What owners think: Shoei Ex-Zero Retro Helmet review.

Shoei Ex-Zero Retro helmet review. A practical Retro?

Shoei’s design department are starting to let their inner-hipster take over! Because their retro – the Ex-Zero – is based on an old motocross lid called the EX-5 that they used to make in the 1980’s.

This new version has been tweaked to have a bit more of a rakish profile (i.e. the chin guard juts out a bit more), but just like Bell’s reincarnated Moto 3 and AGV’s X3000, it’s very close to the look and feel of the original. Except, this one’s designed for the road – the perfect accompaniment to your retro or cafe racer.

And on the surface, it looks like the Shoei Ex-Zero could well be a bit of a match made in heaven. I mean, visually, it looks mean and cool and in-your-face. But read the label and it uses Shoei’s AIM (advanced integrated matrix) alongside their multi-density EPS lining to – so that should mean it’ll offer excellent protection too.

Shoei Ex-Zero motorcycle helmet Equation TC-2 front side view
Proper quality, proper retro… the Shoei Ex-Zero Equation

OK, you know from looking at it that it’s not gonna be the most sensible choice for a helmet, meaning it’s going to be a bit of a compromise – somewhere, somehow.

But then, I guess if you wanted sensible, you’d probably go for their Snell Certified (and SHARP 5 star rated) Shoei RF-SR?

But we don’t always want sensible, right? So if you’re thinking about buying one, you need to know where the compromises will be.

I know – because that’s exactly where I am, right there, stroking my chin and subconsciously fiddling with my credit card!

So, let’s take a look over the Shoei Ex-Zero and see how it all stacks up.

  • Retro style composite full face
  • Built-in drop-down shield
  • Fiberglass composite shell
  • 3 Shell sizes
  • Around 2.75lbs (1.25Kg)
  • EQRS
  • Double-D ring fastener
  • Sizes XS-XXL
  • Expect to pay around $400

Looking to buy a Shoei?

OK, it's not available in any of our recommended US retailers at the moment, but we've a bunch of recommended European retailers you can buy one from. Sportsbikeshop (UK) and GetGeared (UK) are both based in the UK and offer outstanding service and competitive prices. Or there's MotoIn (Ger) for a wide range and excellent prices - based in Germany. Please click any link to see their full range of Shoei helmets and latest prices.


(more about helmet safety)

OK, Shoei says the shell on the Ex-Zero is their AIM or advanced integrated matrix shell.

That’s a composite shell made primarily from fiberglass but with some other fiber layers designed to give more strength and a bit of elasticity to absorb energy.

This white Ex-Zero’s got the optional yellow smoked shield in

That’s all fine. But how good are their AIM helmets?

Well, at the time of writing, we don’t think it’s DOT certified though it is ECE certified in Europe. Passing that test is no walk in the park – so that’s pretty good.

But there’s also been one other AIM helmet that has been Snell M2015 certified and three which have been tested by SHARP in the UK.

The Shoei RF-SR is Snell certified as well as scoring a maximum 5 star safety rating in the UK. And both the Shoei GT Air mk I and the modular Shoei Neotech I scored 3 stars, 4 stars respectively for safety.

So, while we can’t be entirely sure how well the Shoei Ex-Zero will do if SHARP get their hands on a bunch, all the indicators are that it’ll do pretty well. If pushed, I’d sit on the fence and go with a 4 star rating.

Which would be pretty amazing for a helmet that looks so cool (and dare I say, so novelty?) Yeah I dare – there, said it.

Part of any safety testing is based on how well the lining performs, and the lining on the Ex-Zero is a multi-density job, designed to soften the blow from higher and lower speed impacts equally well.

Shoei Ex-Zero retro helmet in gloss hi viz yellow side view
Not quite sure what retro paint this’ll go with, but if being seen’s your thing…

All that Shoei goodness is held on to your with a good old double-d ring fastener (what else?) and to keep muck out of your eyes, there’s a drop down clear shield that sits snugly up inside the helmet shell till you need it. V nice, v useful and, since we’re thinking about safety here, v much safer than no shield.

The Ex Zero is made in 3 shell sizes – meaning that’ll massively help you get a helmet shell/interior combo that is optimized for safety and weight – as well as meaning it’ll look proportionately better when you’re wearing it.

Oh, and one final, and massively surprising feature that’s safety-related…

Shoei has only gone and put an EQRS lining inside the Ex-Zero. EQRS – that’s emergency quick removal system – is a lining that can be quickly removed by paramedics to help them get your helmet off without tugging your neck around.

Now, EQRS is cheap to put in a helmet yet we keep on seeing some serious track and road helmets that’re made without it. So it’s great to see Shoei sticking it into the Ex-Zero. I mean, hopefully you’ll never need it and all that, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

Helmet Noise

(more about helmet noise)

The jury’s in. The Shoei Ex-Zero is a reasonably noisy helmet – I guess because it’s got that gaping visor hole up front.

Shoei Ex-Zero motorcycle helmet Equation TC-2 rear view
Clean lines with no vents/spoilers/wings in sight

Of course, features like the laser cut foam padding coupled with the ability to tailor the fit using replacement cheek pads helps quieten things down a bit. Plus the fact that the helmet shell is super-round without any peaks, spoilers or fins (unless you add the optional OEM peak) that you see on most helmets that stick up into the airflow and cause noise.

And because there’s no vents in there (besides the chin vents) that should reduce the chance for noise to get into the helmet.

But it is essentially an open face helmet with a chin bar. And that front hole – goggles or no goggles, lets in an awful lot of wind and noise. So expect it to have open-face levels of noise – and to have to wear some good ear plugs while you’re riding.


(more about helmet ventilation)

As you can probably tell from the photos, there’s not a whole lot of vents in the main helmet shell. Just like the original helmet it’s based on, Shoei has opted to keep the shell free of vents, expecting that main opening in the front will provide enough ventilation to keep you cool.

There are of course six always-open vents in the chin guard though, fronted with an aluminum grill to keep some dirt and bugs out. But they’re largely unnecessary because there’s so much open space above and below that if you want ventilation to your face, that’s the way it’s going to come in.

And several owners say it lets in a lot of air. Sure, you might get a bit of a sweaty head if you’re riding slowly in the heat of summer. But overall air flow’s decent.

Shoei Ex-Zero retro helmet in matt black side view
Matt black version might well be the one I’ll go for…


(more about shields)

Just like the open face Shoei J.O., the Ex-Zero features a drop down clear shield that slides up inside the helmet shell, in much the same way most drop down sun shields do.

It’s a nice touch and makes the Shoei Ex-Zero much more of a useful every day helmet than if it was sold shieldless and needed goggles.

So, if you want to ride without a shield, the shield hides up inside the helmet shell. And when you up the pace and want protection, there’s an easy-to-find tab on either side of the shield that’ll let you pull it down and drop it nice and low down.

Actually, if you don’t want it dropping down too low, Shoei has designed a nice feature where you can adjust the level the shield drops down by moving a couple of levers inside the helmet.

Like all main shields made of polycarbonate, it’ll give you 90%+ UV light protection; and it’s anti-scratch too.

And like all shields, it can fog up a bit if gets cold or rainy. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Pinlock anti-fog available for it so you might struggle there; but that’s just one of those areas of compromise you’ll probably tolerate for looking so damn cool 🙂

Shoei Ex-Zero gloss grey retro helmet top down view
The mid-grey Shoei Ex-Zero, as seen from space

Like all helmets, the Ex-Zero will come with a clear shield in the box, but there’s also a hi-viz yellow version and a tinted shield available too. So if you fancy riding in the summer sun, you can add the tinted shield in there to act as a sun shield instead – just don’t get caught out when it gets dark.

But if you do ride and just use the built-in shield, there’s lots of peripheral vision because the visor aperture is nice and wide.

Your eyes might well water a bit though, because air does get up and under the shield when you’re riding. It’s great for giving you some instant eye protection though, protecting your eyes against road grit and rain.

And it’s got a good feeling of quality to it with several owners saying it’s got a nice smooth and quality action.


Because there’s a massive face shield hole in the front, the Ex-Zero will fit a wide range of full size goggles. There isn’t a ridge at the rear to keep your goggle strap in place but word is if you get some goggles with rubber backing on the strap, they’ll stay in place no problem.

We’ve heard from Ex Zero owners who’ve worn a range of goggles with their helmets – including Scotts, Oakley Crowbars, 100% Barstow and Fly Racing – so if you’ve already got some goggles, the chances are they should fit.

Comfort and Sizing

(more about comfort and sizing)

Expect the sizing of the Shoei Ex-Zero to be pretty true, so just follow our helmet fitting guide – if you don’t already know what size helmet you need – and order the correct size.

Obviously, Shoei is more premium level helmet maker, and that’s reflected in the quality of the internals.

Owners universally reckon it’s a very comfy lid. The inside is plush and soft and, while Ex-Zeros can be a tight fit to pull on in the first place, once it’s on you can feel the Shoei quality.

Like most helmets, the inside is fully removable and washable too. And if the sizing’s not entirely right, then there are different size cheek pads available from Shoei so you can tailor the fit to (hopefully) get it bang on.

Shoei Ex-Zero retro helmet in gloss red yellow side view
Shield full down (but is adjustable)

Looks & Graphics

Most of the graphics that are available at the time of writing are just plain colors. So that means there’s an (off) white and a couple of blacks (gloss and matt) as well as a bright yellow, bright red and mid grey Ex-Zero available.

There’s only one retro graphic and that’s the Equation TC-2/10 – and because it’s got graphics, that’s the most expensive too.

As always, to see if there’s any deals or new designs out there, please click the links to our recommended retailers using the links below.

Best places to buy a Shoei crash helmet?

We don't have any US retailers for this helmet, so we've selected some of the best places in Europe to buy from - whether it's a Shoei or any other helmet/gear. Note: helmets from Europe will come with an ECE not DOT sticker on the rear so won't be legal for use in mandatory helmet law states.

If you want piece of mind when you buy, SportsBikeShop are based in the UK and offer outstanding service (9.8/10 on Trustpilot) including 365 day refunds. They have some mega competitive prices and our recommended retailer for quality of service too.

MotoIn (Ger) have decent € prices and give great service (4.8 on eTrusted Shops at the time of writing) - and they're based in Germany. Note if you buy from Motoin you'll have to add shipping charges on top if you're outside Germany.

GetGeared are another recommended UK retailer, with a no-quibble 365 day returns policy and scoring (at the time of writing) 8.9/10 on Trustpilot.

Please click any picture/link to visit their Shoei helmets page where you can see all the latest colour schemes and prices. And if you buy from any, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you - a massive THANKS! (it's how we finance the site). Click here for more info on our recommended retailers.

Click to visit SportsBikeShop
Click to visit Shoei at SportsBikeShop
Click to visit Shoei helmets at Get Geared
Click to visit Shoei helmets at Get Geared
See Shoei at Motoin (then use site search)

Shoei Ex-Zero Video

Here’s an excellent 9m video showing you around the Shoei Ex-Zero.

Other stuff – weight, aero, warranty

The Shoei Ex-Zero weighs around 2.75lbs (1.25Kg) which is very light weight. That’s great for comfort and for safety too (less weight to knacker your neck and for the helmet to absorb during an impact).

Owners reckon its aero characteristics are great with little drag or buffeting even with the optional peak fitted. It’s stable too even at highway speeds.

All Shoei helmets come with a class-leading standard 5 year warranty (or 7 from date of manufacture, whichever comes soonest).


It seems like Shoei has got it spot on once again.

Top down view of the Equation TC-2

You’ll either love or loathe the style of the Ex-Zero, but for those of you who love it (me included) it seems Shoei hasn’t compromised one bit on their usual quality while making a really stand out helmet design.

On the downside, it’s more of an open face helmet with a big chin-bar sized nod towards practicality – and with that visor being a fantastic touch (though not giving the same kind of protection as full face shield that seals to the helmet does)

But otherwise, it’s a quality helmet. It’s got a Shoei AIM shell which we reckon will perform really well if their past AIM helmets are anything to go by. There’s a double-d ring fastener, EQRS, a good quality comfortable liner with the ability to tailor the fit through changeable cheek pads. And of course that nifty drop down clear shield adds a huge dollop of practicality compared to an open face helmet.

It’s not cheap – but then quality isn’t – and with tons of retro appeal, it’ll probably make for the ideal accompaniment to your retro or naked bike.

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.

Good Alternatives to the Shoei Ex-Zero

Right, so you want a retro helmet? You like the sound of the Shoei Ex-Zero, but you still need to know the best alternatives out there, right? Well here’s three corkers, all with shields. Or go here to see all our retro helmet reviews.

bell bullet crash helmet in blue flake
Bell Bullitt in blue flake

First up, there’s the original – the Bell Bullitt. Cool looking, SHARP 3 star safety rated, range of different shields – and it’s a proper performer too.

AGV X3000

And there’s the AGV X3000; a helmet based on Ago’s old school racing helmet of the ’70s which means it’ll actually work with a bike with clip-ons too.

Nexx X.G100R

Or the new kid on the block – the Nexx X.G100R. This is the full shield version of their elasto-shield X.G100. It’s a sporty retro-revisioning that’s even got an optically correct shield. Comes in both composite or full carbon versions.

Looking to buy a Shoei?

OK, it's not available in any of our recommended US retailers at the moment, but we've a bunch of recommended European retailers you can buy one from. Sportsbikeshop (UK) and GetGeared (UK) are both based in the UK and offer outstanding service and competitive prices. Or there's MotoIn (Ger) for a wide range and excellent prices - based in Germany. Please click any link to see their full range of Shoei helmets and latest prices.

Next articleAll about the SHARP Crash Helmet Safety Scheme
shoei-ex-zero-retro-street-crash-helmet-reviewMost folks buy an Shoei Ex Zero either because they love it's streetfighter looks. Or because they really want an openface but want a bit more protection. Either way, the Ex-Zero's a great helmet that seems to work for pretty well every owner who buys one. It's practical, high quality and very well built. It should offer great levels of protection, plus that built in pull down clear face shield comes in really handy offering reasonable weather and dirt protection if you've forgotten your goggles. Owners love how comfortable it is too, and though it's a bit of a noisy brute, most owners didn't really expect it to be really quiet in the first place, so it's usually not a problem. All in all, it's a mean, moody and well built helmet that owners love.


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