REVIEW OF THE SHOEI QWEST HELMET
- MSRP: $492.99 (but you can definitely find it for less than $400 for solid colors if you shop around)
- As of 3/28/13, the Goddess (above) design is on closeout! Call your local shops/dealers and see what price they're selling it for.
- Sizes: 5 Shell Sizes XXS-XXL
- Colors: Many, check Shoei's website
- Noise Reduction Technology
- Q.R.S.A. (Quick Release Self-Adjusting) Base Plate System
- CW-1 Shield(compatible with Pinlock systems)
- AIM+ Shell Construction (Snell M2010-Approved)
- Shell-Integrated Spoiler
- Ventilation Performance
- Dual-Layer EPS Liner
- Interior Comfort System
- Chin Curtain
- Breath Guard
- Removable cheekpads, replaceable in millimeter thicknesses
- 5-Year Warranty
- Review Date: March 2011
The Qwest is an update to the previous generation TZR. That helmet was more of an entry level helmet. I'm not going to get into all the details, because you can find the technical specifications on Shoei's website here. Basically, the Qwest was redesigned to provide better noise reduction and ventilation as well as a fitment shape that would fit more people. The Qwest has definitely hit both those marks. When I've helped people with helmets, I have found that 9 out of 10 people can wear one comfortably. Something about the shape is practically universal.
Even my husband, who had major forehead issues in his previous helmet was able to fit into the Qwest. I really loved the pattern on this one especially but chose it because well, someone gave it to me (not for review, but as a gift) and it actually fit me perfectly. Prior to this, I was wearing the X-12 because I wanted a stronger street helmet than my previous Arai Quantum II. Unfortunately the X-12 has a different fit shape and because of it I had to go up a size. Even with new padding it just didn't fit perfectly. The Qwest however, is perfect.
I'm typically an XS and measure in at a touch under 52 centimeters. Although Shoei's size chart would put me in an XS, I think my head shape allows me to wear an XS comfortably. This model only allows you to remove the cheekpads. The headliner is not removable. You can however fully clean the interior per their instructions. If you want to add an audio comm system like the Sena or Cardo, there's a perfect recess to add earpieces:
It's difficult for me to say how quiet this helmet is. My other day to day helmet that I switch between is the Arai Vector-2. That helmet is well ventilated (more than the Qwest) and seems to be a little louder. Helmet noise is relative, if you aren't wearing ear plugs then everything is loud. I'd say it's quieter than the Vector-2 but not so quiet that you won't need earplugs at highway speed.
I can say however, that in really hot temps (~80-90F) it does a decent job of ventilating. I like to wear a Buff to help absorb the sweat, and that may help keep you more comfortable as well. Something that definitely helps is the visor is the ability to crack the visor open just a bit, using the side locking mechanism. You can either push it all the way forward to keep the visor closed at high speed, or push it back to prop it open just enough to let more air in. I found the mouth vent to provide minimal airflow. The visor itself also has micro adjustments to open the visor a little, a little more and then a little more and even a little more until it's fully open.
Fit / Break In
Shoei tried to make this helmet fit as many people as possible. As I mentioned above, this helmet fits almost everyone that I've put into it. It's like the average shape of most people's heads! I'd have to describe the fit as an Intermediate Oval much like Arai's Vector-2. But a little more oval than the Vector. The area that I noticed where the fitment was noticeably different was the back of the head, just where my head starts to curve inward. The Qwest hugs that part of my head so nicely. I realized that after wearing 2 Arai Quantums (more round) that I should've been wearing a more oval shape due to this part of the head. Breaking this helmet in (as well as any Shoei) is going to be uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it took awhile for me to fully break this one in.
I'd say a good 500-750 miles. Even the opening broke in and made it easier for me to get my head in and out. Initially, that was something I was really apprehensive about. It was a real struggle to get the helmet on. But as soon as it was on it was fine. I was hopeful the opening would stretch and thank goodness it did. The area around the cheeks will always be the first to break, and remember that you can easily fix the cheekpads by swapping them out to a thinner set. But don't let that dictate the overall fit. For me, the area around the forehead / temples was also quite snug and luckily that only took a few days (~20-30) miles to feel better. I highly highly recommend walking around in the store where you're trying it on for a good 10 minutes to get a feel for the snugness. I know how difficult it can be to select a helmet. That's why I strongly suggest visiting your local dealer so you can try on various helmets and get a sense of shape.
All brands are different and they all have their own shapes, beyond your head's measurement. Unfortunately, it took me a couple of helmets before I really nailed it. And that might happen to you too, and that's okay. Just try to pay attention to the fit differences as closely as possible to make sure that you're headed in the right direction. The only thing I would recommend is investing in a Pinlock visor and shield system for true anti fog. The only thing I wish were different is the liner, it should be removable, and a little softer or smoother like the RF-1200.
Overall, the Qwest is a fantastic helmet and although the MSRP is $492, you should easily be able to find this helmet listed for less than $400 (for solid colors) online or in stores.
UPDATE MARCH 2016:
As with all helmets, mine came to the end of it's 5 year shelf life (from manufacture date) so I upgraded to an RF-1200. :D
Care / Sizing Instructions from Shoei:http://www.shoei-helmets.com/Safety_SizingHandlingCare.aspx