Tested by Ben Clarke for two months
Quality: 5/5 Value: 3/5
The Shoei Ex-Zero is a lightweight, comfy and fairly practical helmet (in fair weather at least) but I couldn’t really care less about all that. Look at it. It’s so good-looking that I’d still wear it if it crushed my head. I’d probably still wear it if I couldn’t see where I was going or it was made of immaculately finished papier-mâché. Maybe that makes me a dandy, but I don’t care… just look at it!
Luckily for me and my disgusting vanity, the Shoei suffers none of those shortcomings. In fact, despite its lightweight design and jet-style dropdown visor, the Ex-Zero scores an impressive 4-star SHARP rating. So I can waft around trendy bike meets and coffee shops to my heart’s content safe in the knowledge that I’m also well-protected.
The Ex-Zero weighs in at just 1227g on my scales (size L) and it feels very light to wear on the bike when you are doing quick shoulder checks or looking back and forth at a junction. It makes you feel incredibly free and unencumbered if you’re nipping out in a jacket and jeans to a pub or the shops and means it’s comfortable for longer periods, too.
As discussed before, I’m a vain idiot and so will be wearing the Ex-Zero come what may, but in all honesty, it’s not a great helmet for covering distance. If you’re less concerned with the aesthetic, you might be put off by how noisy it is at speed, how cold your face gets below about six-degrees and the way the open-face design is about as aerodynamic as a bucket, pitching you in a constant argument with the air over whether you should look at the road ahead or the sky. This would obviously be less pronounced on a bike with any wind protection at all, unlike the Indian FTR S I’ve been riding.
I always intended to wear goggles with this helmet to complete the look but it does also have a drop-down visor, which you can adjust to three positions. I have to use the bottom position otherwise too much air makes it through to my eyes. I’ve found it really handy to use if I stay out after dark rather than taking a clear goggle lens or an extra pair. To up the practicality further or if you ride a retro style or classic adventure bike, you can add a peak that clips on with press studs.
At £429.99 RRP, I can’t claim that the Ex-Zero represents great value but a cursory browse through the internet throws up plenty of deals to be had from reputable sellers.
North of £400 feels like a lot of money for a summer cruising helmet that will live in the cupboard for three seasons per year for many riders. But if you’re as bloody-minded as me and will wear it whatever the conditions then you can get closer to your money’s worth. It is rather spectacular-looking, after all.
Pros: Did I mention the looks?
Cons: Expensive for a vanity helmet
Other retro helmets picked by MCN:
Related: Best retro motorcycle helmets