I’ve always been a Shoei girl—they just seem to fit my head. I also appreciate the quality and fit and finish that characterize Shoei products. When searching for an ideal lid that will transition from everyday riding to sportbike photo shoots to trackdays, I naturally gravitated to the Shoei RF-1200.

The RF-1200 is the latest iteration of Shoei’s top-of-the-line full-face street helmet, starting with the RF-1000 in 2003, although it can trace its roots all the way back to the RF-102 racing helmet in 1983. Shoei says the RF-1200 is its lightest 2015 SNELL-certified model to date, and I believe it, as my size small weighed in at a wispy 3 pounds, 5 ounces. It also has a compact shell, with lines that are aerodynamic and minimalist—no pumpkin-head here! Between the small size and the light weight, I found the RF-1200 to be extremely comfortable, even at speed. Turning my head to look over my shoulder was easy, and wind buffeting was minimal.

Shoei does a good job with venting, and the RF-1200 is no exception. There are four intake vents in the front: one in the chinbar that directs air onto the inside of the visor, one at the center of the forehead and two that direct air across the crown of your head. Four upper exhaust vents sit below an aerodynamic wing and create suction to pull air through the helmet. I usually just leave the exhaust vents open all the time and only adjust the intakes to regulate airflow; all the vents are easy to use with gloves on. With all the vents open, I could feel the air moving across my scalp, and the added noise wasn’t enough to annoy me (although, admittedly, I’m in the habit of wearing earplugs).

My RF-1200 was fitted with the optional Transitions shield, which automatically adjusts from clear to tinted based on ambient light and temperature. Here it is shown in its darkest tint, which is equivalent to the typical "light smoke" shield. Photos by Kevin Wing.
My RF-1200 was fitted with the optional Transitions shield, which automatically adjusts from clear to tinted based on ambient light and temperature. Photos by Kevin Wing.

The RF-1200’s six-ply matrix AIM+ shell consists of fiberglass, organic fibers and resin, and is designed to flex and help absorb energy in the event of a crash. As with most modern high-quality helmets, the EPS liner is a multi-density design, and the cheek pads are clearly marked with quick-release straps for emergency responders. The fully removable 3D Max-Dry System II comfort liner can be fitted with multiple cheek pad thicknesses, allowing the rider to further customize fit.

One of my pet peeves with helmets is a fidgety or, for lack of a better term, vague-feeling visor system. The RF-1200’s visor opens and closes with an assertive series of clicks, and seals tightly (use the lubricant included with the helmet—it will maintain the integrity of the seal!). It’s also easy to remove and adjust, although I leave the adjustments to the experts at Shoei. You can send your helmet in at any time during the warranty period to have them adjust the shield if it’s whistling or not closing properly.

My rides often run past sunset, so I grabbed an optional Transitions Photochromic shield for my RF-1200. It’s not cheap, at $169.99, but since it transitions seamlessly from clear to tinted based on ambient light and temperature, it was well worth the money in order to avoid carrying an extra shield around. Heat and sunlight exposure will reduce its life, so when you’re not using it, keep it stored away from direct light or in a helmet bag.

If you want to install a Bluetooth communication system, make sure yours has thin speakers, as there isn’t much extra room in the RF-1200. But otherwise, it is a fantastic choice for just about any riding style. The RF-1200 is available in a variety of solid and graphic designs, in sizes XS-2XL, starting at $485.99, and it comes with a 5-year warranty.

See your dealer or visit shoei-helmets.com.

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