Shoei RF-SR Motorcycle Helmet Evaluation

Economy and luxury in a very cool street helmet

Shoei RF-SR motorcycle helmet
Shoei RF-SRDrew Ruiz

The helmet as the motorcyclist’s “hat” perhaps hasn’t ever been as important as it is now. No doubt, a full-face helmet is your best defense against head injury, but as a style-conscious generation steps into riding, many are choosing a helmet as much for how it looks as for the protection it may provide. More subdued colors and designs are proving more attractive to many than the Technicolor explosions popular on the racer side.

And everybody is attracted to a lower price.

It also seems that everybody who's seen this Basalt Gray Shoei RF-SR has commented that it's a cool color, and offsetting it with the Spectra Gold Shield ($99.99) adds a lot of zing.

shoei rf sr helmet rear details
Composite: Multi-layer fiberglass composite is resilient and shock-absorbing.Drew Ruiz

From a material standpoint, this wallet-friendly Shoei starts with a handlaid fiberglass/organic-fiber composite multi-ply shell Shoei calls Matrix AIM+. The resiliency and energy-absorbing qualities of this type of material are excellent, which is why most makers still rely on some kind of fiberglass composite when making shells. The workhorse of impact energy absorption is the dual-layer multi-density EPS liner (the “foam”) designed to offer a high level of protection in compact dimension, reducing weight and making the overall size of the helmet smaller.

Shoei's 3-D injection-molded shields are made in the US by the same company that makes pilot visors for military applications because it can provide perfect optics from every angle. This model uses the CWR-1 (Pinlock EVO antifog insert included), same as that of the top-line racer model, the X-Fourteen, which is ribbed at its edges for structural integrity. The helmet can therefore also take the racing-oriented CWR-F, which has posts and is vertically flat to allow for tear-off use. I always feel like a jet pilot on a bike, even on my Norton, which is so un-jet-like it is ridiculous.

shoei rf sr helmet chin ventilation details
Excellent ventilation starts at the adjustable chin inlet.Drew Ruiz

The QR-E baseplate mechanism holds the shield on, and it’s pretty much my favorite in terms of ease of removal/installation. Zero trouble and no tricks required. The five-position-adjust dial on the plate allows for tuning the excellent seal of the shield to the eyeport. This is a 100-percent leak-free and quiet seal.

Touching your head is the ultra-plush, padded fabric comfort lining that is completely removable and washable. The neck-roll padding provides a slightly larger opening than on the X-Fourteen, which makes it easier to put on and remove the helmet, perhaps at the expense of a bit more noise, though this is a quiet helmet overall.

shoei rf sr helmet shield mechanism details
Shield mechanism is among the best. Parts are replaceable and the plate is adjustable for perfect face-shield sealing.Drew Ruiz

As a first responder, I really appreciate the Emergency Quick Release System cheek pads that aid helmet removal in case of injury. Those cheek pads are also available in various thicknesses for best fit, and as long as the pads are in new condition, the company will trade sizes at no cost. Four shell sizes accommodate XS–XXL heads.

The Snell M2015/DOT helmet’s design is aimed at street riders, so the orientation of the three adjustable intake vents and two rear vents, plus the eyeport, are skewed toward more upright seating positions than, for example, the X-Fourteen, which is a racing helmet built to live a lot of its life at full tuck.

The RF-SR is essentially a lot like Shoei's more expensive helmets and doesn't give up very much in terms of comfort and quality. Also, for a full-face helmet, the style and colors suit a wide range of motorcycle types, looking good with baggers, bobbers, and sportier streetbikes. It's an exceptionally nice helmet for the price and has become my daily street-riding go-to hat.


  • Awesome Transitions photochromic shield available
  • Plush, great fitting, and comfortable
  • Excellent ventilation


  • Awesome Transitions shield is $169.99
  • Is it artisanal enough?!
  • Got nothing...