Helmet review: Shoei GT-Air II tried and tested

Shoei gt air 2
Shoei gt air 2

The Shoei GT-Air 2 motorcycle helmet replaced the original GT Air and has been around since in 2019. In that time, it’s received plaudits from customers and awarded a Ride magazine ‘Best Buy’ green triangle.

Price: £328.78 (was £479.99)


  • Quiet at speed
  • Comfortable
  • Superb visor quality
  • Lightweight for a touring helmet
  • Effective, easy to use vents.
  • Ratchet chin strap fastener
  • Drop-down sun visor
  • Pricey, but well worth it


  • Visor and drop-down sun visor sometimes steams-up in the wet and cold
  • Comfort
  • Visor
  • Ventilation
  • Noise
  • Looks
  • Quality
  • Value
Weight 1550g
Construction Composite fibreglass and carbon shell with multi-density polystyrene shock absorbing liner
Chin strap Stainless steel micro ratchet
Intercom ready? Yes: Sena SRL2
Drop down visor? Yes
Pinlock Evo Pinlock and adjusting tool included
Interior Removable moisture wicking lining.   EQRS (Emergency Quick Release System), removable chin curtain
Shell sizes Three: XS-M, L, XL-XXL
Warranty Five years
Safety standard: ECE 22.05

It was a complete revamp for the sports touring helmet with a slipperier shape to reduce wind noise, new vents and a ratchet strap to replace the double D-ring.

It retained its drop-down sun visor but extends down by 5mm for extra coverage and has a new mounting plate to allow the visor to be opened a few millimetres for extra ventilation. It was also ready to accept an integrated Sena SRL2 intercom system with.

My last Shoei was a 1989 Rothmans Shoei GRV Lawson rep, so I can’t say how the GT-Air II compares to other models, but I’ve used it comprehensively on my Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer long termer, MCN250 group tests and non-sportsbike launches.

I’ve fitted the Sena (£259) and being new to the party it’s blown me away how the system clicks discretely into place, but I’ll cover that in a separate review. The Shoei is also the first helmet I’ve had with this type of quick release strap and drop-down sun visor.

Is the Shoei GT-Air II comfortable?

Shoei GT-Air 2 resting on a motorcycle

The Shoei GT-Air II comes in three shell sizes: XS-M, L, XL-XXL. I’m a medium. From new it’s a bit of a squeeze to get on, but once you’re in, it’s snug, comfortable and with the removeable breath guard and chin curtain fitted it cocoons you from the wet and cold.

Shoei offers a free pad exchange if the fit needs fine tuning. There are no nasty pressure points, but it leaves (painless) indentations in the top of my head after a few hours. Now it’s broken in the fit is looser, so I might go for a thicker interior. It’s slightly lighter than the touring helmets I’ve used in the past, which makes it less tiring over long distances.

What’s the Shoei GT-Air II visor like?

It comes with a thick, robust clear visor that seems almost impervious to scratches. It has a wide field of vision and a decent sized tab to make it easy to get open, even wearing thick gloves.

Shoei GT-Air 2 sun visor

Being able to crack it open slightly is helpful for extra air flow, too.  I use the clear visor more than usual, thanks to its in-built drop-down sun visor. It’s a combo that’s perfect for changeable weather conditions, or long journeys that stray into darkness…and through tunnels.

It’s taken me time to get used to the quick release visor system, which feels a bit clunky, but with no side pods to worry about it’s faster and less fiddly to change. The anti-fog Pinlock Evo, included, works perfectly, but the drop-down sun visor steams up easily in the cold.

Is the Shoei GT-Air II well ventilated?

A chunky, easy to use chin vent and two-stage top vent work superbly. When they’re open it’s like having your head blasted with cool compressed air, which is a blessed relief in hot weather.

Shoei GT-Air 2 worn while riding a CCM

Is the Shoei GT-Air 2 noisy?

One of the main reasons I wanted to try the GT-Air II was the promise of low wind noise. I do lots of testing and touring miles and worry about my hearing. Most new bikes we test are tall-rounders and adventure bikes with horrendously loud screens (nakeds and sporty bikes are much quieter).

I’ve been deaf in my left ear since I was six and my good ear is slowly deteriorating, which is a worry. I’ve always worn earplugs, but wind noise and buffeting are still a big issue for me.

The Shoei isn’t completely silent, but it’s quiet enough to make a noticeable difference to my everyday riding and if I’m playing music through the Sena system, or bone conducting earphones I can hear it at motorway speeds.

Does the Shoei GT-Air 2 look good?

Shoei GT-Air 2 rear

I might not have been so keen to wear a touring lid with a drop-down sun visor 20 years ago when my world was all about racing, sportsbikes and trying to look like Kevin Schwantz. But times change and for long distance riding I don’t mind swapping cool for a bit of practicality. That said it’s still a nice-looking helmet, especially with a black visor fitted.

Is the Shoei GT-Air II good quality?

Fit, finish and attention to detail is exceptional, from the plastics to the plain gloss white paintwork that has a deep, almost enamel-like finish to it. Inside, the interior exudes luxury car-levels of sumptuous.

Is the Shoei GT-Air II good value?

The Shoei GT-Air II is priced at the premium end of the helmet scale, but you get what you pay for. Cheaper rivals come in the shape of the £399.99 HJC R-PHA 71, £429.99 Shark Spartan GT, but it undercuts its big rival: Arai’s £499.99 Quantic.

The verdict

It’s been over 30 years since I’ve worn a Shoei and it’s been nice to be reacquainted. I wanted a quieter touring helmet with all the riding I do and the GT-Air II comes up trumps. Build quality and fit up there with the best, which is what I’d expected, but there have been some pleasant surprises.

It’s nice and light, which makes it less tiring to wear, I love the convenience of the ratchet strap, the visor quality, effectiveness of the vents and the neatness of aftermarket intercom system. I’ve even become a drop-down sun visor convert. Apart from occasionally struggling with the quick release mechanism, living with the Shoei GT-Air II is a joy.

A second opinion

Shoei GT-Air 2 Ducati Monster

MCN contributor Jim Blackstock also tested the Shoei GT Air II. Here is what he thought of it after several thousand miles…

The GT-Air II is a great helmet that is let down by poor air flow from the chin vent in particular. On warm, dry rides, this isn’t a massive issue though you may be warmer than you want but you can easily crack the visor slightly to get some additional airflow.

However, in cold, damp or rainy conditions, it is a bigger issue, as opening the visor for additional airflow isn’t an option. Strange, since other helmets from Shoei have much more effective venting.


Quiet in all traffic conditions

Superbly comfortable

Effective visors – main and sub


Chin vent nowhere near effective enough
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