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Our Member Tested program puts the best gear in the hands of real riders who give real reviews. You'll hear the good, the bad and the ugly about all the gear they have tested. But when it is over, you will know you can buy the best piece of equipment that is durable enough for MOA members. All product reviews must come from an active member (at the time of submission) and should include photos of the product being installed or used in some way. Drop an email to wfleming [at] bmwmoa [dot] org with your idea for a review or your completed review. Thanks!

 

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Shoei GT-Air II: The next-generation sport-touring helmet

Posted By Julia LaPalme #202446, Thursday, May 30, 2019

Everyone has their favorite go-to helmet for commuting or long-distance riding, that helmet that fits like a glove and becomes a part of your riding routine. What we want from an everyday helmet is a light weight, comfortable fit, and good airflow while minimizing wind noise, all while protecting our precious noggins. Shoei claims to tick all those boxes with their new GT-Air II sport touring helmet, an updated version of the first GT Air released in 2013. After listening to feedback from riders over the years, Shoei aimed to improve an already well-loved helmet, from ventilation and aerodynamics to their drop-down tinted visor while also incorporating a streamlined integrated Sena communication system. I spent a couple weeks with this new helmet to test out all the features.

The first thing I noticed about the GT-Air II is how narrow the chin porthole is when pulling the helmet onto my head. This is designed to help minimize wind noise by reducing how much air can get into the helmet from the bottom. The helmet felt pretty snug at first, with the interior foam closely cupping my jawline. I half expected to get a headache from the close fit, but after 5 or 10 minutes, the helmet simply remained snug and comfortable. Fastening the new mini-ratchet chin strap was fairly easy, and the clip feels like it grips the metal ratchet strap firmly. Shoei has done extensive testing on their patented version of this convenient chin strap design, and their tests showed it is just as secure as a double D-ring chin strap in an accident. The major benefit of the ratchet style is how much faster I can get in and out of the helmet compared with a double D-ring style. My only gripe about Shoei’s ratchet strap is if you rest your helmet on your tank, you have to be careful about not scratching your tank paint with that metal ratchet piece, something to keep an eye out for. The other downside to a ratchet style strap is you can’t use it with an under-seat helmet lock.

During the presentation for the new GT-Air II, the folks from Shoei put a lot of emphasis on how much wind tunnel testing had been done, not just for aerodynamics, but also for ventilation. The GT-Air II has three intake vents and five exhaust vents, which was evident with the amount of airflow I could feel when riding at speeds above 40 mph. The top vent was easier to open and close with gloves on than the chin vent, but both provided ample airflow. With the vents closed, there was still a fair amount of ventilation; for better or worse, Shoei focused a lot of attention on drawing warm air away from the rider’s head. This is great in hot and steamy climates, but I wonder how it would feel in significantly colder weather. A balaclava may be necessary to trap in heat if that’s your goal.

As for aerodynamics, the GT-Air II does a great job directing wind over and around the helmet at high speeds. I tested this helmet while riding a naked cafe racer, as well as a fully faired sport bike. While the GT Air was getting the full force of wind speed and turbulence on surface roads and freeways aboard the cafe racer, there was very little upward pull from high-speed wind force, meaning my neck wasn't sore after a solid hour of riding. It also helps that the helmet feels very lightweight. Shoei’s aerodynamic styling, including an integrated spoiler at the back and beefed up visor seals, helps the GT-Air II transfer a minimal amount of wind noise.

One of the most convenient features of the GT-Air II (and its predecessor) is the drop-down tinted visor. Whether you embrace the full rebel X-Wing pilot aesthetic (nerd alert) or not, you can’t deny the convenience of not having to carry a separate visor to swap out for day or night riding, trying to fit a pair of sunglasses inside your helmet, or shelling out an extra $150 to $200 for a Transitions® lens. Once I became familiar with the placement of the lever, the tinted visor was easy enough to operate with my gloves on while riding. Shoei even increased the coverage of the drop down visor an extra 5mm, almost completely closing the light gap between the drop-down visor and the chin bar.

The absolute standout feature of the new GT-Air II is the ability to integrate with the SENA SRL2, which was designed specifically for this helmet and provides all the convenient features of an intercom system without a bulky unit clipped to the outside of the helmet. The SRL2 fits into a cutout in the GT-Air II's helmet shell, which keeps the helmet shape more streamlined. Aside from benefiting the aerodynamics, there are some arguments that the SRL2’s nearly seamless integration is safer in the event of an impact than a standard exterior clip-on communicator. Thankfully I have not personally tested that theory in a crash, but I certainly appreciate having less bulk on the outside of my helmet for the wind to grab at during freeway riding. The SRL2 only took about 10 minutes to install, and its 20S-based system is just as easy to use as any other late generation Sena.

The GT-Air II is available in a total of 18 different color and graphics options, including three different graphics, each with a variety of colors, and seven solid colors. The solid-colored design will set you back $599, while the graphics design goes for $699. The SENA SRL2 is an additional $299. With the communication system installed, you’re looking at close to a $1,000 helmet. It’s a pretty penny, but you’ll end up with a comfortable, light and quiet helmet with the convenience of an integrated communication system. And if you're a daily rider, that kind of investment can be a lifesaver.

Tags:  helmet  Shoei 

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Sena’s new Momentum helmet

Posted By Jerry Aldini #214426, Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Since I started riding I’ve been an Arai guy. Though it took several years to scrape together enough green to buy my first, I’ve never looked back. Over the years I’ve tried other brands, but I always come back to Arai, with its perfect fit for my head and long haul comfort.

Then I paired my favorite Arai with a Sena SMH10 Bluetooth headset. Initially, I was only interested in streaming some of my favorite tunes to make the miles tick off a little quicker. Once exposed to the functionality of Sena products, I was hooked on the full connectivity: music, phone, GPS and intercom. When the chance came to try a new Sena Momentum helmet with integrated Sena Bluetooth headset, I couldn’t resist.

Sena’s Momentum helmets are offered in three varieties: the Momentum, Momentum Lite and the new Momentum INC with Intelligent Noise Cancelling technology. The difference between the two base models is four Bluetooth connections for the Lite compared to eight for the standard Momentum. The Momentum INC offers the ability to block ambient and repetitive noise with electronic noise canceling technology.

The Momentum helmet weighs in at just under four pounds. The liner is removable and washable. Included with the helmet are a soft cloth helmet bag, user’s manual and a USB cord for charging or downloading the latest firmware. Sena also includes an inflatable ring to hold the helmet when not in use.

Before connecting my devices I took it out for a quick spin to evaluate the fit, comfort and noise levels. I found the opening of the helmet rather small and initially painful during my first attempts at inserting my sizeable melon. I believe this helps reduce wind noise during riding, and if that is the case, I’ll accept the tighter fit. In fairness, after several rides, I’ve learned how to insert and extract my head without discomfort.

The Sena’s interior is plush with thick, removable and comfortably soft cheek pads. With an integrated mic, speakers and electronics, I still found plenty of room between the helmet and the face, as well as around my ears.

The Sena Momentum helmet has a rounder shape than Arai’s traditional long oval. When wearing the Sena, I can feel pressure along my forehead. I’m convinced that after it’s broken in, the Sena will conform to my egg-shaped noggin just fine!

On the road, the Sena didn’t disappoint. Although not as quiet as I had hoped, it’s still quieter than most helmets I have tried. It still requires the use of ear plugs, but I have yet to find a helmet that doesn’t. The Momentum helmet is quite stable in the wind, without annoying hums or whistles, which would be a deal breaker in my book. Ample venting on the front and rear effectively move air across your head on warm days.

All that aside, the real reason you want Sena’s new Momentum helmet is for the integrated Bluetooth functionality. I easily paired the helmet with my phone and almost instantly had music streaming on my ride. With Sena’s Advanced Noise Control, I found phone functionality and clarity of the microphone to be flawless without any struggle to hear or need to yell even when wearing earplugs. The microphone and speakers seem to be perfectly positioned for the best sound quality—probably the single most important feature of a helmet built with an integrated headset.

I found the controls for the helmet large and more intuitive than my older Sena unit. While it does take a little time to learn the sequence of short and long presses to cycle through and learn all the helmet’s functionality, I can’t complain about this out of the box. It simply requires some repetition and use to make it all work smoothly.

In use, the Sena unit easily pairs with up to seven other Sena users to allow for crystal clear, high-definition intercom conversations. Using the Sena smartphone app, users can customize the functionality, including volume levels, voice control, multitasking and volume overlays to suit your preferences. Additionally, the Sena Momentum can integrate voice input from your GPS and receive FM radio broadcasts with ten station presets. The Bluetooth communication features are everything I have come to expect from a top shelf communication company like Sena.

Overall, I found the Sena Momentum helmet to be a bargain given the level of electronics and the apparent quality of the helmet. The sound quality is far superior to my current add-on unit, and I would consider laying down the money for that feature alone. Although I had to adapt the Arai to accept a Sena Bluetooth unit, it fits me perfectly, and I’m not willing to give it up just yet. I’d encourage anyone to test fit Sena’s Momentum helmet. If it hits you in the right places, you will be buying a solid helmet with excellent Bluetooth capability right out of the box.

Though I didn’t crash test the Sena helmet, it is DOT and ECE compliant and comes with a five-year warranty on the helmet and a two-year warranty on the electronics. The Momentum helmet retails for $449. The Lite is slightly less at $399. Sena’s helmets are available from an extensive network of dealers throughout the United States or online at buysena.com.

Tags:  bluetooth  helmet  sena 

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