Skip to main content
Open mobile menu

Shoei Neotec 3 vs Schuberth C5. Which is the best?

Published on: 30 January 2024


Okay, let me remove the suspense from a subject that is going to be hotly debated, I suspect, for many a year to come. I don't want anyone to think that I have gone all soft, or politically correct, but I can reveal the result of our deliberations now. And it's that the best helmet here is going to be the one that fits you best. That may sound like a bit of a cop out, and that's not normally the way we do things here at Motolegends. We are not afraid of taking sides, but hear us out.

Both of these helmets exist in the rarified atmosphere of the upper reaches of the helmet market. There are no turkeys here. The C4 can be consigned to history. Both these helmets do more or less the same job. And they are very similar. Obviously, Schuberth and Shoei are very different companies, and they do things their own way, but it should not surprise anybody that these two helmets are alike.

It is often said that modern cars end up being very similar to one another, as each manufacturer copies the other in an attempt to leap frog its competitors. Well, the Schuberth C5 borrowed a lot of design features from the Neotec 2. Shoei was aware of the  when it was designing the Neotec 3, so it should be of no surprise that there's not a lot of clear blue water between the two helmets.

There are differences between them, of course, and we will, in this review, aim to highlight all of them. We might even reach a position where we suggest that one helmet has more and better features, and facilities than the other. But why would that matter if, on you, said helmet is uncomfortable, moves around at speed, or doesn't give you sufficient room around the chin?

High-end Audi and BMW

The C5 and the Neotec 3 are like two peas in a pod. They’re very similar.

Remember, we are talking about the difference between something like a high-end BMW and a high-end Audi here. Both these helmets are excellent. Both are more than up to the job. Neither will let you down. Of course, you might be the biker who is driven by emotional attachment to a particular brand. Fair enough. Or it may be that the most important consideration for you is that the colour matches your bike. So be it. But if you are able to bring a degree of rationality to the purchase of your next flip lid, you would have to conclude that either is going to be good enough. Truth is, you won't find a better flip than either of these two.

And if you can accept this, then the key factor when trying to come to a conclusion about which to go for has to be fit. It is here, however, that there is perhaps the clearest blue water. And that's because the two helmets do fit differently. The Shoei is more oval. The Schuberth is more round. They both have changeable cheekpads and headliners for custom fitting, but these cannot fully overcome the fact that the two helmets start out with different internal shapes.

Round and oval head shapes

The Schuberth is round, the Shoei more oval.

The only way you can work out which helmet is going to work best for you is to try them both on. Personally, I don't see the benefit of going for either of these helmets if you're not going to have them properly custom fitted. One of the reasons you pay more for an Arai, a Shoei or a Schuberth is that they offer the facility to have the helmet fitted to your head. And frankly, if you are not going to take them up on this, you might as well take pot luck, and go for a cheaper helmet from the shelves of your nearby megastore.

Guy holding pillows over ears


One of the reasons many people go for a flip helmet is that they are quieter.

Flip-lids, or at least good quality flip lids like these, are quieter than full-face helmets, and that is because they have a much tighter neck roll; and a tighter neck roll means that less air can get into the helmet. Less air entering a helmet means less noise.

You can't, however, have a particularly tight neck roll on a full-face helmet because you've got to get your 'big ole' head into the ‘big ole’ hole on the underside. You can have a much tighter neck roll with a flip-lid because you pull the sides apart to get into it. The sides then flex back to sit more tightly around the neck. This is probably best demonstrated by the pictures below that show the Neotec 3 (left) next to its sister helmet, the full-face Shoei GT Air 3.

Shoei Neotec 3 and Shoei GT-Air 3 neck holes

The size of the neck hole on the Neotec (left) is much smaller.

Both the C5 and the Neotec 3 are going to be quiet; in fact, we are without doubt talking about the two quietest helmets on the market. We don't have a comparative decibel measures, although Schuberth does quote 85dB at 100 kph on a naked bike for the C5. The new Neotec 3 is certainly quieter than the Neotec 2, which most people found pretty quiet, so we figure there won't be a huge amount of difference between the C5 and the Neotec 3.

Bottom line? Both helmets are as quiet as motorcycle helmets get. How quiet one of these is on you, of course, will come down to the quality of the fit, and how well it seals around your face.

Personally, even though I wear a flip-helmet, whenever I ride a bike at speed I am always struck by how bloody noisy it is. So whilst both these helmets are impressively quiet, if you can't stand noise, just take the car; it'll be much better, I promise you!

Shoei Neotec 3 next to Schuberth C5

Compare and contrast

Both helmets come with a drop-down sun visor. Personally, I wouldn’t choose to ride without one. The Shoei sun visor might just come down a bit lower, but only marginally so. For those who are really bothered about the sun there is the Schuberth E2 adventure helmet, which is nothing more than a C5 with a peak; albeit a C5 that might then generate a bit more turbulence and wind noise.

Shoei Neotec 3 and Schuberth C5 drop-down visors

Both helmets hav a sun visor. The Shoei one might come down a little lower.

The venting is similar in both helmets. I am sure the two brands would have us believe that the venting on their helmet is superior, but basically you get two vents on the chin with both, and one on the crown. Certainly no customer, and our customers are not backward about coming forward, has commented negatively about either. Obviously, with any flip, you do have the option to use the ultimate vent if things get too hot in the kitchen.

Shoei Neotec 3 and Schuberth C5 chin vents

The screen vent on the Schuberth sends the laurels the way of the C5, perhaps.

If pushed, I could make a case for the Schuberth having marginally better venting, as it has a ‘rocker’ vent on the chin that directs air to the inside of the visor in order to combat fogging. And indeed this can be important because it is undoubtedly the case that flip helmets like these have a greater propensity for condensation than your average full-face helmet.

Shoei Neotec 3 and Schuberth C5 visor locks

Both helmets have visor locking mechanisms. The Neotec’s one feels more robust.

Under ECE 22-06, both helmets have visor locking mechanisms. The one on the Shoei feels firmer and more robust, and as though it will seal the visor better against the rubber beading that surrounds the visor aperture. This might help prevent rain running down into the helmet. The centre locking button on the Shoei is quite fiddly, though. Opening the visor on the C5 is undoubtedly easier, but the mechanism feels a bit flimsy by comparison, and the locked position doesn't really feel very 'locked'.

Shoei Neotec 3 and Schuberth C5 visor crack positions

Not sure that either of these helmets has a proper ‘crack’ position.

These days, a lot of people feel that it's important to have a 'crack' position on their visor. That is to say, a small opening that allows a little air to flow into the helmet. Well, neither of these helmets is very good in this respect. And that's partly down to the fact that the 'detent' mechanisms on flips is never very strong. The detents are strong enough, perhaps, to hold the visor open when it's raised a couple of notches, but mechanically they're not strong enough to do so when the visor is lower. One could contend that both do have a kind of 'crack' position, but in truth that's merely where the visor sits before you lock it. In that position, a little air may indeed find its way into the helmet. A little!

Both helmets come with genuine 120 Pinlocks, as you might expect at this end of the market. And, as flips do mist up more easily, as I have mentioned already, having the very best Pinlock is important.

Schuberth C5 Sena SC2 intercom

Both helmets come with near-identical, fully integrated Sena comms. systems.

As far as I am concerned the comms. systems on both helmets are also almost identical, as they are based on the Sena 50s. I had a very strident customer write to me recently about how much better the comms. set up was on his C5 because it was truly plug and play. But I don't necessarily agree. The Schuberth takes five minutes to set up; the Shoei takes ten. And over the five year lifespan of a helmet that's pretty insignificant.

Both comms. units offer the option to use Bluetooth or Mesh. In the real world, talk distances and talk times are going to be similar, although Schuberth claim the talk time on Bluetooth is 12 hours, whereas Shoei quotes eight. We don’t really understand why Schuberth believes this to be the case. (I await a communication)!

Shoei Neotec 3 Sena SRL-Mesh intercom

Both helmets are tested under ECE 22-06 with the comms. installed.

In both cases, the units, all the gubbins and control panels are totally integrated. This means that they can't be knocked off, and won't generate extra wind noise. There's one interesting issue here, which is not much talked about. If a helmet has the facility for integrated comms., the helmet has to be tested for impact under ECE 22-06 with the comms. fitted. Obviously, both these helmets passed those tests. Stick a unit on the side of a helmet, and there's no telling how well the helmet will perform in an impact.

Both visors are rated Class 1 for visual clarity. And both are easy to take off, and put back on, once you've mastered the technique.

Shoei Neotec 3 and Schuberth C5 chin profiles

With its rounder nose, the new Neotec is less generous around the chin.

There is one thing we have learned about the Neotec 3 since it was released. As part of its effort to make the Neotec 3 quieter, Shoei gave the helmet a flatter nose profile, so that the helmet moves through the air more smoothly. But this has made the Neotec noticeably tighter around the chin. If you have a prominent chin, the C5 might be better for you.

Some people obsess about the weight of a helmet, although the truth is that this side of a BSB ride the weight of a helmet will make little difference to most of us. Especially if you're riding a sports-touring or adventure bike at road-legal speeds. But for the purposes of comparison, we weighed the two helmets in medium, with comms. fitted. The Shoei was 1850g., the Schuberth was 1750g.. That’s not race helmet light, but flips have a lot more stuff going on, so they will always be a bit heavier. The difference between the two, however, is just 100g, in Schuberth's favour. That's less than a couple of poached eggs. And the chances are that you had more than that for breakfast!

Large helmet on kid

People obsess about the size of the helmet. We have absolutely no idea why.

For some people, the physical dimensions of a helmet seem to be important. Again, our view is that it's one of those differences that doesn't really make a difference. Or if it does, it's only when you look at yourself in the mirror. How the helmet looks in relation to your head will actually often be dictated by something as simple as whether your head happens to be right for the smaller or larger size in that shell. That's just the luck of the draw. On average, however, the Shoei is likely to appear smaller because it comes in three shell sizes. But as I have said, for us this really is a non-issue. An irrelevance.

Uvex head measuring device

Fitting the Neotec 3

Shoei has been offering different liners for their helmets for years. Their system is proven, and works well. Basically, in just about any size of Shoei, we can fit a thicker or thinner headliner, or a thicker or thinner cheekpad. In essence, I suppose, this allows us to fill the gaps between sizes.

Exploded Shoei internal parts diagram

In any Shoei helmet we can fit thicker or thinner liners to improve the fit.

Where a Shoei might not work is when somebody's head is very wide or very round. Unfortunately, just going up a size is not necessarily the answer, because the gap front to back may then be too great; there may also then be too much space around the cheeks. Don't misunderstand me. Shoei's system is as good as it gets, but there are limitations.

The Shoei system is also easy to implement. You could train a monkey to change the liners in a Shoei, which is why we simply don't understand why so many dealers still don't offer this service!

Schuberth C5 internal padding

You can custom fit the C5 too, but the system has limitations.

Fitting the C5

The C5 is the first helmet for which Schuberth has supplied exchangeable interior parts. The facility for custom fitting has long been considered the mark of a premium brand, and as Schuberth was keen for their new helmet to be seen as a legitimate competitor to the Neotec, they built this into the C5’s design.

Changing pads in a C5 is not quite so easy as it is on the Neotec, and in this one of the considerations is the AROS safety straps that run from the back of the helmet, and through the cheekpads. The upside of the Schuberth system is that it does, in theory, allow you to actually change the internal shape of the helmet. And to an extent it does.

Schuberth C5 helmet custom fit

To an extent, the liners in the C5 will allow you to alter the internal shape.

But there are some issues with getting a perfect fit on the C5. With only two shell sizes, there is a huge gulf when you go from the smaller shell to the larger one. What we find is that if someone finds the Large (59) size just a bit snug, the Extra Large (61) size will often sit on their head like a bucket. Unfortunately, the pads won’t fill that gap. Strangely, we never noticed the same problem with the C3 or C4.

Another quite annoying factor with the C5 is that we can only custom fit three out of the six sizes. It feels like Schuberth has only made a half-hearted attempt to make custom fitting work; and indeed this corner cutting may ultimately mean that retailers will come to agree that it simply doesn't.

And then there is the cost of Schuberth's pads and liners. Now we don't know whether this is just a UK thing, but in this country Shoei liners are supplied to dealers on an exchange basis, so there's no cost to retailers, and no cost to customers. Schuberth charges its retailers, and so there is a scenario where changing head, neck and cheek pads in a C5 could cost you more than £130. Here at Motolegends we don’t charge for these pads, if we fit the helmet here, although other retailers will do, but Schuberth's position does seem to indicate that they don’t fully embrace the importance of getting the fit right.

The bottom line here is that we can only work with what the two brands give us. There is never a absolute guarantee that we can get a perfect fit for someone in either helmet, but very rarely do we find that we cannot get a pretty darned good one in one of them.

Cyclists at velodrome

And the winner is...

And so we come back to our starting position. There is no clear winner in this contest. Now, here at Motolegends the truth is that we probably still have a marginal preference for the Neotec. The three shell sizes means that we can achieve a nice, snug fit on more people, more of the time, than we can with the Schuberth.

Subjectively, perhaps, we also think that the Shoei feels more solid and better put together. We also, in truth, find it difficult to completely put to one side all the issues we had with the C4. The C5 is a different proposition to the C4, but we kind of feel that a Shoei will never let us down.

Boxing match draw

The truth is that both these helmets deserve to be winners.

All of this is in the margin, really. The bottom line is that if the Schuberth fits you better, and feels more comfortable, emphatically that is the one to go for. And vice-versa. I have to say that I feel like one of those motorcycle road testers who, for fear of upsetting the manufacturers who supplied the bikes, will never come down unequivocally in favour of one model over an another. Well, it's not often that we sit on the fence. But that’s the painful position I find myself in here. These helmets are equally competent. They are both impressive. Your decision, I’m afraid, will come down to three crucial considerations. These are firstly fit, secondly fit, and thirdly fit. But on this score we can be pretty definitive. One of these helmets will fit you better than the other. Well, usually!

I have not spoken about prices in this review, and in truth in our reviews that’s not unusual. The way we see it, it’s our job to deconstruct products, and to talk about their strengths and weaknesses. It’s your job to work out whether you want to spend the amount of money involved. And, of course, all that detail will be on the website. But in terms of these two helmets, we simply don’t see that the price difference will be a deciding factor. At the time of going to press, the Neotec in white is £590; the C5 in white is £520. That’s not nothing, I suppose, but you wouldn’t, I hope, buy the less well fitting helmet just to save £70!

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

For more information on the Schuberth C5 and to buy online, click Schuberth C5 helmet.

Want some more? Please click here to return to our editorial menu.

Share this story