First off I have to say I've been a Bell and Arai fan for quite some time but I haven't had enough experience with the other big name in helmets, Shoei. I had a Shoei RF 1000 for a weeks a while back and lost it, so I never really got to experience it fully. Recently Shoei, through their distributor Helmet House, was kind enough to provide me with their brand new GT Air to review.
I was already pretty excited when my son tweeted that there was a big box for me on the porch. I found every reason to leave work at a reasonable hour and flew home to eagerly open up the box. What greeted me was a rather sinister looking glossy black helmet, with air vents that did not stick out like sore thumbs but rather blended nicely into the lines, and an included pinlock set-up, which is an insert for the shield that really prevents it from fogging up.
I had a long trip scheduled in the next day or so so I wore the helmet around the house for a bit, just to make sure it fit right and was comfortable enough - my 2 year old was a little confused but she felt fine once I raised the visor :)
Anyway my ride was supposed to be a short, easy trip to Hershey Park, where I would drop off my Griso for some work and then enjoy the weekend with my wife, the kids and two of their best friends.
Like I said last week, the trip started off great - then I hit Philly and Philly hit me. It hit me with traffic, ridiculous rain and made for a awful day. If I hadn't been wearing such an excellent set of gear I would have been miserable. I kinda was anyway but the Roadcrafter suit and the GT Air really made a difference.
First off the GT Air has a built in sun-screen, which was great since I used it for the sunny hour and popped it back up for the other 6 hours of my three hour tour. I think this might just be my favorite sun screen ever, maybe tied with the Schuberth C3. The optics were excellent, I loved how easy it was to raise and lower and how I could stop it anywhere I wanted to. It was dark, but no so dark that it was unusable even when cloudy.
The finish on the helmet was awesome too. Although it was just plain black - Shoei would have provided the awesome looking Journey TC-5 that I have attached a photo of but I would have had to wait a few months - it still was gorgeous. I really liked that it made my gigantic head look really small. That's due probably to the three shell sizes the helmet comes. Everything was extremely high quality, and all led it the GT Air being a very quiet helmet.
Visibility was good, although I would have liked a slightly wider eyeport. Venting was really very good - maybe the best I've ever experienced. The chin vent did a great job of getting a nice little breeze onto your face, and the vent up top sent air onto your scalp, which was nice considering the humidity.
Weight on the helmet was really good too, and since I'm still recovering from Spinal surgery I'm pretty sensitive to that of late. Comfort was outstanding; while it started off quite tight it broke in rather quickly.
All in all I really love this helmet. I'm going to save up for a Journey TC-5 or a Wanderer TC-6 over the winter hopefully in time for next year's riding season.
Here is where you can find local dealers - unfortunately no one in town is on the distribution list but there is always Revzilla right in Philly since they have most helmets available in every size so you can try them out in person. I did call Fairway Honda in Somers Point and they can special order Shoei helmets. If the helmet doesn't fit they will re-order in a different size, but unfortunately if it's just a matter of not being the right head-shape you might have to pay a re-stocking fee. That said I'm sure the guys in parts will help you figure out your right shape and order what you need. From what I've read and experienced this helmet lends itself to a narrower head.