If you've been riding for any length of time you'll start to pick up on all of those little things that can really turn a ride sour after a small amount of time in the saddle. With a Helmet there are three big little things: comfort, weight, and wind-noise. Luckily for us riders Shoei has the answer to all of those problems in the GT-Air helmet.
When I first started riding my helmet was just a simple beginner lid. It was polycarbonate, had a drop-down sun visor, and was lower down in the price range. I'd recommend it to new riders, however there were a few issues. The helmet in question was loud, even above a measly 70km/h, to the point were I was forced to either use earplugs or not ride at all. Its aerodynamics were not awful, but after an hour and a half of riding from Manotick to Kemptville at just above the speed limit my shoulders and neck were sore and I just couldn't wait to finish the ride. Comfort and fogging were also a big issue, and my poor glasses just would not fit nicely inside or comfortably. Contrast that to the GT-Air and the difference is, to be a little cliche, night and day.
The first thing you'll notice when you're trying on the Shoei is the comfort. It really does feel as though it was made specifically for your face. The interior liner and pads, called the "3D Max-dry interior system" by Shoei, are immensely comfortable. After riding for over four hours the helmet felt the exact same as when I had just put it on and during a stop over in Westport, on the south end of Big Rideau Lake, I had no hesitations about putting it back on and continuing my ride(I was almost excited!).
The GT-Air is equipped with a fully removable, washable, and replaceable 3D Max-Dry interior system. The 3D center pad components are three-dimensionally shaped to match the contours of a rider’s head, allowing for an extremely comfortable fit while maintaining the firm hold necessary for distraction-free, high-speed riding. Additionally, the 3D-shaped cheek pads are available in different thicknesses for a customizable fit. As if that wasn’t enough, SHOEI’s exclusive Max-Dry liner material absorbs and dissipates sweat and moisture twice as fast as traditional Nylon interiors.
Ventilation is big part of comfort and this helmet has that in spades with three very large vents that flow an extreme amount of air to keep you cool, even on those forty degree days. If you find anything to be off, Shoei has made it very easy to change the liner and cheekpad out for different sizes. The GT-Air will also accommodate even the larger framed glasses out there due to special cut-outs and generous ear pockets.
Utilizing SHOEI’s wind tunnels to help reveal the optimal balance between airflow and silence, SHOEI engineers equipped the all-new GT-Air with a large lower vent shutter for ease of use with riding gloves, a strategically-placed, three position upper vent for optimal air intake, uniquely-positioned upper exhaust outlet vents to take better advantage of negative pressure suction, and a multi-piece EPS liner with cooling air channels... All yielding dramatically-improved cool-air intake and hot-air expulsion.
Thanks to the superior aerodynamics and rigorous wind-tunnel testing, the GT-Air has turned moving weight and neck problems into a thing of the past. The significant yet tasteful protrusion on the rear of the helmet is designed as spoiler, using the air flowing beside the helmet to rotate your head forward for you and take much of the work, quite literally, off of your shoulders. I weighed my personal TC-1 Wanderer and it came out to just over three and a half pounds, three ounces lighter than the my other helmet in standing weight.
Few components of a motorcycle helmet are as critical as its first-layer of defense, which is precisely why the new GT-Air features an AIM shell construction. Combining fiberglass with organic fibers, the GT-Air’s shell is not only incredibly strong, it is extremely lightweight, and comes in an impressive three shell sizes to ensure a custom fit for heads between the sizes of XS-XXL. In addition, SHOEI’s exclusive, state-of-the-art shell forming technology incorporates the aerodynamic advantages of a spoiler right into the shell of the GT-Air, thereby eliminating the need for a traditional plastic spoiler. Reducing lift and drag during high-speed riding, the GT-Air’s shell-integrated spoiler yields a stable, less fatiguing ride.
Another element which is significantly affected by aerodynamics is the effect of wind noise. You will get a small amount of it, however the three different shell sizes are designed to completely eliminate those levels which find their way into the helmet and cause those headaches that the vast majority of us have felt. I don't personally enjoy riding with earplugs, and after a three to four hour journey into the Gatineau hills or zipping along on the 417 I still had no hint of a wind-induced head ache.
No helmet of this caliber is complete without a couple bells and whistles, my favourites of which have to be the deployable internal sun-visor and the Pinklock® anti-fog system. Instead of pulling over and fumbling with a second visor or a pair of sunglasses, something especially difficult for us bespectacled folks, all you need to do is reach up to the left of the helmet and flick a switch to deploy the visor regardless of how fast you're moving. The Pinlock® system comes in the box and is snaps easily into the stock CNS-1 shield, creating a mechanical fog-free system that simply cannot fog up. The GT-Air also comes with a fully removable interior liner and emergency neck roll removal tabs just in case you have to make use of its fully fibreglass shell.
The GT-Air’s built-in QSV-1 sun shield gives riders instant relief from sun glare in one quick motion. A large, easily located switch activates the 3D injection-molded inner shield, and the distortion-free, anti-fog, scratch-resistant view blocks 99% of the sun’s damaging UV rays just like the CNS-1 external shield that lies ahead. The forehead area of the outer shell is raised slightly to accommodate the internal sun shield, allowing for the integrity of the helmet’s inner EPS liner to remain intact. The QSV-1 sun shield exceeds the ANSI Z80.3-2010 standard for non-prescription eyewear.
The Shoei GT-Air really is a fantastic piece of kit whether you're riding an 2016 R1200GS, 1986 Ninja 1000R, or even your choice of Harley Davidson cruiser. It's cool, it's quiet, it's light, and most importantly it lets you get back to doing what just wanted to do all along, enjoy the ride.