Shoei X Spirit II crash helmet review (X-Twelve in the US)

shoei-x-spirit-II-helmet-disc-featured

Shoei’s top of the range composite helmet designed for racers and track-use

The Shoei X Spirit II (X-Twelve in the US) is Shoei’s top of the range racing helmet – as worn by Marc Marquez. It features a shell of what Shoei call AIM or Advanced Integrated Matrix which is a composite material of fibreglass and ‘organic fibres’ which produce a particularly hard shell. Being Shoei’s top of the range helmet, it commands a hefty price tag, and because the X Spirit II is designed for racing, it could be a difficult helmet to live with on the road? Let’s have a look…

  • Now updated to X-Spirit III 
  • Shoei’s top of the range racing helmet
  • Composite fibreglass shell
  • SHARP 5 star safety rated
  • 1500g weight in size large (about average)
  • Wide visor
  • 4 shell sizes
  • 5 Year Shoei warranty
  • Available in XS-XL
  • Typical price range: £350-£500

Safety and helmet size

X Spirit II shell sizes and fitment sizes together with a view of the removable lining.
X Spirit II shell sizes and fitment sizes together with a view of the removable lining.

Like all motorcycle crash helmets legally on sale in Europe, the Shoei X Spirit 2 has passed the ECE 22.05 approval test. But, unlike most, it has also been tested by the UK crash helmet safety testing scheme SHARP and scored a maximum 5 star rating. There’s only a few helmets which have scored that maximum mark (many are viewable here) so you can buy an X Spirit II and ride in the knowledge you’re wearing one of the most protective helmets around. Shoei do say that the shell is so hard it can only be cut with lazers. That’s not necessarily a good thing with a motorcycle helmet as there’s an argument that the shell should flex slightly to allow the EPS liner to do its job; but since it’s been tested by SHARP and given top marks, it obviously does its job well.

The X-Spirit II is produced in four helmet shell sizes for the European market, meaning the shell size will more closely marry to the fitment size, overall meaning that the correct thickness of EPS liner (the shock-absorbing polystyrene part that lines the helmet shell) will be used, which is good for safety.  It also means the helmet will look more in proportion to your head and body size (not too large or too small); again, a good thing.

Shoei X-Spirit 2 in Marquez Motegi colours. Click to enlarge.
Shoei X-Spirit 2 in Marquez Motegi colours. Like all photos on this page, click to enlarge.

Other safety related features include the wider/taller visor for improved peripheral vision. The X Spirit II also has a couple of quick-release red tabs at the bottom of the liner which can be pulled to remove the cheek pads and allow easier/quicker removal of the helmet by emergency services. We’ve not had any reports of how effective these are – or indeed if the emergency services know to use them – but it could well be a very important feature to prevent further aggravation of any injuries.

Looking to buy a Shoei?

We recommend either Sportsbikeshop (UK) or GetGeared (UK) for outstanding service and competitive prices, or FC-Moto (Ger) for the widest range. Please click any link to see their full range and latest prices.

Helmet Noise

The Shoei has been designed to be as slippery as possible and has been sculpted to reduce drag and lift at speed. And while owners widely report that it does indeed feel slippy and there’s not much buffeting, the design arguably doesn’t do much to help reduce helmet noise.

Of course, it’s quite probable that making the quietest helmet isn’t one of the main priorities for a racing lid and that everyone who races will wear ear plugs as a matter of course. The same may go for road riders too. However, the X Spirit II is not a quiet helmet, with pretty well all owners reporting that it’s noisier than their previous helmet, particularly at speed. Shoei do include a chin curtain with the helmet, and while that does reduce the amount of wind and noise coming up into the helmet around the neck, overall the Shoei X Spirit II is a pretty noisy helmet.

X Spirit II in Marquez Montmelo colour schem
X Spirit II in Marquez Montmelo colour scheme showing rear spoiler and vents.

Ventilation

Ventilation on the X Spirit II is average at best. It has a pretty narrow top vent that’s designed to suck air over the top of the head and exit at the exhaust vent at the rear and side of the helmet. But it seems it’s just too small with lots of owners saying they can’t really feel much air getting in. Also, while the vents can be opened/closed, the switch is very small and, because it moves left/right, most owners find it tricky to remember which way’s open and which way’s closed – not good.

The front chin vent is easier to use because it’s much chunkier and easier to find with gloves on, but it directs all its air up over the back of the visor. That’s good if you’re wanting to keep your visor fog-free, but not so good if you’re after lots of ventilation when the weather’s mild/hot and you’re wanting a bit of cooling, including when you’re on a track day.

Overall, ventilation on the X Spirit II isn’t up to the levels of many of its competitors.

Visor

Shoei X Spirit II gloss white crash helmet
Gloss white version. visor mechanism (with Pinlock) is one of the best.

The visor on the X Spirit II is one of its strong points. Shoei have always had a good, positive opening and ratcheting mechanism, and the same goes here. There’s a nice positive movement to the visor and it seats firmly at its different opening settings. The visor base plate has been redesigned to automatically adjust the visor, pulling it to a tight seal when closed and moving the visor away from the seal when it’s being opened. Users say it works well too. It also features an easy to use quick-release system – just pull a tab and the visor lifts away. That’s great for changing visors according to different weather or track conditions or just removing it to clean crud off after your ride.

Shoei have also increased the width and height of the visor for improved peripheral vision and to give the tucked-in racer better vision of the road ahead – another good feature that owners like (click to see other crash helmets with wide visors). That’s been married to a larger Pinlock anti-fog insert which is higher and wider than previous models and is designed to allow the rider to see right up to the top of the visor without it getting in the way (with some previous versions, the top of the Pinlock can be right in your line of vision). A Pinlock coupled with the chin vent pushing air onto the back of the visor (and the removable breath guard to stop your breath hitting the back of the visor) means X Spirit II owners say misting of their visor is a thing of the past.

shoei X Spirit II Marquez 2 TC1 helmet
Top view of the X Spirit II Marquez 2 TC1 helmet

Being a racing helmet, the X Spirit II has a wide number of replacement visors available for it too – from amber high-vis and tinted visors to tear-offs for the serious racer.

Comfort

The inside of the Shoei X Spirit II is a very nice place to be. While many lower-priced helmets have made big inroads into the quality levels of some of the top brands, one of the benefits of still buying a more expensive helmet is that the linings often use slightly better quality materials, meaning comfort levels edge above some of the cheaper competition. Once you get the right fitting, the X Spirit 2 is very comfortable. On that note, some owners say that because the X Spirit II uses four shell sizes, you might find the sizes to be slightly different from previous Shoei’s, so it might be worth trying in a shop before you buy.

The lining is fully removable and washable and features their Max-Dry anti-wicking material that Shoei says removes sweat twice as quickly as ‘traditional’ nylon based liners. Most sports helmets these days have anti-wicking liners of course so it’s nothing new, but owners rate the internals of the Shoei highly and find it very comfortable.

Shoei X Spirit II in gloss black
Shoei X Spirit II in gloss black

Looks & Graphics

The X Spirit II is a very handsome helmet with a sleek, racy look. The build quality is regarded as exemplary by owners with a great paint finish and quality stitching.

In Europe, at the time of writing, there’s currently six colour schemes available (all shown on this page); three Marc Marquez paints (Motegi, Montmelo, and the Marquez 2 TC1) as well as the usual gloss white, gloss black and Matt black.

Video

Here’s Shoei’s sleek, pacey sales video showing you how cool you’ll look wearing an X-Spirit 2! It’s worth a watch to see the helmet’s features too tho…

Other stuff – fasteners, glasses, warranty

Shoei X Spirit II matt black crash helmet rear side
Showing rear spoiler of the matt black Shoei X Spirit II

The X Spirit comes with the obligatory double d-ring fastener (so it can get the ACU gold sticker and be used on the track). They’re basic fasteners but work well.

Glasses owners are well catered for with the X Spirit II with owners reporting that the slots for the stem of your glasses are an improvement from the last model, with the grooves positioning your glasses better and with lots of space to slot them in yet holding them firmly in place while riding.

Finally, the Shoei X Spirit II comes with Shoei’s 5 year warranty – covering the materials and workmanship of the helmet under ‘normal’ use. All Shoeis purchased since 2013 come with this warranty which is a great comfort if you’ve had bad experience with other manufacturers. Note, the warranty only covers the original buyer and word is that it’s only valid if you buy through an authorised dealer – so beware if buying through Ebay or Amazon.

Best places to buy a Shoei crash helmet?

We've chosen some of the best places to buy from - whether it's a Shoei or any other helmet/gear.

If you want piece of mind when you buy, SportsBikeShop is based in the UK and offers outstanding service (9.8/10 on Trustpilot) including 365 day refunds. They may not always be the cheapest but are our recommended retailer for quality of service.

FC-Moto widely offers the best range of helmets in Europe and scores a decent (8.7/10 on Trustpilot) - and are based in Germany. If you want the biggest selection to choose from, we recommend you buy from here.

GetGeared is another recommended UK retailer, with no-quibble 365 day returns, free UK delivery and scoring 4.8/5 on eKomi.

Please click any picture/link to visit their Shoei helmets page where you can see all the latest colour schemes and prices. And if you buy from any, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site). Click here for more info on our recommended retailers.

Click to visit Sportsbikeshop
Click to visit Shoei at Sportsbikeshop
Click to visit Shoei helmets at Get Geared
Click to visit Shoei helmets at Get Geared
Click for FC Moto
Click for Shoei at FC Moto (then use site search to find the helmet)

Link to guides page

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides – or have a look at our top helmet lists where we’ve got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.

Shoei X Spirit II marquez 2 TC1 crash helmet
Marquez 2 TC1 X Spirit II

Overall

The Shoei X Spirit II is a competent helmet in lots of ways. It’s very safe, has a great visor mechanism and is all-day comfortable. However, it’s let down by it’s noise levels, ventilation and its price tag.

If you’re after a helmet for race days and track days, you might well find the X Spirit II to be a great helmet because it’s been designed to work for racers – as long as you don’t find it too stuffy due to the poor ventilation. Lots of owners like the helmet, but we feel that for most who aren’t on the track all day and who probably want a helmet to work on the road too, there are better alternatives around for less money.

Alternatives

Which brings us on to alternatives. If you’re after a great racing helmet for use on your sports bike, the Shark Race-R is another SHARP 5 star rated helmet for use on the track. Owners love it both on and off the track and it’s a touch cheaper than the X Spirit. If you’re wanting to stick with a Shoei, you might consider the Shoei NXR, a helmet that performs well across the board and is designed for sports bike riders too.

Definitely want a Shoei?

Here you'll find all our Shoei crash helmet reviews and previews including full face, flip-up and open face helmets.

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