Shoei X-Fourteen Review
The Shoei X-Fourteen, the all-new, flagship model is a stunning piece of motorcycle headgear. Let’s make something clear: this is no commuter helmet; the Shoei X-Fourteen was built for and consulted by top road racers from all over the world. Most notably, the likes of MotoGP champion Marc Marquez and Bradley Smith contributed to the creation of this new helmet.
Here are the basics: The Shoei X-14 isn’t a rebranding or a slight update to the tried and true X-Twelve. It’s an all-new shell design that took countless hours to get right. The shell is made up of Multi-ply Matrix AIM+, which is a proprietary blend of fiberglass, organic fibers and several other composite materials that we aren’t privy to. For our purposes, the helmet is Snell- and DOT-approved, and because of the AIM+ construction, the helmet is extremely lightweight.
A snug, racefit helmet is what greets the user. A CWR-F race shield with posts for tear aways and Vortex Generators for additional aerodynamic advantages is a signal to the market that, yes, this is a race helmet and, no, it makes no compromises.
Faceshield availability is as follows—clear, light smoke, dark smoke and high-def yellow. You aren’t tied to just those, as Shoei was smart to utilize its previous shield mounting system, which means that if you own an RF-1200 or GT-Air, all of those shields will be interchangeable. New to the faceshield is a lock that operates simple push-pull manner.
Initially, I was a bit apprehensive when putting it on. The opening for the Shoei X-Fourteen is smaller, but has a pleasant side effect in that it creates a closer fit around the neck that reduces wind buffeting under the chin. Shoei representatives tell us that we might experience more noise than usual and, while they certainly know this helmet well, I’d have to disagree that it is loud. Certainly, I was able to hear more of my surroundings but there was distinct lack of wind howling that would make anyone fear tinnitus.
“When Milliseconds Count” is the tagline that Shoei has chosen to run with and, in the world of racing, that means everything—to make up those milliseconds, Shoei took to its state of the art wind tunnel facilities and, while the profile is extremely aggressive, all of those features exist because of their extensive research during wind tunnel testing and with the aid of robotics, Shoei was able to simulate actual conditions that a rider would face, collecting copious amounts of data in every imaginable body position.
Ridges on the chin-bar and upper portion of the Shoei X-Fourteen guide air to a sizeable rear stabilizer, which is not uncommon on helmets of this nature. What is unique is the addition of rear flaps, not unlike what you’d find in the aeronautics world. The patent pending Rear Stabilizer system makes use of two flaps that, according to Shoei, aid with stability while riding and the flaps are adjustable for the application—track or street. Marquez claims that smaller winglets allow for more movement in slightly slower racing groups such as Moto3, where shoulder checking is more prevalent.
That is one of the biggest benefits of the X-14—by reducing head movement that I previously looked at as a product of speed, is now being eliminated. Perhaps the biggest benefit was that I didn’t realize this until I had time to mull the helmet over. It removed one distracting variable from my ride. violent drag-induced-head-shake simply was not occurring if I happened to glance or sit up while braking.
The Shoei X-Fourteen was certainly stable at windswept Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. When wrenching on the throttle on a Suzuki GSX-R 750, I didn’t experience any heavy buffeting or shaking when sitting up and braking hard on the straights. The X-Fourteen can take anything that we can throw at it, as no one was able to get anywhere near the speeds a MotoGP bike would reach on the relatively compact track.
Shoei’s venting has been stepped up as well. The X-14 sports six adjustable intakes and six always-open exhaust ports. The upper adjusters and chin adjusters can be easily manipulated with gloves. The venting corresponds to gaps in the Dual-Layer Multi-Density EPS Liner, which make it a very comfortable ride.
Though we were graced with great weather, typically when I pull off a helmet, my hair is soaked through with sweat. With the X-Fourteen, that wasn’t the case. According to Shoei, the upper venting creates a low pressure situation which naturally pulls warm air towards and out of the exhaust vents which reduces heat as well as fogging potential. As someone who uses glasses, that’s a big factor for me.
Another point on bespectacled riders, I’ve always accepted that I’m going to experience some discomfort with a helmet, especially something that has a race fit. Instead, the X-Fourteen worked wonderfully with my glasses, which isn’t something I can say for the vast majority of helmets I’ve made use of. In addition, Shoei was able to squeak out four additional degrees of field of vision. That may not sound like much, however, when in full tuck, less work is required to spot your exit points and at tracks with few points of reference, that is an unbelievable help.
New for Shoei is the 3D Max-Dry Custom Interior System. A sweat-wicking system that is claimed to disperse moisture at double the speed that traditional materials would. Here is another point where the X-Fourteen begins to shine; each rider is a unique person and with that in mind, all of the inner pads from the front, top, sides and rear can be removed and replaced to fit your sizing needs. Gone are the days of taking a knife and modifying hotspots. Additionally, the upper pad has multi-position adjustability for even more fine tuning. Making use of these adjustments isn’t difficult and snap in or out of place with ease. Shoei’s Emergency Quick Release System is found here as well, with a strap that fits perfectly under the chin and uses a traditional D-ring strapping system.
Despite being an upgrade from the previous model, the new Shoei X-Fourteen will have the same MSRP as its predecessor. And that’s good news. The X-Twelve is a great helmet, however the X-Fourteen is a vast improvement on a solid base. This is a race-ready piece of headgear, yet still has all of the comfort levels that you expect in a street-oriented helmet, while managing to deliver a user friendly platform that only amounts to one thing—letting you focus on the next corner.
Shoei X-Fourteen MSRP: $628 (solid); $693 (metallic); $808 (graphics); $840 (replica graphics).