REVIEW OF THE SHOEI RF-1200 HELMET
- Compact – Lightweight - Aerodynamic Design
- Ventilation Performance
- CWR-1 Shield
- Quick Release Base Plate System
- Pinlock® Anti-Fog System; includes faceshield and insert
- Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell
- 4 Shell Sizes
- Emergency Quick Release Cheekpads
- Customizable Cheekpads (31mm-43mm)
- Replaceable Center Pads (down to XXS!)
- 3D Max-Dry System II Interior
- Dual-Layer / Multi-Density EPS Liner
- Chin Curtain
- Breath Guard(which are pointless after you install the Pinlock insert)
- Recesses for Speakers; removable after installing your favorite bluetooth communicator
- 5-Year Warranty
- Sample provided by GearChic.com
- Review Date: August 2015
- MSRP $589.99 (less for solid colors)
After spending 5 good years with my Qwest, I knew that the RF-1200 was going to be my next upgrade as soon as I tried one on for the first time a year ago.
The RF-1200 is the newest version of the RF series. I couldn't wear the RF-1100, because the shape was too narrow from ear to ear for me. It squeezed me funny. This one is absolutely perfect. My head is an intermediate oval, one of the most common head shapes.
What I really wanted in my helmet was a lightweight, compact shell with adequate ventilation and stability at high speeds. As an XS head, this weighs in at a whopping 3lbs 5oz! I can't tell I'm wearing it, even after 1,000 miles. That's something I absolutely require, as I refuse to wear anything that weighs more than 3 and a half pounds. If you wear an XS you should avoid any helmets that offer less than 3 shell sizes. This means your XS helmet can be the same size as a larger size on the outside and the only difference is the padding on the inside. For me, it means when I turn my head in either direction the helmet hardly ever touches my shoulder (except when I wear my Kriega, since the straps are thick).
I've had it since May and ridden about 500 miles in it so far. Between my accident in June and now being sick for a few weeks, I've definitely not ridden in it as much as I wanted to. But I do have a phenomenal 1,500 mile ride to the Womens Sportbike Rally planned in 2 weeks so I'll be testing it out even more at that point.
Coming from the Shoei Qwest
I feel like helmets are something that you don't really figure out until you've been riding awhile. I started out with a very basic HJC helmet when I was riding a scooter. As I started riding further and taking longer day trips and eventually overnights, I knew I wanted something quieter, lighter and more comfortable.
For me, the RF-1200 is a nice upgrade from the Qwest, as it feels more comfortable on my head (in terms of padding) and it's lighter and quieter. I also love that it's a bit shorter from front to back. They did change a few features, but nothing that I find inconvenient. The faceshield removal is basically the same concept but requires a little more attention, as I actually have to look at the sideplates to line up the parts. Whereas on the Qwest I could do it without looking at it. I believe they did this to make the faceshield seal a bit tighter.
The locking mechanism to keep the faceshield closed at freeway speeds is a bit simpler as well. On the Qwest you had to pivot the lock in 3 positions: backwards to lock the shield down, forward position to prop it open and the middle for neutral.
You can see in the new model, it's a simpler mechanism. Just press to lock. I find myself rarely using it, whereas on the Qwest I would use it everytime I got on the freeway to keep the wind out.
I also find the RF-1200 to be considerably quieter as well. They've done a great job of sealing up all the areas where wind noise can get in and start howling in my ear (even with earplugs). A good way to test how quiet your helmet is if you can hear yourself talking. If you can't, you either need earplugs or a full face (if you're wearing an open) or just a better full face helmet!
It's amazing how much wind noise can drain you at the end of a long riding day. It's taxing mentally to have to deal with that much noise in your ear. You can't focus or concentrate, let alone hear anything around you. Imagine driving in a car at freeway speeds, if you roll the windows down you can't hear anyone or anything. Once you roll those windows up you can hear everything!
Coming from a naked, unfaired bike with absolutely no windblock it was also essential for me to have a quieter helmet. Of course I still have wind noise in my helmet but it's as quiet as it can be given what I'm riding.
One thing that I noticed immediately is how well it performs at higher speeds. If I turn my head to check my blind spot while going 65mph or more, I can't tell that I turned my head! The helmet is stable and wind resistant. Almost as if it's invisible :D
If you have the luxury of a windscreen and fairing, then you'll probably have a much better experience as well.
RF-1200 and SMH10R
Something that can also make a difference with premium helmets like this one is how much satisfaction you'll have from a bluetooth communication system. When your helmet is loud, listening to music or using the intercom can be difficult. Using the RF-1200 with my Sena is definitely a more pleasant experience as well.
If you plan to install your intercom system, it's no problem. I installed my SMH10R without any issues, and the built-in sidepods are convenient for speaker placement. Since all the padding is removable (center pad and cheekpads) I was able to hide everything neatly.
And I can't forget to mention the Transitions Faceshield! It's extremely difficult to get one these days, but if you can get one, I highly recommend it. Just like your prescription eyeglasses, the faceshield will go from light to dark depending on the lighting conditions. I've been using it all summer now and have really enjoyed it. If you're curious as to how dark the shield gets, it's definitely darker on the outside than the inside. And depending on which angle I take the picture, it looks darker in one than the other. In all three of these photos, I was in very bright sunlight.
I can't say enough good things about this helmet. I've ridden in 1 HJC, 1 Icon, 3 Arais, 1 Schuberth and now 3 Shoeis. By far, this is the best helmet I've ever owned.
I haven't had to crash test it, thankfully but with it's Snell Safety Rating and Fiberglass shell construction, I'm sure she's going to take really good care of my brain :D