Shoei GT-Air II review

A great helmet – as long as you don’t ride slowly in the rain...

Wearing a Shoei GT-Air II helmet on the road on Ducati Monster

by Jim Blackstock |

Shoei are a manufacturer renowned for making exceptional helmets and indeed, my go-to helmet is from the manufacturer – the £300 RYD. However, while the RYD is a lower-priced example, it is basic and has no sun-visor – a useful additional to a helmet particularly at this time of year when low sun combined with cloudy skies or wet roads can make vision tricky.

The GT-Air II is one of the company’s sports-touring helmets and as such, does feature a drop-down sun visor, as well as a host of other features. But first things first...

Because of the sun visor, it is physically larger than say the RYD that doesn’t use one. However, that isn’t a huge issue – the helmet itself is not bulky nor heavy and its aerodynamic design means that it doesn’t pull at the neck like some helmets do, even in turbulent traffic or when performing shoulder-checks, for example.

They used to say that riders would have a Shoei or an Arai (Sheoi’s great Japanese rival) shaped head but I find that Shoei’s work very well for me. The GT-Air II is a little tight to get on but once in, I find it extremely comfortable. The lining is plush and feels lovely against the skin; there are no tight areas, and it doesn’t feel claustrophobic like some helmets can.

On the road, it’s actually very quiet – I guess another function of being a bit larger on the outside than some and with additional lining material. Even in turbulent air from a screen or lots of traffic, rumbling isn’t intrusive and in clear air, there is little more than a ‘swoosh’ as it cuts through the air.

The drop-down sun visor is effective – the lever action is positive and easy to find and the visor itself is in just the right position and is a neutral colour that cuts out sun glare significantly. However – and this is where the GT-Air II starts to show its limitations – it steams up really easily and vents don’t seem to have much effect on it.

Shoei GT-Air II sun visor
©Photo: Bauer Media

In warm and dry conditions, it’s a great helmet, albeit one that could do with slightly more airflow. However, when it’s chilly or damp, then the small chin vent has little effect. This is particularly evident at lower speeds – rural roads or heaven forbid, urban – where I find misting a real issue, even with the included Pinlock anti-fog lens fitted.

Cracking the main visor helps – it has a locking mechanism that keep it closed at speed but you can crack it open for a little air flow or the ratchet mechanism means you can have it open at whatever angle you want. This helps with demisting both the main and the sun visor. However, add in some rain and this compounds the issues.

Related: Best motorcycle anti-fog visor products

Crack the visor and you start getting wet. While a little water in the face isn’t the end of the world, you also start to collect was on the inside of the visor, which is. On a recent trek across country on damp conditions – light rain/drizzle and spray from other vehicles - I had to stop several times to clear and dry the inside of the visor.

Shoei GT-Air II top vent
©Photo: Bauer Media

Things got a bit better at motorway speeds where the misting is just about kept at bay but it was still an issue at lower speeds or when rolling through villages at 30mph.

The verdict

The GT-Air II is a great helmet that is let down by poor air flow from the chin vent in particular. On warm, dry rides, this isn’t a massive issue though you may be warmer than you want but you can easily crack the visor slightly to get some additional airflow.

However, in cold, damp or rainy conditions, it is a bigger issue, as opening the visor for additional airflow isn’t an option. Strange, since other helmets from Shoei have much more effective venting.

Shoei GT-Air II chin vent
©Photo: Bauer Media

Pros:

Quiet in all traffic conditions

Superbly comfortable

Effective visors – main and sub

Cons:

Chin vent nowhere near effective enough

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