I've been wearing a GT-Air for about a year now, almost every day for my commute and on the weekends. Before you choke on your coffee looking at the price, bear with me. Yes, plain-paint pricing starts at $550, and the relatively tame color scheme shown here retails for $670.99. Keep in mind that's cheaper than a new skull-'n-brain combo pack, even on clearance. Most importantly, though, for that money you get a helmet with very few flaws in design, style, or functionality.
One important note is sizing, which runs small. I'm at the small end of medium sizing, so the helmet just took a few extra rides to break in, but Mr. Editor Cook (also a medium) had to size up to a large in order to get the right fit. More good news, though, is that the GT-Air has thicker and thin-ner liners—in addition to the standard fitted one—as well as cheek pad options available for each size of helmet. Check with your dealer for info if the out-of-the-box fit feels any-thing less than perfect.
The internal sun shield means no tinted visor upgrade is necessary, and the large switch on the left side of the hel-met to slide the shield up or down is the best solution I've tested. I fitted the standard, Pinlock-ready clear visor with the included antifog insert and have been extremely happy. There is slightly enhanced glare from headlights at night due to the insert, but during the day it's not noticeable and the shield never fogs. Ever.
Frills like the sun shield and Pinlock will add weight to any lid, and the GT-Air does feel a little heavy. However, I con-firmed Shoei's claimed weight of 3.6 pounds and, to put that in perspective, weighed a few other sun shield-equipped helmets from other manufacturers. The GT-Air landed pretty much smack in the middle, and it carries its weight well on your head, never weighty enough to cause discomfort.
Venting is also particularly good, especially the intake vent on the top of the helmet. Slide it forward to seal off the at-mosphere, and slide it back to let a satisfying trickle of air run over the top of your head and out the exhaust vent at the back (also adjustable). If it's cold and/or humid enough the sun shield can fog up, but a vent in the chinbar streams air up the back of the visor and does well to clear fog from within.
Even with the tight fit, I've found the GT-Air one of the best helmets to use with a Bluetooth headset. I have mounted three different units (at different times) comfortably and been satisfied with sound quality, thanks in part to cutouts in the liner specifically designed to cradle speakers next to the rider's ears. The GT-Air is a little louder than we were ex-pecting when we first tried it—that large air vent on top cre-ates some noise—but overall the aerodynamics are better than average.
In the end, the GT-Air is easily one of the best street hel-mets I've used, and all of the complaints factor in very min-imally to the total quality of the lid. It's well designed, com-fortable, vents well, and although flashy paint drives the price up, I appreciate the appeal of a versatile sport-touring helmet with a wide array of stylish paint schemes available. Once you sort out the fit, you won't be disappointed.
Shoei GT-Air Helmet
It's not cheap, but it is incredibly versatile, comfortable, and stylish.