For those of you who read our Gear For The Year intro, you’ll note Fatima and I were looking for some light open-face helmets for the 2013-riding season. The Nolan N43 N-Com was a contender, along with the Bell Mag-9 Sena. These were both appealing options as they were designed to neatly house a communication unit – something that we also had on our wish list.
After zero response from Nolan, and glacial responses from those people charged with marketing Bell helmets, we decided on a Plan B. We’d find a comfy open-face helmet and attach a communication device to it.
Arai helmets have always been popular choices at CMG in the past, but their XC offering in the open-face category seems better suited to bolting a metal bar to the front of it and going out for an old-school game of Canadian football … Pardon the pun, but Arai have definitely dropped the ball when comes to styling as well as features in this category, in my humble opinion.
In the end, Shoei came to the rescue with a fresh design, the J-Cruise. And all it took was one phone call to secure two of these lovely lids for Fatima and I. How good is that?
CUT TO THE CHASE ALREADY!
Okay, here’s the one-paragraph summation for those that do not wish to proceed with my lyrical prose in the form of the full helmet review below:
The Shoei J-Cruise is a relatively expensive helmet, but it’s worth the money. The style, comfort, cooling and thoughtfulness of the design make it an absolute winner. Add to this one of the best warranties in the business (five years), and it ends up being something of a bargain at $100 per year to keep your head happy and well protected.
PICKING THE NITS
FIT: I always thought I had an Arai head but it seems to have morphed into a Shoei shape in recent years as the XL J-Cruise fit me perfectly. Shoei’s exclusive Max-Dry liner is plush and easily removable and said to absorb and dissipate sweat and moisture twice as fast as traditional Nylon interiors.
The liner also seems to repel odors quite well too; after a full season of use, I don’t feel the need the pull the liners out and wash them, easy as that would be.
One minor downside to this liner is the slotted design at the top of the helmet interior that allows for airflow. It’s not uncomfortable at all, but if you are follicly challenged like myself, these lovely slots will be imbedded in your scalp for all to enjoy when you take the lid off.
On Fatima’s side, she may not have a Shoei head as initially her helmet was pinching slightly above each ear. At bit of Polystyrene compressing in these areas and some bedding in solved the problem for her and she’s been happy with the fit ever since.
As with any helmet, it’s best to try before you buy.
One last point on the comfort side is that I feel that the ear wells could be a bit better designed to hold the speakers of a communication system. As much as I tried to jam our Sena speakers into the slots, they’d eventually move around a bit and cause some discomfort. Spending some time to readjust them would solve the problem, but there you go – finally a genuine nit!
COOLING: No complaints here. The vents do their job as advertised and the added plus with their design is the ease of opening and closing them, even with gloves on. Open-face helmets are also great on hot days, since opening the shield helps the helmet cool more quickly than a full-face lid.
SHIELD: Beautiful, distortion-free viewing – fantastic! The shield also blocks 99% of UV rays, so we never got sunburnt.
The J-Cruise also has a nicely implemented sun visor that is engaged and disengaged easily with the flick of a switch on the left side of the helmet – no more sunglasses or swapping to a tinted shield required! The lock on the shield is also nicely sorted and secure, and flipping the shield open and closed is a breeze.
NOISE: I tried riding without earplugs on a longer tour and my ears rang for about five days afterwards. The J-Cruise is about as quiet as any quality full face that I’ve used; in other words, wear your earplugs.
Fatima rode pillion with me blocking the wind for her and never wore any earplugs and had no complaints.
PROTECTION: It’s an open-face so all you get is a DOT sticker. Of course, being a Shoei, it’s built to a high standard, so I’d trust it in a crash but you’re not going to get the complete protection of a full-face helmet. If I was planning on riding more aggressively, I’d opt for a full-face lid, but for touring and commuting I’d happily give up the extra protection for the comfort benefits.
STYLE: This is subjective of course, but both Fatima and I give the Shoei top marks here as well. In our opinion it is one of the most elegant designs available for an open-face helmet of this particular genre. It’s simple with a few nicely cut lines that flow beautifully front to back.
VALUE: As mentioned earlier, at roughly $500 that works out to $100 per year to keep your head comfortable and well protected, and that seems like money well spent to me. Shoei recommend you retire the lid and buy a new one after five years BTW, thus the five year breakdown in cost.
FINAL WORD: You do get what you pay for with J-Cruise. It’s a quality product with hardly anything to gripe about. The only thing that can improve this helmet, in our opinion, is to have a version with an integrated communication system, like its competition. Bell have integrated the superb Sena system (review to follow) into their Mag 9 and it is our hope that Shoei does something similar in future. If they do, we’ll be first in the queue.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.