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I recently reverted to the stock windscreen on my AN650 for both performance and economy reasons. I had previously been riding behind a Clearview XXL windscreen. I am 6'6" tall, but behind the giant Clearview screen ANY helmet works fine - it just doesn't have to deal with much.

Behind the stock screen (or I should say above it), helmet efficiency became critical. The wind coming off of the stock screen hits me right at chin level, so the helmet is mostly in the wind, and it is also dealing with a wind blast that is accelerated from coming off of the top of the windscreen. The helmet actually has to deal with more wind dynamics than it would if I was riding a bike with no windscreen at all. Two of the three helmets I owned were totally unsatisfactory - unbearably noisey with the stock windscreen. My oldest helmet, a Shoei RF-800 did pretty well - it was a lot quieter, ventilated better, and I had no problem with buffeting. Unfortunately it fit a little too tight. After several hours of riding with it I'd often get a slight headache. It is an XL size - I should have bought the XXL size. I had retired it for that reason.

Shoei makes a very fine quality helmet. They are the only helmet manufacturer who has a wind tunnel for product development and testing - and that shows in the efficiency of their helmets. They are not cheap, but they are not as expensive as an Arai or Suomy helmet either. Their full face street helmet models, in order of price are the TZ-1 (least expensive), RF-1000 and Z-Two. They also make the X-Eleven which is designed for professional racers, and is obscenely expensive - and the Syncrotec, which is a flip-up. The RF-1000 is desgned for folks with round heads (which leaves me out). After doing some research, I concluded that the Z-Two was the best option for me.

MSRP for the Z-Two in metallic colors is $438. Add state sales tax at the local dealership - it was way too much for me to consider. So I hit the websites.

Ron Ayers sells only Shoei helmets. I've purchased parts from them before, so they were a known entity. They don't list helmet prices on their website, you have to call for the price. Apparently, Shoei forbids listing prices if they are more than 10% lower than MSRP. I called. $339.95 for a size XXL Z-Two in Silky White (the color I wanted). Free shipping. No sales tax. I could get one of the standard white, black or red non-metallic colors for $12 less. Downside is that if you return it, there is a 25% restocking fee. But a $100 savings was awesome - I had checked a few other websites, and this was by far the best price. I ordered the Z-Two in Silky White.

The helmet arrived this afternoon. It had taken 8 days to get it. Not bad, considering Ron Ayers had to order it from Shoei, receive it, and forward it to me. They had advised me that it would take 7 to 10 business days - it actually took 6 business days. The helmet was in perfect condition and included all paperwork and accessories (breath guard, chin spoiler & helmet bag).

On a scale of five, I rate the transaction with Ron Ayers as a 5.

The rain had ended! The roads were mostly dry! Time to test. I did two identical 26 mile runs, one on the AN650, and one on the V-Strom. I will focus on the Burgman 650 run here.

Fit: Rating 4.5
The interior padding is first rate. All padding is removeable and can be washed. Padding also closes the gap between the back of my neck & the helmet. The cheek pads seem just a bit tight (typical for Shoei), but should break in. If they break in well, I'd upgrade to a 5 rating. There is plenty of room for my ears - other than that it feels like my entire head is contacted by comfortable padding. Wearing glasses was no problem.

Ventilation: Rating 5.
This helmet has four slider vents on the top. They have three positions. Closed, fully open, and half open. The two front ones are for air intake, the two rear ones for air exhaust. There are also two exhaust vents at the rear base of the helmet (non-closeable). There are two big air intake vents in the chin guard, which open & close with a single switch. There is a lever on the left side of the helmet which can lock the face shield about 1/4 inch open (adjustable). All controls could be easily operated with my gloves on while riding. With the face shield firmly closed, and all vents open the air flow was unbelievable. I could feel air flowing across the top of my head. It was 65 degrees out and that air was cold!. I did not feel a need to crack the face shield open while moving because there was plenty of air flow across my face. There was some minor fogging when I stopped if I left the face shield closed, but it cleared immediately once I got moving again. The accessory breath guard and chin spoiler are designed to eliminate fogging by pulling expelled breath down and out of the bottom of the helmet. I have not fitted them yet, and I don't see any need to until Fall. It is no big deal to crack the face shield open when I stop.

Quietness: Rating 4.5
Maybe there is a quieter helmet out there somewhere, but I've never had one this quiet before. Wind noise is very subdued. I docked it half a point because if I turned my head just right I could get it to whistle across the vents. But a very slight movement of my head and the whistle would stop. I can live with that. Wind noise stayed constant at any speed over about 50 mph. No increase in noise with higher speed. 60 mph, 80 mph - no difference. On the V-Strom, the helmet is fully in the wind. I very briefly, in the interest of testing, zapped up to 120 mph - no increase in wind noise.

Stability: Rating 5
There is no buffeting with this helmet. It also cuts through the wind extremely well. My head did not feel like it was being pushed back by the wind. No neck strain. This helmet weighs 3.39 pounds, but it feels much lighter on my head. According to Shoei it has a low center of gravity, which contributes to the lighter feeling when wearing it. Whatever. it works.

Vision: Rating 5
Shoei faceshields have very good optics and the vision port is wide enough so that it doesn't interfere with my peripheral vision at all. The faceshield is the same part number as my RF-800, so that new smoke tinted shield that I recently bought for the RF-800 is now on the Z-Two. Due to a clever quick release mechanism, it only takes about 15 seconds to swap a faceshield. Face shields retail for about $20, and given reasonable care they last almost forever. They come in a variety of tints and colors (including mirrored tints), and are widely available.

Warranty: Rating 5
Shoei warranties all of their helmets for 5 years against manufacturing defects. They also sell replacement parts - I've never needed any, but it is nice to know that if you break a vent, or a mouse eats part of your lining, you don't have to replace the whole helmet. This is my third Shoei, and build quality has never been an issue.

Overall Rating: 5
This helmet performs even better than I had expected - and I expect a lot from Shoei. I like the way it looks, and I love the way it works. It also carries both DOT-218 and Snell-M2000 safety ratings.

One Caveat. A helmet's design and construction do matter. But fit is also extremely important. A helmet must fit your head properly to perform at its best. Depending on your head shape, this may or may not be the helmet for you. Shoei's other models accomodate other head shapes. The RF-1000 was not right for me - but it might be right for you. The TZ-1 felt somewhere in between. It is very important to try a helmet on before deciding to purchase it - and some dealers will also allow a road test. Take advantage of that if you can.
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