Shoei and Schuberth: Helmet heavyweights

Publish Date: 
Aug 28, 2013
By Bruce Steever

SCHUBERTH HAS BEEN pushing hard over the last few years, unveiling new and updated models every season.

In response, Shoei has been launching its own share of all-new and updated models. When you compare the latest offerings from each brand, the similarities in specification are obvious, and it becomes apparent that both companies have the same potential customers in their sights.

So which helmet line makes the most sense for your store’s inventory dollars? Let’s take a look at three different helmet pairs from the two brands and see how they stack up.

The first helmet type we’ll examine is the pure racing model. Mission objectives here are relatively simple: maximum sporting performance on the racetrack. Ventilation, vision and safety are the primary features to compare. Shoei should be able to leverage its broader experience in the racing world to win this contest hands down, but things aren’t always that simple.

Shoei’s X-12 (Retail $681.99-$839.99) is, in isolation, a highly technical helmet that shows off all of the craftsmanship expected from 50 years of development. But it also appears to be resting on its laurels a bit. A plethora of intake and exhaust vents work with an updated rear spoiler system to provide ventilation, but while they certainly look effective, the many vents don’t outperform the more elementary system on the previous X-11 model. The new system still moves air through the helmet but lacks that “wind in the hair” feeling expected from a racing model designed to prioritize ventilation.

The new faceshield does provide a useful increase in viewing angle and the self-adjusting baseplate system is brilliant — certainly one of the best in the industry. The emergency quick-release system is a welcome addition for racers and street riders alike. Finally, the weight also slightly increased compared to the X-11, due to the newer Snell 2010 requirements.

Compared to the Shoei, the Schuberth SR1 (MSRP $899-$969) is proof that a clean-sheet design can sometimes best the establishment. Even when compared to the focused X-12, the SR1 shows an absolute purity of focus for the racing environment. Ventilation is less elaborate but flows more air through the helmet.

The shield system is less elegant but locks securely. Wind noise and aerodynamic control is evident in every component, from the vent toggles to the adjustable rear wing. And the rear of the shell features a unique cutaway design, perfect for the aggressive rider position required on a racebike. Finally, the SR1 is lighter than the X-12, thanks in part to the use of the ECE standard than Snell.

For racers (and street riders) looking for the sharpest racing helmet, Shoei may itself bested by the newer SR1. The Schuberth offers some of the best racing features yet available, and offers fit and finish worthy of its price tag. The Shoei does carry a solid price advantage for consumers and greater name recognition, but just not quite enough to justify stocking the X-12 compared to the SR1.

Of course, if the X-11 was still being sold today, Shoei would’ve actually fared slightly better in comparison. Anyone want to bet that the “X-13” will be impressive? But for now: Schuberth 1, Shoei 0. (Continued)