Note: The Shoei RF-1100 is also known as the XR-1100 in Europe.
After running a rather strange advertising campaign that introduced the helmets about one month before they were actually on dealers’ shelves, the new Shoei RF-1100 was finally released on October 1, 2009.
We purchased an RF-1100 in the TC-1 “Monolith” graphics in size XL, along with a new Shoei X-12 TC-1 in the “Streamliner” graphics, also in size XL, and we’ll have a First Look on each, followed by a full webBikeWorld review of each helmet as soon as possible. In the meantime, here’s an RF-1100 taste-tease with a couple of quick photos and some initial impressions.
I have two initial impressions of the RF-1100 after pulling it out of the box last night:
First, the quality of both the RF-1100 and the X-12 is outstanding. webBikeWorld readers know that in general, motorcycle helmet quality has improved dramatically over the last two years or so. There are some under-$200.00 helmets now available that rival the quality of helmets costing 2-3 times more.
This has raised the bar for everyone, and as always, the competition benefits all of us. So when you’re charging $500.00 for a helmet, as Shoei is for the RF-1100, the quality better be superlative — that’s an absolute given! It will be interesting to see who bites on a 500-buck Shoei in these hard economic times, when you can get a pretty decent helmet for about 80% less.
But I have to say, after handling the RF-1100 and checking out the paint/graphics and the operation of the moving parts, I’m very impressed. The rest of the webBikeWorld Irregulars — i.e., the evaluation crew — hasn’t seen either of the new Shoei helmets yet, but I’m sure they’ll agree.
RF-1100 CW-1 Face Shield
My second impression after a quick first look is the very tight fit of the face shield on both helmets. The RF-1100 and the X-12 both include Shoei’s new “CW-1” shield, and the version used on the RF-1100 is claimed to be wider and higher than the previous CX-IV face shield use on the RF-1000 and others.
The CW-1 is also claimed to provide 99% UVA and UVB protection (what happened to the other 1%?) and it’s also Pinlock ready, according to Shoei.
By the way, we’ve noticed several helmet manufacturers are now basically throwing in the towel on anti-fog treatments and going with the Pinlock anti-fog insert system (review) instead. 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.
Shoei claims that the Pinlock for the CW-1 face shield is sized to provide “fog-free viewing to the top of the helmet’s larger eye port” (a Pinlock insert is specific to each helmet face shield design, unfortunately).
Also noticeable is the incredibly tight fit of the RF-1100 face shield. Again, this is a first impression, but I was intrigued by Shoei’s description of the new Q.R.S.A. (Quick Release Self-Adjusting) Base Plate System.
The popup window that describes the Q.R.S.A. system on the Shoei website isn’t scaled for a 16:9 HD monitor, so I can’t read the entire description (?) but it does say something about the new face shield design and release mechanism being designed to keep the face shield tight to the eye port gasket.
We’ll try a new evaluation procedure to determine how well the seal really works to prevent water leaks. This issue has been a concern lately with many webBikeWorld visitors.
I quickly placed both of the new Shoei helmets on the scale, and I’m both surprised and disappointed to discover that the RF-1100 has gained 136 grams over the size XL Shoei RF-1000 we reviewed previously.
The Shoei X-12 also put on the lard; the X-12 in size XL weighs 1766 grams compared to the Shoei X-11 at 1635 grams.
The RF-1100 is one of the first helmets to meet the new Snell 2010 safety standard (more here), but it is not clear whether this or the addition of new features, the new liner, the shield removal system or other parts is responsible for the weight gain.
Here’s a chart comparing the RF-1000 and RF-1100 and X-11/X-12 helmet weights, taken from the wBWMotorcycle Helmet Weights page, which lists the weights of all 124 helmets we’ve reviewed to date:
The numbers in the left-hand column indicate the ranking of the helmet out of the 124 helmets listed to date. 62 is the median, so the equivalent RF- and X- series Shoei helmets went from just below the median to well over it.
RF-1100 Shell Sizes
Also, here’s some very, very interesting news: the RF-1100 comes in five — that’s right, 5 — different shell sizes! That’s amazing, and I can’t remember any motorcycle helmet manufacturer making more than 3 shell sizes (although there may be). This shows a commitment to the RF-1100, which is probably Shoei’s “bread and butter” helmet.
The RF-1100 is available in sizes ranging from XXS, which is a very small helmet possibly appropriate for children, to XXXL (NOTE: Updated October 14, 2009 with new information from Shoei; an RF-1100 in size XXXL will be available soon — good news for riders with larger heads!).
UPDATE (October 15, 2009): Shoei sent us information on the shell sizes for the RF-1100:
Shoei RF-1100 Shell Size Chart
The helmets just arrived and none of us have had a chance to ride with them yet, so I can’t comment on balance, air flow or even internal shape.
First Look Conclusion
That’s a very brief first look and first impressions of the Shoei RF-1100. Stay tuned for more; we’ll of course have our full webBikeWorld review, slide show, video and more. We’ll also compare the RF-1100 with the RF-1000 (which was one of my faves) and we’ll do the same with the X-11 and X-12.
But overall, I can definitely say that the new Shoei RF-1100 has noticeably higher quality than most/many other helmets we have around here. Based on these two random examples, I’d guess that Shoei must realize that nothing less than perfection will be tolerated, considering the powerful competition now in place at every price point.