Associate Editor Bradley Adams tested more than just bikes at Sport Rider’s 2012 literbike showdown, ultimately crashing the Kawasaki ZX-10R and putting his Shoei X-Twelve helmet through the ringer. The Alpinestars Tech Air suit that Bradley was also wearing (to be thoroughly reviewed in a forthcoming issue) recorded some eye-opening g forces at impact, confirming what Bradley already knew; the Chuckwalla desert landscape is no down comforter. Fortunately for our associate editor, the Shoei helmet provided superb protection during the course of the fall.
The X-Twelve was introduced back in 2010 as a successor to the capable X-Eleven, and is host to a long list of safety features designed to keep the rider protected in the event of a crash. Among the features that Bradley insisted on testing during his fall was Shoei’s dual-layer EPS liner and AIM+ shell, which is constructed using special fibers laid above the fiberglass that are said to absorb and distribute an impact over a larger area. While on-site medics didn’t use it, the helmet also features an Emergency Quick Release System (EQRS) that would’ve aided helmet removal should Bradley’s injuries have been more severe. Beyond the aforementioned safety features, the X-Twelve is host to a number of systems aimed to improve overall comfort; these systems include the helmet’s comprehensive five-intake, ten-exhaust ventilation system, Quick Release Self-Adjusting (QRSA) base plate system and 3D Max Dry Interior system, which is removable, washable and replaceable for those whose head smells like anything but roses.
We spent a good deal of time commuting with the X-Twelve prior to the helmet facing its ultimate demise at the racetrack, giving us a good indication of how the lid would perform in the real-world environment. First and foremost, the X-Twelve is extremely quiet, quieter even than its similarly priced competition. Ventilation is up to the task of keeping you cool on a warm summer commute, and the helmet’s 3D liner is wrapped in a comfortable fabric that doesn’t chafe your face. One thing we did notice on the street, however, is that the X-Twelve is no featherweight; the lid tipped our scales to the tune of 3.6 pounds, and was a bit of a burden to our neck during longer rides.
The X-Twelve’s capabilities on the street were mirrored by its performance on the track. Biggest thing we noticed was how well the helmet vented in the 107 degree weather that accompanied our test, and how dry the helmet’s moisture-wicking liner kept things on the inside despite high levels of perspiration. Shield swaps at the track were done with absolute ease thanks to the Shoei’s impeccable shield-release system, and the helmet’s aerodynamic design permitted little-to-no lift, drag or buffet at racetrack speeds. A helmet shouldn’t cause any distraction when trying to turn quick lap times, and that’s the exact reason why we could appreciate the X-Twelve’s on-track performance.
Following his crash, Bradley was a bit dazed but able to remember most everything that happened from the second he ran out of skill — a testament to the crash capabilities of the X-Twelve. Damage to the outside of the helmet was relatively minor as well, although a patch of scratches and dings indicate that the lid’s taken a good tumble. Similarly, the EPS liner shows cracks in the area where the impact was made, an expected result according to Shoei, noting that “Current safety helmets are designed to absorb the energy of an accident by being destroyed.”
While helmet standards — and Shoei recommendations — have forced us to retire our comfy X-Twelve, there’s no doubt that we’ll miss the lid. Our size small fit just as we’d hoped, with a snug feel all the way around the circumference of our head and comfortable padding that warranted all-day use. Put simply, performance and fit were stellar no matter the environment.