FOR THE FACTS, skip to the JUST THE FACTS section below. If you want to enjoy my happy ramblings and for a more robust explanation of what has transpired, read on from here.
On September 11th, 2019, I was involved in a severe motorcycle accident. I spent 41 days between the ICU and ICU Step-down. I suffered nine rib fractures, an "open-book" pelvic injury (which is a disruption of the pubic symphysis... the pelvis opens like a book), and a bunch of other not-very-nice stuff. Luckily, one of those less-than-satisfying injuries was NOT a head injury. Out of all of the dumb shit that I do and the myriad lousy life decisions I make, I am proud to say that not wearing a helmet at that time was not one of them. There have been plenty of days that I rode a motorcycle and did not wear a helmet; or wore a useless little "Cool-looking" novelty "Brain-Bucket," but I chalk those days up to the "Invincibility Complex" of my youth. Even while working as a security officer at a major trauma hospital in New Jersey, I still rode around in my "Super-cool-dude" little baby helmet.
This hospital was a primary Level 1 Trauma center (the baddest-ass of em all) with almost 700 beds. So, the place had a helicopter landing pad to take in traumas delivered by, you guessed it...a helicopter. One of my tasks as a security officer at the hospital was to use my mighty elevator override key to take control of the elevator to escort the trauma team to and from the helipad when a trauma would come in.
I would get a call on my radio: "Post 3 (the post covering the emergency center), you've got a 10-99 (not the actual code, but I can't remember the exact code... 10-99 was actually meant to go meet the funeral home guy to release a dead body from the morgue... yeah, I did that too.) I know... I digress.
Anyway, so I get the radio call, then I would have to book it over to the emergency department as fast as I could. I'd have to speed walk (because running is frowned upon in major level 1 trauma centers) from wherever I was in the building down to the emergency department. There, the trauma team (consisting of nurses, med techs, and maybe a doctor) would be waiting by the elevator for me to spring into action. I would go ahead and stick my mighty override key into the slot (that's what she said) and launch the elevator to the roof.
Now the point of this whole story is that on more than one occasion (I'd say several occasions), I delivered the trauma team to the roof and witnessed the result of a motorcycle accident. On more than one occasion, I had the privilege of being a spectator to the gruesome reckoning of a helmet-less motorcyclist's hapless comeuppance. I even saw one guy who lost about 3/4 of his face (or gained 1/4 ferocious gaping flesh mop, depending on if you are a half-empty or half-full kinda person). This fella was wearing the same doll helmet that I wore, and this after only a thirty-mile-per-hour or so accident. I continued to wear my plastic road-yamika, though. Again, I chalk it up to the ignorance of the youth.
Fast forward to 2019, and I had been wearing authentic helmets for quite some time. I'm not really sure what woke me up finally, but I had started wearing a DOT-approved helmet while riding a Harley, then on my Big Dog, and finally on my Ducati Diavel and beyond. I've had many different bikes, and on this day, I was riding my 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE. I wish they had added a few more names to the list... which they actually did. They added a "+" model... Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE +. You can't make this shit up. Anyway, I was riding that bike and wearing my Shoei Noetec. I don't remember any part of the accident whatsoever; I actually lost memory of about two hours before the accident.
Long story short, I T-boned a car. The helmet has a nice big gash across the back, and the visor was rashed up as well. I think it is safe to say that the Noetec saved my life, or at least saved me from becoming a vegetative invalid.
So, months later, when I finally got out of the hospital and did enough physical therapy to make Howie Mandel Walk Like a Man, I had to think about how I was going to replace my beloved Neotec. The first thing I did was go on Ebay and look for a new or slightly used Neotec. No dice. I couldn't find a single listing for Neotec, new or used. This was because, at this point, the Neotec II model was out. Now, I am not naive enough to believe that the new version is better than the old version by default. That is because I have been so naive as to believe that so many times, and with so many different things, that I am now too old to believe that. However, if it is shiny, I will probably buy it. In this situation, though, I really had no choice. If I wanted to get as close to what I had before ( and I really loved my Neotec... best helmet I ever had in so many ways), then the Neotec II was my only option.
I went and bought my Neotec II to replace my Shoei Neotec. I always go with black ( mostly because black is cheaper), but I wanted to mix it up, and try something new. So I bought the grey, black, and red 'Excursion" graphic version.
If you want a new helmet (or any other moto-gear) go here:
The helmet was excellent. I had a few gripes compared to the original Neotec, but I'll get into that in another review: A Tale of Two Tecs. Look out for that review coming soon. The main thing was the quick connect system. At first, I was like: 'Dude, this Is awesome! Finally, a top-quality helmet that comes with a quick-connect chin strap! This is badass." The original Neotec, and the majority of helmets out there come with those D-rings things. The D-rings (or Double D-rings) are the standard chin strap securing method used by many many manufacturers. They are cheap, low-tech, and proven to work. The problem with D-rings is that they take a little bit of time to secure... you have to thread the strap through them both, thread the strap back through just one, then snap the tail of the strap up. This is not a big deal, but the bigger problem comes when you forget to strap your helmet up BEFORE you put your gloves on. I cannot tell you how many times I have done just that. It requires a herculean feat of epic proportion to perform such a task with gloves on. It is possible, and I have done it, but man, is it a PIA of the highest order. It is a lot easier to just take the damn gloves off and blow all the time it takes to do that, thread the strap, put your gloves back on, then go.
So, I was excited to see that Shoei stepped up and used the quick connect type of fastener instead. I actually used to change my helmet d-rings to aftermarket versions of the quick connect style connector. I'd have to bring it to a seamstress or "seamster" (what do you call a male sewer-guy?) or somehow modify the strap to work with the new system. In my opinion, many manufacturers don't use quick connects because the technology isn't necessarily proven, unlike the double D-ring system. So, it stands to reason that Shoei must have done their due diligence to make this something that they could get behind. This helmet is DOT, ECE, and SHARP rated for safety.
See that quick connect peeking out from under the helmet?
I thought this was just hunky-dory as I went on with my motorcycling life. The problem unearthed itself when I went to store my helmet on my motorcycle helmet lock one day. Lo and behold, I had no way to hang the damn helmet! I had not thought of this before, but there was nothing that I could use to loop around my helmet lock's hook without the D-ring set up. I was stuck carrying around my helmet that day, and it looked like I was doomed to do so for another five years. Prevailing wisdom suggests that a motorcycle helmet be replaced every five years. Man, was I annoyed.
Anyway, I came up with a solution while milling around the "Matt Cave" one day. I tend to horde motorcycle shit, so I have a bunch of old, pretty useless helmets lying around. I figured why not cut the D-ring strap off of an old helmet and have a "seamster" or seamstress sew it onto the existing strap on my Neotec II! BAM! I'm a freaking genius, I thought! This way, I get the convenience of the quick connect with the D-ring functionality for locking up my helmet. Problem solved.
So, I showed all of my riding buddies my fantastic, genius solution, and I snickered with delight every chance I had to lock my helmet to my bike. I was happier than a lead-healed lush in a river of whiskey.
Take a look at my D-ring solution on the right. The strap from an old helmet was removed and sewn on (professionally) to the existing strap with the quick connect system. The original strap was not affected in any way other than having stitches in it.
JUST THE FACTS:
One day I got caught in a pretty heavy rainstorm. I do everything I can to avoid getting caught in the rain, to the point where although motorcycles are my life, I'd say I am a fair-weather rider. I don't take offense to that notion. I love my bikes, and I hate entropy. I do whatever I can to keep them as close to perfect as possible, and that includes avoiding the rain. However, one thing I did not do to avoid rain was not live in Florida. It is a trade-off here... ride all year round, yes. However, it rains about every third minute. So, I digress (again). I get caught in the rain on the highway. I start to realize that the rain is getting in past the visor. Rain is getting into the inside of the visor and making it impossible to see. I had an exciting hour-long ride home in the monsoons, unable to see shit out of my nearly $800 Shoei Neotec II helmet. Great, I thought.
After some research, I tried adjusting the visor's mounting points by setting them back a bit. I found a Youtube video that shows you how to do it on a different Shoei model, but I figured it would probably work about the same way. The video says to use a business card or something similar to see if it can slide between the visor and the rubber gasket. If it can, then the seal is off. That made sense to me. So, I tested it with the card, and I could slide the card in (that's what she said?). I watched the video, then adjusted the brackets ever so slightly back as instructed. However, I still had the same issue. It slid in and out easily (she said it again). SO, fearing the worst (like it would still get rained on inside), I decided to see if Shoei would help me out. After all, they have a five-year warranty on their helmets. I emailed them and told them my story about the rain getting in... oh, and that it squeaks also. See the letter below. You'll also see (in the red) that I wanted to let them know that my old helmet saved my life. I thought they would like to hear that. Notice that Don did not even respond to that. Oh well, maybe he was just working fast. He also pointed out (in the green) that the video I was using for reference did not apply. Modern Shoeis don't work like that, apparently.
I went ahead and sent the helmet to: Shoei Safety Helmet Corp. ATTN: Inspections 3002 Dow Avenue, Suite 328 Tustin, CA 92780.
After a couple of weeks, I got a voicemail.
"I've got your helmet on the bench. Unfortunately we have a bit of a problem here in that you've modified the chin strap which voids the warranty on the helmet, and once there's any structural changes to the helmet, we are not allowed to work on them because of liability concerns. I'm going to try to make a little adjustment to your shield, but I'm not even supposed to do that, and I can't address any of your other concerns because it would involve taking the helmet apart."
Holy crap, I thought. What a load of elephant scat that is. "Structural changes?" In the box was a letter:
What does what I did to the helmet strap have to do with the issues of a leaking visor or squeeks? I'll tell you- Nothing. What a piss-poor excuse to not honor their workmanship. They could have easily made the adjustments/repairs and noted that they do not support the choice to "modify" the strap. That or void any warranty on THE STRAP. This is like voiding the warranty on your automobile's transmission because you replaced the interior with purple velvet.
I can't say I won't wear my Neotec II or that I won't ever buy a Shoei again. It sure did leave a bad taste in my mouth, though. This did annoy me enough that next time I'll be looking at getting the AGV Sport Modular (a helmet I've been eyeballing for a while) and maybe leaving the Shoei brand behind... since they pissed on me pretty readily.
Wanna be like me and buy an AGV? Click the banner:
P.S. I took a look at Shoei's warranty page on their website. It does say that they will not warranty damage caused by the customer (i.e. dropping the helmet). They do NOT however, say anything about alterations to one part of the structure voiding the warranty on another part of the structure. Now, whether or not there is a longer, more involved warranty explanation somewhere (like in the box with the helmet) I do not know, but I have reached out to Don to see if he wants to comment. I will update this article if he does, of course.