Shoei GT-Air Review

I have been a long-time user of Shoei helmets, having used their XR–1000 for years. The time to find a new helmet is now, and Shoei was the obvious place to start looking given the comfort and great fit of the previous helmets. The fact that they have just released a new range of helmets was just perfect timing.

The GT-Air is a step up from the XR line in terms of functionality and safety, and is a full-face helmet geared towards sports-touring and for varying weather conditions with its built-in sun visor and excellent ventilation. Not to mention the great aerodynamics and light weight makes it a great helmet.

Features

The most-hyped feature of the new GT-Air is definitely the built-in sun visor and with good merit. It works really well, and it does not affect the vision at all, except that headlights may get a slight halo at dawn. The positives definitely outweigh the small negatives though, since you will no longer have to carry multiple visors on long rides, and it is easily operated with a lever on the left side of the helmet. The lever itself is robust and can easily be operated with gloves while riding. It does not lock in certain positions but stays in place only using friction at your desired setting.

The outer visor has been given some major attention compared to the XR series, beginning with its placement. The XR series field of view always felt restricted, especially in the vertical plane, but the GT-Air leaves you with an almost entirely unrestricted field of view. Like other Shoei helmets, the outer visor comes preinstalled with the Pinlock bolts, and a pinlock visor is provided free in the GT-Air package, so foggy visors will soon be a distant memory.

The locking mechanism of the visor has received an upgrade as well, and will automatically hook on the visor when it is down. To release it, just pull up on the visor tab, and it will be released. The secondary purpose of the lock is the ability to have the visor resting on it, which will create a small crack in the bottom for additional air to be injected into the helmet.

Speaking of air, the GT-Air has a greatly improved ventilation system. The main air intakes are located in the normal places; in front of the chin and on the forehead. The vents open in three different settings, making it easy to adjust to the current temperature. The air-intake itself is the best I have ever tried, and it really makes all the difference.

The bottom of the helmet features two red straps on the cheek pads, which in case the worst happens, EMT personnel can pull to release the pads, freeing you of the helmet without further injuries.

The entire inside of the GT-Air liner is easily removable as well, which means that washing the helmet will be a breeze. Like other Shoei helmets, there are cut-outs for glasses, which work exceptionally well. They have however changed the position slightly for this helmet, which means that the glasses will be positioned slightly higher. It works fine for my glasses, but some type of frames could potentially have a problem with this.

Conclusion

The first thing I really noticed when putting on the helmet was the soft plush lining. It is so comfortable that I wouldn’t mind having a pillow made out of that material.

The second thing I noticed was the weight. While it is not the lightest helmet out there, it is a rather large difference compared to the XR–1000. It felt so light, and turning your head at high speed will not make you have to combat the wind anymore, but will easily let you swivel your head as you please.

Noise, or lack thereof, is definitely on top of the list of wanted features in a helmet, and the GT-Air does not disappoint. At slow speed below 70–100 km/s, there is virtually no painful noise at all. Going faster at highway speeds++ paired with decent concert earplugs made it exceptionally quiet, so for a quiet helmet, this easily wins the price.

Change the front disc brake pads on the VFR

Changing the front brakes pads on the VFR is an easy task which should not take more than a copule of minutes.

First locate the front brakes, which should hopefully be fairly obvious. Once you are situated, remove the rubber cap and unscrew the pad pin. Be sure to catch the brake pads when you pull the pin out, or they may damage the rims. A towel or something similar beneath could be a life-saver if you happen to drop one of the pads.

Once the brake pads are removed, just remove the metal clip on the back and attach it to the new ones before installing them.

To easier set the new pads, be sure to push in the pistons without damaging them. There is not much else to it. Just remember to pump on the brake until you have pressure back.

I am not going to write about how to break in the brakes properly, since there are lots of different schools. Be sure to do this in some form however, or the pad surface may become glazed.

PAIR and Flapper mod, with bonus snorkel mod for VFR

The Honda VFR is a beautiful machine, but its full potential has sadly been restricted to comply with different laws and regulations. There are fortunately some easy steps you can take to remove these limitations and get the full potential of the 800cc V4 engine.

All the mods are easy to do, and are fully reversible in case you want to restore everything to its original state. Please note that you are doing this at your own risk! Many VFR riders have however done these mods without any complications. The description and images are compatible with the 6th generation VFR, them being from 2002 to present date.

First things first. You will need to find the fuel tank. Ready? Okay, now locate the two screws on the front end of the tank and unscrew them.

Fueltank

Now lift the tank up slowly and make sure that the fuel lines or anything else is not stuck.

Fueltank open

Make sure to put something sturdy between the bike and tank to hold it up properly. This is of course much easier if the tank is almost empty, so take a long drive to empty the tank beforehand if you want!

PAIR valve

We’ll start out with a quote describing exactly what the PAIR valve does. If you know where this was taken from, please contact me and I will of course link there.

What is happening is that when the bike is running, the pair is opening to blast fresh air into the exhaust system. This was done to clean up the bikes emissions. This systems worked fine on all models. Even carb models have this system fitted. When the VFR went to the first fuel injected model the PAIR valve was still used again to clean up emissions without any problems. Then the VTEC model came along and it all went wrong. The reason for this is that the VTEC model had an O2 sensor fitted in the exhaust. What happens is that the PAIR valve is working pretty much from idle speed blasting fresh air into the exhaust system. The fresh air entering the exhaust is picked up by the O2 sensor which then thinks the bike is running lean (around 19:1) so sends a signal to the ECU to richen up the fuel mixture. The ECU is now pouring as much fuel into the engine as it can because the O2 sensor thinks its still running lean. The real fuel/air ratio being poured into the bike is now around 11:1 making the bike hard to ride and resulting in the snatchy throttle response we have all been talking about.

So what we want to do is to disable the PAIR valve altogether and the easiest way to do exactly this is to remove the cable controlling it! If you look on the right side of the bike under the very tank you just lifted, you will see cables and a connector like this.

PAIR valve connector

Now just unplug those connectors and use some electrical tape to make sure that no moisture gets into the open ends.

PAIR valve disconnected

Yes, that’s it! You have now successfully disable the PAIR valve from screwing with your O2 sensors. But why stop there…

Flapper valve

The air intake box is located directly under the fuel tank and you probably noticed the strange little valve on the top right when you lifted the fuel tank for the first time. Its sole purpose is to strange your VFR! That’s right, it limits the airflow at certain RPM’s to comply with regulations regarding emissions and sound. This is also know as the infamous flat spot around 5000 RPM.

It is however very easy to disable it. Just pull out the vacuum tube coming out of it and plug it with a plastic plug or similar. Do the same with the valve itself to protect against dirt finding its way in.

Flapper valve

Make sure to secure the tube with some tape to keep it from slipping out while riding.

Snorkel mod

Yes, you read that correctly. You beloved VFR has a snorkel and it has a hard time breathing through it. Just imagine going out running and only breathing through a straw in your mouth. Not a pretty sight.

The snorkel on your VFR is located on the front of the air intake box and it is made of soft plastic, so it is easy to just pull it out without even opening the air box!

Snorkel intake

Now your VFR finally has the ability to breathe properly, and it will behave much better at high RPM! Just be sure to save it if you want to be able to restore everything to its original state.

The snorkel

You will probably need to open the air intake box if you want to restore it.

Results

I really don’t want to write anything here, but instead let you find out for yourself! I am sure that you will be amazed by what your VFR can do now. If this was not for you however, simply restore all mods, which should be very easy if you followed the instructions above.

Okay, if you really want to know the results, here goes. It’s a completely new bike! Gone are the hesitations on low RPMs and the flat spot around 5000 is gone, and the engine feels much more responsive at high RPMs! In addition to all this, it runs much smoother overall and has a more distinct and “meaty” sound to it. I have the Devil Magnum Carbon slip-on, which helps.

Results of the whisper strip test

So I went for a fairly long drive today, trying out the whisper strip for the Shoei helmet. The weather was perhaps not perfect for this test with 25 degrees (Celsius that is) and extreme humidity, but it still give some useful results.

Having the strip attached to the bottom of the helmet keeps all moisture trapped inside, which easily leads to the visor getting fogged up. Some of it may just be the result of weather conditions, but it’s an important thing to keep in mind on long trips. Using pinlock is almost a necessity.

Sound wise it’s both ways; it does dampen the sound of the wind quite well. Of course not as well as using those standard yellow earplugs, but still good enough. The downside is the humidity I mentioned above, and that one looks like an untrained monkey when trying to push the head through the strip.

Bought whisper strip for my Shoei helmet

Earlier today I bought the whisper strip kit for my Shoei helmet. It’s supposed to divert the wind and make it much more quiet in the helmet. To this point, I have been using earplugs when doing long tours, but now I hope that I don’t have to.

It looks like this when mounted on the helmet:

shoei-front.JPG shoei-bottom.JPG

As you can see, it greatly reduces the size of the hole in the bottom of the helmet. The question is if it’s really enough. I will take a long trip tomorrow and really try it out, but I will bring my earplugs too, just in case.

Edit: Results of the test.