Price: Starting at $399.99
Sizes: XS-XXL in black, white, matte black and four different graphic schemes (red shown)
What it is: The VFX-W is the latest and greatest from the guys at Shoei. In addition to featuring a radical new shell design, it boats an all-new ventilation system that utilizes the raised ridges to flow air around your head. The chinbar is fully lined with eps for added safety, and in the event of a crash where the rider is unconscious or may have suffered a neck injury, the new emergency release system cheekpads allow medics to remove the cheekpads while the helmet it on the rider’s head, so that the entire helmet can be slipped off safely.
Hits: After riding in a flat black unit, I finally got the thumbs up to bust out our fresh new helmet with red graphics today as the TWMX staff enjoyed a day of testing at Starwest MX Park. After gently dropping the shiny new VFX-W on the ground to get the first crash jinx out of the way, I slipped the helmet on an noticed immediately how much more padding comes into contact with your head and face than when wearing the VFX-W’s predecessor, the popular VFX-DT. The cheek pads extend quite far forward, nearly coming into contact with the sides of my mouth. Though everyone’s face shape differs greatly, I was pumped to find that the cheekpads didn’t squeeze the heck out of my fat face.
The VFX-W is easily one of the most comfortable helmets I’ve ever worn, and everyone on the TWMX staff agrees that its aggressive new styling makes it one of the best-looking helmets around. Now, properly product testing a helmet involves a crash, and that is something that none of us are very anxious to do.
Sadly, I am pretty good at crash testing, and only a few laps into my first moto of the day, I slapped my head on the ground and wiped the new helmet luster off my VFX-W in an instant. Once in a while – when I’m feelin’ froggy – I will try to match the pace set by our speedy associate editor Brendan Lutes. Well, after having him tow me over a new double on the track, I did my best to latch on to his rear wheel. While cresting an off-camber hump that precedes a dip in the track, then a small double, Lutes’ rear wheel kicked up a baseball-sized dirt clod. Naturally, I ran over it just as I crested the hump, and flew down into the dip pancaked as flat as James Stewart after my front tire deflected off the clod. With my freshly healed wrists and new “never let go of the bars” mentality, the first thing to hit the ground was my head. Now, in my 17 years as a motocross journalist, I’ve become sort of an expert at hitting my head on the ground, and I’d say that on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being like the tractor tire I torpedoed with my face earlier this year), this one was about a 7. Thankfully, I jumped to my feet and dusted myself off, with no stars flying around my head or recent memory loss to speak of. Needless to say, there’s all sorts of ifs ands or buts when it comes time to predict what could have happened, but I am 100% comfortable saying that like many a Shoei helmet before it, the new VFX-W saved my ass.
Misses: Slipping the VFX-W onto your head is not a plush, luxurious experience, as it seems to be narrower at the opening than the existing VFX-DT. Once the helmet is on, it is super-comfy, but the way the helmet scrapes against your cheeks when you are pulling it on could be a less abrasive experience. As I said before, though, maybe it’s just my fat face…
The Verdict: Once again, Shoei has created a top-of-the line helmet that combines superior quality of construction, good looks and a high level of protection. Motocross is an expensive sport, yes, but believe me when I say that when it comes time to protect your brain, cutting corners and taking the economy route is never a wise decision. First thing tomorrow, I’ll be dropping my VFX-W by the Shoei offices for an inspection, to ensure that it is still safe to ride in.
Call 714/730-0941 or visit www.shoeisafetyhelmet.com