I don’t always wear open-face helmets (OK, almost never), but when I do, I make sure it’s a brand that I trust. Japan-based Shoei definitely falls into that category, and I’ve been wearing its full-face and modular helmets for years, so when I heard it had launched a new open-face for the U.S. market I was intrigued.

One journalist showed up at the launch for the new 125cc Honda Monkey mini-bike with it, dubbed the JO (Shoei puts a big dot between the J and the O, something I can’t figure out how to make my computer keyboard recreate). Honda had provided us with open-face helmets from a different brand, and simply handling those side-by-side with the JO was enough to reveal marked differences. The whole point of wearing a helmet is to protect your noggin in a crash, and that day I knew which one I’d rather be wearing if my head happened to meet the pavement. So I ordered one.

Buzzing around on the new Honda Super Cub in my Shoei JO. Photo by Drew Ruiz.
Buzzing around on the new Honda Super Cub in my Shoei JO. Photo by Drew Ruiz.

Shoei is not known for cutting corners, and the JO is no exception. Fit and finish is superb, with a removable and washable liner that can be customized for fit, smooth, glossy paint and a cool 1950s “ducktail” styling feature at the back. My favorite feature is its integrated drop-down visor, which is curved to accommodate glasses and has two easy-to-use spoiler tabs that also help manage airflow when the visor is deployed. Clear is standard, but you can order others in dark smoke (like mine), yellow or two mirror finishes; swapping them out is simple once you figure it out.

With the visor deployed, I found the JO to be surprisingly quiet for an open-face and even at higher speeds, air did not flow up under the visor and into my eyes; as a contact lens wearer this can be a problem. The visor can be set to close into one of three positions to fit the rider’s face and nose. In short, it works beautifully.

The compact, 5-ply Matrix AIM shell is made of fiberglass, carbon and other “high-performance” fibers, and the underlying multi-density EPS liner includes channels for cooling airflow, plus its thickness is consistent throughout, even with the drop-down visor.

There are several fun and vintage graphics available for the JO, including the one I ordered (that just so happened to match the Honda Super Cub perfectly!), plus solid colors, with prices starting at $379. Six sizes are available from XS-2XL, spread across three shell sizes. For more information, see your dealer or visit shoei-helmets.com.

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