Top of the range racing helmet – the Shoei X-Spirit III (X Fourteen in the US)
New for 2016, Shoei have finally replaced the X-Spirit 2, their top of the range, track-focused sportsbike helmet. The X-Spirit 3 hit the shelves early 2016 and this new one is a hefty update to the old helmet with changes principally aimed at usability – aero, stability, and a tweak or two to improve ventilation (something owners reported was fairly average on the old one – as you can read in our X-Spirit II review). In other respects, the old helmet was a quality performer – and was SHARP 5 star rated for safety.
So Shoei had to really be on their game if they were going to improve on the X-Sprit 2. Which I guess is why they developed the X-Spirit 3 in cahoots with the likes of Marc Marquez and Bradley Smith on the MotoGP circuit – which in turn is one of the reasons it’s been eagerly snapped up by lots of other racing heroes such as John McGuinness, Eugene Laverty and Yukio Kagayama.
So, here’s the lowdown on the features of the X-Spirit 3 and we’ll discover what owners think of their new X-Spirit III crash helmet.
- Shoei’s top of the range sportsbike full face helmet
- SHARP 5 star safety rated
- Snell M2015 certified
- Four shell sizes
- Great ventilation
- Extremely stable
- D-ring fastener
- Fitment sizes XS-XXL
- Expect to pay £549-£649
Shoei have a pretty good reputation for safety. In fact they’re currently 5th in our list of the safest crash helmet brands.
The shell of the X-Spirit III is created from what Shoei call their AIM+ shell – that’s a complex 6 layered composite. Shoei never actually say what’s in their AIM+ helmets beyond fibreglass and ‘organic fibres’. Whatever’s in there, it seems to work well. Of the five AIM+ helmets tested by SHARP so far, four have scored maximum safety ratings while the other (the NXR) still managed a creditable four star rating.
The X-Spirit III was tested by SHARP in summer 2016 and scored the expected maximum five stars. That helmet shell construction seems to do the trick, coupled with their multi-density shock absorbing EPS liner, four shell sizes (good for safety and accurate fitment) and double-d ring fastener – all create a helmet that should look after your head about as well as any helmet can do in an accident.
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.
Sportsbike and trackday-focused helmets are designed for outright performance on the track. That means helmet designers prioritise features like stability, lightness and aero over making a helmet that’s quiet. And besides, racers wear ear plugs to protect their hearing (as should you) so reducing helmet noise isn’t that important for a sportsbike helmet.
Having said that, owners reckon their X-Spirit 3s are pretty quiet. Many have said that when you get the chin guard on and close the vents, it’s one of the quieter helmets they’ve owned.
Which is surprising given that it’s a track helmet. It could be that people who buy the X-Spirit 3 have tended to buy sportsbike helmets before and it just so happens the Spirit 3 is quieter than those helmets. But whatever the reason, the X-Spirit III seems pretty well rated by owners for noise suppression.
As always, if buying a quiet helmet is high on your list of priorities for your next helmet – you might want to check out the quietest helmets we’ve reviewed by clicking ‘quietest‘ from our feature cloud.
Unlike noise suppression, lots of ventilation is a priority for track-focused helmets.
Shoei have put lots of effort to improve ventilation with the X-Spirit III, this time fitting two separate chin vents into the chin guard. The top one (operated by an up/down slider) pushes air around the mouth and up onto the rear of the visor as you’d expect. But there’s also a lower chin guard vent, again operated by it’s own slider to open or close it, and this one routes air towards the cheeks where vented cheek pads allow air to reach the cheeks and keep the side of the face cool. This is the first time we’ve seen cheek vents like this in a helmet.
There’s two sets of forehead and crown vents too, pulling the air through channels sunk into the EPS shock-absorbing lining, through holes in the inner comfort lining and onto the scalp. And the five rear exhaust vents complete the circuit, allowing warmed air to escape at the back. These top two vents are operated by smaller sliders than the chin vents and owners say they can be a bit fiddly to use when you’re wearing gloves.
Having said that, owners say that X-Spirit III ventilation is great. You can really feel the air around your head and you can even sense the cooling of the cheek vents as air’s pushed up the side of the helmet. Perfect for a hot day at the track where you need all the cooling you can get.
Of course, ventilation is also important when things get cool or rainy and your visor starts to fog up. In these conditions, the X-Spirit III will fog up just as quickly as the next helmet – especially when you’re going slow and not generating enough wind blast to vent away your breath.
Thankfully, it also comes with a Pinlock Evo antifog insert in the box; so fit that bad boy in and all will be sorted on the fogging visor front.
There’s also a Transitions photochromic visor available for the X-Spirit III so it’ll automatically adjust the tint according to how sunny it is, which is great for on the track (though they’re not cheap).
The engineers at Shoei have put a good deal of effort into crafting a really effective visor system in the X-Spirit III. It has a good, fast quick removal system so you can whip off your visor quickly to clean it or change it. It’s also spring loaded, pulling the visor tightly against the visor gasket to keep wind and rain out. And it all works well according to owners.
There’s also a couple of other features which are worth mentioning.
Because it’s a balls-out racing lid, many riders will be using the X-Spirit III in a tight tuck position and right down behind the faring. The story goes that Marc Marquez was finding that when he was tucked in, he found the top of the comfort lining getting in his line of sight, so asked Shoei to do something about it. So they made the comfort lining adjustable (or rotating as their sales blurb has it). What that means is you can slide parts of the lining around by 4 degrees so it moves out of your way in an extreme tuck position. Out of the box it’ll come in a standard position, but should you find yourself with your chin on the tank with your vision obscured by the lining, you know what to do (presumably after you’ve pulled over and changed your underpants!).
The second feature of note is the line of ‘turbulators’ running along each side of the visor. We’ve seen these first on the top edge of the visors of the Schuberth C3 Pro, and now Shoei have joined the gang.
They’re designed to break up the airflow a little and reduce buffeting and noise. We were slightly cynical about the effectiveness of these turbulators when we saw them first appear on the Schuberth where they seemed unnecessary. However, it’s apparent just how much effort Shoei have put into the aero on the X-Sprit III and here it seems to be one of several innovations which combine to make all the difference. Here’s why…
We don’t usually give aero a category of its own, but you only need to look at the Shoei X-Spirit III on the grid to get an inkling of the work that’s gone into making it as slippery and aerodynamic as possible.
With the massive speeds that motorcycle riders get to on the track these days (215mph+ at some tracks), Shoei set out with two objectives in mind. Firstly, to make the helmet as streamlined as possible so as not to increase drag; and secondly to minimise buffeting and increase stability so your brains don’t get scrambled and you can focus on the track ahead.
So there’s all sorts of subtle shapes and ridges in the moulding of the helmet and a redesigned helmet shape. There’s also the turbulators in the visor. But the most obvious feature is the rear stabilising spoiler and the removable winglets that jut out at the back.
The standard winglets are designed to improve stability at speed but Shoei must’ve had rider feedback that things can get too stable on the track meaning the helmet resists letting you turn your head – so the winglets are removable and there are smaller ones available to swap out if you have a problem.
The upshot of all this fiddling about in wind tunnels is that owners say it feels an incredibly stable and buffet-free helmet – even when you’re off the track (where a few owners say it makes a surprisingly comfortable and usable road bike helmet).
Comfort and sizing
The interior of the X-Spirit III is rated as high quality and comfortable by owners. They say it tends to feel a slightly tighter fit at first than most helmets do, but that it beds in quickly to feel tight but secure and comfortable.
The lining is of course removable and washable, but it’s also multi-adjustable too. We’ve mentioned how it can be ‘rotated’ to allow for unobstructed forward view in a racing tuck in the aero section above. But it’s also adjustable to tailor the fit as well.
Not only can cheek pads can be swapped for thicker or thinner versions – but panels above, around the temples, can be too. That’s a potentially useful feature in an expensive helmet like this – especially if you spend lots of time on the track. And as we often mention, getting a helmet to fit just right is one of the most important factors to ensuring your helmet performs well in an accident.
Looks and graphics
There’s no denying just how distinctive the Shoei X-Spirit III looks. Check out any pro racing grid around and you can spot the X-Spirit a mile off. It’s a good looking helmet and there’s a striking range of graphics available too. Whether you want plain solid colours (matt/gloss black or plain gloss white), race reps (Marquez or Smith) or, at the time of writing, one of the various Assail designs, we’ve put examples of all these around the page. But they’re bound to change as new designs become available, so to check out the latest graphics (and deals) we suggest you click the links below which will drop you on the Shoei helmets pages at our recommended retailers (they’re retailers specially chosen for amazing service or low prices).
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.
X-Spirit III Video
Here’s Shoei’s launch video, featuring Marc Marquez with a suitably awestruck expression on his face (he’s a sponsors dream that boy!).
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.
Alternatives to the X-Spirit III?
If it’s a top of the range sports bike helmet you’re after, you really are spoilt for choice.
There are of course HJCs RPHA-11, the Scorpion EXO 2000 Evo Air, the Bell Star Carbon and of course the Arai RX-7V which are all worth a very close look – though none of these have yet been SHARP tested for safety (though we’d expect all of them to do well).
Of course, we try and point you in the direction of helmets that have been SHARP safety tested and so should give you good levels of protection in an accident.
So first off why not check out Schuberth’s sportsbike-focused helmet, the SR-1 – that’s a SHARP 4 star rated composite fibre helmet that’s highly rated by owners. If you’re not wanting to spend quite as much as the X-Spirit III but still want a helmet that doesn’t compromise, then AGV’s Corsa is a lightweight sports helmet with an optically-correct visor that scores 5/5 stars in the SHARP test. And of course, we’ve gotta mention Shark’s carbon fibre Race R Pro, another 5 star helmet as now worn by Jorge Lorenzo in MotoGP – now that’s a reasonable pedigree!
Finally, if you’re thinking all these are probably going to be a bit overkill and you want something that’s a bit more road-focused, the AGV GT Veloce might be the one. That’s a five star SHARP rated helmet that’s more sports touring than track – but it’s light and has a nice large visor aperture that should suit track riding too.