I’m pretty picky about my moto gear but I admit that I like a good looking helmet. So when I had the chance to ride with and review the Shoei Hornet X2 Navigate TC-3, I said, “YES PLEASE”! And it turns out this helmet has lots more going for it besides its rugged handsome exterior.
So a little about the helmet itself. The helmet’s outer shell is a multi-ply matrix design. It comes in 4 different shell sizes for optimal fit. Inside is a dual-layer multi-density EPS liner for enhanced impact absorption. There are also tunnels in the EPS to allow air to move through the helmet better.
The interior uses Shoei’s 3D max-dry system II. Shoei says that it absorbs sweat & moisture 2 times faster than nylon. Each of the interior system’s components is removable, washable and replaceable.
Upon donning the helmet for the first time, my impression was that the helmet has a very snug fit. I generally wear a medium in other brands and with the Hornet X2, I decided to move up to a large for comfort. I’ve had many, many helmets over the years and I know they are supposed to be snug, but the medium just would not fit comfortably so I moved up to a large.
We all know that if you aren’t comfortable in your helmet, riding can be pure misery. But once I put on the large, all comfort concerns vanished. This helmet is amongst the quietest ADV helmets I have worn. I rack that up to the snug, plush padding as well as a face shield that has an excellent seal.
The helmet’s eye port is also very large. With the face shield removed, you can easily fit a pair of goggles inside if you are so inclined.
Speaking of the face shield, the field of vision is incredibly wide and “tall”. It made me feel like I was looking out a giant bay window. The shield is highly adjustable and has 6 detent positions allowing you to open the visor just a pinch or swing it open all the way up towards the helmet’s peak. Once in its highest position, you can’t even see it. I also really appreciated the ability to keep the visor open just a crack without the visor shutting “automatically” when I reached higher speeds.
Shoei includes a Pinlock visor insert with each Hornet X2. That’s a really nice extra without any added costs. With the Pinlock installed, I never experienced any fogging, even during a three-hour ride in muggy, rainy weather. You can see the outer ridges on the right and left sides of your peripheral vision, but I did not find that distracting (and this happens with any Pinlock you use). If you don’t want to use the Pinlock at times, it is easy to remove and install.
The peak can be removed quickly and easily without the use of any tools. You merely twist a quarter-turn screw on each side of the helmet and pull a small lever and the shield is off. Reinstalling the shield is just as easy.
The helmet’s peak did a great job shielding the sun as I rode along. It has 6 wedge-shaped openings that allow the air to flow through it at higher speeds. It didn’t buffet or cause my head to move with heavy winds or increased speeds. I could feel the presence of the peak doing over the shoulder head checks to the rear, but it was never a problem.
According to Shoei, the peak is “wind tunnel-tested” and I think their engineering really paid off in this case. There are three air intake vents on the front of the helmet. One at the chin, one at the top of the face shield and one at the top of the helmet. Two exhaust vents are mounted towards the rear of the helmet. In an interesting design feature, the louvers on the visor direct air into the upper air intake and feed outside air into the helmet.
If you open the vent at the top of the face shield, two channels move air through the top of the helmet. They flow air nicely to help keep you cooler on warm days. I rode in some rare hot muggy Vermont days with the Hornet X2 and can happily say that it was never overly hot inside the helmet. I do have fairly thick hair (as opposed to my hubby Mike / @Ride2ADV) so it took some time for me to feel the effects of the moving air but it definitely helped keep me cool.
The large chin vent is also open/closed adjustable letting you choose when you want additional air on your face. There is also a removable chin curtain.
The interior is loaded with thick, plush padding. The chin strap is also nicely padded and extends under the two “D” rings to keep you from feeling the hardware. The lower lining skirt also comes down generously around the upper neck area.
There is a little downside to all this generous padding. First I found the head opening to be quite snug and I somehow folded my ears down every time I put the helmet on. Now, perhaps I have relatively big ears that hang out more than they should, but I simply reached in and unfolded them and voilà, comfortable fit. I also had to apply some significant pressure to remove the helmet each time. It’s not the end of the world but worth a mention.
Mike / @Ride2ADV and I use communicators and we installed Cardio Packtalk Bold JBL comms into the helmet. With the removable ear hole inserts removed, the speakers spotted right in and the helmet still fit very comfortably.
There is a good amount of room between the chin bar and where your face begins. With the visor closed the space in front of my face seemed spacious, compared to other helmets I’ve worn. Still it was quite easy to talk back and forth clearly.
As I mentioned earlier, I moved up to size large for comfort. This necessitated Shoei using a larger shell and of course, that will increase weight. The Hornet X2 came in at 3 pounds 14 ounces. It does feel a bit heavier than the other helmets I’ve worn, but this is not a fair comparison because I normally wear a size medium which permits manufacturers to use a lighter shell.
Suggested retail pricing varies. An all-white or all-black Hornet X2 will set you back $594.99. Other color solids go for $603.99. If you opt for multi-color paint schemes, the MSRP rises to $715.99. That’s not inexpensive, but Shoei really has delivered a premium helmet.
All in all, I really like the Shoei Hornet X2. It’s one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve ever worn. It’s quiet and flows air quite well. The field of vision is large and the peak provides only minimal buffeting during head checks; at all other times, it is very stable.
I’ve been wearing another brand’s ADV helmet day-to-day, for a number of years. But at the end of testing, I have a new favorite and it’s the Shoei Hornet X2.
All photos credit: Shoei