1: Police Motorcycle Helmet - Shoei
2: Bump on liner is the hidden switch.
3: Recharging lead can be hidden underneath
4: Shoei Syncrotec Helmet liner
The M5 Switchblade Power System
by webBikeWorld Staff
The Shoei Syncrotec Police Motor Officer motorcycle
helmet shown here is identical to the Syncrotec that you
and I can purchase from any authorized Shoei retailer.
But this helmet includes an interesting option: the
M5 Switchblade Power System, which consists of a
rechargeable lithium ion battery pack that is installed
in either the neck roll or cheek pad of the LE (Law
Enforcement) versions of the Syncrotec, the Shoei RJ-Air
LE , the Shoei ST-LE or the HJC AC-2 LE.
The M5 Switchblade system powers a single LED light
in the Syncrotec shown here, which is identical to the
street version in all other respects. The M5
Switchblade costs $69.00 (not including the helmet, of
But the system can also power devices such as
rider-to-rider communications, Bluetooth short range
communications devices, heads-up displays, powered fan
defogging units, helmet cooling fans and more.
The battery is a 3.7 Volts DC, 650 milli-Amp hour
lithium ion unit that weighs 1.3 oz. (40 grams).
A.C.S.A.S. Technology Corporation, the developers of the
technology, claim that the system will maintain its
charge for up to 3 years without use and that it has a
35+ hour life between charges in the LED light
Since the system is part of the helmet's cheek pad or
neck roll, it can be switched in and out of similar
sized helmets from the same manufacturer.
The LED light in the Syncrotec turns on automatically
when the flip-up visor is lifted. The light can
also be disabled via a switch is hidden underneath the
vinyl liner on the bottom of the neck roll on the
right-hand side of the helmet (see photo).
The purpose of the LED light system on a police
motorcycle helmet is to allow the motor officer to use
both hands during nighttime operations. But it is
also the ultimate flashlight for use by motorcycling
civilians for the same reason, and also because it's
completely unobtrusive and adds a minimal amount of
weight to the helmet.
The M5 Switchblade system comes with a 110 Volt
recharger. The tiny recharging lead (see photo) is
hidden underneath the helmet liner and can be plugged in
to a matching lead on the recharger when necessary.
Recharging time varies, averaging about 30 minutes.
The M5 Switchblade system is available to Police
departments through a special Police motorcycle helmet
sales division of Helmet House, which is one of the
largest distributors of motorcycle helmets and clothing
in the U.S.A.
The system is not currently
available to the public, but our guess is that it would
be if enough interest develops.
Shoei Syncrotec Police Motorcycle Helmet
A flip-up helmet like the Shoei Syncrotec is the perfect
application for the LED light powered by the M5
Switchblade system, since the light can be switched to
automatically turn on when the visor is lifted.
The Syncrotec has been on the market for several
years; rumor had it that it would be revised in 2005,
but apparently this has been delayed.
The Syncrotec has been part of the Shoei lineup for many
years, and it remains one of the most popular flip-up
It doesn't have any particular
features that make it stand out from the crowd, but it's
a solid, well-built and serviceable helmet backed by the Shoei reputation.
The Syncrotec Police motorcycle helmet version shown
here is, as far as we know, the only flip-up sold for
Police use, which is a good recommendation, because
Police motorcycle helmets surely take a beating.
Some police motorcycle departments will issue two
helmets to their Motor Officers; a "shorty" like the
Shoei RJ-ST LE or a half-helmet the Shoei RJ-Air in
addition to a Syncrotec for use during inclement
The Syncrotec and the other Shoei and HJC Police
motorcycle helmets are available in white, black or a
black/white color combination.
We haven't tried a normal Syncrotec, so we're not
sure if the M5 Switchblade system affects the internal
head shape of the helmet or not. Our M5
Switchblade-equipped Syncrotec in size XL has an "oval"
internal head shape, with a slightly tight fit on the
sides (for more information on choosing and fitting a
motorcycle helmet, see the
Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page). The ear cups in
the modified helmets are filled with a stiffer type of
padding that also houses the M5 Switchblade power
Since we haven't tried a normal Syncrotec, we're not
sure how different the fit might be. But
otherwise, the Syncrotec offers basic air flow through
its smallish chin and brow vents. The flip-up
visor is released via a single button latch underneath
and in the middle of the chin bar. The button
works backwards when compared to most other flip-ups;
that is, it must be pushed towards the rider's face to
Normally, the rider's thumb is used to hook the
button and pull the visor forward. On the
Syncrotec, the button must be pushed back towards the
rider's face with the index finger while grasping the
bottom of the chin bar with the thumb. This makes
for a slightly more clumsy method for opening.
The Syncrotec has a solid feel when the flip-up visor
is snapped shut, and it also has a strong detent at the
uppermost position, which holds the flip-up visor in
place. This is extremely important for Police use,
because the last thing you'd want is to have the visor
fall down while you're investigating a suspicious
character. Several other flip-up helmets
that we've tried have very weak detents, allowing the
visor to unexpectedly flip down over the rider's face.
Our size XL Syncrotec with the M5 Switchblade power
system installed weighs 3 lbs., 13 oz. (1731 grams),
lighter than the
Summit XPV, the
Schuberth C2 flip-ups and lighter even than a couple
of full-face helmets we've reviewed. See the
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart
illustrating the weights of the various helmets we've
The Syncrotec doesn't break any new ground in this area,
but the tightness of the helmet due to the M5
Switchblade system seems to help keep apparent noise
levels lower than they would be otherwise. The
oval internal shape of the helmet also means that the
neck roll is tighter than some other helmets, and this
also helps to decrease ambient noise levels.
The "booming" noises that are usually the most
annoying are typically a result of turbulence caused by
"dirty" air coming off the motorcycle windscreen, and
these noises are often heard from up underneath the
helmet, especially if the neck roll does not fit snugly.
The Syncrotec uses a standard D-ring attachment system,
which is the simplest and best type of motorcycle helmet
attachment method in our opinion. The loose end of
the helmet strap has the typical Shoei plastic snap
which attaches to the crossbar on one of the D-rings,
keeping the loose strap from flapping in the breeze.
The helmet has two small and narrow lengths of padding
to protect the rider's neck from chafing.
The M5 Switchblade, LED-equipped Police motorcycle
helmet version of the Shoei Syncrotec uses a single LED
embedded in the upper right hand corner of the cheek
pad. The light in our helmet throws out a nice,
round pattern that's useful for a number of purposes.
A single LED throws a surprising amount of light, and
although the LED in our helmet certainly isn't a
replacement for something like the Gerber Reactor LED
flashlight, it's powerful enough to read a driver's
license during a stop, or for packing a tank bag,
filling out paperwork or even performing some roadside
maintenance. See the
Flashlights page for more information on
flashlights, LED flashlights and flashlight reviews.
It's always very difficult to take photographs
showing a before/after shot of any type of lighting, but
here are two completely un-retouched photos taken in a
pitch-dark basement of a bicycle wheel, taken from a
distance of 8 feet:
The M5 Switchblade power system is one of those "why
didn't I think of that" ideas that has the potential
of creating a variety of new products for motorcycle
Other uses for the M5 Switchblade
power system are already in use, such as the powered
venting system on the AFX FX-11 Lightforce helmet
A.C.S.A.S. Technology Corporation,
the developers and manufacturers of the M5
Switchblade system, told us that they are currently
working on a seamless helmet-to-helmet communication
system "which is a generation beyond Bluetooth" and
will come standard on a new line of helmets they're
launching in 2006.
I.H.T. helmets is also developing a photochromic visor
(review), LED lighting, and
wireless communication system. Plans are for
the helmet to retail at around $350-$400. They
have contracted with Mike Lavellee of
Killer Paint to design the graphics; Mike is
world renowned for his True Flames and is a regular
on TLC's Overhauling, Rides, and the Discovery
Review: Police Motorcycle Helmet
From: Helmet - Helmet
House Police Helmets.
Retail Price: M5 Switchblade MSRP is $69.00. Shoei
Syncrotec helmet list price is $475.99 (solid color).
|Colors: White, Black and
in: Helmet made in Japan. M5 Switchblade made in U.S.A.
|Review Date: January
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