Shoei NEOTEC-II with SENA SRL Comms System Review
Shoei just released the North American version of the NEOTEC-II long-distance modular touring helmet. Although available in the EU last year, Shoei held up production in the U.S. for additional refinements, most notably is the newly designed “micro-ratchet chinstrap” mechanism and an improved visor system.
I’ve been a fan of modulars for over a decade. Although they tend to be a little noisier than most full-face helmets, the flip front allows for significantly more freedom. The rider can easily pop open the front to talk to others, catch a cool breeze, or to look around without the visor cutout inhibiting range of vision. Modulars are not as confining as full helmets, and whatever compromises exist between the two designs, I’ll take the freedom every time.
It’s worth noting that Shoei has been making modular helmets for about 30 years, and it’s easy to see how the details of their designs echo their long experience. At this price point and quality range, the closest other helmet that I have experience with is the Schuberth C3, another excellent product. In comparison the NEOTEC-II has the optional SENA SRL communication system, which was custom-built specifically for this helmet and is slick, lightweight and extremely easy to use. The Schuberth is noted for being the quietest flip-front around, but the NEOTEC-II is certainly a match—also providing a little more room around the ears, so they’re not as compressed in the helmet. I also prefer the NEOTEC-II/SENA audio volume and quality. And the NEOTEC-II’s visor has the best optics of any helmet I’ve experienced.
Chinstrap D-rings are fading fast, as they should. The more modern ratchet-style chin strap, makes securing the helmet or removing it a far easier process, and it can be done with gloves on. Shoei’s micro-ratchet chinstrap design is a one of a kind. It’s far sturdier than any I’ve used in the past, and instead of all-plastic, it has key stainless-steel components. Further, the new design is significant enough for Shoei to have applied for a patent.
The optional SENA SRL comm system is cause for yet another reason to love this helmet. With each generation SENA’s interface improves dramatically. The SRL is now down to just three glove-friendly buttons (with a lot of power hidden behind their simplicity). The NEOTEC-II’s liner/padding was specifically routed to accommodate this custom comm system. It’s seamless with no protruding parts or wires to catch, adding only a tiny amount of extra weight to an already relatively light helmet. I’ve been using SENA products since their inception and am a solid fan. As far as connecting my Garmin zūmo 395LM and smartphone, the entire process took less than five minutes, with the majority of that time spent looking up how to kick the SRL into pairing mode. The rest was practically intuitive. You just can’t beat that.
Shoei’s multi-piece/density EPS liner coupled with the padding tends to be on the thicker side, at least a third thicker than the Schuberth C3. Without crash experience it’s difficult to know which has the better design philosophy, but I did find that the Schuberth has slightly better visibility. As far as safety, I suspect they both have their merits and have certainly been put through rigorous testing for safety—something their respective manufacturers are respected for. Shoei is Japanese, Schuberth is German—both countries known for their outstanding quality and engineering expertise.
A couple of years ago I had the use of a NEOTEC-I for a day. To be honest, I didn’t really like it at all and wasn’t impressed. All that has changed with the NEOTEC-II. Within the first hour I was sold and with the exception of a couple of very minor points, it’s an outstanding flip-front helmet. Here’s a list of refinements over the NEOTEC-I:
- Better noise reduction with new interior system
- Outstanding ventilation
- The optional SENA SRL (Shoei Rider Link) kit is an exclusive, SENA built this version of their comm system specifically for the NEOTEC-II
- Micro-ratchet stainless-steel chinstrap makes its first appearance in the U.S. It has a really positive connection/disconnection. Shoei has also filed a patent on their design.
- The visor has an additional high-locking open position
- Improved aerodynamics
- Helmet is made in Japan, however the all-new visor mechanism is made in the U.S. in Pennsylvania to military-grade spec that includes ultra-high optical quality
- There are now four shell sizes (NEOTEC-I had three)
- Comes with Shoei’s free “Cheekpad Exchange Program.” If you wear a set out, just let Shoei know, and they’ll send you a new one.
I’ve never owned a helmet that didn’t fog up with the visor down when there wasn’t enough ambient air flow to keep it clear. It’s therefore mandatory to have a first opening notch that just provides a crack (about a quarter of an inch). No matter who’s flip-front, I’ve also never found a venting system that cures this phenom. For some reason, this simple point gets missed by almost every helmet manufacturer, including Shoei. Instead of a crack, the NEOTEC-II’s first notch is about an inch at the first notching point. But due to the visor’s optical clarity, it’s not as much of an issue. However, when it rains I’d advise wearing a balaclava to hoist up over the mouth and nose to prevent discomfort and reduce fogging.
Removing or replacing the visor was a little tricky at first, although after figuring it out was super easy to do. Manuals are intended to help with matters like this, but the language obscured the simplicity and the diagrams were insufficient to properly explain the process. There’s not a product out there that wouldn’t benefit by putting a little more effort into their instruction manuals—which are typically obtuse and not of much value to the user.
When I first looked over the NEOTEC-II I thought a removable peak would have been a nice touch. However, it does have a drop-down sun visor, and due to the thickness of the liner and padding, that extra width acts to better shade the eyes from the glaring sun, making adding a peak pretty much unnecessary.
The wrap up
I’ll be spending a lot of time in this helmet over the upcoming months and am looking forward seeing how it holds up to the rigors of long distancing and varying weather/climatic conditions. First impressions are two thumbs way up on Shoei’s NEOTEC-II!
MSRP: NEOTEC-II—$699 | SENA SRL Option—$299 Shoei-Helmets.com
|▲ An optional fully-integrated SENA SRL comm system||▼ Needs a lower notch on the visor opening to allow for anti-fogging.|
|▲ Excellent visor optics|
|▲ Comfortable and aerodynamic|
|▲ The best micro-ratchet chinstrap I've ever seen|
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