This is an updated post of my original Shoei X11 review back in April of 2006. I’m reposting it because Shoei recently released the X11’s successor, the X12, and right now you can get an X11 for a pretty good price. Well, a relatively good price anyway as this was Shoei’s top of the line helmet. Anyway, here’s the review.
Originally posted 4/9/2006 – I had just replaced my Shoei RF1000, which I bought one size too big in a typical noob mistake, with a brand new X11.
After riding around for nearly two years with a helmet that was one size too big, I finally broke down and purchased a new Shoei X11. The X11 is Shoei’s top of the line helmet and one that is worn by many of the world’s top motorcycle racers. At just 3.2 lbs, it’s also one of the lightest helmets on the market.
What’s included in the box:
One X11 helmet with clear visor
Helmet sack with drawstring closure
Breath deflector (helps keep the visor from fogging)
Two separate instruction manuals
Maintenance kit (water repellent for the visor and paper towel)
And of course, stickers
What’s immediately noticeable is that the fit and finish are incredible. The paint is flawless and every moving part is precision engineered. Absolutely nothing is awkward or out of place on this helmet. Ventilation is an obvious priority for the X11, as its three intakes and four exhaust vents indicate. The intake vents are easy to open or close, even while riding. The X11 also features a fully removable liner, and as with all Shoei helmets, the visor is easily removed in seconds for cleaning or changing.
When it finally came time to ride, expectations were justifiably high. After logging 250 miles of canyon roads, freeways and streets with the X11, there’s no doubt in my mind the hype is real.
Some helmets actually feel like they’re going to lift right off your head at freeways speeds, but the X11 is so well planted at speed I couldn’t produce lift at any angle. I must have looked like an idiot on the freeway as I sat straight up at 80 MPH, tilting my head in every direction to test the X11’s aerodynamics. Even when tilting my head back, the helmet never felt like it was trying to lift away. Shoei has obviously done their wind tunnel work here, using an impressive looking spoiler to assist with down force.
In addition to helping my head cut through the air, the X11 also did an impressive job of capturing some of that air for ventilation. With three intakes and four exhaust vents, air flows plentifully and noticeably. The top vents actually move air through the shell to the exhaust vents, instead of just trying to jam air into the interior. The intake switches can all be operated with ease even when riding. The X11 ventilation system really works well.
As for the the liner, it’s comfortable. It’s not as nice or soft on the face as the Arai liners, but it’s nice nonetheless. The only complaint I have about the liner is that it features a small waffle pattern that gets imprinted onto your face.
In case any of you are trying to weigh the X11 vs. the RF1000, you’re in luck, as my previous helmet was the RF1000. I can now say from experience that the X11 vents better, has a fully removable and nicer liner, is more aerodynamic and just a tad lighter. Is it worth the extra $150-$200? It’s definitely a step up from the RF1000, but the RF1000 is still a great helmet. The X11 just does everything a little bit better.
To wrap it all up, the X11 seems worthy of all the praise it has received. Top grade workmanship, excellent aerodynamics and superb ventilation. All that and gorgeous looks too. It’s expensive, but it’s a winner.
Update 11/06/09: Three and a half years later I’m still rocking the same X11, so I can definitely address the long-term ownership of this helmet. It’s still top-notch on the street or track and I will not hesitate to buy an X12. The waffle-patterned liner still bothers me somewhat but that’s a minor issue. One thing I did want to point out is that the X11 and X12 fit my oval-shaped head a little better than the RF1000 and RF1100 (the RF1000’s successor). When I say oval-shaped, I mean as if you were looking down at the top of my head from above – it’s longer front-to-back than it is from side-to-side. If you have a slightly rounder head, the RF1000/RF1100 might fit better.