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Shoei X-Fourteen Review

Shoei X-Fourteen Review
X Marks the Spot!
by Rick K. and "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com

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See Also: Shoei X-12 Review

Summary

The Shoei X-Fourteen is here!

It's a radical new helmet design and it looks the part.

As a Shoei helmet, the build quality, paint and graphics are, of course, superb.

The radical design features include a multi-part interior that takes owner customization and fit to a new level.

The interior can also be adjusted back by 4 degrees to account for "head down" racing.

The cheek pads are also revolutionary. They're perforated to evaporate sweat and add to the cooling factor.

Upper ventilation is also outstanding with a brow vent and two-position top vent.

There are 6 rear exhaust ports hidden behind the mid-helmet array of spoilers.

The most radical feature can be seen at the rear of the X-Fourteen, with its time trial helmet taper and replaceable "flaps".

But probably the biggest surprise is that the X-Fourteen is incredibly comfortable and the plush lining also keeps the interior very quiet.

When all is said and done, the new Shoei X-Fourteen makes the old X-12 seem like the two-generations old helmet it is.

Background

webBikeWorld published a Shoei X-14 preview during the 2015 AIMExpo (report) and Shoei promised a late Spring release.

The X-Fourteen is now here and it was worth the wait!

Shoei's "X" descriptor has always been reserved for their top-of-the-line racing helmets. The last X-series helmet was the Shoei X-12 (review), released way back in 2009. Was it really that long ago? Yes.

That helmet served Shoei well and, in fact, it is still being worn by world-class motorcycle racers today.

But here's a little secret: the X-series doesn't really mean a focused racing helmet only. Instead, we'll call it the "Supersport" label, because the X helmets have always included a big dose comfort that works on the street.

In fact, the X-Fourteen has surprised us with a degree of comfort, fit and noise control that makes it ideal for street riders.

Also, Shoei continues to support the Snell safety standard and the X-Fourteen continues the X-series Snell certification tradition, now updated to the Snell M2015 standard (report).

That makes the X-14 a bit heavier than it might be without the certification, but we'll take the tradeoff.

Shoei X-Fourteen
Shoei X-Fourteen Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

Shoei makes premium level motorcycle helmets with a reputation second to none. That makes it easy to evaluate quality: it's outstanding. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.

We were able to get one of the first size XL X-Fourteens off the production line and we had a choice of any color we wanted, as long as it was black.

I tried all the tricks in the book to get one of the graphic designs, but they just weren't available. No matter, because the show finish gloss black on this one is deep as they come. And who knows -- maybe the shiny reflections will act as a safety factor!

As a premium helmet, you'd expect all the moving parts to work flawlessly and they do. The dual chin vent, top vent and brow vent sliders all have a solid but subtle click feel and the face shield also operates smoothly.

The helmet liner is especially awesome; it's much too plush for a race helmet and it can be adjusted and tweaked more ways than any other helmet we know of.

Of course, with that premium quality comes a premium price, but hold an X-Fourteen and compare it with lesser helmets and you'll immediately understand what you're buying

Score: We rate the Shoei X-Fourteen an "Outstanding" rating for overall quality, paint, graphics and and overall fit and finish. See the ratings category in the summary table at the end of the review.

Shoei X-14 Slide Show
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Front View
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Front Quarter View
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Side View
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Rear Quarter View
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Rear View
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Top View
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Spoilers Rear View
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Spoilers
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Rear Exhaust
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Chin Curtain
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Liner Details
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Eye Port
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Liner Parts Rear View
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Liner Parts
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Ventilation Graphic
  • Shoei X-Fourteen Racing Helmet
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Shoei X-Fourteen Colors
Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Liner Parts
Shoei X-Fourteen helmet liner parts.
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Shoei X-Fourteen Fit, Comfort and Internal Shape

When it comes to helmet fit and internal shapes, there's very little standardization, even within the same manufacturer.

That's a pretty general statement, but we believe it to be true, based on our vast experience in reviewing around 300 motorcycle helmets to date.

And here's another general statement: Shoei has the most consistent internal shape in all of their helmets of any manufacturer.

We didn't believe it at first, but after 16+ years of webBikeWorld helmet reviews (and the very first webBikeWorld review was of a helmet), we're believers.

The "Shoei shape" fits Burn like, well, like a glove. I've always had a problem with Shoei helmets however, due to my "wide track" or "Earth" shaped head, which is widest at the temples.

Shoei helmets typically have what we term a "Narrow" or "Slightly Narrow" internal shape. It's not quite as narrow as the "ECE fit" typically found in Nolan, Caberg and Schuberth helmets but definitely to the narrow side of "Neutral". Got that?

I have talked to Shoei management at the various trade shows about this and pretty much begged them to make a "Round" head helmet for the rest of us. I can't say they rejected the idea outright but I can't say it will happen either. One can only hope...

So count me as surprised when I first slid the X-Fourteen over my head and it fit! There's no question that it's still to the "Narrow" side of "Neutral" and the super-plush, thickly-padded interior masks the shape somewhat (or a lot).

But I can say that this size XL X-Fourteen fits me better than any other current helmet in my inventory.

For example, I've been wearing an Arai Corsair X (review) with the 5 mm pads removed from the 10 and 2 o'clock positions and one of the pads placed in front of the head band at my forehead to fill the gap.

But the X-Fourteen fits me better than that right out of the box. In fact, there's nothing I have changed inside the X-14 that might make it more comfortable.

That being said, Burn has a size large X-Fourteen that fits him to a "T", and he's a classic "Long Oval" head shape.

Shoei X-Fourteen Shell Size Chart
This Head Size... ...Uses This Shell Size
XS/S S
M M
L L
XL, XXL XL

I asked a Shoei rep about this and he couldn't confirm or deny that the Shoei internal shape has changed.

I think probably it hasn't and perhaps it's just that as I conjectured: the plushness of the liner helps conform the fit to a wider range of head shapes than before. That's my take on it anyway...

Bottom line? The X-Fourteen should fit Shoei head shapes just like before. But if you're like me -- with a head that is too "Round" to comfortably fit a Shoei helmet in the past -- try the X-Fourteen in your size and one size larger and see how it feels.

The liner has more removable/replaceable parts that we can count -- literally -- so if it doesn't fit, there are still plenty of options you can try.

And by the way, something that might be a bit of a gimmick is the ability to rotate the entire liner assembly back by 4 degrees. This is for racing, where your head is down and you're looking up.

They'd probably have been better off increasing the visibility out the top of the eye port for racing, but anyway, the rotating liner feature is there should you need it.

Otherwise, the liner fabric and the thick padding (in the size XL anyway) help with the fit and add a large dose of comfort.

Oh, and one more thing: there are tiny recesses on either side for speakers -- which proves the "Supersport" point -- but at only about 25 mm across and maybe 4 mm deep, not many of the modern intercom speakers will fit in the recess.

Shoei X-12 Internal Shape
Sizing

The X-Fourteen is made in 4 shell sizes, just like the X-12. This helps keep the internal size closer to the external shell size, but with the "different" shape of the X-Fourteen, the helmet looks kind of big from the outside no matter the shell size.

This size XL is rated to fit a 61-62 cm head and we think that's correct.

The size L is listed at 59-60 cm, also fits to size in our opinion. The extensive liner customization means you can probably shade that size range one size up or down for any standard head size.

But don't forget that a larger head in a smaller size will decrease the thickness of the padding.

For more information on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet, please see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, which also includes a discussion on head shapes.

Score: We'll give the Shoei X-Fourteen an "Outstanding" rating for fit and liner comfort.

Shoei X-Fourteen Top Vents
Shoei X-Fourteen Chin Vent
Shoei X-Fourteen Rear Vents
Ventilation

Seven years ago, we were disappointed with the ventilation in the X-12, but that's a long-ago memory.

About the only thing the X-Fourteen has in common with the X-12 is the Shoei logo on the front and that's a very good thing when it comes to ventilation.

The X-Fourteen's vent system consists of a dual chin vent, a brow vent and a large scoop-type top vent. The chin vent and top vent are two-way adjustable.

The top vent is the star of the show. It's simple but it works. And as we have pointed out numerous times in the past, it's all well and good to have plenty of air coming into the helmet, but the design of the EPS channels, the exhaust and especially the liner are crucial.

Without a well-designed integrated system, the air has nowhere to go and that is a problem with many helmets we have reviewed. You can't just slap a vent on top and call it done.

Despite the plush and rather complicated liner in the X-Fourteen, Shoei left the all-important fore/aft channels along the upper part that direct the air over the rider's head.

The vent holes can be seen directly through the EPS and the air has a clean shot down into the helmet. The novel rear exhaust system also works really well to create negative pressure to pull the air through.

The result is outstanding upper ventilation, even when riding behind a fairing (but with the top of the helmet peeking above the lip).

The brow vent apparently helps but it's not as directly noticeable as opening the top vent.

The chin vent is divided into lower and upper halves. The upper half has two "speeds" and it directs air up along the top of the chin bar, which is the typical approach in a motorcycle helmet.

The bottom half directs the air along the sides of the chin bar, where it is directed over small channels and a hole molded into the backing of each cheek pad.

The cheek pad has mesh fabric sewn along the back side forming the ear pocket. The vent system and the cheek pads are designed to keep this area cool and dry. It's a bit difficult to tell how it works; we'll learn more as summer approaches.

There are no direct vent passages through the chin bar, which is a disappointment.

Overall, the ventilation in the X-Fourteen is light years better than the X-12 but doesn't quite match the Arai Corsair X.

Nits to Pick...

We do have one criticism of the X-Fourteen however: the first opening detent for the visor is larger than we'd like and unfortunately the first detent isn't crisp enough to make it easy to locate the visor at that first level.

It takes a skilled finger to get the face shield to land in the first position which creates about a 20 mm opening. It's probably fine for riding behind a windscreen but too much on an unfaired bike.

Also, the lift tab seems small and it's far enough over to the left that it causes some torqueing of the face shield as you're trying to lift it, which doesn't help matters, making it more difficult than it should be to get the face shield to stop at your selected position.

And while we're at it, Shoei added a thumb lock at the lower left to keep the visor locked for racing.

That's fine, but they could have/should have included the ability to pop the face shield open just a touch for city defogging.

Arai did that on the new Corsair X and it seems strange for the very conservative Arai to one-up Shoei when it comes to a user-friendly feature addition.

It is a lost opportunity that we hope can be corrected.

Shoei X-12 Ventilation

 The X-Fourteen also comes with a Pinlock visor insert and tear-off posts. Various tinted visors are also available.

The eye port on the X-Fourteen is better than average for horizontal visibility and slightly better than average in the vertical plane.

Score: The X-Fourteen gets an "Excellent" rating for ventilation and the face shield.

Shoei X-Fourteen Helmet Liner
X-Fourteen Helmet Weight

Shoei and Arai remain committed to manufacturing their helmets to the Snell standards. The X-Fourteen is certified to the latest Snell M2015 standard (report), as is the Arai Corsair X, a factor that probably has affected the helmet's weight.

Our X-Fourteen in size XL weighs 1750 grams (3 lbs., 14-1/8 oz.) which is heavier than we'd like.

Meeting Snell M2015 certainly has something to do with that, as does the sheer volume of padding on the inside, the multiple-piece liner system and the extended shell shape towards the rear.

In comparison, that weight is nearly identical to the size XL Corsair-V we reviewed in 2009, which was a size XL and weighed 1758 grams.

The Special Edition Corsair-V helmets we reviewed last year in size L weighed 1599 grams for the Nicky 5 and 1596 grams for the Isle of Man TT edition.

And the most recent Corsair-X in size L weighed 1631 grams.

The Shoei X-12 in size XL weighed 1766 grams and the old Shoei X-Eleven (review) weighed 1635 grams.

Fortunately -- and like the other Shoei X-series helmets we've reviewed -- the X-Fourteen has excellent balance and aerodynamics, which helps mask the mass.

For more information, see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, which lists the weights of all helmets we have reviewed to date.

Score: The X-Fourteen gets a "Very Good" rating for acceptable weight and good balance.

Shoei X-Fourteen Visor Removal
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Noise Levels

One thing that continues to surprise us is the low noise levels when riding with the X-Fourteen. We'd have to credit the thick padding, the tight seal of the face shield, the dual chin curtain/chin spoiler and the aerodynamics for that.

The bottom line here is that X-14 is one of the quietest full-face helmets we've reviewed, even when riding behind buffeting windscreens.

When the top vent is open, the noise level increases slightly but it isn't intrusive, at least at sort-of legal speeds. The sound is well muted.

There doesn't seem to be much of a difference in noise levels whether the rider is leaned forward or sitting upright, another good thing.

And the noise is very well controlled along the bottom of the helmet, due to the shape of the liner and the helmet shell and the more consistent fit in this area due to the use of 4 shell sizes.

So this is a big benefit of the X-Fourteen and a very noticeable improvement over the X-12 and other Shoei helmets we have reviewed in the last few years.

Shoei X-12 Noise Levels

Note that our helmet evaluations are normally a combined effort of several riders over time, on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens.

Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality ear plugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems).

Always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.

Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual.

Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit; the type of motorcycle and windscreen; wind speed and direction and even the type of clothing that is being worn. For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.

Score:  The X-Fourteen gets an "Outstanding" rating for noise control.

wBW Video: Shoei X-14 Helmet
Miscellaneous

The "Matrix AIM+" shell used on the X-Fourteen is similar to but apparently an evolution of the AIM+ shell used in the X-12.

Shoei marketing materials state that the "Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell construction" combines "fiberglass with organic fibers".

"The X-Fourteen’s proprietary AIM+ Shell is not only incredibly strong, it is extremely lightweight, and comes in an industry-leading four shell sizes to ensure a custom fit for heads between the sizes of XS-XXL." according to the information.

The chin strap uses a D-ring system and the padding is comfortable but slightly thin and could be longer. The helmet has a five-year warranty.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: Shoei X-14
Picks... ...and Pans
  • Outstanding build quality.
  • Very unique shape.
  • Very comfortable liner.
  • Multiple liner fit options.
  • Very quiet.
  • Outstanding ventilation.
  • Expensive.
  • Needs better city defogging position.
  • Some visor torque when lifting.
  • Weight.
Conclusion

The X-Fourteen is a definite improvement over the old Shoei X-12, that's for sure.

The shape of the X-Fourteen is radical enough that it might even be a turn-off for some.

It's always very difficult to know for sure what an aerodynamic detail really offers when riding on the street. We'll have to take it at their word that the X-14 does the job on the track.

But really -- if the X-Fourteen was a pure race helmet, it would surely have more than a few compromises for street riders. In fact, the "dirty little secret" (but not so dirty) is that the X-Fourteen makes an outstanding full-face street helmet.

It has Shoei quality, for one, backed by Shoei support. It's built like the veritable tank and it's Snell M2015 certified. That adds some weight to be sure, but Shoei and many others think the tradeoff is worthwhile.

Boil it all down and you have what is one of the most comfortable helmets we've ever reviewed, with outstanding ventilation, low noise levels and a level of liner customization that is class-leading (the surprise is that we didn't need to though!).

You're going to pay for it, but those features are what you're looking for in a helmet, right?

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wBW Review: Shoei X-14 Motorcycle Helmet
Manufacturer: Shoei Co. Ltd. List Price (2016): $681.99-$839.99
Sizes: XS-2XL Shell Sizes: 4 Made In: Japan
Review Date: March 2016  Colors: Solids and graphics.
Rating Scale is subjective: Unacceptable, Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent, Outstanding.

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From "M.S." (October 2015): "As always, your reviews are spot on. Not sure if I missed the fact that the photochromic shield available on the RF-1200 is now an option for the X-14.

According to a Shoei rep, the photochromic shield should be widely available by the end of the year, right now shipments are spotty at best."

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