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  • February 21, 2012
  • Gabe Ets-Hokin
  • Garth Milan/MCG
  • 52 Comments

MD Product Review: Shoei Neotec

I’ll come out and say it: I really don’t understand why you’d want a modular (flip-front) helmet. I ride with an full-face helmet, period, so why would I want the option of flipping the front up? All it does, I’ve found, is add a lot of weight to the lid, weight that tends to make the helmet feel off-balance. It also makes the helmet noisy, and in a lot of cases, less safe—flip-front helmets don’t get a Snell rating and oftentimes the front section is flimsy plastic with no impact liner, just a fancy faceshield, really. You can keep ‘em.

That’s why I balked when Shoei told me it wanted to send me its new Neotec modular helmet to test. New for 2012, the Neotec seems to take on all of my issues, which is why I just had to try it. The front part is both light and safe, using a new 360-degree pivot locking system to keep the lid shut and locked tight (the latch mechanism on Shoei’s Multitech, the helmet the Neotec replaces, failed 17 percent of the time in U.K Department of Transport SHARP testing). The Advanced Integrated Matrix shell comes in 3 sizes, the comfort liner is removable, and the impact liner is made of dual-density foam for enhanced impact protection and the ability to run ventilation channels deep between the layers of foam. Other niceties include an injection-molded flip-down sunscreen, removable pads for headphones, and some of the biggest vents I’ve seen on any helmet sold in the USA.

The list of nice features goes on from there. The Neotec has a slide-down internal sunscreen that’s distortion-free and blocks 99 percent of UV radiation. Wind-tunnel designed vents are big and easy to work with gloves on. The front latch mechanism works with a simple one-finger snap (but double-check to make sure it latches all the way), and one of Pinlock’s outstanding anti-fog inserts comes with the helmet.

It’s been a while since I’ve tested a helmet with this level of build quality. It’s like having a tiny luxury car on your head, right down to that sweet new-car smell. The latches and levers work with liquid smoothness and the paint is flawless. On my head, the liner is soft and comfortable, and the fit was just right for me—notable, as the last Shoei I had (an X-11) was too tight.

It’s a very good helmet, by far the best flip-front I’ve tested. It’s light for a modular (3 pounds, 11 ounces on the MD postage scale), especially one with an internal sunscreen. It’s also got a nice balanced feel—not too much weight fore or aft—whether the front is up or down. It’s quiet; not as quiet as the best full-facers, but quieter, by far, than the drafty, noisier models I’ve tried in the past. It’s also almost airtight and very comfortable—mine needed no break-in. The vents bring in a lot of air, even at lower speeds, without being too noisy and the earphone pockets are the most useful I’ve tested—the surface sticks well to Velcro and there’s ample room for positioning your speakers perfectly, important for helmet-mounted sound systems. My only complaint is the faceshield, which isn’t quite as easy to swap out as other brands, but fine once you get the hang of it.

The Neotec did what a dozen modulars have failed to do—show me it’s possible for a flip-up helmet to be as comfortable and useful as a full-facer. I still don’t really appreciate the utility, but I know there are a lot of you who do. At $649 ($663 for metallic colors) it’s not cheap, but it really is a Mercedes of flip-up helmets and worth it for touring or commuting riders who spend more time riding than they do talking about riding.

52 Comments

  1. bikerrandy says:

    Ziggy, I have a FF helmet and flip-up and wear glasses on occasion. My FU is far more practical and I don’t believe it’s less safe the a FF helmet. My FF does have better air flow(cooling) but that is all, IMHO.

  2. Jay Mack says:

    If I was gong to spend premium bucks on a gimick helmut, I’d go for the Re-vue, the one with rear vision built in. It’s avainlable now. No point in having two gimmicky helmets. I’d go for the rear vision.
    Other than that, unless you’re a special needs child, just take off your helmut, when you need to.

    • mark444 says:

      The “full face helmet” was considered a “Gimick helmet” when it came out 40 years ago……..does that make it dumb??

    • bikerrandy says:

      Tell us what you REALLY think, Jay. ;^ ) Btw, it’s spelled helmet, not helmut.

      • x-planer says:

        Apparently Jay has special needs. The whole point, Jay, is that you can get a drink, have a smoke, whatever, without removing the helmet. We really don’t have to do it your way, Jay. Really.

        • mr_dirtrider says:

          Not to mention the cooling benefits… when you ride in a place like Phoenix, it is nice to be able to flip that up to get more air when sitting at a light. After having one of these, I won’t go back.

          • ziggy says:

            Guys, it’s just not that hard to remove a regular full face helmet. You should do it anyways often so as to give your head a rest and let your scalp breathe. Don’t tell me the convenience of lighting up a smoke outweighs the safety afforded by a quality full face helmet – talk about specious reasoning! And as for hot weather, well we all know the old axiom: If it’s too hot to wear proper safety gear, it’s too hot to ride.

          • kadzy says:

            good point, also much easier to talk you your riding mate at a traffic lite, etc

  3. Bob says:

    I can’t live without the flip up helmet. There’s more advantages to them than just glasses wearers and smokers. Some people mention drinkng and eating. Yep. Especially on really long rides, tours and iron butt outings. For me, the biggest thing is that I have bad allergies. Flipping the front up wether stopped or moving is invaluable so I can sneeze or hock a loogey and not splatter the inside of my shield. Great for gassing up, stopped at a light, talking to the cop who just pulled me over for doing 120… The list goes on.

  4. Stinky says:

    I’ve worn flip fronts for over 20 years. I’ve only REALLY liked one, a Nolan I borrowed and will be my next purchase. My Shoei Multitec is a noisy POS that got retired early. I actually wear a $100 Zeus that I like better. I wish Arai would try the flip front. I’m a glasses wearer, smoker (egad!), talker. In short I own a few helmets and the flip front gets the nod 90% of the time. I’ve only worn one that was reasonably quiet, the Nolan. The rest REQUIRE earplugs, it’d be nice if they would test helmets with someone that actually uses the product and can evaluate them with past and present and necessary improvements for the future.

  5. kadzy says:

    It’s beyond most any website to safety test a helmet, that’s what organizations like SHARP are for. Their posted safety results may surprise many. Flip ups like this are rated above many name brand full face lids. Some brands never open during testing, some expensive ones do. Some brands don’t fit well, others do…
    the convenience of grabbing a quick drink or to enjoy a smoke is somewhat more easily done than when wearing a regular full face. I cross through a border on a regular basis, really appreciate the time saved.

    • ze says:

      Actually the results show that they are unsafer, check there: http://sharp.direct.gov.uk/testsratings/

      The only Shark helmet with 3 stars is the openline, all others are 4 or 5

      From shoei is the same: 3 stars for multitech and 4 or 5 for all the others except the old rf1000.

      Hjc? the same, the modulars are 3 star at most…

      So where’s the surprise?
      Modular of course are more practical but will ever be less safer.
      No surprise, if they were safer people who race would use it, and no one who race ever used them…

    • kadzy says:

      funny, my 4-star Nolan N90 ranks higher than many full face helmets, besting most high end lids. no doubt, a racer would want the best helmet they could fit on their heads, but they also wear what a sponsor would recommend. a team would also demand the lightest helmet, why else would many fasteners on a motogp bike be made of titanium, yes, modulars do tend to be heavier, but they do not have to be less safe when properly designed.

  6. AndrewF says:

    You would quickly grasp the advantage of flip-up helmets if you wore glasses – especially if your daily routine consisted of lots of short trips on your bike everyday, like mine does (I work as a community nurse and I travel between my client’s homes on my bike).

  7. mark444 says:

    Don’t get “Adventure-Touring” mixed up with “Dual-Sport”. I see an Adventure-Touring rider as one who rides long stretches of road (paved & gravel) and takes lots of pictures of his/her travels……that’s where the flip-up comes in handy: taking pics with a decent size camera……not your “point-n-click” type. I doubt I would ever be able to afford a $600 hat, but would LOVE to win one………!!!!!!!

  8. venator390 says:

    Gabe. Really? You ride with an open face helmet? Misprint right?

  9. Dean says:

    Helpful review. I’ve owned a few flip-ups. My favorite is the relatively inexpensive Nolan N90. Great all-around helmet. Flip-ups are awesome for quick stops (no need to take off the helmet to respond to someone checking out your bike or to talk to a cashier in a gas station). I also like them for touring – especially when riding with others (easy to yell out or hear instructions at a light). They’re awesome if you wear glasses too.

  10. mickey says:

    I have and wear a modular helmet, several full face helmets, a 3/4 helmet and an open face helmet which I alternate depending on which motorcycle I’m riding at the time, the naked standard, the sport bike, the sport tourer with electric windshield, or the scooter. Each type helmet has their strengths and weaknesses. Although undoubtedly safer, as a glasses wearer, full face helmets are a pain in the rump when putting glasses on or taking the helmet off once they are on. The modular is better in that regard, but it is heavy, cumbersome and noisy. The 3/4 gives as almost as much wind protection as the full face (with the shield down) but is easier to put on and take off while wearing glasses. The open face is easy to take on or off with glasses but provides zero wind protection.

    I understand the risks are higher with anything other than a full face, but riding a motorcycle is a risk in itself. If you want to be safer drive a car (but of course people die in car wrecks as well).

    agree wholeheartedly on the Captchas

  11. Youth says:

    If I recall, none of these flip-ups meet Snell standards.

    Why MD doesn’t test Arai XC helmets? They are 3/4 open face helmets.

    • Ayk says:

      There is a Euro standard for flippers that differentiates between those where the chin bar is intended to protect and those where it’s not. The Vemar flippers have protective chin bars and meet that standard.

  12. smitty74 says:

    I like my Multitec for at least 2 reasons. First the field of view when the facemask is up is like an open face, which is handy when backing up my bike into a parking space or other confined location. Second, when I’m traveling fast and far, I can refuel myself and my bike quickly without the need to remove my helmet. They’re not for everyone, but neither is riding motorcycles.

  13. Jeremy in TX says:

    I ride with a full face helmet most of the times for safety reasons, but I also own a Nolan modular which I love. If I am riding with others or going on a long trip, I’ll usually take the Nolan. It is nice to be able to flip up the lid to have a quick word with another rider or get a little more air in during a really hot day when moving slow. With the lid down, I can still protect my face from bugs, cold, pelting rain and asphalt even if the level of protection falls short of a full face.

    The Nolan is certainly heavier than my carbon-fiber full-face, but I honestly don’t really notice while riding and think it is actually more comfortable at higher speeds (naked bike rider) presumably because the extra mass keeps my head from from being jostled as much by turbulence.

    This NeoTec costs twice what I paid for the Nolan, but if it more comfortable and the locks prove to be more secure under Sharp testing, it is worth the premium.

  14. Kjazz says:

    “I’ll come out and say it: I really don’t understand why you’d want a modular (flip-front) helmet.”

    Well then, apparently you lack even the most basic ability to project typical motorcycling scenarios into your imagination. Such as…..

    1) Those of us who wear glasses find a flip front especially nice for the obvious reasons of contantly removing the damn things to put on or take off our non-flip helmets;
    2) A flip front is great for those quick moments at a stoplight or wherever, when one needs to communicate clearly with someone else without the typical “WTF did you say…!!?”;
    3) Sometimes it’s nice to lift the front just to get a blast of air for a minute;
    4) or, take a drink from a water bottle;
    5) or, pick my nose;
    6) or, ad naseum……(now you can think of a few I’ll bet)

    It may add some weight, but unless you’ve got a weak pencil neck, it’s not so much as to cause an issue; especially with the lighter overall units that are being produced.

    Now the inner shield is another thing completely. I’ll NEVER buy another helmet that does not have an inner shade/shield. That is the MOSTest BESTest convenientest thing since sliced bologna.

  15. kman says:

    I’ve never really wanted a flip front either, never really understood the purpose. But when dual sport riding, my buddy uses one, and I think it makes some sense for that environment. I don’t get why anyone would want to ride with an open face helmet either (don’t believe I would have a face or jaw without a full face), let alone without one, so whatever, guess it takes all kinds of riders and helmets to fit their demands. Not sure your preferences really have anything to do with reviewing the product.

    • Ziggy says:

      Not sure what your friend considers “dual sport” but my experience with that kind of riding is that a god hard DS ride is one of the most physically exhausting and dangerous styles of riding out there, oftentime with multiple crashes and drops in a single day. To me it seems an absurdity that anything less than a full dirt bike helmet and / or full face helmet would be used for DS riding. I always assumed these silly flip lids were for scooter riders in the city. http://www.dualsportbc.com/

      • x-planer says:

        Well, you know what they say when you “assume” ziggy. I would say any ride that has several drops and crashes in a day is a dirt bike ride. Several drops and crashes on a dual sport is not too good. And on an adventure ride on a big trailie you really shouldn’t be crashing, dropping or picking up your almost 600 lb adv bike at all. Makes for a long day. Anyway, the flip up are good helmets, I’ve started using one after almost 40 years of full face and I like it. Any crash that would destroy the chin bar on a modular as opposed to a full face would be a bad impact.

  16. Ayk says:

    If your last Shoei was too tight…it was the wrong size or head shape for you. And if this one is comfy right away…it’s probably the wrong size. Since no two heads are alike, helmet reviewers should be careful about dissing the fit of a lid.

  17. BillyGoat says:

    I had a flip up; a Schuberth. And I agree; I still don’t know what a flip up helmet is for, unless you do alot of talking to a passenger (without an intercom) or eat/drink with your helmet on? Really?

  18. PN says:

    I liked the Multitech and I like the Neotec except for the price so I’m leaning towards the new Nolan N104 for ~$350.

  19. takehikes says:

    As Bell helmet used to say “if you have a 10 dollar head buy a 10 dollar helmet”. Well I guess I do since about $100 is my limit for a helmet. $650 for a flip front helmet? If I’m going to spend that kind of cash on my melon it will be a real full face. Mostly use a 3/4 Rockhard and love it.

  20. Ray says:

    I thought there was a punchline coming when you said: “I really don’t understand why you’d want a modular (flip-front) helmet. I ride with an open-face helmet, period, so why would I want the option of flipping the front up?” But you’re serious!
    Helmet 101: Open face = Smashed face

    • Dave says:

      Heck, one cicada or other large insect on the cheeck/face is reason enough to wear a full-face lid on any bike without a full-size fairing.

      These capatcha things are getting ridiculous. I have to refresh 2-4 times before I get one I can read and I have perfect vision.

    • dannytheman says:

      Might be a serious improvement in my case!!

    • Dale says:

      The full face helmet made sense to me after a front flat caused me to stick a perfect three point landing while going around a corner as fast as I could in ’75, the third point was my chin. No more 3/4 helmets for me, I’d prefer to ride helmetless, either protected or not as I see it. Most of my time/miles are “protected” as I ride.

      I may have to check out the Neotec, I wanted to wait for the modular’s to work out their “bugs” before risking my chin ;-) The appeal of a “flip bar” on a good helmet is apparent to me.

  21. Wanderer says:

    Flips are great for sport touring – stopping at getting a drink/gassing up w/o removing the helmet, then back up to 100 mph for a comfortable blast through the western states.

    • bikerrandy says:

      Those that don’t see the advantages of a flip up helmet don’t ride long distances like some of us do. When you ride hours at a time in the desert your face dries out from wind blow. When you stop for gas, you don’t have to take your helmet off to drink and at the same time your face cools down. When you get a face plant your face is still like it was at the beginning. Whenever I crash it’s face first.

  22. dannytheman says:

    In winter I wear a 3/4.
    In summer I don’t wear a helmet or wear a 1/2 helmet.

    I wouldn’t see any use for this flip up in my garage at all!

  23. MGNorge says:

    In 1972 I bought my XL250 for $850! Yes, times have changed. I have used FF helmets since about that time when I hit a pack of dogs that gave chase and I/them could get out of each other’s way. I landed on my shoulder and side of my face, I was wearing an open helmet. The helmet cracked, face shield was destroyed and what once was my long nicely groomed side burn (lamb chop) was now looking like something from the butcher. No more open face for me no matter how light and airy. I currently have a Nolan M102, my first modular, and it’s comfortable but admittedly louder. But I wear earplugs regularly anyway so that takes care of that. I don’t notice any great draftiness but maybe that’s me. Compared to a standard FF helmet it’s nice to flip the chin up while talking to buddies or refueling, etc. I have no idea how it would hold up in a get off and I suspect not as well as a well made FF but compared to them it’s much easier wearing glasses. Personal preferences.

  24. Tom says:

    The main utility factor for the flip up helmets, perhaps the only one compared to a conventional full coverage helmet, is the ability to not have to remove eye glasses when removing or donning this helmet.

  25. ABQ says:

    The real test is whether you can put it on and take it off without first removing your glasses.

  26. simon says:

    …stick with the schubert and be happy. The new c3 is lighter, safer, etc…. few years ego even some racers whom were sponsored by #### were wearing schuberts.

    • Buzz says:

      I’ve got a C3 and it’s killing me. That ridiculous “point” on the front is a constant source of headaches.

  27. Bill says:

    Boy, this inflation thing is something else. I bought a new Honda 160 out the door in 1966 for $650.00. Of course I think minimum wage was .85 cents an hour then. I could only afford it because I was still living with my parents. My first helmet was a $10.00 Buco. Ah, the good old days :-).

  28. Chance says:

    The safety of a full face helmet with the ability to eat a Ding Dong, chug a Mountain Dew, and ask the gas station attendant the location of the loo…without having to remove your lid!

  29. John says:

    I love my Multi Tec. And am looking forward to trying this one on.

    • Vaughan says:

      I love my Multitec too but I think I’m going to love my Neotec a little more for the sun visor alone because I ride a lot at sun up and sun down. There is also greater visibility with the Neo and the Pinlock covers a larger area pushing the edge further out of the eye-line. I sense a greater amount of ventilation going on which cannot be a bad thing. I don’t find the noise level in either the Multi or Neo to be any problem at all but I play a bass in a loud rock band so other opinions may vary. Good hats them both. I consider my noggin to be worth the expense of hard-earned and hard-saved moolah, not everyone would agree with me of course…