A looser fit for a tighter wal­let

Motorcyclist - - Garage - —Zack Courts

HEL­METS ARE A COM­PRO­MISE of many things. Some of us com­pro­mise the heft of a mod­u­lar lid for the con­ve­nience it of­fers; others com­pro­mise fit or ven­ti­la­tion to get the sweet graph­ics pack­age that matches their bike. And then there’s the price of a hel­met, which has likely sparked as many ar­gu­ments as any topic in mo­tor­cy­cling.

Like many other brain buck­ets, Shoei’s new RF-SR is meant to hit right in the mid­dle of value, style, and safety. The quick run­down: made in Ja­pan, fiber­glass shell, dual-den­sity EPS liner, seven solid color op­tions, and good ameni­ties, for $400. Savvy Shoei fans will no­tice that MSRP lands right around the cur­rent Qwest model and is about 100 bucks cheaper than a solid-color RF-1200. The RF-SR also comes with the CWR-1 vi­sor, which, in­ci­den­tally, is the same as the X-four­teen and RF-1200, mean­ing it can share shields (in­clud­ing the pho­tochromic Tran­si­tions op­tion) and has a very wide and tall view­port that pro­vides ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity.

The RF-SR is lighter and more com­pact than Shoei’s Neotec mod­u­lar yet has a no­tice­ably wider and more re­laxed fit than the RF-1200, but it shares some of the same up-spec fea­tures: a five-year war­ranty, as well as a fully re­mov­able liner with emer­gency, quick-re­lease cheek pads. The fit is what re­ally sets the RF-SR apart from those other two hel­met mod­els. This new lid feels wider across the crown of my head while be­ing slightly shorter front to back, and it’s much looser in the cheeks. If Shoei hel­mets typ­i­cally fit too snug, or you’ve his­tor­i­cally been be­tween sizes, the RF-SR might be your an­swer.

Apart from be­ing de­signed to be quiet and vent well (which it does but not as well as the RF-1200), the RF-SR seems plainly aimed at the swell of mo­tor­cy­cle buy­ers in­ter­ested in sim­ple and eco­nom­i­cal bikes. Hav­ing a hel­met that fits prop­erly but doesn’t squeeze too tight is, I think, a per­cep­tive way to get rid­ers wear­ing good hel­mets with­out forc­ing the race­track fit.

The best news is that the usual Shoei fea­tures abound. The liner fits to­gether in­tu­itively and is held largely with snaps, so ev­ery­thing goes back where it be­longs af­ter you wash the liner or in­stall a head­set. Siz­able, easy-to-use brow vents flow fresh air over the top of your head, and the vi­sor piv­ots smoothly and feels heavy and well-made when it snaps shut. Chang­ing it is a breeze too, just like it should be on ev­ery hel­met.

At the end of the day, it’s back to price. There are hel­mets on the mar­ket with sim­i­lar fit, ven­ti­la­tion, and feel for half the price, and there are ones that are noisy and finicky for dou­ble the price. De­cide for your­self if you think $400 is way too much or not nearly enough to pay for a hel­met. What I can tell you is the RF-SR de­liv­ers ev­ery­thing it prom­ises, from a rep­utable brand, at a mid­line price.

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