First winter ride for 2013 & the Shoei NeoTec

Yesterday Marty and I headed off at 9.30am for our first ride for the winter of 2013. It was sunny but cold 7-8C when we left and unfortunately hovered around 7C (44F) for most of the ride. I debated whether to don the textile gear, but the sunshine and a forecast of 16C fooled me and I went in leathers. Even with merino wool under layers and pullover I was just a tad cool all day.

However, the big news for me was that this was my first outing in my new Shoei NeoTec modular helmet. See the (not so great pic) below.

Just a bit of back story on the helmet purchase – I was a bit interested in buying a new Bell RS1 full face helmet (being the proud owner of a Bell ‘Star’ in 1975) and had researched them, along with both the Shoei TZX (Qwest) and the NeoTec. When I had a good look at the Bell in the store recently, I found, to my surprise, the Bell helmets here in Australia are actually made in China, which was disappointing as I know that they have a fantastic factory and R & D facility in the USA. I wanted a ‘Made in the USA’ lid, just to bookend with my 1975 Bell Star. Irrational? Maybe, but as the marketing people know, every purchase has an emotional component to it as much as we, the purchaser, might like to think otherwise.  So with the Bell off the list, the next consideration was the excellent Shoei TZX (Qwest) which Marty has. However, I couldn’t get any discount on an already overly expensive price. After a bit of procrastination I asked about a best price on a NeoTec. I love the convenience of my current flip front helmet, but the Shoei modular helmets really come at a premium price. I was ready to leave that store without a helmet, as I had already secured a good discount price over the phone at another dealership, who were a bit out of the way though. Long story short, I got a reasonable discount and consequently bought it at the Elizabeth St (Melbourne) dealership where I purchased my ZX14 a couple of years ago. As an aside, read all about footpath parking motorcycles in Melbourne HERE.

Readers in the USA & UK will be astounded at what we pay for helmets in Australia, which is in large part manipulated by having to meet an Australian (and New Zealand) standard (AS/NZS1698) in order to be legal for street use. So much for the global economy, free trade agreements and US and European safety standards! In fact, the US online retailers won’t even sell us Shoei visors anymore, as they are ‘prevented’ from doing so by Shoei they claim. The visor also has to meet the Australian/NZ 1698 standard.

Interestingly, the best info I could get on the NeoTec features was from a ‘non official’ Shoei site HERE

Rather than describe its features I will link to a great video review from Web Bike World and then give some of my own initial impressions, and ongoing reviews, in future posts. However, my first comment is that the build quality and finish is excellent.

Whilst I’m embedding videos, here is a really interesting look into the Shoei helmet manufacturing process.

I will do a comparison of the NeoTec Vs MultiTec features in the near future. As I don’t have any advertising on this site and buy my kit with my own money, my reviews are not compromised by incentives, only by my own human biases! So my initial impressions from the first 200 miles in the NeoTec? The sun visor worked brilliantly being able to raise and lower it riding through the bush from completely shaded areas back into the sunshine was excellent. The aerodynamics were impressive and it felt light and stable – I didn’t end up with any neck pain. Interestingly, the first thing that Marty commented on was that the helmet looked a lot let bulbous on my head than the MultiTec. Certainly the shell is far more stylish than the old model.

Any negatives so far? Well with my height in relation to the fairing screen on the ZX14, I actually found this helmet to be a fraction more noisy than the MultiTec it’s replacing – despite all the advertising to the contrary. As I wear earplugs under the helmet that really doesn’t matter much to me.

At low speed in these cold conditions the visor fogged badly. I will definitely have to purchase the Pinlock insert.

EDIT 21st June

I went into my local bike shop and was about to pay $49.95 for the Pinlock insert, when the young sales guys informed me that I was meant to get one included for free when I purchased the Neotec. It was bought from another branch of the same company, so he made a call and then handed me over the Pinlock free of charge. His initiative was very much appreciated!

The other negative experienced was mainly a function of the helmet being brand new. I found the cheek pads were way too firm and forced me into a ‘trout pout’ which became uncomfortable during the second half of the ride. However, I expect that to diminish as I ‘run it in’

Aside from the helmet focus of this post, allow me just one little rant. As Marty and I were walking back towards where we had parked our bikes in Apollo Bay we found overseas tourists hoisting a child up on to my motorcycle to take photos. I yelled out at them from a distance and they removed the child from my bike. What a bloody cheek! And there was no apology. Marty’s bike had kid’s fingerprints over the tank. They were damn fortunate, as I know some motorcycle owners who would resolve such a situation with their fists!