Shoei J∙O Helmet

Editor Score: 91.0%
Aesthetics 9.5/10
Protection 7.5/10
Value 9.0/10
Comfort/Fit 9.5/10
Quality/Design 9.5/10
Weight 9.5/10
Options/Selection 9.0/10
Innovation 9.0/10
Weather Suitability 9.0/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 9.5/10
Overall Score91/100

It occurred to Shoei that there was a bit of a gaping hole in its line-up where a helmet for urban hip riders of Ducati Scramblers, Sportsters and things might fit, and so here it is, the new J-O. It’s available in five solids and six graphics (Sequel TC-5 in lead image). My newest open-face is a Bell Tracker from the ’90s (looks like they now assign that name to a bicycle helmet), which I still pull off the shelf now and then for short hops around town. But really, now that the modular helmet is here, to offer both open-face freedom/convenience and full-face function in one, for me there seemed to be very little need for an open-face. Then Shoei unveiled its new lid there at Deus ex Machina in LA, and suddenly I am into open-face again! Because style! Where do I get the tattoos?

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Shoei’s Matthias Beier and Moichi Tsuzuki do the Powerpoint at Deus.

This new Shoei is to my old Bell Tracker as Savile Row is to a Ross Dress for Less track suit. Wait! Typing “Savile Row” reminds me that I actually have a much more recent Davida Jet open face, and as nice as that is, the Shoei might be even a bit nicer.

Number one as usual is fit, and the round-oval classic Shoei shape – my all-time fave – is how the J-O rolls also. Snug in my usual size “L”, but already breaking in nicely as I sit here comfortably typing in it after an hour tootling around town on the Tracer 900 GT, with no pressure points whatsoever.

Shoei says the J-O respects the past while being totally modern, and brought along a sample of its vintage lids to make the point. That’s the J-O at right.

Number two is that the J-O comes with a swell integrated and retractable visor that shields and protects your orbs much better and more conveniently than the goggles or glasses you’d need to wear otherwise. There’s also room behind the visor if you do wear glasses, or the option to wear goggles and just leave the shield up.

J-O Waimea. Cue Hawaii Five-O soundtrack.

Shoei’s very proud of its optics. A 3D-injection­ molding process provides a 100% optically correct distortion-free view of the world, and Shoei says its shields are produced by the same people who make pilot shields to meet military specs. Spare shields are available in Dark Smoke, HD Yellow, Spectra Chrome, and Spectra Gold. They’re easy to swap out with no tools once you learn (quickly) the trick, and there are three-position adjusters on either side so you can have the shield rest just above your nose instead of annoyingly upon it.

Furthermore, that shield makes the J-O way less turbulent than the typical open-face con sunglasses. The CJ­3 shield was designed in Shoei’s in-house wind tunnel to combat road noise and wind turbulence near the face.

The surface area on the sides of the shield was maximized to help reduce the “rolling-­in” effect that wind turbulence can cause at high speed. The tabs at the bottom of either side that let you easily open and close the shield with either hand, also act as airflow spoilers to keep turbulence and noise to a minimum.

It works. I haven’t gone faster than 70 mph yet, but at that speed things are far more peaceful from the cheeks up than just wearing glasses, and almost as easy on the eyes as wearing goggles. On chilly days, with a sporty bandana to cover the schnoz and seal the gap a bit, the J-O wouldn’t be bad at all. Chilly, not cold. Also, the shield shields 99% of UV rays.

The shell is a compact, narrow design featuring a throwback ducktail out back, and using Shoei-­exclusive “Multi­Ply Matrix AIM” construction: That combines fiberglass with lightweight organic and high ­performance fibers to provide “optimal impact­ absorption, strength and elasticity,” says Shoei. Its “Multi­Density” EPS liner uses foam of varying densities, precisely placed, to provide the best possible impact absorption while keeping the helmet compact and aero. Plus, the CJ3 shield retracting up inside there doesn’t compromise safety; special construction means the thickness of the EPS liner is consistent throughout the entire helmet. There are also a couple of channels for airflow running through the liner to keep things chill in there on hot days.

The J-O is really light, too – a tad over three pounds, supposedly – which enhances the unencumbered feel of riding open-faced.

Three shell sizes and four liners mean everybody gets a custom-ish fit, in six sizes from XS to XXL.

Natch, the interior is fully removable, washable, replaceable and adjustable via Multi­layer 3D­-contoured cheek pads available in different thicknesses. Fit, finish and attention to detail are what you expect from Shoei’s hand-craftsmanship: Matte synthetic Nubuck leather lines the forehead area to quash even the possibility of reflections into the shield. Glossy synthetic leather around the bottom edges matches your murse and shoes.

Well, the ATGATT crowd will never wear one and there’s no arguing the fact that a full-face helmet provides better protection. I mean, I’m allergic to bees and I hardly ever carry my Epipen, but I still tool around sometimes open-faced just to laugh in the face of danger. If you do want an open-face, which really are nice when you’re out for a casual spin, this one’s about as good as they get.

I feel like I’m really coming along as a photographer. This one’s the Carburetor TC-6 graphic.

Shoei J∙O Helmet
Solid Colors: $379
Graphics: $449

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