I only discovered the versatility of wearing a flip front helmet a couple of years ago. Until then, I’d pigeon-holed flip front helmet wearers to groups of old men who are usually yelling at me for going too fast while writing my details in a notepad. Yep, you got it…
But then I wore the first Shoei Neotec and my opinion changed. I found myself reaching for the flip front whenever I was going for a road ride – the convenience and comfort of having a helmet that opens in the front was a new thing to me… and I liked it. Stopping for fuel – no need to take your helmet off. Riding through town when it’s hot – flip the front up for added ventilation. Struggling to get the stupid car driver to hear what you’re yelling at them? Yeah, you guessed it…
The original wasn’t perfect. A bit heavy (especially with the front up), a bit noisy due to the fit at the front, and it could do with some more ventilation. Well, Shoei listened and the Neotec II is a giant leap forward which was evident from the first time I slipped it on.
The shell of the original Neotec was always quite big, and the new version is noticeably smaller. With four shell sizes available it means you’re not a small wearing a large shell as is the case with some other helmets. But it’s the variable density EPS liner that has contributed to the small circumference overall. As well as improving ventilation due to the gaps in the liner, the system allows the helmet to cope with varying degrees of impact and protect the brain accordingly. A five-ply matrix of hand-laid fibreglass and organic fibres gives the shell its strength, while wind tunnel testing has giving the Neotec a new shape. The shell-integrated spoiler has been reshaped/repositioned to further reduce lift and drag while the top air outlet serves as a spoiler while in an upright riding position. And the newly designed ‘Aero Deflector’ improves chin bar aerodynamics.
Opening the front of the helmet couldn’t be easier, with a large release button at the front of the helmet meaning it’s easy to do with a gloved hand. A new locking mechanism keeps the front locked when it’s up, and the chin bar feels significantly smaller and lighter when it’s up there. Okay, you don’t really want to be riding around with the front up as you don’t want to crash without any protection for your face, but cruising through town with the front up is a refreshing experience.
The pads have been updated with new ‘Noise Isolator’ cheek pads working to deflect wind and reduce unwanted noise. A chin curtain further reduces the wind noise and the helmet is significantly quieter than the outgoing model. All pads are removable and washable, and the helmet is intercom ready, with the Sena SRL system designed specifically for the Neotec II. Securing the helmet is through a stainless steel ratchet system which adds security, and the internal sun visor is much easier to put down and retract thanks to the updated system.
Finally, the Neotec II comes with a Pinlock visor system which essentially double-glazes the visor, stopping fogging almost completely.The Neotec II is also available in a range of new colours along with the standard solid colours. Looking at it, it’s difficult to tell it’s a flip-front helmet, with the shell size and design making the Neotec II look like one of Shoei’s sportier race helmets.
From the inside and the Neotec II is noticeably quieter and cooler than the previous version, with the update to the interior allowing better flow-through of air. The smaller shell means less drag, and you’d be hard-pressed to realise you were wearing a flip front if you hadn’t just closed the front before riding off. It’s got all the convenience without any of the issues earlier flip fronts faced. I can testify to all-day comfort after doing some serious daily kays wearing the Neotec II and this is now my helmet of choice for road riding.
So, if you’ve always fancied the idea of a flip front but were never convinced that you could live with one, then the new Neotec II is the helmet that is likely to persuade you to switch. Good aerodynamics, easy operation, comfortable interior and low noise all combined with the convenience of opening the front makes the Neotec II a winner for us.
Lighter, quieter, easier to use, stronger.
Fitting other intercom possibly tricky.
Colours: Plain and graphic
Available sizes: XS – 2XL
Price: $899 (solid colour) $1049 (graphic)
Available from: www.bits4bikes.co.nz