MC Tested: Shoei X-Fourteen Full-Face Helmet – Crash-Tested With Video!

We test the new Shoei X-Fourteen full-face race helmet that replaces the outgoing X-Twelve model.

Shoei X-Fourteen, ZX-10R
So how is this new X-Fourteen better than the excellent X-Twelve that it replaces? Read on.©Motorcyclist

Shoei’s new X-Fourteen is the manufacturer’s most advanced helmet to date. This lid was built for racers—guys like Marc Marquez that break 200 mph on a regular basis and hang it all on the line in the pursuit of glory. Aliens like Marquez and the rest of us mere mortals all want the same thing in a race helmet: comfort, outstanding ventilation, great visibility, and of course excellent protection.

The outgoing X-Twelve—a helmet I’ve worn and raced in since it was introduced in 2009—offered all those things. So how is this new X-Fourteen better? According to Shoei, they turned up the dial on all of those features, and even added a few more novel ones.

Shoei X-Fourteen, rear stabilizer

Rear Stabilizer

One of the more interesting features of the X-Fourteen are the winglets on the rear spoiler. Narrower flaps come with the helmet, and Shoei says you can swap them out to tune the helmet’s aerodynamics to suit your preferences. FYI, Marquez rocks the larger flaps, which are said to improve stability and streamlining at race speeds. For those on sub-240-horsepower bikes that may spend most of their time on the street, the shorter flaps are supposed to have less resistance to turning your head during the normal “head check” procedure.©Motorcyclist

For starters, the helmet has a new shell shape with numerous nuances that are said to increase aerodynamics and reduce drag and helmet lift, all of which help keep neck fatigue at bay for guys (and gals) going the distance. From the subtle creases along the top of the lid to the big rear spoiler and curious “vortex generators” along the tear-off-ready visor, the X-Fourteen is supposed to slip through the air far more smoothly than the previous generation lid.

I’ve never breached 200 mph while wearing the X-Fourteen, but I did exceed 160 mph every time I blasted down the front straight at Sepang aboard the 2016 ZX-10R, and I didn’t notice any buffeting or instability. What I did notice during that extremely hot and humid track test—and during subsequent commutes, track days, and races—is how incredibly well the X-Fourteen vents. I wore the previous-generation X-Twelve for years because I loved how much air it pushed across my scalp, and the new helmet is even better.

Shoei X-Fourteen Media Ride Day

The X-Fourteen has a total of 12 vents (six intake ports and six exhaust ports) for the ultimate in airflow. The brow vent is bigger than before, and you can feel it blast air through your hair as soon as you open it. There’s also a new chin vent that channels air through the cheek pads to cool your face. Nifty. The fact that the helmet moves so much air while remaining relatively quiet (it is a race helmet, so quietness is definitely not a priority) is impressive.

Ari Henning crash video
In this animated GIF, you can see the point of impact directly on the back of the helmet. Yes, Ari's okay.©Motorcyclist

And since this is a race helmet, it has a “race” fit. That means it’s very snug, and not super easy to pull on. But once it’s on it cradles my head perfectly. The brushed synthetic liner fabric is the same great stuff Shoei has always used, but now the comfort liner is modular. So if the helmet doesn’t fit you like it was custom-made for your head, you can swap out pads to tune the fit. The liner now has adjustable snaps, too, that allow you to rotate the liner forward within the lid. That effectively rotates the helmet up on your head for a claimed 4-degree increase in your upper field of view.

Even in the standard position, though, I never felt a need for a larger field of view. The X-Fourteen offers tremendous visibility, especially vertically. While wearing the helmet you can just barely make out the upper edge of the eyeport in your peripheral vision. That’s great for seeing down track while fully tucked in or hanging off the side of the bike.

As for safety, the new shell uses a new mix of fiberglass, aramid, and other ultra-strong and light materials to balance of strength and flexibility. As on the X-Twelve, the EPS liner uses different densities in key areas to help balance protection. And as before, the cheek pads have pull tabs that allow emergency personnel to remove the helmet from an injured rider.

Shoei X-Fourteen, crash result

Crash Tested

Protective equipment is really incredible stuff. Despite coming down on my head and tumbling down the track, I sustained only a small raspberry on my elbow. The X-Fourteen’s rear stabilizer fragmented, just like it’s designed to do. This helmet had a short life, but it served me well!©Motorcyclist

So, the X-Fourteen is better than the outgoing X-Twelve in every way. It’s even a bit lighter. Compared to my well-worn X-Twelve (which may be carrying extra weight in the form of sweat salt and grime… Yuck!), my X-Fourteen is about two ounces lighter according to our scale.

Typically we follow that sort of praise up with a caveat about price, but in this case, Shoei updated its flagship helmet without upping the price. That means $682 for solids, $808 for graphics, and $840 for the race replica lids, which include a pretty sweet Marquez version. I think that’s the one I’m going to get to replace my expired white lid with.