Wheel alignment

Saturday 20 May 2017

Shoei GT Air Review

This isn't a full review of the GT Air helmet, you can find plenty of reviews on the web, including the YouTube videos hosted by the ever-enthusiastic Anthony from Revzilla.  This is a bit more personally-oriented in selecting one for my specific needs and finding out whether the selection process actually worked!

The GT Air Expanse TC4

A confession......

My much-loved old Shoei helmet is 9 years old.  Funny how time gets away on you without noticing! It's been so comfortable that it's one of those things you tend not to think about, particularly as it looks pristine.  Still, looks aren't everything and it's about twice as old as normal recommendations for the life of a helmet - rather embarrassing!

What actually triggered thoughts of a replacement was the recent purchase of some custom-moulded silicone ear plugs. They don't deform like foam ones and there was pressure on them from my Sena comms speakers which was quite distracting.  I need comms for my IAM mentoring and it's pretty handy on social rides too.  Once the trigger was pulled to look for a replacement, speaker cutout space became the main consideration.  Another factor was dazzle from the sun.  I've gone down the route of carrying two visors for weather changes and riding in the dark and it can be a pain for various reasons.  Also, a really dark visor causes problems when you're entering shaded areas having been out in bright light.  Iridium-coated visors offered a partial solution and so did my last visor with a graded tint but boy, I've spent some money on visors over the years - I've just counted 10 good ones in the cupboard!

My good mate and fellow IAM Observer and blogger Rob Van Proemeren has just bought a Shoei GT Air and the first thing I asked was about space for speakers and he said that they seemed quite deep.  The other feature is an internal flip-up smoked visor which seemed a sensible alternative to a cupboard full of visors!  I should mention that I then floated the idea of a new helmet to my Chief Financial Officer on safety grounds and bless her heart, she thought my head was worth preserving.  Discussing the myriad of colour schemes shown on the web, I preferred a blue and white livery and she preferred the one with green highlights.  See the photo above - you know what's coming, don't you??  Anyway, armed with comms and new earplugs when visiting my favourite dealer a couple of days later, the GT Air was indeed the bees knees (or the dogs bollocks, depending on where you come from in the world).  Shoei helmets are perfect for my head shape.  Arai's and some others aren't. But what about the chosen colour, I hear you ask?  My more cynical friends would say that I caved in to Jennie.  However, hand on heart, the green highlighting and gold pinstripes looks far nicer in natural daylight than blue.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it..

So far,  I've done an almost continuous 500 km ride which is a good test of comfort.  So what are the things I've noticed?  Let's start with a small negative... I wear spectacles and in the still air confines of the house before I jump on the bike, a bit of huffing and puffing can mist up my specs, even with the visor open. I think this is because of the detachable breath guard.  It's designed to deflect breath away from the visor but in doing so, I think it deflects it back onto my specs.  I could fix the problem by removing the guard but it's not a really serious matter so will leave it in place for the time being. It doesn't happen in the open air.

Right, onto the positives....

It's supremely comfortable.  The speaker cutouts are indeed deep enough to accommodate the Sena speakers and new ear plugs without interference.  Soft infills come with the helmet if you don't have speakers.  It's a perfect fit all round and I didn't experience any irritating pressure points during the ride.

Deep cutouts for speakers

At 1.6 kg, it's a little lighter than my old Shoei thanks to composite construction and thanks to the good fit and decent aerodynamics, it feels very stable at normal road speeds.  This reduces fatigue as does the other notable feature - it's very quiet compared with the old Shoei.  Listening to the coms is just like having the person stand next to you.  As well as the good fit, there's been attention to detail to reduce noise levels in terms of a chin guard, vent design and even the flip-up tag on the visor has been aerodynamically shaped.  Also, due to the visor closing mechanism design, it's pulled back hard against the rubber seal, eliminating air whistle.  The other benefit is that it seems unlikely that water will dribble down the inside of the visor.  It certainly didn't during a short downpour on my ride.  Another feature which I hope never to use is quick release side pads so that the helmet can be easily removed in the case of an accident.  Incidentally, the whole helmet lining is removable for washing. Only the cheek pads were removable on the old helmet so I'm sure that various life forms had set up residence in there over the years.

Visor mechanism - all sorts of springs and cams and stuff - leave well alone!

No misting.  The pinlock insert which is supplied with the helmet takes care of misting but the vents also seem quite efficient - you can feel the air movement inside the helmet.  Very reassuring in adverse conditions.  The helmet is also a little longer fore and aft than the older one, meaning that my face is a little further away from the front.  Also handy as it gives a bit more clearance for the Sena microphone.

And finally...... the internal visor!  Diving in and out of the shade on the coast road, not to mention sun-strike off the sea, it worked a treat.  Looks like it might finally offer a near-perfect solution.   The slider shown just below the visor in the photo above is mechanically linked to the internal visor and extremely easy to use with gloved hands.  Looks pretty cool in town too with the clear visor raised **cue Jennie rolling her eyes and sighing**

Robocop wannabe

At NZ$899 (US620 or GBP479), it's not a budget helmet but the price is surprisingly comparable with overseas sources. However, it's well made, comfortable and totally meets my needs.  I'm a happy camper!

Finally, a plug for a product I've only been using for a few month but does exactly what it says on the tin!  The bane of any motorcyclist's life is good vision in wet weather. To bead moisture off visors quickly, I've used all sorts of products with varying degrees of success.  Rain-X which has a silicon base has been pretty good but seems a little less effective than it used to be.  I recently started using Plexus (not to be confused with health products of the same names as they'd smear the visor), which was developed for the aviation industry - helicopter bubbles and the like.  Shifts moisture really well and splattered bugs are easy to remove.  Not cheap, but economical to apply. Prices seem to vary wildly with an on-line NZ motorcycle accessory shop being the most expensive and an on-line aviation accessory business being the cheapest.

Plexus - doesn't disappoint

July 2018 update
I've now been using the GT Air for about 14 months.  Still absolutely delighted with with it.  It still fits well and is pretty quiet although custom ear plugs actually improve the audio quality of my Sena speakers.  I use the Plexus shown above on both the external visor and the shell as a water repellent and ease of cleaning off road grime and bugs.  I just clean the internal visor with water and a microfibre cloth.  The internal visor is a godsend.  My travel home involves 50km of road right by the sea, predominantly into the sun.  In the winter, the low sun causing glare off the sea has always been a problem and the tinted visor makes it much safer.

Are there any drawbacks?  Just one which is weather dependent.  I wear spectacles and on cool days when first putting them on, they tend to mist from my breath.  They clear almost instantly when you get rolling or if there is wind about.  Once they match the ambient temperature, no further problem.  Removing the breath guard helps  but it still occurs with it removed on cold days.  Maybe I'm just a heavy breather!  In any event, it's not sufficiently annoying to cancel out all the positive aspects of this helmet.


  1. Nice choice Geoff, I also have the GT Air it's a good helmet.
    You will come to love the internal shades, I use them all the time especially where you have dark shaded patches across the road you simply flip them up and when you clear it put the shades back down again. Brilliant.

  2. Cheers Steve!

    Delighted to hear that you're still enjoying yours. That internal visor is a major selling point as I guess that the roads we both inhabit gave similar characteristics with alternating light and shade. At present, I'm fumbling a bit to find the lever in a hurry but that's only a matter of practice.

    1. Yep you'll get used to it, it took me awhile to get it and sometimes I still miss it.

    2. Have now covered 800 km and just loving it! I may remove the breath guard to stop my specs fogging whilst getting ready to ride on these cooler mornings but it isn't a big issue.

    3. Yup, if I'm wearing glasses the breath guard comes out of my HJC.

    4. Mine is on the coffee table right now after re-routing the comms wiring. The breath guard might as well come out too!

  3. Phoar eh, flash as Michael Jackson!

    My new Adv helmet has an internal sun visor and a pinlock - both are great things. On my road helmet I have 2 visors. The only problem with my new helmet so far is that there is still not enough room for the Sena speakers, ear plugs and me - I'm going to need to modify it.

    And fogging glasses? Contact lenses FTW!

    1. Hahaha! Proper chick magnet (In my dreams).

      Yep, the internal visor is a real selling point. Contacts? I always thought I looked quite dignified in rimless specs :-) . Seriously though, I did try contacts for a while but it ended in complete farce which is worth a story on its own. Since then, I've stuck with specs!

  4. Interesting Geoff. I figure my Qwest should be replaced within the next year and I recently tried a GT Air, but I found it seemed quite tight to get on, but was quite a good fit when in place. The main problem with that was that it pulled the audio-plugs when I took it off. ...so still looking.

    Re the specs, I got some stuff from an optician that seems to work quite well, but I don't use it much as I tend to ride with the visor up unless it's raining.

  5. Hi John,
    Yep, mine is tight to get on and off too. Maybe the pads have a double curvature. You can get different thickness cheek pads so maybe that would help. Thanks for the heads-up re specs. If it becomes a problem, I'll leave off the breath guard as a first test. That internal visor was fantastic coming up the coast road this afternoon with the sun low. So quick to flick up in the shady spots.

  6. +1 for Plexus, I do believe we have a can in the garage.

    I am glad you are enjoying your Shoei. My Shoei Qwest is getting on in years and is actually too large since cutting off my long hair. Time to start thinking of a new one.

  7. Hi Brandy!
    Great stuff and Plexus smells quite nice too - saves on aftershave ;-) . One thing which surprised me when switching to the new helmet is how much the old one had sunk down on my head with the upper foam compressing. My eyes are much closer to the centre line of the aperture now for better vision. The 3D foam of the GT Air does make it a bit tighter to get on and off, but it's just so comfortable to ride in and definitely helps with reducing fatigue.

  8. Geoff
    That's handy to know about the helemt. My Shoei Neotec has similar cut outs and I agree that they are good. It's worth spending a bit more on a helmet IMHO.

    1. Hi Lee,
      I was looking at a Neotec too but finally decided against it after chatting with Rob, who has had one for a while but also recently bought the GT Air. For him, the GT is quieter and a better fit. I've never tried the Neotec but I can certainly confirm the beautiful fit and quietness of the GT. Having never previously had an internal visor, that's a real bonus!

  9. Lee Blackburn
    11:33 (6 minutes ago)

    to me
    Lee Blackburn has left a new comment on your post "Shoei GT Air Review":

    Where do you get the Plexus from? I'd be keen to try some.

    Lee, mail order through the Pilot Shop in Napier. Much cheaper than Motomail in Auckland. Here's the link:http://www.pilotshop.co.nz/plexus-plastic-cleaner-protectant-and-polish-13oz

  10. Excellent write up. I don't have the patience you did, but concur with just about everything you comment on as we've had the GT Air for awhile. Except for the glasses. I haven't had the requirement. I love the slide down tinted visor. Means I don't have to carry the tinted visor, or worry about sunglasses in the helmet! And no more electricians tape along the top edge of a tinted insert lens! hehe

  11. Hi Lori!
    Thank you! You clearly know what an awesome helmet it is. Yes, that internal visor has so many advantages, doesn't it? Ahhh.... the good old electrician's tape!

    Jennie and I were actually coming to the US later this year to tour the national parks in Arizona and Utah to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary and joint 70th birthdays. However, the opportunity came up to go on a limited numbers safari so we're off to Kenya and Tanzania instead. The US will have to wait until next time!


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