Sharing much in common with its predecessor, the Shoei GT Air II is a premium helmet with several questionable design choices. Although it does have many features, they feel dated compared to other helmets of this price range. Shoei has an incredible track record, but this helmet struggles to live up to the expectations and qualities of Shoei’s other models. Whilst not yet being SHARP tested, the previous generation only scored 3 out of 5 stars on the SHARP test, which for a helmet at this price range, is fairly low. Plus the only changes to the helmet are the ventilation and Bluetooth device integration. In our Shoei GT Air II helmet review, we’ve outlined all the best and worst features of this helmet.
- Not many improvements compared to the previous generation
- Built for use with the Sena SRL-2 Bluetooth communications unit
- For this price, the safety of the helmet is questionable
Introducing the Shoei GT Air II
Helmet Style: Full-Face
Certifications: DOT | ECE 22.05
Shell: Composite Fibre
Shell Sizes: 3
Pinlock Compatible: Yes | Included
Included Visor: Clear Visor | Internal Sun Visor
Liner: Removable | Washable | Anti-Bacterial
Intercoms Compatible: Yes | Sena
Eyewear Compatible: Yes
+ Visor can crack open
+ Visor is wide, great peripheral vision
+ Has all the features of the previous generation
− Not yet SHARP tested, previous model scored 3 stars
− There are better helmets for the price
− Doesn’t improve much from the previous generation, takes some steps back.
The Shoei GT Air II holds both DOT and ECE 22.05 certification, but unfortunately, no Snell or SHARP rating. The previous generation only scored 3 out of 5 stars with SHARP, which is rather concerning since this latest generation is constructed from the same materials. Since both this and the previous model are so similar, it’s safe to assume they have the same level of safety. 3 out of 5 stars with SHARP is quite good for most helmets, but with a premium price tag of nearly AU$1000, we expected a lot more from this Shoei’s best selling helmet.
Due to the included internal sun-visor, there is a cavity near the top of my head. This is so it can retract and sit in place when not in use. This compromises the integrity of the helmet. Similarly priced helmets, such as the Arai QV-Pro, incorporate an external sun-visor for this very reason. You can check out our explanation of Arai’s external sun-visor here.
Helmet Shell & Lining
The GT Air II uses Shoei’s Advanced Integrated Matrix (AIM) composite fibre construction with a multi-density EPS liner, making the helmet fairly light and durable. Shoei achieves this by melding a couple of layers of fibreglass together with the assistance of their proprietary organic fibre layers. This helps increase the flexibility of the shell in an impact, but this is by no means top-of-the-line Shoei technology.
Although the helmet contains multi-density EPS layers designed to absorb impacts at different speeds, it lacks technology like MIPS. Normally, this wouldn’t be a valid criticism, but with other premium helmets like the Bell Moto-9 Flex and Arai Profile-V using new and innovative technology like Flex and R75, it’s disappointing not to see Shoei incorporate something similar into this helmet.
There are also plenty of areas on the helmet that stick out and could potentially dig into terrain. These are not designed to snap off, so they run the risk of exacerbating dangerous rotational forces. These factors also contribute to the buffeting that I was experiencing at higher speeds.
Comfort & Sizing
Available in three shell sizes across XS-XXL, the GT Air II is quite a snug fit at first, but it breaks in eventually. If it still feels snug, Shoei offers fully customisable internals, allowing complete adjustability of fitment without changing sizes. This, however, can be a bit of an inconvenience due to having to wait for the replacement parts, refitting the internals, and hoping that it feels much better after the change. The GT Air II didn’t feel as comfortable as some helmets from other premium brands at this price range either, which significantly impacted the overall safety of this helmet.
Although this helmet is 1.5 kg, which is considered average, it feels slightly more heavy on my head due to the shape. It’s not easy to notice if you are using the helmet on your commute, but it feels uncomfortable for longer rides and general touring purposes.
On a more positive note, the internals of the helmet are all moisture-wicking, so they do a good job at keeping your head dry. Plus, there are well-placed glasses grooves.
Ventilation & Noise
The main difference between this generation and the previous is the ventilation system. Compared to the last iteration, this helmet has 2 more intakes and 3 more exhausts to channel air through the lining. Although air enters the helmet easily, it doesn’t make much of a difference. It doesn’t feel like the hot air effectively escapes the helmet, making for a rather constricting feeling.
However, what the extra ventilation does succeed in achieving is an increase of noise inside the helmet. This wasn’t a problem for me with the previous generation, but this helmet is unbearably noisy, especially when riding over a long distance.
The clear visor can be cracked open and locked in place. This helps extract fog and condensation on the visor when it’s especially cold or rainy. The clear visor has excellent peripheral vision and comes with a Pinlock in the box. Also included in an internal sun-visor. Oddly enough, to lower the sun-visor, the mechanism is reversed, so you have to move the slider toward the back of your head to drop it.
The sun-visor is 5mm longer than the previous version, and it effectively blocks out the sun and reduces damaging UV rays transmitted through the lens by 99%.
The Shoei GT Air II is exclusively compatible with the Sena SRL-2 Bluetooth communications unit. It has several cut-outs to fit each part of the intercoms unit and a battery storage bay on the rear built into the helmet itself. All of the wirings runs in channels pre-moulded into the helmet, which allows it all to be out of sight and neat. There are Bluetooth controls located on the left-hand side of the helmet, which controls volume and many other functions outlined in the quick-start guide.
Intercom exclusivity means that any other device is almost impossible to fit. The speaker pockets are designed to fit the SRL-2 specifically. The in-built battery storage also means that there is a rather large hollowing if not in use. If you are not using the SRL-2 unit, you are left with weak areas on the helmet.
In this instance, the only option you are left with is an externally mounted device that can puncture the helmet on impact due to the small surface area and the recesses inside the helmet to accommodate the SRL-2.
Unfortunately, compared to other helmets in this price range, the Shoei GT Air II feels cheap and uncomfortable from my experience. The lack of certifications outside of the bare minimum and the fact that it has not been SHARP rated, makes me feel like I’ve spent a lot of money only to get a brand name printed on the outside of the helmet. It lacks the innovation, safety and appeal of other helmets in the same price range, making this a rather disappointing purchase. It’s not a bad helmet overall, but compared to the rest of Shoei’s helmets and other helmets of the price range, it may as well own that title.