I have never liked or trusted modular helmets. The fact that I've never actually owned one is neither here nor there; I didn't like 'em and that was that. See, the reason I never liked or trusted modulars is the same reason I don't like or trust convertibles—the trading of safety, stability, and comfort for a gimmick of dubious utility. That all changed recently, however—at least my opinions on modular helmets—when I tried out Shoei's Neotec II and it opened my eyes to the wonders of modulars.
Back in 2012, Shoei introduced the OG Neotec as a replacement for its well-respected Multitec modular helmet. Using customer feedback and internal research to improve on the old design, the Neotec was quieter, safer, and better ventilated than its predecessor. It was a worthy successor to the Multitec, and reigned as one of the most popular modulars on the market for six years until the release of the Neotec II in 2018.
The Neotec II continued Shoei's trend of incremental but noticeable changes and it, like the OG Neotec, was greeted as a worthy successor to its lauded predecessor. It was quieter, more refined, more aerodynamic, and better ventilated than the Neotec. It also came with the ability to seamlessly equip it with the Sena SRL2 comms system like the GT-Air II (another Shoei helmet I own and love). The Neotec II has remained near the top of the charts for the past four years and still ranks as one of the most popular modulars currently for sale.
I didn't install the SRL2 in my Neotec II, and I wouldn't recommend you do either.
Shell and Liner
On the outside, the Neotec II features Shoei's proprietary Multi-Ply Matrix AIM Shell construction—a mix of fiberglass, lightweight organic, and high-performance fibers. It's a bit unclear to me what "high-performance fibers" are, but that's what Shoei's site says so we're going with it.
Inside the intermediate oval-shaped shell is a multi-piece EPS liner for shock absorption that's channeled to provide improved airflow and better cooling. The EPS liner is covered by a removable, washable, multi-piece textile and foam comfort liner that can be customized to fit any rider with easily removable cheek pads of varying thickness.
The Neotec II's shell is available in four sizes and sizing runs the gamut between XS and XXL. Combined with the inside liner and removable cheek pads, the Neotec II will fit just about any rider with the right-shaped head with only a little fiddling. The helmet is DOT and ECE rated, but not Snell rated. It has a SHARP score of 4 out of 5 stars.
To keep the Neotec II squarely on your noggin, Shoei equipped it with its neato micro ratchet chin strap for keeping the lid firmly on your noggin. I've loved the micro ratchet buckle ever since I got my GT-Air II, and I'm glad to see it on the Neotec II. It's quicker and easier to use with gloves on, and it doesn't capture big wads of my beard like a traditional double D-ring buckle.
Aero, Ventilation, and Noise Reduction
The Neotec II's shape and aerodynamics are a huge step up from the OG Neotec. Using their in-house wind tunnel, Shoei fine-tuned the Neotec's aero for more stability and a quieter ride. The shell is more streamlined and has more tiny edges and spoilers to control where and how the wind passes over the helmet at speed. On the helmet's crown, the new air outlet does double duty as a spoiler that, in an upright riding position, reduces lift and drag. The helmet also features a chin-mounted splitter (does your helmet have a chin-mounted splitter?) that Shoei calls the Vortex Generator to reduce noise and better manage airflow over the helmet.
Shoei took noise reduction seriously with the Neotec II, and it shows. It's remarkably quiet for a modular helmet and is pretty close to the vault-like quiet (yeah, yeah, a bit hyperbolic. Sue me) of the GT-Air II. Along with the aforementioned chin splitter and more aerodynamic shell shape, the Neotec II's cheek pads are designed to reduce wind noise. In addition, there's a new airtight gasket around the visor and an overlapping series of stretchy, insulated flaps around the neck opening that keep unwanted air from swirling up into the lid.
As for wanted air, the Neotec II has an upgraded ventilation system composed of a fishmouth vent on the chin bar just below the visor, a crown-mounted intake, and a rear-mounted exhaust vent/spoiler. The front-mounted vent draws lets air in to cool the riders face and provides air for the inside of the visor through tiny vents. The top-mounted intake draws in air to cool the rider's head through cooling channels in the EPS liner. The rear exhaust vent uses the venturi effect to draw stale air out of the helmet and keep fresh air circulating throughout at speed. Overall, this new ventilation system keeps the Neotec II cool and comfortable in even the hottest weather.
Visor and Chin Bar
Like the GT-Air II, the Neotec II features Shoei's fancy pants CNS-3 shield system. It provides a stunning, distortion-free field of view and it cuts out nearly all of the sun's harmful UV rays. The shield connects to the helmet via the spring-loaded CNS-3 base plate system that, along with providing smooth operation and the ability to quickly change visors, pulls the shield tight against the Neotec II's redesigned visor gasket for a wind- and waterproof seal. Combined with the Pinlock EVO insert included in the box, the Neotec II is incredibly fog and weatherproof.
Behind the main visor is a retractable QSV-1 sun shield. This cable-operated, distortion-free sun visor is actuated by a large sliding switch on the left side of the shell. It's large and easy enough to use with gloves on and provides instant relief from sun glare and bright lights. Honestly, the QSV-1 is one of my favorite things about the Neotec II. It works like a charm, is easy to use, provides a clear view, and makes me feel like a goddamned fighter pilot when I click it into position.
Speaking of clicking into place, perhaps the most important system in the Neotec II is the latch that keeps the chin bar locked down. Made from stainless steel, the components of the 360-degree Pivot Locking System (Shoei loves these long-ass names for simple systems, I swear) are tough and hard wearing. The latch releases quickly and easily with the red button on the chin bar, and the whole assembly swings up effortlessly and locks into place. When locking the chin bar in the closed position, however, you need to put a little effort into it to make sure the thing seals and is properly latched at the sides.
I noticed with mine that if I don't give it a good slap once it's in place the chin bar assembly doesn't seat correctly. It's latched, but not fully sealed when this happens, and the wind really screams through the seams at speed, especially when I turn my head. Sorta like when your car door is closed, but not fully, and you need to pull on it to really get it shut. This may have just been me being gentle with the helmet, or not wanting to give myself a concussion by slamming the assembly closed, but it's something to watch out for.
I got my Neotec II in September of 2022 and right out of the box I was pretty impressed. It feels great in the hand, it's super comfortable, it's quiet, and the modular flip-up chin bar feature is way nicer and more useful than I expected. It reminds me a lot of my GT-Air II, which is a very good thing since that's my current favorite lid ever.
My biggest complaint with the Neotec II, honestly, is the SRL2 integration gimmick. I had it installed in my GT-Air II and found it extremely lackluster with poor sound quality and voice commands that refused to work in any conditions other than perfect silence—like every other Sena product I've used. I wish Shoei would drop this feature and just let us put whatever comms system we want on the helmet, especially since the integration gimmick makes it so hard to mount other systems since it's made for one particular design.
So, would I recommend it? Sena gimmick aside, absolutely. Y'all can go ahead and call me a shill for Big Helmet or whatever, but I found very little to dislike in the Neotec II. It's a great modular for a great price, and I wish I'd had one on my cross-country Ural trip instead of the (non-Shoei) helmet I actually took with me.
Shoei's Neotec II starts at $799.99 for solid colors. Fancier graphics and colorways will run you between $899.99 and 929.99. Every helmet comes with Shoei's five year warranty.