Pros: Excellent fit & finish, quiet, comfortable, sturdy vents and chin-strap
Cons: Visors tend to fog easily, difficult to remove bugs from forward-facing mesh vent covers
I've heard it said that there are Shoei heads and Arai heads. Evidently, human heads aren't all the same shape (remarkable, isn't it?).
Well, I must have a Shoei head. Ever since college, they're all that I've owned or recommended for helmets.
The actual shape of the helmet is somehow re-assuring to me. The deep chin-bar gives great coverage and the view out the visor is mostly unobstructed- if required, you could look far left and far right and see the liner, but you'd have to work to do it. Although not lending itself to shape, necessarily, the shell of the helmet is nice and light, yet, as evidenced by the Snell rating, is still highly protective.
FIT & FINISH
Absolutely top-notch. There were no paint blemishes, all of the seams were even and well-finished, and the liner was perfect. There were no pressure points (which certainly helps with long rides), and the helmet's sizing seems to be just right (in my case, XL). The liner doesn't move after repeated removal-cycles and the lining cushion (the part that takes the impact) isn't flaking out or getting brittle, as I've seen on some other helmet makes.
Shields can be removed and replaced while still wearing the helmet, with no tools. It takes practice, but this is a great selling point for me: I can change from a dark, smoked, visor during the day to a clear visor for night riding without even getting off the bike. Very trick. Additionally, new visors only run around 20 or 25, so if you prang one, you're not out a ridiculous amount.
The breath-guard sits somewhat uncomfortably on the bridge of my nose, but can be removed with no loss in breath-deflection- without a more effective seal between the nose and mouth and the visor, the thing will fog at the drop of a hat. Aftermarket anti-fog fluids and tear-offs work fine.
There is also a chin-curtain affixed to the bottom of the chin-bar. This curtain has vents which face front and help direct cooled air to the face. This little gadget also makes the ride somewhat quieter. In all, I find it more helpful than the breath-guard (the nose-piece).
Since I ride in very cold and very hot climates, I wanted a helmet with a removable liner- that way, I could clean the inside in the event it got dirty or started to smell. The liner comes out with very little drama, and is easy to clean, dry and re-assemble. Instructions regarding this could be better, however.
The ventilation of the helmet is just right for me- there are 4 vents on top of the helmet, two front chin-bar intakes, and the chin-vent as well. The 4 vents on top are simply holes in the shell with stylish covers that slide forward or back to open or close. This can be accomplished with riding gloves on as well. The chin-vent has a horizontal slide in the center of the chin-bar, just under the visor seal. This vent works somewhat well on clearing the visor.
Shoei helmets all have a little lever on the left side that allows you to just crack open the visor for ventilation. I never use it. The first visor opening detent is nice and low, and it's quite easy to just pop the visor up and ride around, rather than messing with this lever. That first detent works great, allowing the visor to protect your eyes from 95% of the debris, while allowing alot of airflow. Thats how I tend to ride around, except for highway travel or riding in the rain. By the way, the visor seal works great when the visor is adjusted properly.
There is a neat strap retention nodule on the loose end of the chin-strap that works great, although it's difficult to use with gloves on. Once the strap is secured through the d-rings, the loose end secures to the d-ring bars, preventing the loose strap from flapping around and driving you insane. Every Shoei I've ever owned has had this thing, and I love them.
My own requirements for helmets are pretty simple:
Snell-approved, shiny black finish, and well-ventilated, with easily interchangeable visors, removable quality interiors and high-quality fit and finish- some wind noise is acceptable, but I'd rather hear music than just random wind sounds. With those requirements set forth, this helmet popped to the top.
It's not Shoei's flagship, but does it's job exceptionally.