< Not a sponsored review. Good whisky money went into this. >
Listen up, style fiends. It may be that the struggle between choosing the helmet you want and the helmet you need is over – no thanks to Shoei, a brand that has regularly made us want to part with our money.
It is true that on any given day, a baked potato is dressed with more style than I. Nonetheless, I shelled out vanity dollars for the Shoei Ex Zero, a strikingly minimalist, 80’s inspired lid with a few modern tricks up its high-end sleeve. It’s an aesthetic that would be at home on any cafe, classic or scrambler-esque motorcycle, or on the racks of a bowling alley. Three months, a few road trips and a couple of painty markers later, here’s how it’s held up.
FIT & COMFORT
My brain box is as Asian as they come, and the Shoei fit never disappoints. The fiberglass-polyester resin outer shell comes in three sizes to accommodate inner lining pads for heads sized XS to XXL. I’m reliably an M. Those cheek pads are kind to skin, and hold up well to sweaty rides, while also being removable and washable.
Barely bruising the scales at 1.14kg, the Ex Zero is the most featherweight lid I’ve owned. At the risk of sounding like a kotex commercial, the airy, light construct makes a huge difference to comfort and riding stamina.
It’s light, but by no means feeble. Did you know that different parts of your head need different levels of impact protection? Well neither did I, so it’s a lucky thing that Shoei’s one up on us in the science of things. Their helmet shells are crafted with EPS liners of varying densities for optimal protection. Always good to know, when hard tarmac is rushing by underfoot.
If your head needs to exit the Ex Zero in a hurry, there are Shoei’s emergency quick release tabs to count on – paramedics can simply tug on the red strips to slide the cheek pads out and minimise yanking.
And yes, it’s PSB certified – your talisman against the authorities.
QUALITY & FINISHING
On the Ex Zero, details impress. Past the eye port’s sturdy rubber trim, synthetic leather finishing helps to cut reflected glare while adding a lush, classic touch.
Brass and silver rivets are another tasteful detail that also allows you to clip on an old-school, duck-bill style peak to rock a vintage enduro vibe. Shoei makes a peak to fit, but like me, you could simply snap on any adjustable peak from other brands.
The deal-maker is the drop down bubble face shield, which handsome alternatives like the Nexx XG100 or Bell Moto-3 cannot boast of. The shield tucks in and out very neatly, with a simple groove-and-lever system on either side to control how low the shield sits over your nose. It’s an indispensable feature for keeping bugs, road grit, tree branches, wind and other people’s saliva out of your eyeballs. Sunglasses and spectacles will fit underneath the shield, and you can simply pop it back up to make way for goggles.
Hipsters are allergic to rain, right? That’s probably why this handsome bugger is absolutely shit in a thunderstorm. Since the bubble face shield does not seal against the nose piece, rain will slap heartily into your mouth. Dry hipsters with soggy beards, now explained.
Hipsters are also deaf from not listening to their mothers, right? That’s why the Ex Zero is so noisy at highway speeds. A trade-off for that incredible ventilation.
Hipsters are too emotionally fractured to hold a conversation while riding, right? That’s why this helmet’s slim cut doesn’t leave much room for an intercom system. Then again – why would you want to ruin that classy silhouette with 21st century bluetooth?
Hipsters don’t move too fast, or else nobody can see how good they look, right? That’s why the Ex Zero feels a little insecure at high speeds. It’s not an issue of wind buffeting, since the helmet actually holds up reasonably well against turbulence once the visor is down. It is simply that the cheek pads do not embrace the sides of your head as deeply as with a touring-style helmet, leaving you to feel unnervingly exposed in comparison. Inside, the Ex Zero actually feels more like a classic open faced helmet, except with a chin bar.
YAY OR NAY?
Hands down, the Shoei Ex Zero is currently my no-frills favourite for daily commute. It proves that Sensible doesn’t mean Stale (in terms of style), and it makes me sweat the least in traffic jams; therefore I am more peaceable and less likely to punch taxi drivers. While this is an undeniably gorgeous lid that’s got more than looks going for it, it’s also mostly a helmet for the city and light trails. For highway pounding, you’d be better served by another model from the Shoei arsenal, or my adventuring go-to, the Airoh Commander All Terrain.
Fine with that? You can get the Shoei Ex Zero for 480SGD at Chong Aik stores.
Cherie went to school with overachievers. She grew up to fully embrace her wicked, underachieving ways and made art, rode motorcycles, wore dinosaur costumes to inappropriate places, and was generally awesome. She has recently discovered that the optimal number of underpants to pack for world domination on your motorcycle is 2.5.