Shoei GT Air II motorcycle helmet review
For the last few years I have been using the excellent Arai Chaser V but recently made the decision to replace it. It’s been a really good, comfortable helmet and although I can’t quite recall when I bought it I know I had it on a 2014 trip to Germany … so it exceeded the often recommended five years of use.
Having said it exceeded the five years recommended lifetime, I suppose when you take out the lack of riding during the Covid 19 lockdowns and then the impact of my fractured knee in 2019 – those events put paid to an awful lot of biking and I suppose reduced the ‘lifetime’ usage of the Arai.
To be honest in terms of a replacement helmet I was never really going to look much further than Arai or Shoei. It’s not that I have a closed mind to other brands, it’s just that my experience and previous history of helmets has led me to finding that it’s these two brands that give me the best fit and comfort.
In the past I have had a couple of Nolan helmets, at least two (or three) AGV helmets, a couple of Arai Chaser (and my wife has Arais as well) and one Shoei. In terms of fit, comfort and quality of helmet I haven’t really found much between the Arai and Shoei which is why it was always likely to be one of these two brands from which I sourced my latest helmet.
The only issue I ever had with the Arai was when I was travelling in Germany and lost a side pod. My guess is that maybe it was down to me not having put the visor on properly when changing from clear to dark.
Whatever the reason I lost the pod and visor at speed and for a short amount of time had to use my visor held in place with gaffer tape until we could get to a local bike dealers.
As it turned out the dealers we found was pretty much on the route we were making in Germany – I wrote about it when I came home and you can check that post out at this link. I got brilliant service from the dealers we found and it was also an interesting and well stocked dealership … and there was no charge for the replacement pod.
So what’s the GT Air II like?
The helmet is really comfortable and as there are a number different sizes of lining and cheek pads available there’s a good chance of getting the fit just right. I bought mine from the J&S store in Northwich and got brilliant and really helpful service – and had the cheek pads swapped out to a slightly thinner one (at no cost).
I’ve now worn it for about five or six hundred miles or so and early impressions are good.
One of the features I really like is the internal drop down visor – although carrying a spare visor isn’t really that big a deal, but when you’re travelling very very light for a few weeks in Europe then every bit of space counts and the convenience factor of just moving a slider to move the sun visor up or down really can’t be overstated.
Having said that I haven’t yet been able to find the big slider (on the left hand side of the helmet) as quickly and smoothly as I would expect to, which is pretty odd really as it’s certainly big enough.
I don’t know if it’s just me or not with that issue. (On the Arai I initially bought a dark visor and then later replaced that with the Pro Shade which I wrote about here back in 2017 – and which was a pretty good addition to the helmet.)
Sound and vision
The vision through the visor is good and whilst I can’t say with absolute certainty, it does seem as though the GT Air II has a slightly wider field of view than the Chaser V.
The air vents seem decent enough – the chin vent is easy to operate and the twin vents (on the top) are easy enough to open and close.
Something very different from my Arai Chaser is the fastening mechanism. So rather than the traditional double D ring fastening the Shoei has a quick release micro ratchet fastening. It’s very easy to fasten and unfasten and very easy to adjust to the right tension. I must admit it took me a few rides to get this just right as the buckle seemed to be causing some irritation under my chin. Once I got the adjustment sorted it really has been fine, and in practice is easier and quicker than the double D fastening. As to which is better, I really don’t know – I suppose it’s a case of personal preference.
The overall quality of finish of the helmet is exactly what you would expect – and I’m really pleased with it. At the moment I haven’t rode in rain so some can’t comment on wet weather performance, but I have no expectations other than it will be more than up to the job. Other reviews I have read suggest that the venting and ability to set the visor to a ‘just open’ position are really good at avoiding misting.
General noise levels seem really good and overall I’m very happy with my purchase.
Lastly it’s worth mentioning that I have a Cardo Freecom 2 and had the earphones and speaker in my Arai – it was a really easy job to swap this kit over to the Shoei. The various internal lining components all click in and out with ease. There are small cutaways/indentations already for speakers and grooves/channels for the wires. As far as I know it’s actually a bespoke fitting for one of the headsets in the Senna communicator range – but I had no issue fitting the Cardo and it all works a treat.
Road Trip – coming up. Click here for info.
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