Shoei GT Air II: long-awaited successor to one of the best rated touring helmets.

Shoei GT Air II touring helmet review.

The GT Air II is Shoei’s replacement for the original GT Air helmet that was launched around 2012.

That was a highly rated sports touring helmet that owners seemed to like for more or less everything – everything that is except its average score when the UK’s SHARP testing labs tested it in their helmet testing labs.

shoei GT Air II lucky charm helmet front top view
GT Air II Lucky Charm

Like the original, the 2nd gen GT AIR II is designed for more upright riding – so if you’re thinking of buying one for your new ZX10RR, maybe think again (and check out our track helmets pages). But if you’re riding something more adventure/touring/naked it should be just about right.

Shoei says they’ve uprated just about everything on the GT AIR II – it’s been wind tunnel designed to be more slippery, reduce noise and improve airflow. So it’s got a few more aero grooves in the shell and is a bit pointier-shaped than the old helmet. But other than that, it looks very similar to the first gen GT Air.

They’ve also increased the drop on the sun visor too and thrown in EQRS for good measure.

So, here’s the lowdown on whether Shoei has managed to improve what was already a very good helmet like they say they have – or whether it’s all a load of marketing hot air.

  • Sports touring helmet
  • Composite fiber shell
  • Pinlock ready face shield (Pinlock in the box)
  • EQRS
  • Micrometric fastener
  • Sun Visor
  • SENA SRL2 bluetooth integration
  • Weight 3.3lbs (1.5Kg)
  • Sizes XS-XXL
  • Expect to pay $599-$699

Looking to buy a Shoei GT Air II?

Please click below to visit the Shoei GT Air II helmets pages at our recommended stores – all checked for great online ratings. And if you buy from any store, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

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Shoei has built-on and improved what was already a great sports/touring helmet.

The changes don’t look massive – you can see the similarities between the helmets if you check out our review of the original GT Air – but the slightly improved aerodynamics, deeper drop down sun visor that gives more cover, and the venting system that brings more air into an already well-ventilated helmet, all manage to take the GT Air II up a notch.

shoei GT Air II helmet Reminisce graphics side view
Reminisce Graphic GT Air 2

The old helmet dropped a couple of marks for safety when it was independently tested by SHARP (ECE helmet) and neither it or the GT Air 2 have been Snell tested. We’ve scored it  4/5 because the similar AIM-shelled ECE Neotec II and RF-SR (called RYD in Europe) scored 4 & 5 stars respectively when tested by SHARP).

But what we do know for sure is that it’s well rated for comfort, shield system (with Pinlock anti-fog included) and noise suppression by owners who pretty much universally rate the GT Air II highly.

Overall then, the Shoei GT Air II is an excellent all-rounder helmet that could well be one of the best performing sports touring full face helmets on the market.


(more about helmet safety)

Like the old GT Air, the GT Air II uses Shoei’s AIM (advanced integrated matrix) composite fiber construction shell that works in conjunction with a multi density polystyrene shock absorbing liner to absorb impacts and protect your head.

Shoei GT Air II 2 redux black crash helmet rear view
Red EQRS tabs visible underneath this GT Air II in Redux graphics

AIM is where Shoei lays down a couple of layers of fiberglass together with proprietary organic fiber layers to produce a strong yet flexible helmet shell. They keep the precise construction of AIM shells close to their chest, but it’s a slight step down from their top of the range AIM+ shells which incorporate another layer of what Shoei calls ‘special fibers’.

I guess they’ll soon do an even better version called AIM++ where they include ‘extra super special fibers’, right Shoei?

For the GT Air II they’ve made three different shell sizes to cover fitment sizes XS-XXL.

Shoei matches that AIM shell to a multi density polystyrene lining. That’s designed to absorb shocks at different rates and is just about state of the art for crash helmet design at the moment (OK there’s sliding plane helmets out there like the Bell MIPS helmets and 6Ds ATS-1 with EID tech but they’ve not been independently safety tested yet).

The US GT Air II is also DOT approved and of course if you buy in other territories, it’ll be covered by your local testing regime (ECE for Europe etc.).

Shoei isn’t saying much about helmet safety improvement over the old GT Air which is a shame really as that didn’t score massively well when tested by SHARP in the UK.

There, it scored just 3 stars which was Shoei’s worst performance in many years.

Having said that, there are two other Shoei helmets that have come out since the original GT Air and that use the same AIM (or advanced integrated matrix) helmet tech as the GT Air 2 – that’s the RF-1200 and the RF-SR which scored 4 stars and maximum 5 stars respectively, so it’s not necessarily relevant to compare the old GT Air with the new and we’ll have to wait until some independent testing houses get their hands on the new model until we can draw conclusions.

Shoei GT Air II 2 conjure motorcycle helmet side view
Shoei GT Air 2 in Conjure design

Inside the GT Air 2 you’ll find a welcome EQRS or emergency quick release system and this time there’s a metal micrometric fastener to keep everything secure.

There’s also a welcome Pinlock ready visor with a Pinlock thrown into the box to keep your vision fog-free. And to help with that, there’s a new ‘cracked open’ visor position to assist with defogging duties should you need it.

Of course, to maximize your protection from any helmet, your number one objective is to get your helmet fit spot on (it’s not just me saying that, every reputable helmet authority agrees it should be your number one priority).

So always follow a helmet fitting guide, order the correct size and then wear it around the house for a while until you’re sure the fit’s right before committing to buy. And if it’s wrong, do swap it. It’s a pain in the ass having to return a helmet, but buying a helmet’s a longer term investment for most of us, so it’s worth the aggravation.

Leave the tags on until you’re sure you’re keeping it and buy from a store who’ll accept returns/replacements without question (like all our recommended stores).

Helmet Noise

(more about helmet noise)

The old GT Air was well regarded for noise attenuation and when Shoei launched the GT Air II they said they’d improved it even more.

Shoei GT Air II 2 Cross bar red black crash helmet rear view
Rear view of the GT Air 2 Cross. Rear spoiler and locating slot for battery pack of the communicator visible at the back of the collar

But they also say they’ve improved ventilation over the old helmet and that can mean – simply – that there’s more pathways for noise to get into the helmet.

However, they’ve also made the new helmet more aerodynamic and have incorporated ‘noise cancelling ear pads’ into the GT Air II which will hopefully mean things are quieter still.

The great news is that the vast majority of GT Air 2 owners reckon that it’s somewhere around quiet to very quiet. Sure, one or two ownders reckon it’s noisy – though from what I can gather it’s mostly with early helmets where the visor seal didn’t seat too well or where a fairing channelled air aggressively at the helmet.

Still, it’s worth mentioning that noise perception can be very subjective, so one person’s quiet helmet might sound like riding with your head in a kettle drum to another!

And no matter how quiet a helmet feels, it’s always advisable to push in some decent ear plugs every time you ride to protect your hearing. However, given the overall positive feedback, we’ve marked GT Air II as a quiet helmet.


(more about helmet ventilation)

Ventilation on the GT Air II is pretty straight forward. There’s a single chin vent operated by a large glove-friendly slider. And there’s a large crown vent, ditto.

Shoei GT Air II 2 light silver helmet top down view
You can see all the vents on this solid silver GT Air – twin exhausts, single top and single chin vent

They’re both nice and easy to use and easy to locate and Shoei reckons they’ve enlarged both vents slightly to ‘dramatically increase’ venting compared to the last helmet – which was highly rated for ventilation anyway.

All the air exits the helmet by a couple of always-open exhaust vents to the rear.

And if the helmet shell venting isn’t enough, Shoei’s introduced a ‘cracked open’ visor position which should help with venting and demisting around the shield and with keeping you cool in mega hot weather.

That cracked open or city riding position is particularly useful in helping riders in glasses keep them demisted while riding slowly too.

Overall, the ventilation on the GT Air II is excellent, with plenty of owners saying that it flows heaps of air through the helmet to keep your head cool with enough controllable venting in the chin bar to keep your face cool and help the Pinlock keep the face shield mist free.

Shield (more about face shields)

The face shield on the GT Air II has been designed to be nice and wide to aid peripheral vision and it has their CNS-1 spring-loaded baseplate to pull it back tightly to the weather seal and keep air/wind out when it’s closed.

Both of these features are well liked by GT Air 2 owners who reckon there’s a wide field of view and decent seal from the face shield.

It’s also a quick release shield and, as mentioned, features a new, smaller ‘cracked open’ position to let you open your shield for venting and demisting but still protecting you from air and rain.

A couple of owners reckon the quick release system on the old shield was a bit easier to use than the revised system on the new helmet, which can be a bit fiddlier. But the cracked open shield position is definitely an improvement over the older helmet.

Shoei GT Air II 2 gloss black touring helmet side view
Moody plain black GT Air with Pinlock slot visible and sun visor down

However, you shouldn’t really need to use it that much if you fit the supplied Pinlock anti-fog insert onto your shield as they’re pretty much essential fitment these days if you do any riding when it’s cold/rainy or humid.

Sun Visor

(more about sun visors)

Shoei has improved the sun visor slightly by making it around 5mm deeper, so it covers more vision and reduces the size of the line of sunlight at the bottom that some riders find distracting.

The sun visor is operated by a slider just below the left hand shield pivot. That’s where we reckon is just about the most convenient placement. It’s an ‘analogue’ slider too so you can drop it fully down or position it anywhere in between. Again, that’s good and the operation of the sun visor is said to be nice and smooth.

Shoei has also included a pair of small switches inside the helmet. These allow you to lock the sun visor in place to make it easier to remove it for cleaning. Nice and thoughtful touch that.

All in all, the sun visor’s said to work well and be an improvement on the old helmet.

A couple of links you might find useful...

- Click to see all our Shoei Helmets Reviews -
- Here you'll find every Snell Certified Helmet we've looked at -

Comfort and Sizing

(more about comfort and sizing)

The GT Air II uses Shoei’s Max Dry internals. That’s a moisture wicking material designed to pull sweat away from your head along with being very comfortable to the touch.

Shoei GT Air II 2 deviation motorbike helmet side view
This one’s the Deviation graphics

The Old GT Air was highly thought of as being a really comfortable helmet and, whereas the older helmet sized a tiny bit on the small size, the GT Air II sizes about right.

A few owners commented that it can be snug when you first get it, though it does break in quite quickly to give a decent, firm fit – which is what you should be looking for.

If it doesn’t quite fit right, Shoei does make their helmet internals fully customizable so you can buy new cheek pads to tighten or loosen things slightly if you’re just looking to tweak the fitment rather than going a full size up or down.

As you’d expect, the lining’s also fully removable and washable and there’s some generous glasses grooves in there so you can ride with your double glazing intact and not pushing into your head.

There’s also some good sized speaker pockets inside the helmet. The GT Air 2 is designed to integrate with Sena SRL2 bluetooth kit (see below for more details) but the speaker pockets are big enough to work with many speakers that aren’t too oversized/deep.

Shoei GT Air II 2 Cross bar neo yellow motorbike helmet side view
Another Shoei GT Air II in Cross graphics, this time with hi viz yellow highlights

Looks & Graphics

Shoeis are usually known for their pretty reserved color schemes. And, as expected, you can buy your GT Air II in a range of plan/solid colors – this time including blacks, whites, a couple of silvers, a metallic blue and a mega bright brilliant yellow version (see further down).

But they’ve also released a couple of very in your face designs too in the form of the Conjure and Deviation graphics.

If those are a bit too crazy for you, you can return to more familiar Shoei territory with the Affair (available in red, yellow or white versions) and the reserved Crossbar colorways.

Feel free to get better views of these helmets on the Shoei helmets pages of our recommended stores. You’ll find their links below. They’re recommended because they offer excellent service and good prices, so if you buy from them you should be well looked after. And if you need to return it, they’ll arrange that without fuss too (again, provided you don’t remove the tags).

Best places to buy a Shoei GT Air II?

Please click below to visit the Shoei GT Air II helmets pages at our recommended stores – all checked for great online ratings. And if you buy from any store, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Shop for helmets at Amazon

Shoei GT Air II Video

Here you go: an 11m video taking you around the GT Air 2. This one’s the Conjure TC-9 graphics and we start a bit into the video just so you don’t have to endure all their ramblings before they get to the meat of the vid 🙂

Other stuff – audio, glasses, build quality, aero, warranty

OK audio. Shoei has partnered with Sena to integrate their Sena SRL-2 bluetooth into the shell of the GT Air 2.

Shoei GT Air II 2 brilliant yellow touring helmet side view
You can see the cutaway for the comms unit on the bottom rim of this Hi Viz Brilliant yellow GT Air 2

That means you can remove a side panel on either side of the helmet and slot the controller unit inside so it’s nice and flush with the helmet shell. There’s also another panel at the back of the helmet to take a battery pack, and there’s a couple of speaker pockets that’re just the right size for the Sena, plus an indent on the back of the chin guard for the mic.

Which is all very good if you’re wanting to buy a new communicator (at about $300) but potentially a bit of a pain if you have a different set that you’d like to use. Those pull-away panels look like they might be right where you’d want to stick or grip on your existing kit too.

Just something to bear in mind…

Having said that, if you don’t yet have a bluetooth headset and/or you like the idea of having a headset that’s properly integrated, then several owners commented how good the integration and SRL-2 headset is.

If you wear glasses, there are glasses grooves inside the GT Air 2 and that city riding shield position is handy to keep them fog free. The sun visor can also be very handy too, saving you the need to wear prescription sunglasses.

Build quality is widely rated as very high on the GT Air 2; with quality parts, construction and finish being highly praised as well as a big factor in people investing their money into a more expensive Shoei helmet.

The shell’s well designed too, with several owners commenting that the aerodynamics are particularly good, with little buffeting and good stability reported.

All Shoei helmets come with a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty covering build and defects.

Good Alternatives to the Shoei GT Air 2?

At the time of writing, the old GT Air is still on the market, so there are good deals to be had there. But if you’re looking after a great performing sports touring helmet that has been proven to give great protection, you should also check out these lids…

Shoei RF-SR

First up, there’s Shoei’s own RF-SR helmet. That’s Snell certified (plus scored 5 stars for safety from SHARP) and it’s got EQRS, Pinlock antifog in the box, has great ventilation and it’s comfy. All that and it’s a chunk cheaper than the GT Air 2!

Arai Signet-X with PSS sun visor

You can find an Arai Signet-X for around the same money as the GT Air 2 – and for that you get another Snell certified (SHARP 5 star rated) fiberglass street helmet with Arai’s Pro Shield and a Pinlock included. Note, this helmet’s more suited to folks with longer heads than the Shoei.

hjc i10 motorcycle helmet taze design side view
HJC Taze i10 in green

At the more budget end of the market is HJCs i10. That’s been Snell certified too and owners rate it highly for comfort and ventilation. It’s a relatively basic helmet but it’s available for a fraction of the price of the others.

More Sports Touring Helmets?

We've looked at heaps of helmets that are suitable for touring and naked bikes. You'll find them on our Sports Touring helmets pages. Or, if you're looking for the safest tested helmets on the market, you might want to take a look at our safest motorcycle helmets pages where you'll only find helmets that are US Snell certified or UK SHARP four or five star rated - so you'll know you're wearing the best protection around.

Crash Helmet Buying Guides

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up/sportsbike/track helmets.

Looking to buy a Shoei GT Air II?

Please click below to visit the Shoei GT Air II helmets pages at our recommended stores – all checked for great online ratings. And if you buy from any store, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Shop for helmets at Amazon

Star Ratings

Previous articleReview of the Scorpion EXO AT950 modular adventure helmet
Next articleAGV K5/K5S Full Face Crash Helmet
review-of-the-new-gt-air-ii-2-touring-helmet-from-shoeiThe Shoei GT Air 2 is a great quality, high performance sports touring helmet that owners (almost!) universally praise. Great ventilation, low noise, excellent build quality along with a well developed face shield system all combine with excellent comfort and aero to make a helmet that performs for pretty well every type of motorcycle except a full on sportsbike. If you're looking for a premium quality all-rounder full face helmet, the Shoei GT Air II should be high up on your watch list because it's a great helmet.


  1. Vapid. If you would have taken a look at the helmets and tests you know that the sharp failure was based on the left side impact testing, which was because of the visor mechanism there. This really wasn’t changed in the II except at a ridge there which I don’t believe would help. The largest benefit of the sharp safety standard is that you can see where the helmet is weak, this is useful with this helmet and many others, in fact this is the reason shark has their visor mechanism the way they do on the top of their helmets or built into the hinge.

  2. Worse in every way from the GT Air I:

    Airflow: Garbage. Anything less than ~50mph you just get a stagnate pocket of air around your mouth.

    Noise: Louder than the GTAir.

    Weight: Heavier than the GTAir.

    Sun Visor: Lighter than the GTAir to the point where it’s basically pointless.

    Visor: In making it wider, they made it too flexible. Pushing down on the tab to latch the visor down DOESN’T WORK because the visor flexes and bows out on the other side instead of latching. You have to either grab the whole thing and slam it down, or press in the right side of the visor to line up the latch, and that only works sometimes. Last thing you need at freeway speeds is to have to be screwing around with a poorly designed latch!

    Shoei should be embarrassed to have ever put this out on the market in this state. If there were any original GTAir helmets still for sale I’d buy one of those over this in a heartbeat.

    • Well, maybe the GT-Air 2 wasn’t meant to market toward the GT-Air 1 people… we should be thankful Shoei decides to design and support many different helmet models and variations, rather than us being stuck with only a few to choose from. I have a GT-Air 1, and glad over the GT-Air 2 design (especially noise)… I wonder about the concern that the GT-Air 1’s internal sun shield is too short, the sun shield should be tipped into our field of vision intentionally – and not sitting directly on the horizontal necessarily.

      I think there are a lot more comfort (rather than performance) based drivers in the market today, they want every helmet to meet every need – with comfort at the top of the list (like car interiors). Since lives are usually on the line, ever helmet should meet performance needs first – and let the comfort level fall where it may.


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