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Shoei Hornet DS Review

Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Review
Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Review
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
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Editor's Note

This is a review of the U.S. DOT/Snell version of the Shoei Hornet DS (Dual-Sport) helmet.

The webBikeWorld review of the JIS version of the Shoei Hornet DS was published in 2006.

Summary

The Shoei Hornet DS in its DOT guise is comfortable and feels very solid. It is also Snell M2010 certified.

It has a huge eye port that provides outstanding visibility for the wearer.

The Hornet DS may feel less like a dual-sport helmet than any other I have tried, and that's a good thing.

Helmet lift is nicely controlled and ventilation is good; noise levels are about average to slightly above.

Overall, the U.S. version of the Shoei Hornet DS is holding up well for a 5-6 year old design.

It was first released in the U.S. as a 2008 model and the current version has the Snell M2010 certification (corrected from M2005 in original text) and it feels more reliable and sturdy than many helmets of this type that have come since.

Also, the fit and internal shape is consistent with other Shoei helmets, which will probably be a plus for Shoei fans.

Background

The Shoei Hornet was first released way back in 2006 in Japan. We sourced a Hornet from Japan at that time and I was the evaluator who reviewed the Hornet in July of that year. The dual-sport helmet type (i.e., motocross helmet with a face shield) was new to the world of motorcycling at the time; about the only competitor to the Hornet back then was the Arai XD (review), which we also reviewed in April of 2006.

Seven years is a lifetime or three in motorcycle helmet design, so a look at the U.S. model was past due. My intuition tells me that the Hornet DS (as it is now called) is probably next in line a remake, but it's not too late to take a closer look at this 2013 version because it has proven to be a popular choice with many motorcycle owners.

Actually, now that I'm looking at the photos of the white Arai XD we reviewed and comparing them to those of the Hornet DS (photos below) in this creamy metallic "Crystal White", I can see a lot of similarities in the designs. And the original Japan (JIS) version of the Shoei Hornet is still in the webBikeWorld Editor's regular rotation, so we were able to do a few quick comparisons also.

Shoei Hornet DS Top View
Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

I can't think of a Shoei helmet that hasn't received an "Outstanding" rating in a webBikeWorld helmet review, and that consistency is one of the things you pay for when you buy a Shoei helmet. Almost without exception, there's a noticeable difference between a sub-$200 helmet and one of the top-drawer brands like Shoei, Arai and others.

While I might fault the very conservative color choices Shoei has chosen for the DOT version of the Hornet DS, this example, in "Crystal White" (a sort of Cadillac Escalade metallic white color with a hint of cream) is superb. The finish is outstanding with no hint of orange peel or other faults.

The Hornet DS DOT is also available in Black, Light Silver, Matte Black and Matte Deep Gray. Silver was our first choice but it was out of stock in size XL, so white it was, with the side benefit of good visibility in traffic with the white color.

It would be nice to see a Hornet DS in red, orange or some cool-looking graphic patterns...like the Japan-market JIS version of the Shoei Hornet we reviewed in 2006 (photos below). That one still looks -- and performs -- like it was made yesterday.

The Hornet DS build quality is also outstanding. The moving parts, like the chin vent, brow vents, top vent and rear vents, all work smoothly with a firm and precise feel. The liner is another example of consistent Shoei quality, which is to say it is quite good, plus and comfortable.

Possibly the only nit I can pick is with the face shield rotation, which has been somewhat of an issue with just about every dual-sport helmet we've reviewed. A dual-sport face shield is difficult to mold, due to its profile, and it is doubly difficult to get the side rotation mechanism correct, what with the dual-sport "peak" to also consider.

The Hornet DS face shield doesn't snap shut, as is typical of the dual-sport helmet breed, and it also does not have a small first opening for defogging...although that is arguably not necessary due to both the extended "beak" of the helmet and its excellent chin venting.

On the positive side though for the face shield, the optical quality is outstanding, which is (much) more than can be said for some of the other dual-sport helmets we've reviewed, again due to the compound curvature and large size necessary for this type of helmet design. And the visibility out that eye port is nearly unlimited, a real pleasure and an important safety factor.

Note that the Hornet DS is Snell certified to the Snell M2010 standard (corrected from original, which had M2005).

Score: We give the Shoei Hornet DS an "Outstanding" rating for excellent overall quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.

Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Slide Show
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Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Fit, Internal Shape and Liner

The original Shoei Hornet in size XL had (has) a "Round" to "Neutral" internal shape; it's one of the few helmets that fits Rick's round or "Earth" shaped head, which is widest at the temples. It's one of the reasons the Editor has kept the helmet and still wears it after all these years.

The Hornet DS DOT version though has the "standard" Shoei internal shape, which is more of what we call a "Slight Narrow" internal profile. I can feel the extra room on top and in the forehead, with a slight narrowing on the sides. It fits Rick but isn't ideal for his head shape, he said.

Very few motorcycle helmet manufacturers have a standard fit that is consistent across their entire helmet line, but Shoei has to come closer to that than just about anyone else I can think of. We used to hear riders talk about a "Shoei fit", but in the past, there really wasn't a standard consistent fit and feel, but over the last few years, that seems to have changed, with all of the Shoei helmets we've reviewed recently having about the same type of internal shape and fit.

That's neither good nor bad, although the news is best for "Neutral" to "Slightly Narrow" head shapes, which are apparently in the majority in the U.S. and elsewhere. This size XL fits as expected; Shoei lists a 61-62 range and we agree with that, although the standard cheek pads are a bit tight for a 62 cm head but they can be replaced if necessary.

That compares to the JIS version of the Hornet, which fits nearly identical to a U.S. size large even though the helmet is an XL.

The Hornet DS also has what feels and appears to be the previous generation of "standard" Shoei liner and fabric, with a comfortable feel. But the liner in this size XL feels just a touch less plush and with slightly less padding than, for example, the newest generation of Shoei helmets like the new Shoei GT Air (review).

But even after 5-6 years since it was first released, the Hornet DS is still more comfortable than many other helmets, no matter how new (or old).

The Hornet DS shell is also an easy fit for motorcycle intercom clamps and the ear pockets are relatively generous and have a hard backing, which makes it a simple matter of sticking the typical double-sided speaker hook-and-loop tape inside. Also, straight-temple sunglasses, like the Randolph Engineering Aviator (review), fit with no problems in the Hornet DS, even with Rick's round "Earth" shaped head.

The liner and cheek pads are removable and replaceable and the liner has the Shoei "3D Max Dry Liner System" for moisture control.

webBikeWorld Internal Shape Estimator: Shoei Hornet DS
Narrow Med. Narrow Slight Narrow Neutral Slight Round Med. Round Round
Helmet Shape
Helmet Shape
Helmet Internal Shape Examples (see more Motorcycle Helmet Shapes)
Arai
Profile
Scorpion
EXO-700 Neon
KBC
Tarmac
AGV
Stealth
Arai
RX-Q
Bell
Arrow
Arai
Quantum II

More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, along with the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Score: I'll give the Shoei Hornet DS an "Outstanding" rating for shape, comfort and padding with a very nice removable liner and padding.

Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Liner
The Shoei Hornet DS liner is comfortable and removable.
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Shoei Hornet DS Face Shield, Eye Port and Outward Visibility

The eye port of the Hornet DS is still class-leading, no doubt about that. The visibility out the eye port is one of the nicest and best advantages of this helmet.

Visibility is virtually unlimited in the vertical and horizontal planes and the dual-sport "beak" doesn't interfere with that at all when I'm wearing the helmet during a ride. The generous visibility also helps when I'm standing on the pegs on a dual-sport bike like a BMW GS, making it easy to glance down to see the instruments or the terrain ahead.

The face shield has outstanding optical qualities also, another big difference. It's labeled as meeting the VESC-8 standard and it measures 2.05 mm with the micrometer.

It's not easy to mold a face shield with the compound curvature required for a dual-sport helmet, with its narrow front profile shape, but this one works nicely. It has just three detents and no small first opening position for defogging, but I haven't really found that to be necessary, due to the excellent performance from the chin vent.

The face shield on the DOT version has a firmer and sturdier feel than the JIS version of the Hornet also and I definitely prefer the face shield quality of the newer U.S. version.

webBikeWorld Eye Port Visibility Estimator: Shoei Hornet DS
Visibility Poor Below Average Average Above Average Outstanding
Top to Bottom
Side to Side

Score: The Shoei Hornet DS visibility is outstanding and virtually unlimited.

Shoei Hornet DS Top Vents
Shoei Hornet DS top vent and rear exhaust vents.
Shoei Hornet DS Brow Vents
Shoei Hornet DS brow vents.
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Shoei Hornet DS Ventilation and Air Flow

The 2006 JIS version of the Hornet and the 2013 Hornet DS have a similar array of intake and exhaust vents, but the latter version seems to have better overall ventilation.

Starting at the bottom, the chin vent at the end of the dual-sport "beak" has a large and easy-to-find slider that opens and closes four slots, two on each side. These are backed with a removable piece of foam filter material in the chin bar. The filter is a simple friction fit on the inside of the chin bar, held by the very large opening that allows the air to pass through.

The chin bar vent performance is excellent, with lots of fresh air flowing through with the vent opened and stopped with the vent closed.

There are two large brow vents above the eye port and hidden by the dual-sport peak. Both vents can be opened or closed with ridged horizontal slider covers that are also fairly easy to find and use while wearing gloves. These vents direct the air through holes in the EPS and through the liner on top and the system works well.

On top of the helmet is a single center forward-facing vent underneath the narrow scoop. This also has a very positive-feeling slider that opens or closes the vent, which directs air down into the helmet through accessible holes in the EPS and fabric liners. It's a little difficult to judge the effectiveness of this vent and there is a bit of noise when the vent is open, but it does seem to be comparable to single top vents on many full-face helmets.

The Hornet and Hornet DS have dual exhaust vents in the rear; oh the Hornet, the vents are covered by a clear plastic one-piece spoiler assembly, while on the Hornet DS, the vents are individually placed without the spoiler. The vents are large and have passages through the EPS and fabric liner to reduce internal pressure and assist the overall effectiveness of the intake and exhaust system.

So overall, I'd rate the Hornet DS ventilation system as better than average when compared to most full-face and especially to other dual-sport helmets I've tried.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: Shoei Hornet DS Ventilation
Location Poor Below Average Average Above Average Outstanding
Top/Upper
Chin/Face

Score: I'll rate the ventilation system of the Shoei Hornet DS as "Excellent" on top and "Outstanding" for the chin bar.

Shoei Hornet DS Visor Removal
The basic face shield and peak removal system on the Hornet DS.
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Shoei Hornet DS Sound Levels

Now you might think that all of those vents would add a lot of wind noise to the Hornet DS, but other than the slight whistling sound with the top vent open, the rest of the vents don't seem to add much to the overall sound levels.

I'd say that the Hornet DS is slightly quieter than average when compared to other full-face and DS helmets I've worn, up to about 50 MPH or so. Over that speed, the wind noise does increase, although most of it comes from underneath the helmet and I think the large bottom opening on this size XL has something to do with that.

The opening is slightly too large for my head and neck shape, so the helmet doesn't seal as well as it should on my head and this allows some noise to leak up inside. I could probably go with a size large and I'm guessing it would be quieter.

I don't notice any unusually elevated noise when riding behind a windscreen that directs air at the bottom part of the helmet though. So overall, the Hornet DS is a bit difficult to rate for noise levels, but I'll call it about average compared to other full-face and dual-sport helmets I've worn.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: Shoei Hornet DS Noise Levels
Location Very Quiet Quieter Average Louder Very Loud
Upper
Lower

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 earplugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems) and (usually) a helmet liner. It is strongly recommended that hearing protection is used when riding a motorcycle.  See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page 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: I'll give the Shoei Hornet DS a "Very Good" rating for average noise control.

wBW Video: Shoei Hornet DS Helmet
Helmet Weight

This Shoei Hornet DS in size XL weighs a relatively hefty 1861 grams, or 4 lbs., 1-5/8 oz. The weight is probably due to the helmet design with the Snell M2010 certification, which seems to add maybe a hundred or so grams to a helmet shell.

Actually, I'd have to admit that I was surprised when we put the Hornet DS on the scale, because I would have guessed about 1700 grams. The fit and the minimal amount of turbulence and lift from the nicely designed peak helps mitigate the weight.

Other dual-sport helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld were size large, so it's difficult to compare. For example, the AFX FX-39 DS (review) weighed 1784 grams in size large in DOT specification only. The Fly Trekker (review), also in size large and also DOT only, weighed 1795 grams. Neither of these weights are out of line with a size XL Hornet DS with DOT and Snell specifications at 1861 grams.

Note that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Score: I'll give the Shoei Hornet DS a "Very Good" rating for its weight with good balance.

Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Japan vs. USA
2006 Shoei Hornet JIS version on the left; 2013 U.S. DOT version on the right.
Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Japan vs. USA Rear View
The size XL Shoei Hornet JIS appears smaller than the U.S. DOT version, also in size XL.
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Miscellaneous

The Hornet DS has a double D-ring chin strap attachment system with a snap to secure the loose end. The chin strap padding is adequate, but I wouldn't say "generous".

UPDATE: Just discovered a chin curtain in the box, it was in a plastic bag attached to the bottom side of the cardboard protector that fits over the helmet! So apparently the Hornet DS also comes with a rather large chin curtain.

webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: Shoei Hornet DS
Picks...
...and Pans
  • Outstanding overall quality.
  • Comfortable liner.
  • Outstanding visibility out the eye port.
  • Excellent face shield optical quality.
  • Easy to fit intercom and speakers.

 

  • Face shield operation and removal is sort of old-school for a DS helmet.
  • Slightly louder than average.
  • Wish it came in a "Round" internal shape.
  • Less weight would be nice.
Conclusion

The Shoei Hornet DS design has held up very nicely in the five or six years it has been available in the U.S.A. While perhaps not a stylish knockout, it still looks good and the part that counts -- the performance -- is excellent compared to other dual-sport helmets that have passed through here in that time.

One thing's for sure: the Hornet DS feels as solid as a rock. This may be due to the Snell rating, but everything from the dual-sport peak, which feels like it's part of the helmet and not an add-on, to the operation of the vents give this helmet a sturdy and reliable countenance that is what sets it apart from lesser examples of the dual-sport type.

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wBW Review: Shoei Hornet DS Helmet
Manufacturer: Shoei Co., Ltd. List Price: $510.99
Sale Price:
$459.89 here
Colors: Solids. Made In: Japan
Sizes: XXS to XL. Shell Sizes: 2. Star Rating (1-5): Four Star Rated
Review Date: July 2013
Ratings Scale: For reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable to Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.
Note: Item was provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.

Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC since 2000. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld© Site Info page. Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

Your Comments and Feedback

Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details).  Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.

From "A.S." (October 2013): "I got my silver Hornet DS in August 2012. Overall I like the helmet, but as with any product I guess, there are some negatives. I have a rather large head on my 6'4" frame. I ride a 2007 BMW F650GS Dakar.

Positives:

Negatives:


From "B.Z." (July 2013): "I got mine in September of '08 and while I am not in love with it, but I like it a fair bit better than some other helmets I own for different reasons. It is a sort of love/hate relationship in some ways.

Lets concentrate on the negatives, because we can be all happy and glossy and not reveal some of the real life things we will/should/might encounter.

1st- as pointed out, I do not like the lack of a defogging detent. I end up cracking it open in a sort of 1st detent and then get to watch the visor flex and wiggle from the wind a little bit.

2nd- the only flaw I have had with this helmet was when the little plastic tab on the visor for lifting/opening broke off. It looked like it would have been something simple to be sold separately. I emailed Shoei customer service ( this was towards the beginning of 2011) and they informed me it is not sold separately and asked for my snail mail addy and then sent me a new visor free of charge, unsolicited.

3rd- the way the helmet rises up behind the ear pocket when the helmet is on, the noise tends to be pretty loud at highway speeds. The portion I have circled on your picture for specific pointing out. There is a turbulence there that can be very droning.

This of course comes in some cases more or less because of the type of bike/windscreen deflection you have. I have found it because of how mine is, and figured out where exactly while wearing a balaclava that filled that gap and muffled it out a fair bit. Not exactly something I want to do in the summer time though."

Shoei Hornet DS Helmet Noise

Editor's Reply: Noise from that area can be caused by an incorrect match between the head shape and helmet or a fit issue (e.g., helmet too large for the head size).


From "I.B." (July 2013): "What's helmet lift like once you get to around 70-80mph? Always been put off with thoughts of my head being ripped off by wind getting under peak! LoL!"

Editor's Reply: All of the dual-sport helmets with the "peak" have lift issues of varying amounts. The Shoei is pretty good actually up to around 50 MPH when riding without a windscreen, but over that it will be noticeable unless you're behind a fairing."

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