Flip-front helmets can be really versatile, allowing you to pop the chin-bar up and get some air, have a drink, eat a snack or have a chat with other riders or in petrol stations, for example. However, as a result of their design, they can be heavy and cumbersome and look like flips... and not everyone likes a flip.
However, this one from Shoei is a premium helmet at a premium price. It’s a flip that at first sight doesn’t look like one. Instead, it looks like a sports-touring helmet, much like the same brand’s GT-Air II, for example.
First off, it is heavier than a comparable full-face; it is quoted at 1,690g against the GT-Air II’s 1,470g. That might not seem like a huge difference and in normal terms, it isn’t but it can have an effect on how the helmet feels on your head.
You can definitely notice the extra weight, particularly when you’re doing shoulder checks and after two-and-a-half days of solid riding, on bikes with a screen and without. I did have a bit of an achy neck and needed a couple of Ibuprofen. However, the following morning it felt fine.
Another criticism often levelled at flips is that they are noisy, but I didn’t find the Neotec II to be particularly so. It didn’t seem to transmit any more turbulence than normal from my regular ride and in clean air, on bikes without a screen, it actually sounded absolutely fine. I even managed to pick up a couple of exhaust notes that I hadn’t noticed before, which was nice.
The general low noise is probably due, in part, to the snug neck collar, built into the cheek pads, that the flip-front design allows. You put the helmet on with the flip in an upward position, so your head doesn’t have to go through the neck aperture.
Sound levels did increase noticeably with the vents open though. There is a fold-forward one at the chin and a three-position (off/part open/fully open) one on top and they are effective, the chin vent more so if you dip your chin down – it seems to offer a clearer, more-open channel for the air to enter and hit the inside of the visor.
While it generally doesn’t feel like a huge amount of airflow, the removable breath-guard can be taken off to flow air towards the face as well as the visor, to prevent misting. Having said that, on all occasions, there were no issues with fogging of the main visor, particularly with the included Pinlock insert fitted.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the sun visor. This may well be just a function of the amount of breath I put out but at any speeds lower than large A-road cruising, the sun visor would mist with the main visor shut.
It is possible to crack the visor open and rest it closed, as opposed to closing it fully with the secure lock engaged and this helps but not at urban speeds. You can, of course, open the visor one notch on the ratchet but this means eye-watering airflow at anything faster than a walking pace.
Wet weather performance is very good, as long as you don’t open the main visor – at all. The moment you do, you get a run of water straight down the inside of the visor and you are faced with the decision whether to carry on and try to look past it or pull over somewhere, get the helmet off and try to dry it out, with the possible mess then affecting your vision more than a couple of water drops. Take my advice – whatever the temptation, do not open the visor in the wet.
The Neotec II is dual-homologated, meaning it can be ridden safely with the chin-bar raised as well as dropped and in full-face mode. The locking mechanism is a push further than the first lock when opening, which is very easy with or without gloves on. Similarly, it is also very straightforward to close, with a simple pull-down and lock into place. I didn’t try riding with the flip open – I have tried it once before on a different helmet and really didn’t enjoy the experience.
The fit and finish of the Neotec II are superb. The interior is plush and like other Shoei lids, fits me perfectly. I did find that after a couple of hours on a naked retro there was a feeling of tightness across my forehead, but I feel this was down to the wind pressure pushing the helmet back onto my face and forehead – a situation that doesn’t seem to occur on a bike with even the most rudimentary windscreen.
For a helmet that combines the benefits of a flip with those of a full-face, this is a great helmet. It is quiet, comfortable and looks good too. Venting is good in the warm as well as the wet, with no water entering though I did find it tricky to keep the drop-down sun visor free of mist at lower speeds.
It is also heavier than a comparable full-face helmet, which led to a stiff neck after a few days of riding. However, this is a helmet I would be happy to tackle a long-distance ride or tour in on a bike that has a degree of wind protection to reduce the strain on the neck.
Easy to use flip-front
Heavy and sun-visor misting