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Shoei Neotec 3 helmet review

Published on: 01 September 2023


Flip-lids are huge business these days. In the UK and, we are led to believe, in Europe, the Neotec is Shoei’s biggest selling helmet. And so the Japanese maker has put a huge effort in to ensuring that the new model improves upon its predecessor wherever possible.

That a new Neotec was due was no secret, of course, because there is a new safety standard, ECE 22-06, and the old helmet did not meet it.

Some time ago, Shoei sent us a couple of Neotec 3s so that we could get to know the helmet in advance of the its worldwide launch; and with a view to us reviewing it for our customers and the blogosphere.

Shoei Neotec 3 helmet bag

We were given the opportunity to get to know the Neotec 3, in advance, even though technically the helmet is only being released today, September 1st.

And that’s what we are going to do here. We are not going to ride in the helmet for this review, because we feel that such tests tend to be meaningless. A helmet might be comfortable for me. A helmet might be quiet for me. On my particular bike. But that does not mean that it will be just as quiet and comfortable for somebody else on a different bike.

All we can really do at this point is tell you what the differences are between the Neotec 2 helmet and the new Neotec 3, and give you our initial impressions. But it will take months, years even, for the Neotec 3 to earn its spurs. As people ride in it, they will develop their own impressions. They will talk to other bikers. They will perhaps commit their views to the internet. They will talk to retailers like us. And so it will be some time before we learn whether motorcyclists think the new Neotec really is as good as we, and indeed Shoei, hope it will be.

But, for now, Shoei might expect to be given the benefit of the doubt. Alongside Arai, Shoei makes the best quality helmets on the market. But when it comes to helmets that incorporate the kind of rider conveniences that many of us like to ride with, then it has to be said that Shoei is in a class of one, because you will never find a drop-down sun visor, an integrated comms. or a flip-front on an Arai.

Shoei facility Japan

Shoei is not the kind of company to mess up a product launch.

It also has to be said that Shoei is not the kind of company to drop the ball. They don’t have to rush into the market in order to keep investors happy. They are not out to make a quick buck. Shoei does things in a certain way; and so one doesn’t expect them to get things wrong. It would amaze us, therefore, if the Neotec 3 was not better than the Neotec 2. The new helmet, after all, is but an upgrade of its predecessor. And Shoei has spent the last five years trying to improve upon it. The Neotec 2 was, in our view, the most technically complete helmet on the market. The Neotec 3 does not set out to create a new formula. The new Neotec 3 is basically the Neotec 2, albeit slightly improved in a number of areas.

ECE 22-06 sticker

The Neotec 3 and ECE 22-06

There are things that, as retailers, we will never know, but it is part of industry legend that Arai and Shoei test their helmets to a much higher standard than the statutory minimum; and also to other manufacturers.

The only thing we can be totally sure about, though, is that the new Neotec will be a more protective helmet than the old one. The 22-06 tests for energy absorption are more demanding. The tests for the rigidity of the shell are more demanding. Helmets under 22-06 have to now be tested for angled, as well as direct, impacts. Visors have to meet new standards. Visors now have to be equipped with a locking mechanism. And so on.

Early helmet testing visual

Shoei has always tested its helmets to the very highest standard.

The Neotec 2 was always a safe helmet. But, without a doubt, the Neotec 3 will be an even safer one.

As a result, we had expected that the new helmet would be larger and heavier than the one it replaced. Because that has been the trend as most helmets have transitioned from 22-05 to 22-06. But that doesn’t appear to be the case here. It’s no bigger, really; and the weight difference is so negligible as to be immaterial. Frankly, we’ve no idea how Shoei has achieved this. But it’s impressive.

So let’s talk about what differentiates the 3 from the 2.

Shoei Neotec 3 matt metallic blue side profile

The Sound of Silence

Perhaps the central thrust of Shoei’s efforts with the Neotec 3 has been to make the helmet quieter than the Neotec 2.

Flip-lid helmets, as many know, have the capacity to be made quieter than full-face helmets. Which is why all the quietest helmets on the market are flips. That doesn’t mean that all flip-fronts are quiet. In fact, cheap flip lids are probably amongst the noisiest helmets that money can buy. But the way we put a flip lid on by pulling the sides apart means that a good-quality flip-lid helmet can have a very tight neck roll.

Look at the pictures below to see the difference between the Neotec 2 and its full-face cousin the GT Air 2 (now replaced with the Shoei GT Air 3). The open space on the Neotec (on the left) is much smaller. This means that less air can enter the helmet, and less air reaching the ears means less noise.

Shoei Neotec 2 vs Shoei GT-Air 2 neck rolls

The Neotec 2 (left) has a much tighter neck roll than the GT Air 2.

For the Neotec 3, Shoei has extended the cheekpads to make the the neck roll fit even closer to the neck, especially towards the rear of the helmet, which Shoei identified as a significant source of air ingress on the current helmet.

Shoei Neotec 3 neck roll

The Neotec 3 has a tighter neck roll, especially at the back of the neck.

Shoei has also worked on dampening the area where the slider mechanism operates the drop-down sun visor. Being close to the ear, it was an unwelcome source of resonation, but Shoei has worked to dampen the sound in this area, partly by moving where the mechanism sits.

The flip front itself now sits more tightly against the shell, and in a flusher manner for, at speed, anything that creates turbulence adds to noise. You can see this easily. The join between the two parts of the helmet is almost seamless, and again this will make it harder for wind to enter the helmet. Shoei has also worked to reduce turbulence around the fittings for the comms. These now sit lower; again helping to make the helmet quieter.

Shoei Neotec 3 helmet flip seam

As Eric often pointed out to Ernie, you can barely see the join! (You have to be of a certain age)

It has to be acknowledged that not everybody found the old Neotec to be supremely quiet, but the variables of the rider’s height, the screen height, head shape and fit mean that no helmet is going to work perfectly for everybody. Nevertheless, for most people, the old Neotec was a quiet helmet, provided that it was properly fitted.

Shoei Neotec 3 helmet internal padding diagram

The new helmet will come with a raft of differently-sized cheekpads and liners.

And that, for us, is a crucial consideration. Shoei provides a wide array of swappable liners and cheekpads for every size of helmet to enable the fit to be customised. It was an important component in making the Neotec 2 as quiet as it could be. It is likely to be just as important with the Neotec 3, and so, as you would expect, the new helmet will come with a similar raft of exchangeable cheekpads and headliners.

Shoei Neotec 3 helmet visor crack position

Other improvements

The Neotec 3 has a new visor locking mechanism. In truth, this has come about as part of the 22-06 regulations. Shoei has gone for a centre locking mechanism. This means that when you raise the visor, you have to do so from the middle. This is a good thing because if you always lift the visor from the side you will, over time, twist the visor, making it more likely that it will leak.

Shoei Neotec 3 helmet centre lock visor

The centre visor lock works better. But not everybody will like it.

The locking mechanism is also pretty firm, and locks the visor tightly against the shell of the helmet. Good for noise. Good for preventing water ingress. But not everybody loves this system, which is identical to the one on the Shoei NXR 2. It can be a bit fiddly, especially with thicker gloves.

The new Neotec also has a revised chin strap. Metal threads are now woven into the strap to allow it to be quite a bit thinner than the old one. The metal threads also allow the strap to be made from a softer material. The ratchet system itself is also somewhat lighter and smaller than it was on the old helmet. And all this is important because one of the potential issues with any flip helmet is that the chin strap can sit too close to the throat, because it sits further back on a flip than it does on a full-face.

Shoei Neotec 3 helmet chin strap

The chin strap is thinner and softer. The ratchet system is also less bulky.

The venting on the Neotec 3 is also better. You now get a two-position vent rather than the open or close position you got with the Neotec 2. The two-position brow vent is now more integrated into the helmet for better aerodynamics. This, again, should serve to make the helmet a quieter, but nobody is suggesting that the new vent is going to flow more air.

Shoei Neotec 3 helmet venting

The vent on the chin is better; the ones on the top of the helmet not so much.

There will, of course, also be a new Sena comms. system for the Neotec 3. As with the Neotec 2, the helmet is pre-channeled to take the battery pack, the speakers and the microphone. The controls will sit flush against the shell. But for the Neotec 3 there will only be one unit on offer. It will be dual Mesh and Bluetooth, and will come with Harman Kardon high-definition speakers.

Shoei Neotec 3 helmet Comlink

As with the 2, the comms. will integrate into the helmet in a flush manner.

So, really, that’s about it.

Shoei Neotec 3 matt metallic blue front view

The new improved Neotec 3

The Neotec has long been a winning formula. For many years the Neotec 2 has been the best sport-touring-commuting helmet on the market. It is quiet, comfortable, beautifully made and reliable.

Shoei had to re-model the Neotec 2 to pass ECE 22-06. And so they have taken the opportunity to improve it where they could. They didn’t want to change the essence of the helmet, and so the new Neotec was never going to be anything more than an evolution of its predecessor.

And that is what it would appear to be.

Clearly, it’s a safer helmet because it meets 22-06. Other than this, the thrust of Shoei’s efforts has been to make the Neotec 3 a quieter helmet. And we are sure that, in this endeavour, they will have been successful. In truth, everything else is very much in the margin.

Shoei Neotec 3 vs Shoei Neotec 2

In essence the 3 is the same helmet; it’s just a bit better than the 2!

It was never going to be possible to make huge improvements, and so the Neotec 3 is a lot like the Neotec 2. It’s demonstrably the same helmet; it’s just a bit better.

As you might expect, it’s a little bit more expensive than the old model; but the increase across the range is only about 5%, which seems reasonable to us. Initially, the Neotec is only going to be available in plain colours. The graphics will follow. As will the replacement cheekpads and headliners. The new comms. system is due very shortly, we are told.

If you want to try the new helmet out now, come and see us. We can always work on customising the fit later when the cheekpads and headliners eventually arrive with us. If you buy a helmet before the comms. turn up, don’t worry; you’ll still save the VAT!

One final point on the cheekpads and headliners. The word is that the importer has decided to terminate the free liner exchange scheme. It was this programme that allowed retailers to customise the fit of a shoei helmet at no cost to the customer. Well, we are a bit disappointed by this, but don’t worry; if you buy your Neotec 3 helmet from us we still won’t charge for the various liners and pads. Other dealers, however, will almost certainly take a different view!

For more information and to buy online, click Shoei Neotec 3 helmet.

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