. Any thoughts?
I was told that the internal flip-up sun shade is an automatic disqualifier for Snell certification, even though Shoei's implementation of it is significantly different than how other helmet manufactuters do it (there's no cavity in the EPS foam for the sun shade to slide into, like other helmets).
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Old 03-18-2013, 07:45 AM   #4
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Great write-up.

If I didn't already love my Shoei Qwest, I'd be buying one of the GT Airs right now.

Of course, that tax refund is coming soon....
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:34 AM   #5
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Forgot to mention sizing... The GT Air appears to run about one size small. I'm a M in both the Shoei X11 and the Arai Signet Q, but needed an L in the GT Air.
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Old 03-18-2013, 09:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Gato View Post
Forgot to mention sizing... The GT Air appears to run about one size small. I'm a M in both the Shoei X11 and the Arai Signet Q, but needed an L in the GT Air.
This seems typical of all of the new Shoei's btw. I prefer the 3xl RF1100 but could always wear a 2xl if needed - same with their other models, I could always get away with the 2xl (MultiTec, Qwest, etc). However, in all of the newest Shoeis I've tried, the 2xl is noticeably smaller. To the point where I can't really wear them. To me it seems to be mainly due to the new internals. Regardless, I'm a big Shoei fan and have a whole stock of RF1100s.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:17 PM   #7
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How noisy is it, and have you taken a spin on a naked bike with it? Based on your profile, both of your bikes have pretty good wind protection.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ph0rk View Post
How noisy is it, and have you taken a spin on a naked bike with it? Based on your profile, both of your bikes have pretty good wind protection.

I only have the '12 GSA now, and you're right - it has very good wind protection. I haven't been on a naked bike with it, but I did stand up on the pegs several times, and the helmet is definitely quieter even in direct airflow than the X11.
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Old 03-18-2013, 03:01 PM   #9
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BTW - Webikeworld just released their review of the helmet, so now you don't have to take just my word for it.


http://www.webbikeworld.com/r2/shoei/gt-air/review.htm
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Old 03-19-2013, 06:50 AM   #10
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One feature I really like on my RF1000 is ability to lock the shield open with a small opening. There is a lever for this. I find its great for defogging, but I really liked it during last summer's heat wave for the extra air flow over my face.

Does the GT Air have this capability?
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:03 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mobiker View Post
One feature I really like on my RF1000 is ability to lock the shield open with a small opening. There is a lever for this. I find its great for defogging, but I really liked it during last summer's heat wave for the extra air flow over my face.

Does the GT Air have this capability?
I agree - My X11 also has this lever, and I use that first 'micro opening' 99% of the time to defog in the winter or get a little air flow in the summer. I was a bit surprised and disappointed to see that the GT Air doesn't have the lever... but then I discovered that the same thing can be accomplished by pushing up on the face shield tab. There's a detent that barely cracks the visor open in the same position as the X11/RF1100, and the bonus is that it's easier to do with the face shield tab and there's no lever to whistle in the wind.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:11 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobiker View Post
One feature I really like on my RF1000 is ability to lock the shield open with a small opening. There is a lever for this. I find its great for defogging, but I really liked it during last summer's heat wave for the extra air flow over my face.

Does the GT Air have this capability?
I believe that, yes, it does... same visor mechanism as my Shoei Qwest. Also, it comes standard with a Pinlock visor, so you shouldn't have any fogging issues at all. I've got a Pinlock on my Quest, and it works fantastically.

Edit: I was wrong. Doesn't have that detent lever. But the visor can be cracked just slightly very easily.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:12 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by El Gato View Post
BTW - Webikeworld just released their review of the helmet, so now you don't have to take just my word for it.


http://www.webbikeworld.com/r2/shoei/gt-air/review.htm
webbikeworld loves it.
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:41 AM   #14
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Thanks for the quick responses. Have either of you tried having the shield cracked open at speed? It stays open ok?
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:34 AM   #15
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Thanks for the quick responses. Have either of you tried having the shield cracked open at speed? It stays open ok?
I can only tell you my experience with my Shoei Qwest. I've been up to 150 mph with the visor cracked open about a quarter inch. No problems with the visor staying in place.

That being said, I didn't turn my head left or right, or look up where the wind might really catch under it, but my visor is, in my opinion, rather hard to lift up and press down. It stays in place very well, IMHO.
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