See Also: Shoei RF-1100 Review
The Shoei X-12 has superb build quality, paint and graphics.
But, it's very difficult to get around the fact that this helmet is very expensive
And that may be a difficult obstacle for many to surmount.
We ran a "First Look" of the new 2010 Shoei helmets back in 2009.
The helmets became available on October 1, 2009 and we purchased an X-12 in the "Streamliner TC-1" graphics shown here (size XL).
We also purchased a new Shoei RF-1100 (review) in the "Monolith" graphics, also in size XL.
One thing I'd like to reiterate here is that previous Shoei X-11 owners who are considering a new X-12 (or RF-1100) should try on the new 2010 helmets first.
Shoei now uses 5 shell sizes across the head size range, which is commendable.
But this means that owners who were on the borderline between sizes may be able to drop down one size, which could move them into a smaller shell size.
That may make a significant difference in fit, comfort, noise control and safety. I'll describe this in more detail below.
I'm again repeating some of the First Look impressions, so I'll keep it short. We're very impressed by the quality of both the X-12 and the Shoei RF-1100 we've been wearing since October of 2009.
The X-12 comes in a score of colors and graphic patterns, making it difficult to choose a favorite.
Some money can be saved by choosing an X-12 in a solid color, although unfortunately it is not available in the bright orange, red or yellow that can be had on the RF-1100.
The colors and the depth on the Streamliner graphic is outstanding. It also has a nice, evenly applied and glossy clearcoat, but, like the RF-1100, the clearcoat doesn't seem as "hard" as others.
In fact, it wasn't long before some "spider web" scratches appeared on the X-12 (and RF-1100) simply from cleaning the helmet.
Otherwise, all of the moving parts on the X-12 operate with precision. This both increases the owner's confidence in the helmet and enhances the feeling that this helmet is built to protect.
Score: I'll give the Shoei X-12 an "Outstanding" rating for overall quality, paint, graphics and and overall fit and finish.
As far as I can tell, Shoei didn't change the internal shape of the X-12 compared to the X-11, just as they kept the RF-1100 shape nearly the same as the RF-1000.
The internal shape of the X-12 is very similar to the RF-1100, and I think it's neutral enough to call it so.
The internal shape of the X-Twelve should fit a wide cross-section of head shapes other than the extremes -- like mine.
My head is very round, and I can feel some space in front of my forehead in the X-12 and I can also feel some open space above my head, with slight pressure on my cheeks.
I can wear the helmet without discomfort, but the shape really isn't a perfect fit for me, so other "Round Heads" may find the same.
As I mentioned in the Background section above and also in the RF-1100 review, the X-12 helmet shell does feel different. It feels larger than the X-11 shell for the same head size.
Shoei told us that the X-12 comes in an amazing 5 different shell sizes, which has to be a record and is probably one of the reasons for the cost of this helmet.
The size XL X-12 shown here has its very own XL shell, so Shoei owners should try the X-12 first. I think now that I could have use a size L instead; I'm a borderline L/XL anyway at 60.5 cm.
The combination of what feels like a slightly larger shell makes the X-12 feel big on me, although not quite as much as the RF-1100.
Burn has worn the X-12 also several times, and he's thrilled with the internal shape, but he also feels the size is slightly larger than he expected and he feels he could use a size large instead also.
By the way, more shell sizes are a good thing and they mean that owners will have a better chance of finding the precise fit.
Owners can also order optional cheek pads if necessary to custom tailor the fit on either the X-12 or RF-1100.
Note that in the chart below, other than the small and medium sizes, each X-12 has it's own shell size; probably a first as far as we know.
|Shoei X-12 and RF-1100 Shell Size Chart|
|This Head Size...||...Uses This Shell Size|
The padding is very comfortable in the X-12 and there are no hard internal parts that I can feel through the lining.
The liner also has generously sized ear pockets, covered in fabric at the EPS liner, which should make motorcycle intercom speakers fit without much problem.
The back of the chin bar is covered in some type of firm padding, but there are no direct air vents through the chin bar, which is a problem, as I'll describe in the venting section below.
Shoei says the size XL X-Twelve fits a 61-62 cm head and we agree. So if you're borderline like me with a 60.5 cm head, I think the size L would be the better choice, with a modification of the cheek pads if necessary.
The liner and cheek pads of the X-12 are removable and the cheek pads are available in six different thicknesses to custom-tailor the fit.
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: I'll give the Shoei X-12 an "Outstanding" rating for fit and liner comfort.
I'll state it right up front that I'm rather disappointed with the ventilation in the X-12, and the three different evaluators who assisted with this review agreed.
The ventilation problem is surprising, because the X-11 was known for its good ventilation, especially important in a race helmet.
The venting system on the X-12, with a brow vent, top vent and chin vent, is similar to the system used on the X-11, with what appear to be only some minor differences.
But wearing the helmet for the past couple of months on a selection of different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens, we've simply come to the conclusion that it's very difficult to tell when the vents on the X-12 are open or closed.
There just doesn't seem to be a huge difference that can be felt with the vents are suddenly opened -- and there should be.
Of course, every rider and motorcycle is different, so surely there will be other owners who have a different opinion to relate. But all I can report on is our findings.
Part of the problem may be the very narrow (4 mm tall) slotted top vent arrangement. This narrow slot could make it difficult for the air to travel through and then to get to the two holes that act as the top vents.
The EPS liner inside the helmet has a pair of matching holes at the top helmet, and these holes are not blocked by the fabric liner, but the air just doesn't seem to flow through adequately.
I can blow through the vents and feel the air with my hand inside the helmet, but the system doesn't provide a lot of air flow when riding.
The X-12 also has a slider at the brow, at the top of the face shield that uncovers another pair of holes that have a direct channel through the EPS liner. Unfortunately, these holes are blocked by the fabric liner.
I can feel no air at all coming through these brow vents when riding.
Unfortunately, the chin vent does not have vent channels directly through the chin bar.
The air is instead directed up on to the back of the visor only and this air provides some ventilation.
But even with the large chin curtain underneath, which blocks most of the air flowing in from under the helmet, it's difficult to determine a difference whether the chin vent is open or closed.
Again, I can blow through the open chin vent and feel the air coming up through the top of the chin bar, but on the bike, closing the chin vent doesn't seem to make much of a difference.
So altogether, we're surprised and disappointed and also puzzled regarding the air flow in the X-12. I'm sure the webBikeWorld visitors will report back on this issue with their own impressions.
The rear exhaust vent has a slider to open or close the cover over the vent holes. The front vents use a similar slider system, which is nearly impossible to find when wearing gloves -- again surprising for a race helmet.
Also, the left/right slider system used on the top vent and the brow vent isn't very intuitive, in my opinion. The owner must remember that left is open and right is closed.
It's more intuitive to have a vent opening that is pushed back to open the top vent and pushed forward to close it.
The narrow slot that covers the top vent is so small that I had to peer into the vent slot with a flashlight to see which way was open and which was closed -- there's no arrow or anything else that indicates the direction.
I had to do this for the rear exhaust vent also, which is very difficult to see even with the flashlight.
Once the left/right system on the X-12 is learned, it's fine, but that doesn't make it any easier to locate the tiny sliders when riding and wearing gloves.
Actually, the system isn't all that different from the ventilation system on the original X-11, but for some reason it just seemed to me that in 2010, the mark of an excellent design is thinking through all the little details like this that make a helmet user-friendly, especially at this price.
The sliders do have a solid feel when they are operated.
As mentioned in the RF-1100 review, we were evaluating the Nexx X1R1 helmet around the same time as the two new Shoei helmets.
This gave us a good benchmark for comparison, and the Nexx quite frankly has it all over both Shoei helmets in terms of ventilation, lighter weight and visibility, if perhaps not quality.
Score: The X-12 gets a "Neutral" rating from me for weak ventilation (see rating system in the Summary Table below). We're interested in hearing from other X-12 owners on this issue.
The Shoei CW-1 face shield is used on both the RF-1100 and the X-12, and it works very nicely. It fits very tightly to the eye port gasket and, like the RF-1100, it has a built-in rain ridge to help prevent leakage that actually works.
The water runs along the top of the gasket and then can drain at the bottom of the face shield along the sides, before it enters the helmet.
The X-12 proved just as leak-free as the RF-1100 while riding in some huge rainstorms we experienced here recently when a couple of us were out evaluating jackets.
The small slot for the top air vent probably helps in this regard, as does the tight seal of the air vents when the sliders are closed.
The face shield has just about everything necessary for a proper fit and function with strong detents, a firm feel and an excellent removal mechanism.
The special Shoei lock on the left-hand side of the face shield can be flipped up to lock it shut tight when riding or flipped down to push the visor out very slightly for defogging.
I noted also in the First Look that Shoei is offering a Pinlock anti-fog visor insert option for the X-12 (and RF-1100).
Several helmet manufacturers, including Suomy and Caberg, have also apparently given up on coating their original equipment face shields with an anti-fog treatment and are instead going with the Pinlock anti-fog insert system (review).
Our feeling is that the Pinlock inserts work, but they have several disadvantages, including cost, installation issues and the care that must be taken to clean the face shield with the Pinlock installed.
This seems to be a step backward, although the Pinlock does work.
However, not all is lost; we have word that a revolutionary new motorcycle helmet face shield anti-fog treatment is being developed and we'll keep you posted on that.
Shoei claims that the Pinlock for the CW-1 face shield on the X-Twelve is "larger and offers fog-free viewing to the very top of the helmet’s larger eye port".
The eye port on the X-12 offers about average viewing area to the sides and top/bottom, despite Shoei's claims of increased visibility through the eye port.
Score: The X-12 gets an "Excellent" rating for the construction and operation of the face shield.
The X-12 in size XL weighs 1766 grams, a gain of 131 grams over the Shoei X-Eleven reviewed several years ago.
The X-11 currently sits at number 66 out of 128 helmets on our Motorcycle Helmet Weights page listing, while the X-12 is at number 104, which puts it in the top range of the weight chart.
The X-12, like the RF-1100, is one of the first helmets to meet the new Snell 2010 safety standard (more here), which may (or may not) account for some of the weight gain.
The X-12 does have excellent balance and aerodynamics.
Here is some data comparing the RF-1000 and X-11 along with the X-12 and RF-1100 helmet weights, taken from the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, which lists the weights of all helmets we have reviewed to date:
Score: The X-12 gets a "Very Good" rating for acceptable weight and good balance.
The X-12 seems slightly noisier than the RF-1100, or rather the noise seems to come from different locations on the X-12.
The top vents whistle slightly when the rider is sitting upright, but that noise disappears when leaned forward, which makes sense, since the X-12 is Shoei's race-oriented helmet.
The helmet also seems to generate some noise from the lower rear, under the ears, but this may be due to the slight mis-match between my head shape and the helmet shape.
Otherwise, the X-12 is about average to perhaps slightly quieter than average. As with the RF-1100, the noise level rating for the X-12 is a difficult call, but I'll give it an "Average" rating in the Estimator.
Note that our helmet evaluations are 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 rider's clothing.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: The X-12 gets a "Neutral" rating for noise control.
The AIM+ shell used on the X-12 and RF-1100 is a combination of "fiberglass with organic fibers that are so strong they can only be cut with a laser", according to Shoei.
The chin strap uses a D-ring system and the padding is comfortable. The helmet has an excellent five-year warranty and meets DOT safety standards and is Snell approved.
The Shoei X-Spirit 2 version is sold in Europe and meets ECE safety standards. It has a list price ranging from £480 to £580, according to our sources.
The X-Twelve also features red pull tabs under the cheek pads, which can be pulled to "disengage (the) cheek pads for easy removal by emergency medical personnel", according to Shoei.
This allows the helmet to be removed hopefully without damaging the downed rider's neck.
|webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator - Shoei X-12|
Much of what was said in the closing remarks for the RF-1100 review can be repeated here. The new Shoei X-12 is an excellent design loaded with high-quality features.
It's not revolutionary, but an evolution of the X-Eleven, a very popular race helmet.
The lofty price of the X-Twelve does justify a very close critique. Let's face it: a lot of issues can be overlooked on a $100 helmet that become very annoying when that helmet costs nearly $800.00.
The problems we are experiencing with the ventilation in the X-12 are surprising, as is the increase in weight, both should have been improved over the X-11 in what is supposed to be a top-of-the-line race helmet.
But it's not just the price of the helmet per se. Many riders might be willing to pay a lofty premium for a helmet that offered some outstanding features that were head and shoulders above the competition.
For example, super light weight or extremely low noise or superior venting; something -- anything -- to justify the cost.
But I just can't find a single superior area where I can honestly say that the X-12 completely outshines any other motorcycle helmet. Thus, the X-12 has let me down in a number of ways.
It's a beautifully made helmet, absolutely. But it's very difficult to justify spending 2-3 times more on the X-12 than for other helmets that are just as satisfying.
I wish I could say that the price of the X-12 is justified, but for me it isn't. I am interested in hearing opinions from other X-12 owners and learning more about their decision tree in choosing the X-Twelve over other helmets.
|wBW Review: Shoei X-12 Motorcycle Helmet|
|Manufacturer: Shoei Co. Ltd.||List Price (2009): $659.99-$799.99|
|Sizes: XS-2XL Shell Sizes: 5||Made In: Japan|
|Review Date: December 2009||Colors: Solids and graphics.|
Rating Scale is subjective: Unacceptable, Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent, Outstanding.
From "J.C.R." (July 2011): "I've read your reviews of the X-12, watched your and other video reviews of the helmet, and finally bought one to replace my much-beloved but aging Shoei X-11 (review).
The X-12 is my 9th Shoei helmet, and I use Shoei for both my street/track helmet and my off-road/MX helmet.
My local shops do not stock the X-12 due to its price and inability to sell, so I purchased one sight-unseen from an online vendor that I know and have used in the past.
I have to say that upon initial inspection, I'm not as impressed as I feel I should be for the amount of money spent.
Comparing it side-by-side to my X-11, the minor details like the stitching and the fabric used for the liner seem cheaper and of slightly poorer quality. Still Good, just not Great.
For example, the fine stitching that connects the liner to the plastic above the right eyebrow area was loose in my X-12, as if it hadn't been tied off properly.
My X-11 has seen many, many miles of use on both the street and at the track, and yet its stitching still shows no signs of wear.
The fabric in my X-11 also seems more durable, as it shows no signs of wear (my X-11 build date was 09/2002) whereas the softer fabric of the X-12's liner doesn't give me the same sense of confidence that it will last as long.
The ventilation in the X-12 is also worse than that in my X-11.
Even with a shaved head, I cannot feel anything until above 45-50 mph, whereas my X-11 began venting around 35 mph and increased as speed increased.
Even at the track, the X-12 seems to be very weakly vented at best. And, as others have pointed out, the venting design ought to be more intuitive, and use an up/down arrangement for open/closed instead of the left/right setup (which is also difficult to operate in gloves).
When I got my new X-12, I had to adjust the visor baseplate to eliminate a constant whistle, this shouldn't be an issue in a helmet of this price/quality and was never an issue for my X-11.
Furthermore, when sizing my X-12, I had to return my first helmet since it was too small for me.
I have always ridden in a Shoei 'M' helmet, I've had two X-11s, two X-SPs, an RF-900 and RF-1000, and my V-Moto MX helmets are all size 'M' and fit very well.
However, the X-12 in size M was way too small, and far too tight to get on and off comfortably.
Even with the cheek pads entirely removed I could not get the X-12 on my head without the Styrofoam in the chin guard to not graze my temples. Once on, the "pocket" where my head sits inside the helmet was fine, but again, upon removal (with no pads in place) the helmet would skim across my skin uncomfortably.
I returned the 'M' and purchased an X-12 in 'L' and it fits as snugly as my old X-11 did in size 'M'.
My fiancée, who wears a Shoei RF in 'M' also felt that the X-12 was too tight/too small in 'M' to be comfortable, and she said that the X-12 in 'L' was a better fit (and her head is slightly smaller than mine).
Lastly, since the X-12 is not selling very well, I cannot find one with a Build Date newer than 2009 -- so my "new" helmet purchased just weeks ago is already 2 years old!
There is only one major distributor in the USA for Shoei, and, according to them, there have been so FEW orders and so FEW X-12 sales that they've got all old stock and have not placed a new X-12 order since early 2010.
Thus, nearly every color in the more popular sizes (M/L) are OLD helmets from 2009.
So, despite the fact that the price has increased steadily since they came on the scene, what you're buying is old stock from 2009.
This is especially problematic for me since I use my helmets at the track, and to pass Tech Inspection, all helmets must be Snell 2010 certified AND must be 5 years old or newer.
This means that my "New" X-12 is already 40% used before I take it out of the box.
I have been working with my vendor to try to come up with a solution, but so far it's been over 3 weeks of back and forth with little progress on finding a newer helmet and/or working out some form of compensation for buying old stock at new-stock pricing.
Again, I've ridden Shoei since the mid-90s, and I switched to them from Arai.
But, with the numerous issues with the X-12 versus my cherished X-11, and with the old-stock "new helmet" issue, I'm really disappointed (and that's putting it very mildly) in both Shoei and the X-12 in particular.
I'm really at a loss as to what to do next, and/or what other helmet to consider. I truly feel let-down that the X-12 is not the clearly superior replacement for the now-discontinued X-11 -- which I would gladly buy again if it were possible.
As it is, I'm quite at a loss as to what I should do for a (truly) new helmet..."
From "T.C." (06/2011): "I wanted to give you my 2 cents. I finally got a chance to try on the X-12 yesterday and found the large size fit me exactly the same as my large X-11 does with the stock cheek pads (I just purchased the thinner cheek pads a few weeks ago).
It fits exactly the same but is too expensive and wouldn't be a good choice for my R1200RT anyway.
It does not fit me like the RF1100, the RF1000, or the Qwest. They are for a more neutral to rounder head but read below about my fitment issues with the Shoei helmets.
I have tried on both the Shoei Quest and the RF1100 and RF1000.
Every time I tried them on they fit different.
The first time I tried a RF1100 last year at my BMW dealer and the RF1100 fit just like my X11 but the chin came down lower. I should have bought it then. The second time was earlier this year.
I tried both the RF1100 and the Quest but both fit great front to back fine. The side to side fit was too loose. The helmet was too round so only the front and back length was correct. This was different in my previous trial.
Then I tried them on at a local place a couple of weeks later and found they fit just like the RF1000. Which was snug but the helmet sat on my head strangely. It did not come down far enough to feel correct.
I just tried the Quest and the RF1100 on again yesterday and once again they fit slightly round but uncomfortable. They were not coming down as far as they should.
I do not know why the fit is different but until they get their QC under control I would not buy one online. I would only purchase one right after I tried it on.
I don't know if they are using old shells with new liners and new foam or if they are using different sized shells with different liners like XL shell but thick padding or size large shell with stock padding or medium shell with thin padding.
Maybe the dealers themselves are trying to sell the RF1000s as a RF1100?
I won't be purchasing a Shoei anytime soon. Unless I can find another X11 for a decent price but this would be my last resort.
Right now I will be looking at the Arai Profile and the Bell RS1 to see if I can get more padding in the Arai for the top of my head. It just feels like the padding is too thin up top compared to my X11.
I will be trying the 10 mm liner and 12 mm liner to see if they would work better. Then I will try the Coolmax type liner as well to see what difference it may make.
The Bell RS1 is supposed to fit similar to my X-11 but some have said the shape is like the RF-1100.
This won't work for me if that is the case. RevZilla is a great place but I will try to get there tomorrow even though it is 2 hours away.
They are the only store that has many different helmets for me to try on.
So far I have tried many HJC helmets (IS-Max has two shields (Clear and smoke drops down) but neither is optically correct and give me a headache).
Also the Scorpion EXO-400, EXO-500, EXO-700, EXO-750, the 900, and the EXO-1000, Shoei RF-1100, Qwest flip-up, Arai RX-Q, Vector, Corsair V, some other cheap helmets.
And the Shark RSR2, Evoline (original), Suomy Vandal.
And I haven't found a decent replacement that fit me like my X-11.
The Arai place swears my X-11 is a bad fit because my the Profile fit me but they are not correct as both seem to fit me but in the Profile they have to change the liner.
I just hope that helmet manufacturers stop migrating toward a neutral fit helmet for the masses or too soon I will be selling my bike because I can't find a helmet that fits me well."
From "J.H." (4/10): "Thanks for your review of the X-12. I would have to agree with it. I just got mine the other day. I have the Martyr and the finish is exquisite. The design of the helmet is also top notch.
Everything is perfect except for the ventilation. It does seem to not be as good as my Arai RX-7 Corsair. Odd really considering its such a top of the line helmet. That would be the one and only downfall of the helmet.
Of course ventilation and wind noise usually go hand in hand and the helmet is quieter than the Arai. Shield system is superior as well.
Is it worth the price? Well frankly it is for me since it is one of the only helmets I have ever had outside of the Arai that actually fit my head properly. Fit is everything for me."
From "H.S.W." (12/09): "I’m an MSF certified instructor and I (paid extra to take delivery on the release date of October 1) so I could wear it on my trip to the Midwest. I did 2000 miles, round trip.
I found the helmet to fit just like my X-11 -- perfect for me. It didn’t even need any “break-in” time.
I was unable to detect any weight differences between the two helmets by simply holding them in opposing hands (156 grams probably isn’t worth talking about).
I ride a 2007 BMW R1200RT. Because of the temperatures (mid 30s to low 50s) on my trip, I rode most of the time with the windshield in the UP position.
However a few times I did ride with the windshield in the low position to see what it was like.
I found the X12 to be a reasonably quiet helmet when the shield is closed. Is it quieter than the X-11? I think so.
My big question is whether the ventilation is better? I was always very happy with the ventilation on the X-11.
Being close to bald, I didn’t even open the top vents on the X-11 until it was 72° F or higher. It seemed to me that the ventilation on the X-12 isn’t as noticeable when the shield is open, but once the shield is closed it seems more noticeable.
But I may not even be able to make a real accurate judgment on this issue until the temperatures head up again.
The fit and finish of the helmet is, like the X-11, great. I can’t really comment on the quality or differences between the X-11 liner and the X-12. My X-11 was 5 years old and worn out. My X-12 is neither of those.
The new face shield fits better and tighter on the X-12 than it ever did on the X-11. According to Shoei, the eye port of the X-12 is larger than anything they’ve ever done before. Did that make a difference to me?
I don’t think I noticed it. After all, we’re probably only talking a few degrees, anyway.
On my return trip from the Midwest last week (mid-October), I rode from the western end of the Pennsylvania turnpike to the Breezewood exit, during cold and rain.
Temperatures in eastern Ohio started in the low 40s, but by the time I got into the mountains of western Pennsylvania, they dropped into the mid-30s.
When I was able to close the visor, it completely sealed and no water leaked in.
My biggest complaint about the X-12 is that the standard/stock visor is not fog-free (as other, lower priced helmets have), and I was continually having to open it to get rid of the fog which was clearly not helping my view of the world.
Had I been able to leave the visor closed, instead of constantly opening it, I would have been “snug as a bug in a rug”. I’m told by customer service at Shoei that a fog-free Pinlock anti-fog insert system (review) will be available “soon”.
I do wish that the top tier manufacturers (Shoei and Arai) would start producing helmets that, like Scorpion, among others, are in the Hi-Viz color.
That’s what I would have liked to buy. Unfortunately, helmets like Scorpion and HJC simply don’t fit me as well as the Shoei and Arai helmets.
No one I know buys a new helmet every year.
So while the initial price of the helmet may be high, if the price of the protection is amortized over the 5 year life of the helmet, then the cost isn’t nearly so bad, and I’d bet with the discounts that will be available, even the initial cost of the helmet will not be the list price that is currently listed."