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Shoei NXR 2 helmet review

Published on: 30 April 2021



The Shoei NXR 2 helmet is, as the name would suggest, a replacement for the outgoing NXR helmet. The new helmet is, in concept, very similar to its predecessor. It is an upgrade in a number of quite notable ways, but the greatest change is that this helmet is accredited to the new, higher ECE 22-06 safety standard.

Now, you can read all about the new ECE 22-06 helmet safety standard below. It represents the single biggest advance in helmet safety for over 40 years and heralds a new era of safer helmets. The new standard came in at the beginning of the year, and no new helmet can be released onto the market that is not ECE 22-06 accredited. Which is why there have been almost no new helmet releases in 2021. In fact, the only totally new helmet to be released this year has been the Arai Quantic helmet.

The Quantic is a great helmet; in many ways it is the direct competitor to the Shoei NXR2 helmet. As a full face helmet, it sits at the sportier end of the sports-touring spectrum. It’s not a race helmet, but without a drop-down sun visor nor is it aimed at the daily commuter. The helmet first arrived in the shops in May, but in very limited numbers. Even now, there are very, very few helmets in the country in Extra Large; and in no single colourway are all the sizes available. Clearly Covid and Brexit have played their part here, but so has huge demand throughout Europe.

Now we are big fans of Arai helmets. In truth, we think the company is driven by a slightly out-of-kilter dogma, which is why you will never find a drop-down sun visor on an Arai. It’s why there will never be a flip-lid Arai or an Arai that is designed to take comms.. And it’s why most Arais are noisy. You see, Arai is still very much driven by its commitment to racing. All Arais are very safe. The level to which Arai tests in-house and their rigid adherence to their glancing-off philosophy mean that the company will never compromise when it comes to safety and protection.

But, deep down, we are probably, more drawn to Shoei as a brand. Very differently constructed, their helmets are every bit as protective as Arai’s, but they are lighter, smaller and nicer to live with. They are easier to customise for fit than Arai helmets are, and of course Shoei is prepared to make concessions to convenience in terms of the features the company equips its helmets with.

All of which might explain why we are so excited to announce the arrival of Shoei’s first ECE 22-06 helmet: the NXR2. But the story is not dissimilar to Arai’s insofar as availability is concerned. We have received into stock a small quantity of helmets. But with the Shoei it is the Small size that is in particular short supply. We have also only received a small number of the colourways. But in a break with the way these things are normally done, we have received the helmet only in graphics. No solid colours are yet available; they will arrive later in the year.

Shoei Motorcycle Helmets

Shoei NXR 2 motorcycle helmet graphics

Normally, it is the solid colours that are released first. But not this time. Only the graphics are available.

But the good news is that we have all the sizes here in the building. You can buy the helmet, obviously, provided you can find your size in a colourway you like, but if you just want to try the helmet on, you can do that here too. We’ve even set a number of helmets aside for local test rides. One thing we cannot yet do is swap out cheekpads and headliners to enable us to customise the fit. Those parts will follow soon, we hope. And obviously we are happy to retro-fit, at no cost, any liners that are required when they become available.

All about ECE 22-06

Arguably, the single most important role of a motorcycle helmet is to absorb the energy generated in an accident when the helmet comes into contact with a hard surface. And it is this absorption of energy that slows down the movement of the brain from one side of the skull to the other. This is important, obviously, because it is the resulting bruising to the brain that can cause permanent brain damage.

Frankly, the old 22-05 standard was not particularly impressive in this respect. The threshold at which a helmet would still pass the test still left an extremely high possibility of significant brain damage and a not insignificant risk of fatal brain damage.


The new ECE 22-06 helmet is a big deal. It’s taken nearly 40 years for the standard to be upgraded.

On one level, it is disappointing that the energy- absorption threshold for a pass under ECE 22-06 has not been changed. But in actuality it has been because the speed at which the helmet is dropped onto the anvil for the impact test has increased.

Under ECE 22-05, the impacts were delivered at five pre-determined points. This led to the possibility that helmets could be re-inforced in those places. And so, under 22-06, another three positions have to be randomly selected by the testers from a choice of 12.

Another change to the test regime is that helmets will now be tested for impact absorption at a lower impact speed. Now this might sound counter-intuitive, but this is designed to make sure that helmets with particularly hard shells still absorb and dissipate sufficient levels of energy in low speed accidents. In the future, helmets with shells that are too stiff and rigid to absorb energy won’t gain accreditation.


In the ‘drop test’, a helmet is dropped from a pre-determined height on to an anvil. Accelerometers are imbedded into the helmet to measure its ability to absorb and dissipate the energy of an impact.

There are many other new tests. There is one that sets a standard for transmitted rotational forces in an angled impact; and this is because there is now a lot of evidence to suggest that these twisting forces can also causes severe trauma to the brain. The new test also makes higher demands on a helmet’s rigidity; ie: resistance to crushing. There are new standards for visors, and for the way in which a helmets absorbs impacts when accessories are fitted.

Some are disappointed that 22-06 still does not incorporate a penetration test, but the bottom line is that 22-06 helmets will be significantly more protective than 22-05 helmets. Frankly, if protecting your head is important to you, and why on earth would it not be, then you are going to want to be wearing a 22-06 helmet.

Chap in the Cap ECE 22-06 video

In 2020, we recorded a detailed review of the new ECE 22-06 helmet standard. We’ve touched upon some of the new tests here, but if you want a more in-depth understanding then watch our review.

If you would like to know more about ECE 22-06, watch our video on the new standard by clicking above.

The Shoei NXR 2 helmet in detail

The NXR 2, as was its predecessor, sits within Shoei’s ‘Sport’ line. And that’s why the helmet doesn’t come with a drop-down sun visor or an integrated comms. facility. The NXR 2 is not a track helmet, per se; but it is certainly a helmet you could wear on a sportsbike. Shoei talk about the helmet being aimed at the sports-touring market. And whilst this may be the case, we would suggest that the NXR 2 is positioned more at the sportier end of the spectrum, whilst the GT Air sits more at the touring end.


The NXR 2 sits within Shoei’s ‘Sport’ line, as a result of which you don’t get an integrated comms. facility or a drop-down sun visor, but this is still not an out-and-out racing helmet. It’s actually aimed at the sport-touring market, although it probably sits more at the sports end of this particular spectrum.

The new helmet employs the same AIM shell construction as the old one. This is a shell that is made from a mix of organic and composite fibres. The result is a lightweight helmet that is both strong and energy absorbing; a shell that is perhaps less rigid than that of an Arai, but stronger than that of, say, a Shark.


The NXR features Shoei’s AIM shell that comprises organic and composite fibres. It create a shell that is light and strong, yet which is still compliant enough to absorb high levels of kinetic energ.

The EPS, which is the polystyrene lining inside the shell that absorbs energy in an impact, is multi-density, thus providing different levels of absorption dependent upon the severity of the impact. Venting channels run between the different layers to allow to flow air through the helmet.


The EPS on the NXR 2 is multi density, meaning that the softer, outer layer will serve to absorb energy in low impact situations. The harder inner layer comes into effect in higher speed impact situations.

One of the standout features of the NXR 2 is that the shell comes in four different sizes; and that is quite exceptional. Most premium helmets only come in three shell sizes. Whilst Shark’s helmets, for example, only come in two. The more shell sizes a helmet comes in, the easier it is to create a good fit. More shell sizes also mean, on average, that the helmet will have a lower profile and look smaller on the head.

On the NXR 2, the two smallest sizes, XS and S, share a shell size. M and L have their own shells, whilst XL and XXL share the one. Initially, the XXS size will not be coming to the UK, which is a shame because the NXR has always been a favourite for particularly petite ladies.

In terms of overall weight, the NXR 2 will come in a little bit heavier and larger than the previous model. In medium, the helmet weighs 1400 grammes. The original NXR weighed 1350 grammes. The 50 grammes difference is two ounces in old money; not a lot really. Shoei are saying that the increased weight comes down to the extra demands of 22-06. To put this into context, a medium size GT-Air 2 weighs 1500 grammes, so the new NXR 2 is not exactly lardy. Shoei also tell us that the new helmet is more aerodynamic. At speed, the new helmet is meant to exhibit 4% less drag and 6% less lift, so even if it is a bit heavier it won’t feel so on the bike.


This is our man, the Chap in the Cap. We’ve known about this helmet for some time, and even though we never properly offered the NXR 1, we did a lot of research on this helmet. We think it’s a fabulous lid, and despite the bits that it doesn’t have we can see that it will work for a lot of bikers and a lot of customers.

As with all Shoeis, we here at Motolegends will have the ability to fit different headliners and cheekpads in order to achieve an optimal fit. But there is a difference between the old helmet and the new one in terms of the way the helmet fits. The shape of the shell, the EPS and the new cheekpads have been designed to give the helmet a snugger fit on the cheeks, and to increase the tightness of the neck roll. A firmer, tighter fit will always be a safer fit, but the rationale here is also about making the NXR 2 a quieter helmet.


We really like the strong detentes on the NXR 2 and the very definitive ‘crack’ position that they allow.

The visor on the NXR 2 is improved in a number of respects. First, it has a new closing mechanism, with a lock in the centre rather than the more traditional, side latch that employs friction to stay in place. Some have suggested that the old system is easier to use, but we disagree. Once you’re used to it, the new mechanism is not difficult to operate even with gloved hands. It is more secure, and does not put any twisting pressure on the visor mechanism. It is this pressure that can, over time, cause the sealing of the visor against the helmet to deteriorate. The new visor, called the CWR-F2, is also more rigid, and contains what are called Vortex Generators to reduce noise.

One thing we really like about the visor is its ‘crack’ position. It’s just about perfect. Some manufacturers say they the offer a crack position, when in fact all they are talking about is the gap when the visor has not been locked into place. But the NXR has a definite, and quite generous, crack position that is going to work well. The detentes, by the way, throughout the visor’s range of movement are very strong and definitive.


This lever on the NXR 2 allows you to fine-tune the fit of the visor to the beading around the aperture.

Now the Variable Axis System on the helmet pulls the visor in tight against the beading around the visor aperture as the visor is closed. But on the new helmet there’s also a lever mechanism that allows you to fine tune the closure of the visor. The beading around the visor aperture is also improved to the same end; namely a better seal to reduce noise and water ingress.

Like all Shoei motorcycle helmets, the NXR2 comes with a top-of-the-range Pinlock Evo (aka a Pinlock 120) in the box. It is 10% larger than the Pinlock in the old helmet, whist the retaining pins have been moved out further to ensure that they do not encroach on the line of sight.


The venting on the new helmet is better than the venting on the NXR 1 in almost every respect. It is less fiddly to use. The vents let more air in and allow 50% more air to be exhausted through the spoiler.

The venting has also been improved. The twin-inlet chin vent is less fiddly and easier to use, especially with gloved hands. The brow vent on the new helmet has two inlets, whereas on the original NXR there was just one. You also get two easy-to-operate slider intakes, one on each side of the main brow vent. The incoming air pulls warm air out from the helmet through channels in the EPS, exhausting it through a new, enlarged exit vent built into the aerodynamically-improved rear spoiler. This new exhaust vent allows 50% more air to exit the new helmet. Now, on the original NXR, the exhaust vent could be shut; it is permanently open on the NXR 2. And we approve of this because we simply cannot see any circumstance in which you don’t want air to exhaust through the helmet. You might want to stop air getting into the helmet, but never would you want to stop it escaping, whatever the conditions.


Initially, the NXR 2 will only come through in a range of graphics. The solids will be coming later.

All the other stuff is just detail. The cheekpads incorporate tabs to allow them to be easily removed by a ‘first responder’. The helmet fastens by means of a double-D ring. You get a chin curtain, a breath guard, and so on. Initially, the helmet will be available in a range of colourful graphics. The solid colours will come through later. We don’t know when.


The two safest helmets on the market this year are going to be the NXR 2 and the Quantic. If you want the highest levels of protection, you have to take a look. The NXR 2 won’t be for everybody, but if you’re willing to trade a sun visor and integrated comms. for lightness and quietness, this could be the one.


The NXR 2 is a fabulous helmet. The NXR has always been, we are told, one of Shoei’s best sellers, although as Motolegends we have not really offered it in the past. And that is probably because, as we have said, it sits in Shoei’s ‘Sport’ line, and we don’t consider ourselves to be a sportsbike-oriented company. But loooking at it now, we don’t see the NXR 2 as overly aggressive and sporty, and we can see that many of our customers will be happy wearing one on their nakeds, sports-tourers and so on. It is true that, for some, the GT Air 2 will be the more obvious choice, because of features like the integrated comms. and the drop-down sun visor, but for others the lightness of the NXR 2 may outweigh these features. We do also think that the NXR 2 may well prove to be quieter than the GT Air 2.

This latest iteration of the NXR is better than the original. It is more aerodynamic, better fitting, better vented and so on. Simply put, it is an improved helmet in just about every respect. But the biggest improvement is in the level of protection it offers. ECE 22-06 is a significant step up from ECE 22-05. An ECE 22-06 helmet is going to be far safer and more protective. It’s as simple as that.


The only other ECE 22-06 helmet available this year will be the Arai Quantic. It is the most direct competitor to the Shoei NXR 2, and it will be available six months before the Shoei.

The nearest competitor to the Shoei is the Arai Quantic helmet, as we have mentioned. This is the only other helmet that, in 2021, will match the NXR 2 from a safety perspective.

The Arai is a little rounder in terms of its internal shape than the Shoei. Some will better fit the Shoei; others the Arai. The price of the Shoei in plain white will be £430. The price of the Arai Quantic will be £500. With both brands, the graphics are more expensive.

You can see all the different colours of the Shoei NXR 2 helmet here.


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