Shoei RF-SR Helmet MC Tested

We test Shoei's new budget-minded street lid.

motorcycle helmet
Simple, reputable, and made in Japan—but why not pay $100 more for an RF-1200?Julia LaPalme

Helmets are a compromise of many things. Some of us compromise the heft of a modular lid for the convenience it offers; others compromise fit or ventilation to get the sweet graphics package that matches their bike. And then there's the price of a helmet, which has likely sparked as many arguments as any topic in motorcycling.

Like many other brain buckets, Shoei's new RF-SR is meant to hit right in the middle of value, style, and safety. The quick rundown: made in Japan, fiberglass shell, dual-density EPS liner, seven solid color options, and good amenities, for $400. Savvy Shoei fans will notice that MSRP lands right around the current Qwest model and is about 100 bucks cheaper than a solid-color RF-1200. The RF-SR also comes with the CWR-1 visor, which, incidentally, is the same as the X-Fourteen and RF-1200, meaning it can share shields (including the photochromic Transitions option) and has a very wide and tall viewport that provides excellent visibility.

The RF-SR is lighter and more compact than Shoei’s Neotec modular yet has a noticeably wider and more relaxed fit than the RF-1200, but it shares some of the same up-spec features: a five-year warranty, as well as a fully removable liner with emergency, quick-release cheek pads. The fit is what really sets the RF-SR apart from those other two helmet models. This new lid feels wider across the crown of my head while being slightly shorter front to back, and it’s much looser in the cheeks. If Shoei helmets typically fit too snug, or you’ve historically been between sizes, the RF-SR might be your answer.

Apart from being designed to be quiet and vent well (which it does but not as well as the RF-1200), the RF-SR seems plainly aimed at the swell of motorcycle buyers interested in simple and economical bikes. Having a helmet that fits properly but doesn’t squeeze too tight is, I think, a perceptive way to get riders wearing good helmets without forcing the racetrack fit.

The best news is that the usual Shoei features abound. The liner fits together intuitively and is held largely with snaps, so everything goes back where it belongs after you wash the liner or install a headset. Sizable, easy-to-use brow vents flow fresh air over the top of your head, and the visor pivots smoothly and feels heavy and well-made when it snaps shut. Changing it is a breeze too, just like it should be on every helmet.

At the end of the day, it’s back to price. There are helmets on the market with similar fit, ventilation, and feel for half the price, and there are ones that are noisy and finicky for double the price. Decide for yourself if you think $400 is way too much or not nearly enough to pay for a helmet. What I can tell you is the RF-SR delivers everything it promises, from a reputable brand, at a mid-line price.

Shoei RF-SR Helmet
Price: $400
MC Grade: B+
Summary: Simple, reputable, and made in Japan—but why not pay $100 more for an RF-1200?