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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I thought I'd share my recent experience with finding the ideal type helmet for my N1k.

To be clear, I'm not a helmet-whore so I don't like buying helmets every year just to see if I'd like it. I'm VERY picky about helmets. My current helmets are 8 years old...goes to show how often I buy them. I do have only four important criteria in this order:

1) Helmet must be Quiet
2) Helmet must vent air well
3) Helmet must be comfortable to wear
4) Nothing over $400!

All the rest, like styling, color, brand, I'm open to whatever just not anything with super bright colors! One would think the above criteria would be a slam dunk. Nope. I realize now that those 4 things above are not as easy to find all at once, and often they are mutually exclusive. Of course, they also cost a lot of money. It boggles my mind but quiet, great venting, has to cost so much for a lid. WTF?

In my quest for my perfect helmet, I found only three that met my criteria: The HJC RPHA 70 ST, the Schuberth C3 Lite, and the Shoei GT-Air (the older model available on close out). I chose the Shoei GT-Air that I found on Close Out at Motorcyclegear.com.

Untitled by rogue_biker, on Flickr

Untitled by rogue_biker, on Flickr

I followed Shoei's fitment guide to find my size. I went to my local Cycle Gear store, tried on a GT-Air 2 they had (they didn't have the GT-Air), and came to the conclusion I am a size Small. Correct to Shoei's recommendation. At least in the 30 minutes I wore the helmet at the store, it felt correct.

Likes:
The GT-Air is indeed as quiet as the reviews say it is. With all the vents shut, shield shut, it sounds like I'm inside my truck with the windows up. It's that quiet (with hearing protection). But there's a catch: My N1k's windshield needed to be in the lowest position. In the middle or high position, the wind noise increased. It's still quiet and had no buffetting or bobble-heading, but nothing like with the windshield all the way down.

This sucker also vents incredibly well. Really, really good. The best venting I've ever experienced both at the chin bar and over the top of my head even when compared to my old Schuberth S2 sport helmet (which vents really well). But there's a catch: With the top vent open, I could hear wind rushing in. Still quiet, but not as quiet as when everything is shut closed.

The fit and finish on the Shoei's are second to none. I mean second to none. The Schuberth isn't even as good even though it's very good. The Shoei ( all of them) are just the best from all the others I've seen in person.

The GT-Air ships with a pinlock insert. Pinlock inserts are a Godsend. No more fogging!

This helmet is super lightweight. It is also compact (in size XS-M).

It is very aerodynamic. Turning my head side to side does not induce any pull from the windblast. It helps to have a snug fit so the helmet does not shift relative to your head position.

Dislikes:
In order to get the bank vault noise reduction, the GT-Air has to fit VERY snug. Especially around the sides. If you have big ears...forget it! If you have a wide noggin, forget it! I don't have big ears and the GT-Air still feels snug around my ears. Snug enough so that I had to remove the Cardo Pack Talk speakers as they were rubbing against the outside of my ear lobes. I'll have to wait until the helmet has loosened up a bit.

Putting on and removing the helmet can be pretty tight as you have to fit your noggin through a small hole! The neckroll fits very close underneath to get that quiet seal.

Shoei only sells clear shields for the GT-Air. Yup. Shoei states the drop down smoke visor is your "dark shield". They don't want customers dropping the smoke shield while wearing a dark main shield. Damn lawyers! Yet, that drop down visor needs to drop down another inch! So, it appears I'm stuck with a clear shield until I divorce my GT-Air.

After all that, I do believe the GT Air is a good match to the N1k. It's optimized as a Sport-Touring helmet so it works really well with the N1k's riding position. My previous helmets were all sport helmets and they just don't agree with the more upright position of the N1k.

One final word: if you want a quiet helmet, you're going to have to put up with very snug fit around the sides and neck roll. That's just how a helmet seals out the noise.
 

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I bought a GT-Air a couple of yrs ago to replace my old Neotec. These days, I always wear a helmet liner that covers the tops of my ears, which helps slipping the helmet on and off tremendously.

I like it so much I bought a second one for a spare. Saved about $100 shipped from the EU so comes with an ECE cert instead of DOT. No big deal.

The drop down sun visor works perfectly for me. I actually prefer having a bit of a gap below the visor, which often times helps me see things better without the dark visor. Like my phone for example.

I don't like the latest versions of GT-Air and Neotech. I am happy with my Uclear bluetooth and don't fancy having to pay another $300 for the Sena add-on. But the "pocket" gets in the way of mounting an external comms unit. #@$%&*! Shoei should learn from Schuberth and offer a cheaper version with the built-in crap deleted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I did read that the GT-Air 2 has that side pocket for a specific Comm unit. Locking in owners or potential owners to a comm unit is not good marketing. It just turns me off to be honest.
 

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Yes, Shoei went to bed with Sena last year. The Neotec 2 model as well. It doesn't mean I can't mount my Cardo unit but it means the normal spot I'd put it can't be used so it has to be mounted further back. Even without getting the Sena add-on the mounting bracket is in all Neotec 2 helmets. My solution was to search everywhere and find an older (NOS) Neotec. I wear glasses and only consider flip face helmets. I also wear a skull cap which really helps keep the glasses and ears in place when putting on a very tight helmet.
The Neotec had removable pads for the Cardo speakers.
Prior to this post, I never even considered "matching" a helmet to a bike (except dirt vs street).
 

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Good work on buying the proper size. I always hated selling helmets. Most believe they need at least an large, and usually an xl. My very best helmet fit has always happened a few rides after I bought it. When new, the better fitting ones were painful, but would break in and feel excellent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The best fitting helmet I got was a Schuberth S2. Primarily because I was at the Schuberth US office and they fitted me to the helmet. They replaced the upper liner with a proper fitting one. It was really snug at first but after it broke in, the fit was incredibly comfortable.

My new GT Air's fit isn't perfect right now. The upper liner, the part that covers the top of the helmet is pretty thick and the helmet sits too high on my head. I bought the thinner liner to get the helmet to sit right. I could have gone to the Shoei office near me to get fitted but that would require for me to take a day off work....nah screw that! I'd rather get a day off to ride!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Prior to this post, I never even considered "matching" a helmet to a bike (except dirt vs street).
Well it wasn't so much as "matching" it, it just coincided with my current helmets being really old and well past their useful lives. I do know that sport helmets work best, venting and aerodynamics-wise, in the head down position that sport bikes force riders into. The N1k position is much more upright.
 

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Back when I finally decided to quit riding sportbikes on the road, I bought an X-11 on closeout to replace my old well-worn X-11. I've only worn it on track days since, and it works perfectly for that use. Even thought it's the same XL size as my road helmet, it fits much tighter. Has no pockets for speakers, flows a S*** ton of air, and very very loud. Even the subsequent X-series helmets all still more-or-less kept those characteristics. Not the best type helmet for general road riding. Then again, I wouldn't want to wear something like the Neotec to the track.

I do agree the GT-Air works well for sport touring, where you might be leaned forward a bit and not have as good wind isolation like on a GT bike. The size was one thing I did not like about the Neotec. It catches a lot of wind. I once did a 600-mile day ride on my Speed Triple R to/from DFW. By the time I rolled into the garage, my neck was stiff and sore from bucking the wind with the Neotec. I've done similar rides with it on larger GT bikes with motorized windscreens. No such problem.
 

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I have used 3 different helmets over the past ten years. The Scorpian with the drop down visor was a nice helmet with cheek pumps, it was not overly quiet or Noisy, average. I had a Bell star, nice fit and I loved the magnet lock for the strap. But the pain in the *** of changing the visor from dark to clear everyday was so ever present. Last year I bought an Arai Quantum X and was able to go from X-large to medium. Shows how bulding a helmet for specific head shapes really makes a difference. The other noticeable attribute was the lack of noise it produced, this made the outrageous price justifyable. The interior finish is top notch and the pinlock visor is incredible, absolutely no fogging even at near freezing températures.There is alot of technology in the exterior shape which I assume helps in the noise reduction. Yes it was expensive but I'll likely never buy anything else. The other part of the noise equation was the windsheild on my bike which sent the windblast directly at my helmet. So I know that the other helmets would be quieter without a windsheild blast hitting them. The Arai handled windsheild blast much better than the other helmets I have owned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
There are helmets and then there are helmets that manufacturers actually lavished R&D time on, where they developed its aerodynamic qualities, Noise suppression, venting, weight reduction, etc. Most of those are designed and manufactured in-house by big name makers, so they just cost more. But many more helmets are compromises, and many others are just styling exercises that use a generic shell made by a contract manufacturer in Asia (China). You have to wonder why it's so hard to make a helmet that vents well.....put holes on it, make sure it has channels for the air to flow through, and another hole to exhaust the air. Simple right? It is in theory.

The quiet part, that requires a lot of testing & development and that costs money. Because the shell has to be aerodynamic first. Then the shield mechanism has to fit tight and stay tight. Then the liners have to also fit around the wearer to seal out ambient noise. Finally, the outer shell has to fit tight against the EPS foam to get rid of that "echo chamber" of an outer shell vibrating against the inner EPS.

I just don't think it's possible to get all of the above at a low price. Not yet anyway. Maybe someday we will have active noise suppression in our comm units to make helmets just quiet all the time. That frees up R&D money for just better venting and a plusher interior.
 

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I ordered the Shoei gt air 2 from Motocard for 439$ I think it was. Order was processed but was canceled. For some reason they could not ship that helmet to the u.s. so I found a gt air one at cycle gear for430$. Took the first ride today with it . It’s a great helmet. I am a size medium and it is very tight going on and taking off. Thanks for the review ocl,
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm glad you like the helmet.

Indeed the GTA and GTA2 both fit VERY snug. Mine now has about 500 miles on it and it has loosened up just a tad. I was able to put the Cardo Pactalk comm unit back on and the speakers are no longer pushing against my right ear. I still do need to position my head just right so my earlobes are directly in the ear opening of the helmet. I did replace the upper liner from the standard 9mm to the thinner 5mm and that put my head exactly where it needed to be.
 

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Col, that's one of the best parts of modern helmets, isnt it.. The ability to order cheek pads and other parts so you get a custom fit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
RC you can actually go to a designated brand office and get custom fitted. Trick is, you have to go there. It's free. I had it done with my old Schuberth. My friends had their Shoei's custom fitted by Shoei here in CA.

If you can't physically go to these specific places, you have to do it on your own. Meaning you have to identify the area you want to address, whether it be cheeks or top of the head, or neck roll, then, figure out if you want to add or reduce material, then buy the appropriate size pads. I did that with all my helmets in the last 10 years and it has worked out great.
 

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I looked at doing that with Bell. I felt like it would be a worthwhile investment. They did the scan, at Cycle Gear. I think it was going to be 1000.00, or so....2014 era, if I remember correctly. They happened to be here on a winter day.

This was the one day that it really worked, being me. Their off the shelf, RS-1 was so close to being perfect. Maye even more so once they we through their cheek pads. I ended up just customizing the base rs1 and that's been my go to since. I may have been able to reduce the weight. The rs1 is 3lbs, 9oz. I saved around 400 by being "good enough" but I still wish I had done the custom thing.

I would have to go custom with Shoei or Arai. I love the brands, but it doesnt fit well, for me. I'm not crazy about the Bell brand, but if shoei, arai, or hjc doesnt cut it, Bell has a different fit than they do.

The best bit of advise I got, with regards to fit is that if you need the strap to keep it on, at any speed, the helmet is too large. That takes some work with our riding position, but it's very possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
RC, with HJC, they have a sub-brand called RPHA and it is their top of the line. Still semi-affordable in the $300-$400 range. Take a look at the RPHA 70 ST. When I looked at it, it felt almost as good as the Shoei GTA. I don't think anyone beats Shoei in fit and finish. But the RPHA 70 is the Shoei GTA competitor and it is very good.

The other brand you should look at is the Schuberth. They make some super expensive lids, but the one I think punches well above its price is the C3 Lite. It's a Modular helmet and got really good reviews. I tried this on and it fit very nicely. Wasn't as tight around the sides as the GTA, but it was close. The reviews say it's one of the quietest and lightest modular helmets at $400.

https://www.cyclegear.com/gear/schuberth-c3-lite-helmet?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsqm56oyH6AIVmh-tBh1rmAEAEAQYFSABEgKdmPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
 

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I have not tried on a Schuberth. Ill see if my Cycle Gear store has one.

I need to do that. I'll bet I have 5 hjc's. Damn good helmets, but the fit just wont do it for me. I'll try on that new one you mentioned..maybe. Modular helmets are amazing. Especially riding around the city. Right now my modular is a Bell Revolver evo. The fit is really good, but you know it's a 200.0 helmet and not a 400.00.

One huge issue I have is that I wear gas permeable contact lenses. Due to some issues, that's all I can wear. I cant have any air flow at my eye level, or it fucks the lenses up and I cant see. I have to remove the liner and seal up most of the airflow channels. Lots of times paying more equals more vents that I cant use.
 

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RC, it’s a big pain to wear contact lenses on a bike... the tiniest of dust particle getting in there and your ride comes to a screeching halt. I’m done with contact lenses and wear only prescription glasses for riding.
 
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On the subject, the Schuberth helmets tend towards a round oval head shape while the majority of helmets are intermediate ovals.
 

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Bikram, I would wear glasses, but they wont work for me. I had an Injury in my right eye and had to have a cornea transplant. That was in 1991. It's all good, but it healed in such a way that the surface is wavy. I have to drop that contact lens right on to it to be able to see. Glasses would give me sight in the left eye only. That is do-able, but it take a few days to adjust to, and just isnt practical as it's nice having both eyes for work. The donor cornea is now 105 years old as the donor was born in 1915.

Over the years I've figured out ways to seel the eye port. No air flow usually means no debris. Offroad was no problem because offroad goggles are so good, but the good street helmets have excellent airflow.
 
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