“Lets see how far we’ve come….”

It was new helmet time for Mrs T as her old Shark RSX was 5+ years old. Despite the fact that the Shark looks perfect, I subscribe to the view (and evidence) that 5 years is a reasonable lifespan for optimum protection from a helmet. After trying on a Bell (made in China), a Shark (Thailand) and a Shoei (Japan), Mrs T opted for the Shoei TZ-X in XS size as the best fit. It’s also called a Qwest in the USA. Good review HERE

Mrs T has some history with Shoei’s and I knew that her first helmet (circa 1977) was a Shoei and was still in the garage gathering dust.OK, lets compare and contrast a little then.

The lovely looking Shark that has now been replaced. It’s a light weight, well constructed helmet from a French company, but actually made in Thailand.

Now here’s the 1970’s Shoei S-12. It’s been collecting dust for many years!

State of the art in 1970’s! Shoei were quite new to the market back then and Bell was the dominant brand. If you couldn’t afford a Bell, second best was a Shoei.

The first thing that struck me when I handled it was that it was actually quite light, despite being fibreglass, the second was how thin and flimsy the visor was. Okay, lets have a closer look….

Snell 1970 certification and Australian standard 1698 sticker to the right.

Close up of the Aust standard and some good advice to the left.

Below are a couple of pics of a young Mrs T with that very same Shoei. Seeing the first pic reminded me – the Small size was too big for her head, so she used to wear a beanie under it to ensure a snug fit. How safe was that??

New TZ-X, size ‘extra small’. It’s made in Japan and excellent quality. Sharp rates it at 5 out of 5 for crash worthiness.

But what’s this? Aust (and now NZ) standard,……… you guessed it…. 1698. I know that it has been revised a couple of times, but really!  For the life on me, I can’t understand why we need an Australian specific helmet standard for such a small market, rather than just accepting the US or European or Japanese standard?  Maybe it’s so we can’t import them directly ourselves and save 40% on Australian retail prices? I am sounding cynical now!

Nice interior, no SNELL certification nor any other info. There is one paper thin sticker on the inside of the jaw piece with construction materials info and Aust compliance. I’m sure it wont last long.

Color matched with my Shoei Neotec

Mrs T wore it for a 300 km ride recently and loved it.She found it really comfortable and much more quiet than the Shark, even though she always wears earplugs under the helmet.

Does anyone recall the 1970’s Bell helmet advertising slogan? “If you’ve got a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet”.

 

 

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!