Shoei RF-1100 Review: Put a Price on Your Head

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My head isn’t an easy fit.  I’ve tried out a lot of helmets over the years.  Some fit better than others.  All were either “low budget” or mid-level helmets.  Many saw thousands of miles of use.  Only two were crash tested.  Most recently,  I was hit by a car a couple of weeks before Christmas.  I was wearing a Shoei RF-1100.

It was about 10,000 miles earlier that I had made the step up to the RF-1100.  I had chosen this particular helmet for both peace of mind and performance.  Out of all my previous helmets, here was one that fit like a glove right out of the box, after selecting the proper size!  And after extensive use, I can testify it is lightweight, stable at speed, has incredible ventilation you can actually notice, and the construction and finish are top quality.

The shield is super easy to remove and install, even if you’re installing a dark tint or mirrored visor that blocks your view of the change mechanism.  I’ve never had a helmet as easy to swap visors on as this one.  It just works.

The cheekpads and liner are the same story.  They are super easy to remove and reinstall.  It’s literally a snap.

Also, the liner doesn’t have the substantial break-in (or breakdown) as other helmets I had tried.  After hundreds of hours in the saddle, the helmet has only loosened slightly, and in all the right places.  It actually fits even better now than when it was new, because it has conformed to my head.  This is what a helmet is supposed to do, and why you should buy a helmet that fits initially very snug.

However, previous helmets seemed to breakdown everywhere and overall simply get too loose by breaking in too much in areas that should not have.  The higher quality materials in the RF-1100 make a world of difference.  Remember, I’m a hard head to fit.  I did have to swap out the cheek pads that came standard in my helmet for a set of a different thickness.

And that’s the brilliance of this helmet:  You can do that.  There are different cheek pads and liners available to customize your fit.  Once I had my perfect set up, the helmet was a safe, snug fit without pressure points– and stayed that way.

You do get what you pay for in a helmet.  This was the most expensive helmet I had ever bought.  The quality is evident, not just in comfort and features, but in performing at the number one job for any helmet.  It’s the number one job I had in mind when I bought it.  It’s one of the main reasons I did:  Protecting my melon.

My head hit the ground in a crash before.  In spring of 2010, I came out of the saddle going about 40mph.  My head bounced on the road multiple times as I slid.  Each hit was extremely loud and jarring.  It felt and sounded like my head was inside a bouncing basketball.  I was dazed, but never lost consciousness.  Hospital scans later that afternoon revealed no sign of head trauma.  I was wearing a mid-range, SNELL approved helmet.  The helmet did do its job and I’m grateful.  However,  I had no idea how comfortable crashing could be until I did it again last December, this time in a Shoei RF-1100.

When the car struck me, I was thrown backwards into the air.  I landed on my lower back first, followed by the back of my head slamming into the ground.

Or so I realized later.

I certainly knew my back was injured, but I didn’t even know I had hit my head- not because I was dazed, but because the RF-1100 so quietly and flawlessly did its job. There was no jarring bounce this time, no loud noise.  If the other helmet was like crashing in a basketball, this was like wrapping a pillow around your head and having someone hit you with a feather.  I hope I never crash again.  But if I do, I want it to be in a Shoei.

It also makes all the miles in between so much more pleasant.There is SNELL rating, and then there’s SNELL rating.  Two doctors may both be qualified to operate on you, but would you prefer the one who graduated medical school with a C-average, or the one who had all A’s?

The fact that the RF-1100 is now available on closeout makes this a no-contest question.  This helmet is now available for as little as $299.99, not much more than the mid-range helmets, like the one from my previous crash.  Spend the extra money.  Put a price on your head.  You’re worth it.

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