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Shoei X-Fourteen: MD Track Test

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Helmets are increasingly complex, with features and technology you could only dream of just a few years ago. MD was invited to the U.S. press launch for the Shoei X-Fourteen helmet last week at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway here in Southern California. This is our report.

The Shoei X-Fourteen is the new top-of-the-line helmet from the Japanese manufacturer, and it will become the race helmet of former MotoGP champ Marc Marquez, among other racers. Shoei threw every design trick it had at this helmet. Beginning with aerodynamics, the new X-Fourteen was developed in Shoei’s wind tunnel to save crucial milliseconds on the racetrack. The helmet also incorporates an entirely new ventilation system.

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Sticking with aerodynamics for a minute, an all-new shell shape was used in order to improve stability at high speeds and reduce some of the aero forces that could cause problems for racers and road riders. There is a new Rear Stabilizer System that features a standard set of rear flaps that can actually be replaced with optional, narrower flaps in order to fine tune the aerodynamic performance of the helmet for different conditions and different riding styles. Ridges along the top of the shell and chin bar reduce drag. Finally there is a removable lower air spoiler that can be used to further improve aerodynamic stability. Even the new CWR-F face shield plays a role in aerodynamics with small Vortex Generators Shoei claims reduce air friction and improve air flow around the helmet. The X-Fourteen features six air intakes and six exhaust outlets that work together with channels cut through the EPS liner to maximize cooling air flow to the rider.

That new face shield is carefully designed, according to Shoei, to offer a distortion-free view, and we indeed found the shield very clear with no visible distortion. Ribs on the top and bottom edge of the shield improve rigidity, and a double shield locking mechanism is designed to prevent unwanted openings as a result of an accident.

Shoei employs its Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell construction, which combines fiberglass and organic fibers in several layers that perform separate functions designed to keep the rider safe while remaining extremely lightweight. Shoei offers the X-Fourteen in four shell sizes, and finished sizes ranging from XS to XXL.

Perhaps the biggest news about the X-Fourteen involves the removable, washable interior system, which Shoei calls the 3D Max-Dry Custom Interior System. The rider cannot only replace individual pads for a more custom fit, the X-Fourteen allows the line components to be rotated up to four degrees to increase the upper field of vision … important while tucked in behind a race screen. In other words, think of the face shield being rotated upwards four degrees.

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Ed Sorbo tested the X-Fourteen for MD at Chuckwalla by doing numerous laps aboard our Kawasaki ZX-6R test bike. Chuckwalla has a great deal of variety, including high-speed sweepers and straight sections where speeds are well in excess of 100 mph. First and foremost, Ed loved the rotation feature, because he has a peculiar problem with his eyelids, which exacerbates the problem of limited vision a rider has in a race tuck out the top portion of the face shield. At least one other rider Ed spoke to was very pleased to have the option to rotate the interior liner to increase the range of vision in this manner. An interesting, unique and useful feature.

Although the X-Fourteen is not intended to be as quiet as Shoei’s best touring helmets (Shoei tipped the balance in favor of aerodynamics for racing purposes), Ed (wearing ear plugs) had no issues with the noise level, and found it comfortable enough that it “disappeared” while riding. Perhaps most important for racing, while moving from a tuck to an upright position at the end of straights, or while turning his head to look through corners, Ed found the X-Fourteen was very stable … no buffeting to report. This is in keeping with Shoei’s claims that the new X-Fourteen features 3% less lift, 10% less drag and 50% less buffeting than the model it replaces. The contours and spoilers on the helmet seemed to do their job well (note that the spoilers at the rear of the helmet are designed to pop off during a crash).

We will report back when we get more street miles on a Shoei X-Fourteen, but we were very impressed with our brief track test. Pricing for the X-Fourteen ranges from $681.99 for solid colors to $839.99 for Replica helmets (including the Marc Marquez helmet, and others). Take a look at Shoei’s website for additional details and available graphics.

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Eddie Lawson was present at the press launch. He has been wearing Shoei helmets since 1986.


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31 Comments

  1. skybullet says:

    “Dougalicious says:
    February 8, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    He’s right, you bought the wrong helmet and that’s your fault. What did you expect him to do? Give you a refund?”

    What I expected was something like, you bought our Top-of-the-Line Helmet and our 8 page sales brochure says nothing about it being suitable only for sport bike riding position. I will exchange it for our ??? that will probably be much better suited to the riding you do and I will suggest our marketing dept. add wording to our literature indicating riding position is critical to the proper proper performance of the particular helmet. Oh yeah, he could have acted like he appreciated my business too.

  2. daveA says:

    Why can I buy a $180 helmet from Scorpion (for example)that includes a very effective, permanent no-fog face shield but even at the $700 level this isn’t available from Shoei or Arai? Completely ridiculous.

    ‘Back in the day’ as it were, I wore Shoei helmets exclusively because they were the best value, providing the best protection available, great looks and supreme comfort. Now, the only reason I can come up with to buy a Shoei, Arai, or other ‘premium’ helmet is so that you can show off how much money you spent on a helmet.

    Sorry Shoei. Make with the $200-$300 lids that include anti-fog shields and I’ll pay attention again.

    • purefun says:

      Of course the fog free systems come with these helmets, they’re referred to as a pinlock. this extra “shield” comes with this helmet and many other helmets Shoei makes.

      • daveA says:

        It comes with one insert which you can’t move from shield to shield. So, if you want a tinted shield, it’s $27 more to add the Pinlock to the $45 shield. When your clear one wears out, it’s another $70+ to get the shield and the insert. Oh, what’s that? You made a mistake installing the insert (which is not infrequent, at least until you’re practiced at it), there’s another $27. Did you mistakenly leave a tiny gap? You’ll get condensation in between the two that you can’t wipe away…until you remove the insert. +$27

        I guess if you have $700 to buy the thing in the first place, this might not be a huge deal to you, but in what way is this better than the _very_ effective anti-fog that is intrinsic in every shield that comes with a Scorpion lid, adds exactly 0 hassle, and 0 cost? It isn’t.

        BTW AGV and (I think) Icon also have permanent anti-fog shields, but I haven’t ever worn either in fog conditions, so I can’t comment on how effective they are. I have raced with Scorpion helmets in 35f temps and 95f w. 80% humidity, and never once had any fog issues, so I can comment on those.

        Look, I’m not trying to be a Scorpion shill, that just happens to be the brand that I am personally familiar with in this area. The new RF1200 marks a return to a shape that fits me beautifully, and if they came with permanent, non-insert-based anti-fog shields, I’d have one right now just because they have one graphic that I really like and I know how otherwise superb the helmets are.

        The point is that having many years and miles on both, I can tell you that there is nothing significantly better about either brands’ helmets, and IMO the convenient and effective anti-fog shields you get with Scorpion tip the scales. When you add in the fact that the helmets are between 40% and 65% less expensive, I just don’t see it.

    • jimjim says:

      I have a Shoei Neotech with the pinlock visor, works great but it’s not a $200 helmet.

  3. skybullet says:

    DON’T BUY THIS HELMET! Unless you are riding a sport bike. I bought the previous Top-of-the-Line X helmet thinking I was paying a premium for the best helmet Shoei made. It was very noisy on my naked bikes. When I tilted my head down (like a sport bike riding position) it was OK. I complained to a Shoei Rep at a Rally and he said “you bought the wrong helmet” and had zero sympathy. Shoei literature says nothing about X helmets only working properly in a sport bike lean forward position. Buyer Beware!

    • Dougalicious says:

      He’s right, you bought the wrong helmet and that’s your fault. What did you expect him to do? Give you a refund?

      • TexinOhio says:

        Its not entirely his fault. Jeremy has a point that maybe manufactures should notate what a helmet series is intended for in the descriptions and marketing material. I’m sure Shoei didn’t have a rider sitting on an Indian Chief with a tall windshield in the wind tunnel when designing the X14.

        Also I would hold the sales people where he may have bought the helmet (if it was a physical store) partially responsible for maybe not taking enough time with skybullet to find out what and how he rides to find him the right lid. Sales commission can drive that trend too.

        The mistake that most people make is they think the highest price helmet is the right helmet and thats not always the case. Without proper guidance and some self research it will continue to happen.

        I ride with AGV Corsa’s and they’re great for me on a Z1000 naked. I’m short so it automatically puts me in a tuck where the helmet works as intended. Sometimes for work I may take out a bike that sits me different and the whole time I’m getting killed by helmet shake and shimmy cause the Corsa wasn’t designed to sit upright or back like a cruiser.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Yes, sport bike helmets aren’t optimized for upright rides, and vice-versa. You’ll almost certainly be disappointed with venting, field of view and noise if you get the wrong helmet for your riding position. I think it would be helpful if manufacturers openly stated what riding position or type of motorcycle a helmet was optimized for as it isn’t always obvious as you noted. Though to be fair, I don’t remember anything in the marketing materials of the X-14 or the prior X-12 that implied it was anything but a race design.

  4. Tommy D says:

    Still waiting to see the Bell Race Star with Flex liner. The 6D style solution in a street or race helmet makes sense.

  5. Gutterslob says:

    I’ve never been big on predominantly white colour schemes on helmets, but the one Eddie Lawson is holding in the photo looks sweet!!

    • mickey says:

      I just switched from black helmets to white helmets last year after seeing how easy it was to see a white helmeted rider’s head as he was coming towards me. White helmet and hi viz vest make great safety features …. but some don’t worry about that.

      • Tommy See says:

        Thanks for posting your safety comments on white and high viz. If this saves your life is it better to be seen than not ?

      • mickey says:

        Some things are just revelations. I’m not a safety Nazi. Wear whatever you like. But when I saw how easily visible guys in that combo were to me, I had to make that switch myself. The older I get, the less I worry about impressing people with my cool factor, and the more I worry about trying to just stay alive out there.

        • Dave says:

          Your intuition is well backed by science. Safety studies have identified that a white or yellow helmet is the most important choice for visibility because it is the highest point on the bike/rider package and highlighting the head also “humanizes” us because humans, like other animals recognize their own species instinctively. When we’re on out bikes, with our faces covered and in a different posture, that’s diminished.

          The most common motorcycle accident is having a car turn left into an oncoming motorcyclist because despite the bike’s headlight being on, the driver doesn’t see the motorcyclist.

          • MGNorge says:

            Now, if we can only get people off their phones and texting while driving! It’s epidemic!

          • mickey says:

            I had an oncoming pickup truck drift into my lane the other day so I looked to see what the driver was doing and to see if he was seeing me. It was an old guy that had a little white dog jumping back and forth between his arms on the steering wheel. He was trying to get back on his side of the road but was having trouble seeing around the stupid dog jumping around in his lap.

          • Scott says:

            If they completely ban all cell phone use in vehicles nationwide, will you feel ANY safer out there on the road?

            I won’t. An inattentive driver is an inattentive driver. They did this kind of stuff long before the cell phone was ever invented. We as motorcyclists will ALWAYS be on our own out there…

          • mickey says:

            “An inattentive driver is an inattentive driver.”

            yep…. does it matter if they are texting, messing with the radio, unwrapping their go food, drinking their coffee, smoking while talking on the phone (hey which hand are you steering with?)yelling at their kids in the back seat, putting on makeup, reading a book, map or newspaper, shaving, receiving certain relations from their passenger (if you get my drift) or having a lap dog jumping around in their face?

            distracted is distracted and all of them could kill us

            Could write a book on the things I have seen people doing while driving

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            “They did this kind of stuff long before the cell phone was ever invented.”

            The “makeup artist” used to be the number one lane infringement violator of my lane, but it is definitely the texter now. But the makeup artists still haven’t gone away.

            So yes, there have always been distracted drivers out there, but I’ll confidently say that there are far, far more distracted drivers now than there were 15 years ago.

          • Dave says:

            Re: “If they completely ban all cell phone use in vehicles nationwide, will you feel ANY safer out there on the road?”

            Yes, I would feel a great deal safer.

          • MGNorge says:

            I pointed out cellphone use because it is so universally used by so many. Yes, distracted drivers have always been around for any number of reasons. Now pile on the thousands upon thousands that can’t resist their phones while driving.

    • Tim says:

      Lighter color helmets seem to me to feel a little cooler as well, so they’re win-win, especially on a hot summer day. I’ve had most every color helmet over the years and the whites, light silver, and high vis yellow just don’t feel as hot inside. I decided to get a charcoal helmet a couple of years ago and it’s noticeably hotter inside. I leave it in the cabinet on hot days. Some helmets have better venting but I’m convinced color plays a part in internal temperature.

      • TexinOhio says:

        I agree Tim. One of my extra helmets I use from time to time is the AGV Grid with the retro Rossi 1996 split black/yellow Sun/Moon graphic. The left side being all black builds heat more than the yellow right side.

        Should have remembered that from when I had the original back in 1997 cause it was the same back then too.

        • Tim says:

          That’s interesting, but not surprising. I suppose it is no different than wearing a black shirt versus wearing a white shirt on hot summer day. Dark colors absorb heat and light colors reflect it. A shiny finish on a helmet may help some, but black shiny is still going to absorb more heat, while yellow shiny is going to reflect more.

    • billy says:

      Gutterslob, of course it’s sweet. It’s an Eddie Lawson replica.

  6. Ed Sorbo says:

    Marty is right about that and I got his autograph on my tool box!

  7. Marty O says:

    Any story with Eddie Lawson in it is a good one! Looks like a nice helmet.