The Shoei RF-SR is brand new to the lineup. It’s also the least expensive Shoei full-face helmet. But, it carries a lot of the Shoei DNA from helmets like the Shoei X-Fourteen (review) and Shoei X-12 (review). Shoei markets the RF-SR for both “street performance” and “long-distance touring comfort” and we agree.
The RF-SR also has a “compact, aerodynamic shell design with sharp and aggressive styling”. It has 4 shell sizes to span the head size range, which helps to minimize the amount of shell, avoiding the “space helmet” look. Excellent ventilation was also a goal of the RF-SR’s designers and the “V” shaped upper and lower vent system is the strongest design signature of the helmet.
Most commendable are the super-stout sliders for the chin vent and top vents; they have a vault-like locking click when opened and closed. And best of all, the system meet’s Shoei’s goal of providing excellent ventilation.
While the helmet is generally quiet, we do notice some noise generated by air flowing around the lower rear, but that may vary depending on the rider’s head shape and motorcycle type. The RF-SR also meets the DOT standard in the U.S.A. and it’s Snell M2015 (report) certified.
The RF-SR is Shoei’s “basic” street/sport/touring helmet that pretty much distills everything “Shoei” at a somewhat reasonable (for Shoei) price point. Four hundred bucks may seem like a lot for a motorcycle helmet but just one step up in the hierarchy is the Shoei X-12 (review) and that will set you back another 86 Greenbacks for a solid color.
With the Shoei GT-Air (review) coming in at $549.99 and the X-14 at a whopping $681.99, the RF-SR at $399.99 starts to seem like a pretty good deal. And like many other secrets we’ve blown…it is!
You get just about everything you need with the RF-SR and nothing you don’t, which is a darn good argument for saving the extra money you’d spend moving up the Shoei line.
Of course, you could save even more buying cheaper brands, but if you’re a Shoei fan (and if you have a “Shoei head”), you wouldn’t think of it. We’ll leave the value calculations up to you.
But suffice it say that the RF-SR does have a lot going for it, with nearly all of the typical Shoei genes, including Made in Japan build quality and excellent ventilation, along with comfort and the Snell M2015 certification.
Shoei RF-SR Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
There are very few general statements that can be made in this world but you can pretty much count on a Shoei helmet having outstanding quality and the RF-SR is no exception to that rule.
Our only wish is that hopefully Shoei will start to offer the RF-SR in a wider range of colors.
Right now (and the RF-SR is just hitting dealer stock), your only choice is black, matte black, white, two different grays (including one that looks like primer) and a semi-matte blue and semi-matte tangerine.
Where’s the “Brilliant Yellow”, red, orange and maybe even high-viz? Or graphics?
We can understand that fewer paint colors keeps the price down, but really, can a couple more colors really add all that much to the cost?
Fortunately, that’s a minor complaint, although we have one more: the plain, non-textured vinyl on the neck roll just looks cheap (although it will probably last).
It just looks out of place on a 400-buck helmet, especially when compared to, say, some HJC helmets costing half as much (or less).
The “V” shape formed by the upper vents and the large chin vent give the otherwise plain RF-SR a bit of a style kick.
And those vent sliders are pretty phenomenal, opening and closing with a bank vault solidity not found on any other helmet.
So overall, it’s typically excellent Shoei quality for the RF-SR, with the exception of the vinyl bottom that shouts “entry level”.
Score: We rate the Shoei RF-SR an “Excellent” rating for overall quality, paint and general fit and finish. See the ratings category in the summary table at the end of the review.
We’ve said this before: Shoei has the most consistent internal shape in all of their helmets of any manufacturer.
Shoei helmets typically have what we term a “Narrow” or “Slightly Narrow” internal shape.
The RF-SR is a slight variant on the Shoei standard fit, because it does not feel as narrow as the X-Fourteen or other recent Shoei helmets.
So we’ll classify this one as “Slightly Narrow” only, but it should also fit “Neutral” shaped heads. It just doesn’t feel as narrow inside as the other Shoei helmets we’ve reviewed.
Shoei RF-SR Shell Size Chart
This Head Size…
…Uses This Shell Size
One of the things you’re paying for is the increased number of shell sizes. The RF-SR comes in 4 shell sizes to span the head size range and that means each shell size has to be homologated, adding to the cost.
The benefit to you is a better proportion to external circumference to the internal head size.
Inside the RF-SR there are shallow recesses on each side for intercom speakers.
It should be easy to mount just about any speaker kit in the RF-SR and by the way, the back of the chin bar has a solid vinyl coating also, making it easy to mount a microphone.
This RF-SR is a size XL, rated to fit a 61-62 cm head, which seems correct. The helmet liner and cheek pads are removable, so it may be possible to swap out parts if and when Shoei produces replacements.
For more information on choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet, please see the wBWMotorcycle Helmet FAQ page, which also includes a discussion on head shapes.
Score: We’ll give the RF-SR an “Outstanding” rating for fit and liner comfort.
The star of the RF-SR show is the ventilation system. It looks cool and works well.
The chin vent is housed in the bottom of the “V”, with the two angled top vents forming the upper tips.
The sliders have a smooth yet secure feel; they smack open and closed with a click sound that seems more like metal than plastic.
The chin vent does not flow air through the chin bar, but there is a wide and smooth vinyl or plastic covered insert in back of the chin bar that’s ideal for mounting a stick-on intercom microphone.
The vent flows air along the top of the chin bar and it works very nicely, with a noticeable amount of air flowing through when the vent is open.
The helmet comes with a small user-installed breath guard that also helps direct some of the air towards the rider’s face.
An easily installable chin curtain also helps control the air flow in the chin vent and chin area.
On top, the two separate upper vents also have firm-feel sliders and the air flows down through readily visible holes in the EPS and liner down on to the rider’s head.
The helmet liner has channels that allow the air to flow towards the rear and out the holes in the back, through the exhaust vents.
Overall, the system works really well — maybe not the best ventilation we’ve experienced in a motorcycle helmet but definitely better than average.
By the way, the face shield has the same slightly weak detents found on the X-Fourteen, but this one seems to hold a first city defogging position better than the X-Fourteen, so that’s another option for ventilation.
The RF-SR comes with a Pinlock EVO anti-fog insert.
The eye port on the RF-SR is slightly better than average for horizontal visibility and average in the vertical plane.
Score: The RF-SR gets an “Excellent” rating for ventilation and the face shield.
Score: The RF-SR gets a “Very Good” rating for noise control.
wBW Video: Shoei RF-SR Helmet
The RF-SR uses the same “Matrix AIM+” shell found on the much more expensive X-Fourteen racing helmet.
Shoei says it’s a “Shoei-exclusive Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ shell and Dual-Layer, Multi-Density EPS liner.”
The chin strap uses a D-ring system and the padding is comfortable.
The plastic snap that holds the extra length of chin strap is slightly difficult to find and difficult to snap for some reason.
The cheek pads also have the “E.Q.R.S.” (Emergency Quick Release System) that allows emergency medical personnel to easily remove the cheek pads from an injured rider’s helmet, as long as they know what to look for.
The helmet has a five-year warranty from date of purchase or seven years from the date of manufacture, whichever comes first.
The design of the RF-SR’s shell should allow an easy fit of an intercom helmet clamp.
webBikeWorld Opinionator: Shoei RF-SR
Outstanding build quality.
Easily fits an intercom system.
Louder than expected.
Needs more color choices.
The Shoei RF-SR is an excellent introduction to the Shoei family. It has just about everything you need and nothing you don’t, making it difficult to pay more and get, well, just a little more.
If it wasn’t for the louder than expected noise levels, the RF-SR would get an “Outstanding” rating overall. Nevertheless, it’s highly recommended.
From “D.S.” (June 2017): “I recently purchased a Shoei RF-SR to replace my well-used Shoei Qwest (review), which I’d been using since 2011, chosen then based in part on the favorable review on webBikeWorld.com.
The quality of the new Shoei was immediately evident. The Tangerine Orange metallic finish appears flawless. The visor mechanism is solid and operates with no play.
I wear a medium in just about every helmet I’ve tried, with the exception of the GT Air, which seemed to run one size small. The medium RF-SR fits me perfectly.
It’s maybe a little more intermediate oval-shaped than the Qwest, which always felt a little more round. The RF-SR feels lighter than my old Qwest.
The first thing I noticed during a ride is that the RF-SR flows a lot more air than the Qwest, both to the face shield and to the head.
Although ventilation is noticeably better, the RF-SR is much quieter than the Qwest, regardless of where I ran my adjustable windscreen.
The included Pinlock insert is a plus. The RF-SR comes with a breath guard that the user can install, but I pulled it out before my first ride, because my nose was hitting it.
It didn’t matter; with the Pinlock insert installed on the visor, the breath guard is superfluous. I stashed it in my tank bag and that’s where it’ll probably stay.
So far, I’m very pleased with it. Plus, I was able buy it from my local dealer for an out-the-door price that’s $50 less than MSRP. It pays to shop locally and develop those relationships.”
Editor’s Reply: Yes, but then we don’t get a commission and if we go out of business, you won’t have a reliable source to read the reviews that help you make your purchasing decision!