The Shoei VFX-W motocross crash helmet: a classic design still going strong
The VFX-W is Shoei’s top of the range dirtbike crash helmet. It was designed to offer all the features you’d hope for in an off-road motorcycle helmet – safety, sun peak, lots of ventilation and all-day comfort. And it looks the part too – lots of mouldings in the shell and it comes in a massive range of funky graphics. Thing is, it’s been around a long time now with no significant updates; which got us thinking. Maybe that’s because Shoei got it so right in the first place?
Here’s the low-down on all the features and what buyers and owners around the web think of the VFX-W.
- Fibreglass Motocross full face
- Snell approved (not SHARP tested)
- ECE & DOT certified
- Double d-ring fastener
- Emergency cheek pad removal
- Wide aperture for goggles
- 5 year warranty
- 1.27Kg (2.8Lbs) size m (that’s light)
- Sizes XS-XXL
- Prices range from £400-£500
Note: the Shoei VFX-W has now been discontinued, replaced by the Shoei VFX-WR.
We reckon the Shoei VFX-W is gonna perform well in an accident.
Like all helmets on sale in Europe, it’s been ECE 2205 tested and approved (and it’s DOT certified in the US). And while it hasn’t been SHARP tested to verify quite how well it’ll perform in relation to other helmets, it has been Snell tested and certified M2015 in the US.
The shock absorbing liner is dual-density and the shell is a fibreglass composite using what Shoei calls it’s AIM+ or advanced integrated matrix process. Other Shoei helmets using this AIM+ construction include the old XR1100, the NXR, X-Sprit 2 and the Qwest – and three of those scored 5/5 stars and one 4/5 stars in the SHARP helmet test.
You’ll draw your own conclusions from that, but we think with a heritage like that, combined with ECE and Snell testing/approval, chances are the VFX-W is probably going to offer really good protection in an accident.
There’s some other features which will help with safety too. Shoei have designed that peak to easily snap off in an accident – so it doesn’t pull your head around and damage your neck. It’s also got a double-d ring fastener – which means you have to readjust your strap every time you put the helmet on – hopefully meaning you’ll have a nice tight fit every time you ride.
There’s also EPS (polystyrene) shock absorbing lining backing the chin guard of the VFX-W too – which is a great touch and not something we often see in crash helmets. That’s a surprise because I know I’d like my jaw to remain intact if I faceplant terra firma and adding EPS to the inside of the chin guard is one way of helping achieve that. Nice one Shoei!
If you do have an off, the VFX-W also features emergency quick removal cheek pads – designed to help paramedics pull the cheek pads out of the bottom of the helmet before attempting to remove your helmet. There’s a sticker on the side of the helmet that tells them what to do too. Hopefully you’ll never need to test it but anything that gives you an edge in an accident is worth it – who knows, EQRS might be the difference between a full recovery and neck injuries?
One final thing to note on safety is that the VFX-W is produced in four shell sizes. We’ve only seen a couple of other helmets made in that many shell sizes so far, and it means you should have more or less the absolute optimal amount of shock-absorbing liner for each size of helmet and you’ll get a helmet that fits proportionately bang-on. Read more here about why more shell sizes is a good thing for safety and looks. Suffice to say, it’s a big thumbs up from us.
Overall then, evidence so far points to very good marks for safety.
Not many owners mentioned anything about helmet noise – I guess it’s not really a big concern when you’re off-roading. But those that did mention noise said words along the lines of ‘it’s not the quietest’. If noise is an issue for you when offroading, then we’d advise you to avoid the VFX-W – or buy one and stick in some ear plugs and you should be fine (alternatively, you could always just buy one of our quietest recommended helmets!).
The Shoei VFX-W comes in sizes XS-XXL – that’s six fitment sizes covered by four helmet shell sizes.
Owners seem to be split between saying their fitment sizes are bang-on correct or they’re a bit tight. We suspect the feeling they’re a bit tight is linked to comments that the cheek pads can feel tight when you first get your new helmet, but that the helmet breaks in quickly after that (so perception may be that it’s tight).
Of course, if you do buy a VFX-W and find it’s a bit tight in the cheeks, like all Shoei’s, you can buy replacement cheek pads. Shoei make them in thin, standard and thick sizes so you should be able to swap them out and get the fitting just right.
However, if you measure your head and find you’re between sizes, the best advice seems to be to order the larger size (and if you order from one of our recommended retailers, you’ll be able to exchange it for a different size with no problems anyway).
Inside the VFX-W you’ll find a removable/washable comfort liner. It’s made from the usual polyurethane foam and is what Shoei call a 3D Max liner, covered in a material that abosorbs/wicks sweat – and I’m quoting the Shoei website here – twice as fast as conventional nylon.
Now I may not be a materials scientist (actually, I was once but I’m not now!) but is nylon really known for it’s absorbancy!?
Doesn’t seem like much of a claim, however owners seem satisfied and say that, together with the great ventilation and reasonably light weight (see below) it works well and it’s a very comfortable helmet to wear.
Shoei have developed the VFX-W in cahoots with lots of pro motocross riders (Kevin Windham, Josh Grant, Josh Strang, Destry Abbott). The upshot is that they’ve said great ventilation is vital and Shoei seem to have listened because ventilation is reportedly top notch in the VFX-W.
There’s a single large chin vent, three brow vents above your goggles and a couple of forehead vents, all venting through five rear exhausts (including a massive rear, collar exhaust vent).
Overall, owners say the airflow is really great – couple that with Shoei’s 3D Max liner and it’s great at keeping your head cool and (relatively!) sweat free.
On that, it’s worth saying that none of the vents can be closed. Might not be an issue where you live, but then again… Oh and when folks have asked whether rain gets in, it’s not seemed to be an issue with a couple of guys saying they’ve ridden in rain without problems. Of course, there’s rain and there’s RAIN!!!
Finally, Shoei have added a nice foam filter to the rear of the chin vent – meaning you can take it out, wash out the s**t, dry it and slot it back in. Good feature that works well by all accounts.
Goggles & neck braces
The front opening on the Shoei VFX-W was designed by Shoei to be nice and large so it would give good peripheral vision and accommodate pretty well all popular brands of goggles.
They seem to have done a good job as we couldn’t find anyone complaining they couldn’t fit their goggles. Oakley Airbrakes, Crowbars, 100% Racecraft, Dragon NFX – all reported to fit easily in there.
As you can see by the rear mouldings of the shell, there’s a nice groove designed-in too so when you’re wearing goggles the strap fits snugly around the back of the helmet and the moulding keeps it sitting nicely in place. Works well according to owners too.
There’s a few mentions from folks saying the VFX-W works fine with most neck braces as well. One guy who wears a Leatt support says it can tap on the jutty-out bit on the moulding at the back, but it’s nothing more than a niggle.
The Shoei VFX-W has been around for a good while now and there’s lots of graphics options to be had. There’s quite a few plain, solid versions – including gloss/matt black, white – plus you might find the odd silver, orange and plain yellow versions around.
But most feature funky designs and we’ve thrown as many of the best ones as we can onto this page. As usual, for the latest and greatest ranges of designs, we recommend you click the links to our recommended retailers below (the links on this page will drop you on their Shoei helmets page) and have a browse around what’s on offer.
Shoei VFX-W Video
Here’s a sub-3 minute video giving you quick scan around the VFX-W.
Other stuff – warranty, weight, peak, build quality
The VFX-W comes with Shoei’s 5 year warranty (original buyer only). At 1.27Kgs (2.8Lbs) it’s nice and light weight with quite a few owners commenting how light it feels and how the lack of weight seems to help make comfy for a day’s offroading.
We’ve not mentioned the peak much so far. That’s probably because it does its job well. It’s adjustable and is secured by plastic screws – plastic so if you do take a tumble the screws will snap off to stop the peak digging in and wrenching your neck. It’ll also mean you can pick up your peak, get some new plastic screws (available from Shoei) and screw it back on again. Good design that. The VFX-W also comes with an anti-glare strip in the box, so you can stick it onto the underside of the peak if you suffer from sun glare.
Finally, lots also say how nicely finished the Shoei is – in line with pretty well all other Shoei’s with good build quality and high quality finish on paint and decals.
Crash Helmet Buying Guides & Top 10s
For other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guides - or have a look at our Top 10 helmet lists where we've got the Top 10 rated helmets overall along with Top 10 Budget/Top 10 Safest/Top 10 Full Face/Top 10 Modular/Flip-up/Top 10 Sportsbike/Track helmets.
Alternatives to the Shoei VFX-W
We’ve not reviewed a massive number of Motocross helmets so far (something we’ll look to improve) but you can find all our other motocross crash helmet reviews here.
The Shoei VFX-W is a great helmet that’s well liked – in fact we didn’t find a single person who moaned about their VFX-W which is saying something (we all love a good moan on the internet don’t we?!?).
Shoei’s design team seem to have listened to off road riders good and hard and that’s resulted in a helmet that’s got all the features dirt riders seem to need.
It hasn’t been SHARP tested for safety (though it has been ECE and Snell tested) but all the evidence so far points to the VFX-W being a really safe helmet too.
So, great features, well designed, superb build quality, safe. In a nutshell, if you’re in the market for a new motocross helmet, the Shoei VFX-W should really be at the top of your list to check out.