The NXR has been one of the most popular motorcycle helmets that Shoei has produced and with that lineage, the NXR 2, brand new for 2021, has a lot to live up to.
The NXR has a storied history, it was the original successor to the XR1100, Shoei’s best-selling helmet in history, and those are big head-shaped shoes to fill. This meant that it had to excel in every regard – and it did. The NXR filled the niche of a sports helmet that worked perfectly for commuting, the NXR could handle everything a rider could throw at it, on the road, the track, and off the beaten path.
With that in mind, the Shoei NXR 2 has a lot to live up to, and from looking over the spec sheets - it looks to be just as good.
The biggest new feature – we're calling it a feature anyway – is its accreditation to the latest ECE 22-06 European safety standard for motorcycle helmets. The new regulation is a significant step toward improving the overall quality of helmet produced in the UK, and each part of the product is comprehensively tested to ensure it complies with the new protective standard, including the shell, interior lining, noise and rest of the amenities of the helmet.
This basically validates the NXR 2's protective qualities and future-proofs you from when the new regulations are inducted in January 2024.
The shell of the NXR 2 is made from a mix of organic fibre and multi-composite and is the primary reason behind its passing of the new ECE safety test. The helmet adopts Shoei's proprietary AIM shell (it stands for advanced integrated matrix) which retains an incredibly strong structure while being lightweight and is used across their entire collection of helmets.
The most telling difference between the NXR 2 and its predecessor is the size of the shell: side-by-side, the new model is slightly bigger than the previous NXR, which is more than likely due to the requirement of thicker EPS lining and additional layers of material in the actual shell. As a consequence, the NXR 2 also weighs heavier, coming in at 1423 grams compared to the original NXR's 1315g.
Before you consider this a dealbreaker, keep in mind that that this is still lighter than Shoei's most popular full-face GT-Air 2, which is 100 grams even heavier than the NXR 2 (plus the added weight on the NXR 2 is justifiable due to the increased protection of the lid).
Moving onto the visor, the NXR adopts a new CWR-F2 visor, which is designed to be more rigid than Shoei's previous visors and is fitted with what they dub "Vortex Generators" which act to reduce wind noise and reduce any distortion to your view.
Additionally, Shoei has moved the visor mechanism from the side of the helmet to the centre. This has been done to extend the longevity of your visor, as a traditional side-latch mechanism exerts a lot of pressure on the side of your visor, which can warp and weaken it over time. A central locking system allows an even distribution of force when opening and closing the visor, reducing repeated stress and increasing its lifespan.
Helmet sizing is a particular sticking point for a lot of riders, as there is a fine balance between allowing enough room to prevent pressure points around your head or face, while also maximising the protective qualities of the lid. To accommodate this, most helmet manufacturers offer multiple size shells across their range.
Typically, premium helmets come in 3 shell sizes with different sized cheek pads to pad out sizing, but the NXR 2 adopts four: 2XS, XS, and S share the same to fit your unique shape. The NXR 2 is firmly catered to the sports rider - don't get us wrong, you can use it for touring but you do lose some of the mod cons you will find in more specialised touring helmets.
For one, the NXR 2 doesn't accommodate an internal sun visor: useful for riding for long stretches of road, in the country or abroad. The helmet also lacks seamless integration with an intercom system like the GT-Air 2 and Neotec 2. You can still install an aftermarket intercom to keep yourself connected with your riding buddies - we will get a bit deeper on this later in the article. This is not all to say that the helmet is only good for track days - the NXR 2 is an ideal choice for any commuting rider - you just may find it less suited to tour-riding compared to the GT-Air 2 for example.
The ventilation system on the NXR 2 has been greatly improved, the brow vent now has inlets to allow cool air into the helmet – the previous model had just one. The dual-inlet chin vent has been redesigned to be less fiddly, even when using your motorcycle gloves.
The exhaust vent on the rear of the helmet is also much larger, which Shoei suggests will allow 50% more air to pass through the helmet in comparison with the original NXR, resulting in a much cooler ride.
The NXR 2 and Intercoms
Having had the NXR 2 in our hands in the Infinity Motorcycles’ office we have noticed a distinct feature of interest. Of course, as we previously mentioned the NXR 2 does NOT have an integrated, easy-to-install intercom like the more touring focused GT-Air 2 and Neotec 2 helmets. So, you will need an after-market intercom to fit on the lid.
On checking out the helmet though, there is no obvious way of clamping an intercom to it. Clamping is often seen as the best choice when putting an intercom on a helmet, it allows you to easily slip the comms unit out of the clamp cradle when you do not need it, it also does not leave the sticky residue that comes when mounting with an adhesive. After speaking to the UK supplier for Shoei, we have found that they recommend only using an adhesive to mount an intercom – as there is no way of doing it via a clamp. This can put some of you off, like we said, a lot of riders prefer to go via the clamp kit, so not having that option could be a deal-breaker. The design of the outer shell is very rounded with almost a convex scalloped design seemingly to improve the glancing performance of the helmet but this means that is very few areas to actually stick the intercom.
An intercom is not essential to riding life, but they do make that life a bit sweeter. The NXR 2 has been built with the recesses to fit the necessary speakers and wiring for an intercom but it seems like fitting an intercom was never really the top priority for Shoei when designing this helmet. Riders who require an intercom or are not happy riding without one may find themselves having to compromise on the choice of how to fit one to the NXR 2.
And the rest...
As per all Shoei helmets, the NXR 2 comes with a Pinlock. The premium Pinlock is 10% larger than the one that came with the original NXR, and the pins have been repositioned to keep them out of your line of sight. You will also get a chin curtain, a breath guard and the helmet comes with a Double-D ring for a super-secure fit.
Now, you may think a lot of this article has been about the NXR and we may be short-changing the NXR 2, but the NXR has been an excellent successor to the ultra-popular XR1100. In all honesty, though, the NXR 2 is a fantastic helmet and a definite improvement over the previous NXR.
The NXR 2 has a more aerodynamic design and a much-improved ventilation system. But the certification to the latest ECE 22-06 standards really sets it apart, which means you can really trust the NXR 2 to be one of the best-protecting helmets on the market right now. Of course, other helmets will inevitably join it as newer models are being released, but right now this is as close to the benchmark as possible.
The Shoei NXR 2 will be available from the end of September 2021, the plain colourways will retail from £429.99. The graphics all retail for £539.99.
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This article was written by Aaron Thomson.