Last week, Shoei invited the media out to the Central Coast of California to introduce us to its newest helmet, the VFX-EVO. We had dinner at one of the motocross industry’s favorite breweries, Firestone Walker, home of 805. There were samples on display and a presentation at the brewery. The following day, Shoei cut us loose at Zaca Station to test the helmet out. Even though I was sidelined due to a recent shoulder surgery to remove some hardware, it was a picture-perfect day followed up with some barbecue.
Back to the VFX-EVO. It’s been nine years since Shoei released the helmet’s previous version, the VFX-W. Shoei has always been known for its eye to detail and superior quality, and the VFX-EVO is no different. It takes Shoei an entire work week to make a VFX-EVO, which are all built by hand.
Shoei’s advances in high-quality materials, combined with their proprietary six-ply matrix of materials woven and overlaid, creates their most advanced helmet of all time. During manufacturing, the VFX-EVO goes through 35 quality checkpoints and takes 52 highly skilled technicians to build. You may think that with such a high number of hands touching the helmet, the likelihood of something going wrong would go up, but not at Shoei. Every year, it randomly pulls 3,000-5,000 helmets out of stock to perform random quality tests. In its 60-year history, not one production helmet has ever failed; talk about quality control.
The outer shell is the first line of defense in a helmet, and there’s a balance that must be achieved. It needs to be hard and thick enough to be structurally sound, but also soft and light at the same time. If it’s too soft, then it will be useless, but if it’s too hard, there will be a lot of energy transferred to your brain instead of being dispersed in a crash. If its too thin, it won’t do its job either, but if it’s too heavy, the rotational impact on the brain will skyrocket.
This high-performance shell is combined with the helmet’s second layer of protection, made of expanded polystyrene, or EPS. EPS comes in different strengths and is designed to withstand impacts and absorbing. EPS is similar to styrofoam. The EPS in the Shoei VFX-EVO is made up of two layers, which work with the ventilation system to keep you cool while you ride.
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Speaking of vents, it has 16. Two of those are new: one on the front and one on the back. The superior ventilation has been optimized aerodynamically, thanks to Shoei’s on-site wind tunnel (something not many helmet manufacturers have). With the wind tunnel, the company was able to make tweaks, test, and repeat until it was happy with the new design. This new design is aggressive, and I like it. The ridges for the goggle strap have been made larger and give it an even more futuristic look.
What Shoei is most excited about with its new helmet is its introduction to a new system it calls MEDS. MEDS stands for Motion Energy Distribution System and is strategically engineered to reduce rotational acceleration energy to the head in the event of an accident. MEDS is similar to MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System). There is a separate liner that allows the rider’s skull to rotate within the helmet that helps prevent your brain from rotating inside of your skull.
The internal 3-D max dry interior system is fully removable, washable, and even replaceable. If the cheek pads are too loose or too tight when you buy a helmet, Shoei will pay to get you a thicker or thinner set of pads to personally fit you. (Note: the cheek pads are slightly smaller than Shoei’s previous model, the VFX-W.)
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Like the liner, the foam screen in the front of the chin bar can be removed for cleaning. There is a single screw that allows access to the interior mesh material. The mouthpiece on the VFX-EVO has also been enlarged and braced to help protect riders’ faces even more.
Of course, the Emergency Quick Release System (EQRS) is still a standard feature of the helmet. It allows you to remove the cheek pads before removing the helmet to reduce strain on the neck if a bad crash occurs. If a crash happens, big or small, you should always have your helmet inspected after. This is a service that Shoei offers for free. Whether the helmet passes or fails its safety check, Shoei will ship it back to you for free.
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The VFX-EVO comes in 16 different colorways. There are three solid options (white, black, and matte black), three in Zinger, three in Blazon, four in Glaive, and there are also three Josh Grant paint job replicas (minus sponsor logos). You can buy the exact same helmet he runs off the shelf. They are just now arriving at distributors, so you can expect to see them in dealerships and online within one to two weeks. The helmet’s price went up $40 from its predecessor, and the prices are listed below for corresponding paint schemes:
- $539 for solid
- $559 metallic
- $719 for graphic
- $739 for replica