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.
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.
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.