Shoei X-Eleven Helmet
When I first bought my Harley-Davidson Night Train it came with a full face helmet. The helmet was one of the best they had at that time at the dealership. I wanted a full-face helmet but wasn’t sure how comfortable they were. The salesman suggested that I consider a module helmet.
For those of you who are not sure what a modular helmet is let me explain. By the way, until that night I had no idea what he meant when he said modular helmet. When I heard that term all I could think of was a helmet made out of Lego blocks; that’s not what it is.
A modular helmet has the outward appearance of a full-face helmet. The visor goes up and down like you would expect from a full-face helmet. The difference though is that on a modular helmet the entire front of the face is hinged so that the rider can lift the entire front of the helmet up basically turning the helmet into a three-quarter helmet.
The benefits of this are that you are able to combat some of the claustrophobic effects of a full-face helmet. The other benefit is that if you have to throw up, you can get the helmet out of the way. No lie, this was listed as a benefit by the salesman. While I have never had to test this theory it is good to know the helmet can facilitate that.
The Harley-Davidson Modular Helmet is actually a rebranded HJC helmet. I wore this helmet for the first couple of years I was riding. It was relatively comfortable and seemed to work as advertised. While it did not have a lot of vents, it remained comfortable even during the Arizona summer months.
Wind noise was relatively low making this one of the quieter helmets I have ever worn. I did like the idea that the entire front would rotate up to give me even more air flow if it got too hot riding. One thing that did bother me was that the helmet tended to lift when riding at higher rates of speed. When riding at freeway speeds it almost felt like the helmet would pull my head right off my neck.
At first the lifting effect did not bother me but through additional riding I found myself fighting with the helmet trying to find a riding position that would minimize this. I decided that when a helmet began to require me to change my riding stance or style it was probably time to look for a new helmet.
I began my quest to find the perfect helmet by first listing out the requirements that a helmet must adhere to in order to be considered. The top two items on my list were protection and comfort. The biggest reason to wear a helmet is to protect you while you ride. Protection should therefore be paramount when considering a new helmet. While the modular helmet met DOT safety requirements, it did not meet any others due to the fact that the front was hinged. Because of this I decided to forego that feature and focus instead on a full-face helmet.
Since I was now going completely full-face, comfort became even a bigger factor. In so many full-face helmets your head is literally smashed between pads making you feel like you head is in a vise. That is not a comfortable feeling especially when riding a long distance.
After developing a list of criteria I did a tremendous amount of research and ultimately chose the Shoei X-Eleven Norick 5 helmet. This helmet met all of my criteria and was also the most stylish helmet I came across.
Not only does the X-Eleven comply with DOT helmet standards but also adheres to the Snell M2005 requirements. This means that my head will be protected should the helmet be forced into use during a crash.
I was concerned with airflow but after trying the X-Eleven I came away very impressed. There are vents throughout this helmet that assist in wicking away the moisture from inside the helmet. There are openings below the face opening as well as above the visor and two vents on the rear of the helmet near the top. All of these work in conjunction to move air throughout the helmet.
All of this airflow does come at a price. There is additional air noise from the air blowing through the helmet. The helmet interior padding does assist in dropping the noise by absorbing some of the sound waves but this helmet is a little louder than the modular helmet it replaced.
I was replacing my helmet due to the lifting problem I had while wearing the modular helmet. The X-Eleven is much more aerodynamic than the modular helmet and I found none of the lifting problems I had with the other helmet. In fact I didn’t notice any difference between normal street riding and freeway riding.
The padding on the X-Eleven surrounds your head and face but it does not feel constrictive at all. Shoei did a very good job designing the padding system allowing all of the pads to be removed in order to be cleaned, something that is definitely beneficial after a lot of use. Given the number of pads it is a good idea to take a couple of pictures before removing the pads to make sure you remember how they all went together. It’s not hard but can be a little overwhelming looking at all the pads when they are out of the helmet.
Overall the Shoei X-Eleven has been a great helmet. Shoei offers several graphic styles and color choices You are bound to find one that matches your bike or your personality. I definitely would recommend the Shoei X-Eleven helmet to anyone who is looking for a comfortable lightweight full-face helmet.