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Shoei X-Spirit III | Riding Gear + Equipment | Tested

Spirit of speed

It’s obvious that the Shoei X-Spirit III is a race helmet – the wind-tunnel design means the thing looks like it’s doing 100mph as soon as you get it out of the box. What’s surprising is that the racy look has not come at the cost of comfort. And while the aerofoils make the styling aggressive, it’s not over the top. The little wings actually have a purpose too – to control airflow and boost stability at high speed.

I’ve been wearing my Márquez 4 TC-6 Replica X-Spirit III throughout the year while racing in the Yamaha R3 Cup series, as well as track testing our MT-10 long-termer. While 180km/h was a good test of the helmet’s design, it was at the Qatar MotoGP circuit during a tyre test that the X-Spirit III was given a proper workout. Lifting my head above the bubble at 290km/h the helmet remained steady, with zero lift or vision-blurring vibration. According to Shoei, some of the credit for this stability goes to the little notches on the side of the helmet called ‘vortex generators’. Small air spoilers have also been moulded into the chin guard and are designed to deflect wind blast away from the neck. I hadn’t given them much thought until my neck was spared a full dose of freezing-air during a recent 0º trackday at Wakefield Park.

At first glance it appears to have limited ventilation points, but thanks to the high-flow design and cheek-pad cooling system, I haven’t suffered from hot head while wearing it.

We liked

Better above-the-eyeline vision than any other helmet I have tested. Due to my short forehead, when I’m in full tuck position my vision is usually obscured by the top of the aperture. I don’t have this issue with the Shoei. This ability to see where I am going is enhanced by an adjustable liner which can tilt forward by five degrees from a Street setting to a Race setting. Changing the liner position is a little fiddly, but it’s worth the effort.

The liner is also what I would describe as a snug fit, but it’s not uncomfortable. I have now tried two Shoei X-Spirit III helmets – an extra large and a large – and while the large feels a little tighter, both are exceptionally comfortable. The X-Spirit III is available in four different shell sizes, each with a six-layer shell construction for increased shock-absorption.

The X-Spirit III comes standard with a clear visor fitted with tear-off poles and is Pinlock ready. I have also fitted a transition and tinted visor to the helmet with no increase in wind noise. Changing the visors is as easy as pressing a button on the locking mechanism, then giving it a gentle pull.

We didn’t like

Being a glasses wearer, I don’t feel comfortable having a Pinlock fog-resistant lens on the inside of my visor. Having the additional film to look through makes me feel a little uncomfortable, especially in poor weather. As a result of my Pinlock phobia, the visor fogs in wet weather. Shoei has assured me the Pinlock system is brilliant so I’ll give it a go.

The increased wind pressure forces the visor shut while racing, and I like the feeling of fresh air on my face, so I have placed a square of rubber at its base to make a small gap that allows airflow.

Verdict

There’s no denying $1199.10 is a premium price to pay for a helmet, however, with the Shoei X-Spirit III helmet you can see where your money has gone.

Pros

  • Great vision
  • Light weight
  • All-day comfort

Cons

  • Visor fogs without Pinlock

Colours: Who’s your hero?

Size range: XS to XXL

RRP

Solid Colour $999.90

Replicas $1199.00

McLeod Accessories

  1300 300 191

  mcleodaccessories.com.au

Price watch

If $1199.90 is beyond your budget, you can still get most of the great X-Spirit III features in the NXR range. Some models of the NXR range are presently on special and retailing for as low as $659.90. Visit mcleodaccessories.com.au to view the current range.

By Chris Dobie

As appeared in AMCN Vol 67 No 03