Full Overview: Shoei RF-1100

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Shoei says it listened to requests from both customers and dealers in designing its new premier sport-touring helmet, the RF-1100. The model is one of the first helmets certified under the new Snell M2010 standard. And it’s the very first helmet to feature Shoei’s self-adjusting base plate system that reportedly guarantees a proper seal around the shield. Shoei claims the RF-1100 is the quietest helmet it has ever made.

The RF-1100 replaces the RF-1000, which was introduced in 2003. Compared to its predecessor, the RF-1100 has a bigger eye port to provide more room for a rider’s face. Shoei reports that some RF-1000 owners have complained that their nose sometimes touches the front of the liner.

Speaking of the washable liner, unlike the RF-1000’s, it is fully removable. The liner feature eyeglass channels, an integrated neck pad, and a removable breath guard and chin curtain. Six sizes of multilayer cheek pads allow for a more precise fit.

Providing the helmet a slicker look is a spoiler that is a part of the shell, not an attached wing as before. Shoei has also moved the exhaust vents to the upper-back portion of the shell, above the spoiler. Beforehand the vents were integrated into the spoiler, but Shoei says tests revealed that they work better higher up. Separation of the vents and the spoiler also leads to better aerodynamics, the company says.

The ventilation system has three intakes and six exhausts. The sturdy mouth vent has a large lip easily operated by gloved fingers. The top vents are variably adjustable through large, sliding components. Another outlet is located at the back of the rider's neck.

The EPS foam within the shell is in two layers, creating tunnels through which air can flow.

A quick-release shield system has a preset lever for locking the shield down and cracking it open. As mentioned, a spring-loaded mechanism automatically adjusts the base plate system for proper sealing. Shoei calls the system QRSA (Quick Release Self-Adjusting). Newly designed window beading also helps ensure a windproof seal.

The CW-1 shield itself is wider and taller than its predecessor. It comes in several different tints. According to Shoei, the shield allows for distortion-free vision and protects riders from 99 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. The shield can work in conjunction with Shoei’s optional Pinlock system, the larger lens of which offers fog-free viewing to the top of the eye port.

Shoei uses five shell sizes to makes its range of sizes: XXS-XXXL. The company says so many shell sizes had to be used to meet the new Snell M2010 standard. The testing procedure of the M2010 standard calls for graduated headforms of different weights. Beforehand, every headform weighed the same regardless of helmet size. That supposedly allowed manufacturers to get away with fewer shell sizes while producing helmets with more rigid shells.

Dealers should note that the Snell label on the back of the helmet says only “Snell Approved.” Customers must look inside the helmet, behind the liner, to see that it meets the newer standard. This may be noteworthy to customers who have followed the controversy surrounding the M2005 standard, most recently stoked by Motorcyclist editor Dexter Ford in the New York Times.

Ford has long trumpeted that some experts believe M2005-rated helmets are (in Ford’s words) “too rigid and unyielding to properly absorb impact energy in the great majority of motorcycle crashes, subjecting riders to preventable brain injuries.” The headforms of the M2005 procedure have led to smaller-sized helmets that are especially too rigid, these critics say.

So the M2010 procedure addresses some of their complaints, and may be a selling point with some customers.

As far as retail pricing goes, solid colors (including axis yellow, black, light silver, matte black, monza red, pearl gray, pure orange, white and wine red) retail for $399.99, metallic colors (anthracite and black) for $419.99 and graphics (at least 15 different ones) for $499.99. The last we heard, Shoei was still determining a price for XXXL sizes, which come in solid and metallic colors only.

All Shoei helmets are made at its factories in Japan, and all are backed by a five-year limited warranty.