The Lightest Most Versatile Helmet on the Market: The Redesigned Shoei RF1200 Helmet

The all new RF1200 is just what this inked girl needs.

The all new RF1200 is just what this inked girl needs.

As a commuter, having a helmet that is quiet and fits comfortably means the difference between a pleasant ride to work and a miserable hour in traffic thinking about the pain radiating through my forehead. With the Shoei RF1200, any caveats I had about previous helmets are a distant memory.

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The Phantasm is the perfect graphic for us here at motoinked.com. Skulls, matte colors and filigree. Worthy of a tattoo.

The Shoei RF1200 helmet is light and compact helmet that weighs next to nothing. It has wide field of view and is so quiet, I can hear my hear my tunes without being annoyed by wind noise. It’s not just the comfort that makes this helmet one-of-kind, it’s the technologically advanced protection based on Shoei’s racing helmets that make the RF1200 freakin’ awesome.

The folks at Shoei are motorcycle enthusiasts and they value making a helmet that works for not just racers, but the every day rider, no matter what bike they’re riding. They’re about the journey, not the hype.

A Lighter yet safer RF1200

In 2010, Shoei helmets grew in size proportionally to manage more energy making them bigger, heavier and just plain cumbersome to wear. With the new RF1200, the helmet maintains its SNELL rating, but is now smaller and lighter like previous model helmets in the early 2000‘s. This is evident in the concave curve at the bottom of the shell, which offers complete freedom of movement. The RF1200 still provides the energy management of previous models and the protection a rider needs, but in much more manageable package.

The Shoei helmet maintains it's SNELL rating while being lighter and more compact than ever before.

The Shoei helmet maintains it’s SNELL rating while being lighter and more compact than ever before.

Shoei was able to make the RF1200 lighter and more compact as the shell of the RF1200 is made with Shoei’s AIM-PLUS or Advance Integrated Matrix Plus construction which is what Shoei uses in all Snell-rated products. This SHOEI-exclusive Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell is a high performance fiberglass composite. “The other layers are trade secret, but the layers have specific attributes that we wanted in the shell, whether it be sheer strength for a chin strap rivet or anti-penetration in the shell,” says Don Bailey, Shoei’s Technical Advisor.

This Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell construction includes the characteristics needed to make the RF1200 resistant to high impact energy. To obtain the characteristics needed for an impact-resistant shell, resin was applied in the mold during the manufacturing process and this resin was pressure injected to maintain a very light, uniform thickness throughout the shell to give it optimal attenuation or flex in order to distribute load throughout the helmet in as large of an area as possible.

Beneath the shell is the EPS, or Expanded Polystyrene, foam interior. This EPS interior shell has two different densities. The purpose of the dual density EPS is to get stiffer and bleed off more energy as the rider’s head presses against it during the event of a crash thus protecting the rider’s head from injury.

The Emergency Release function is annotated on the exterior of the helmet so the EMT’s know the helmet has this function. I knock on wood as I say this, as I have yet to crash-test-dummy proof this feature, but I feel better knowing that if I were in crash, the EMT’s job would be a little easier.

The Emergency Release function is annotated on the exterior of the helmet so the EMT’s know the helmet has this function. I knock on wood as I say this, as I have yet to crash-test-dummy proof this feature, but I feel better knowing that if I were in crash, the EMT’s job would be a little easier.

The Emergency Release Function

In addition to a high impact resistant shell and dual density EPS interior, the cheek pads of the RF1200 have the emergency release function or two red pull straps, integrated into them to create another line of defense for the rider. This is a feature that has been garnered from SHOEI’s technologically improved VFX-W and X-Twelve racing helmets.

Shoei began including this function in their helmets a fews years ago to help EMT’s remove the helmet safely and quickly from an unconscious rider without causing unnecessary damage to the rider’s neck. The EMT’s are able to pull the red straps at the bottom of the cheek pads and thus create a much bigger hole to pull the rider’s head straight through.

The padding inside is available in different sizes for a completely custom fit.

The padding inside is available in different sizes for a completely custom fit.

The RF1200‘s Inner Liner

The RF1200‘s 3D Max-Dry System II liner is three-dimensionally shaped to match the contours of a rider’s head and thus make the helmet fit comfortably. Pressing foam with spoons and pulling over to massage a pressure point is a thing of the past, as the RF1200 has a completely snug and contoured fit.

The cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers are fully removable, adjustable and replaceable through Shoei. The cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers can be removed from the helmet easily as they are snapped in. The cheek pads and center pads are available through Shoei in different thicknesses for a completely custom fit.

The padding of the Shoei RF1200 is made with Shoei’s exclusive Max-Dry System II liner material that is plush and soft to the touch. This material absorbs and dissipates sweat and moisture twice as fast as traditional Nylon interiors for riders who wear their helmets for longer periods of time. This technology is also borrowed from Shoei’s premium racing helmets.

How to Wash the RF1200‘s Helmet Liner

To best preserve the material of the cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers, it’s best to sink wash them with a mild shampoo. If you’re unable to get all of the shampoo out of the padding, it won’t irritate your skin like laundry detergent as it’s something you wash your head with on a regular basis.

Also, you don’t want to twist the padding while washing them. Squeeze them and then let them air dry. If you do this instead of tossing the padding in a laundry bag and machine washing them, they will last a lot longer. “We definitely recommend people do that because as you sweat and dirt gets in the padding, it clogs all the pores in the foam and that’s when they start packing down and not fitting very well,” says Don.

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The outer shell of the RF1200 is equipped with three large upper air intake vents as well as four large upper exhaust vents at the back of the helmet to improve air flow over the rider’s head. These vents can be easily opened or closed with gloves on.

 

There is a large lower air intake vent on the chin bar of the helmet in front of the rider’s mouth that when left open, can act as a defogger during misty early morning rides.

There is a large lower air intake vent on the chin bar of the helmet in front of the rider’s mouth that when left open, can act as a defogger during misty early morning rides.

The exhaust vents not only keep my head cool but keep me from being a bobble head on the freeway. Thank you Shoei!

The RF1200 has the exhaust vents in the spoiler to create a down force as air passes over the spoiler. This induces “negative pressure suction” to keep the rider’s head more stable and thus reduce wind buffeting.

Beneath the outer shell, the EPS liner is also equipped with tunnels to help cool the rider’s head during hot summer rides without compromising the integrity of the shell. I can attest to the awesomeness of a cool breeze while riding in toasty California weather and I give Shoei a hi-five to offering me some relief on the highway.

Beneath the outer shell, the EPS liner is also equipped with tunnels to help cool the rider’s head during hot summer rides without compromising the integrity of the shell. I can attest to the awesomeness of a cool breeze while riding in toasty California weather and I give Shoei a hi-five to offering me some relief on the highway.

The QR-E base plates are spring loaded so when the is shield installed, it is pulled back against the dual-lip window beading to keep the wind and rain out when the shield is closed.

The QR-E base plates are spring loaded so when the is shield installed, it is pulled back against the dual-lip window beading to keep the wind and rain out when the shield is closed.

Shield System

The new RF1200 is furnished with a CWR-1 Shield that protects against 99 percent of the sun’s damaging UV rays and is available clear and tinted. The visor is manufactured with a rib that molded into the inside of the visor around on the top and bottom edge. Per Shoei, this rib improves rigidity and eliminates bending that may occur due to wind pressure or during the opening and closing process.

Along with the CWR-1 shield, the RF-1200 has a new QR-E base plate system that makes shield changes quick and easy. The sun is usually down during my evening commutes and this new system makes having to change out my shield quick and convenient.

The base plates are also equipped with a five-stage rotating dial that provide nearly half a millimeter of adjustment. This doesn’t sound like much but can make a huge difference as the helmet wears over time.

The base plates are also equipped with a five-stage rotating dial that provide nearly half a millimeter of adjustment. This doesn’t sound like much but can make a huge difference as the helmet wears over time.

To remove the shield, simply pull the spring-loaded stirrup down and lift the shield away from the helmet.

To remove the shield, simply pull the spring-loaded stirrup down and lift the shield away from the helmet.

 

To put the shield on, hold the cam in the open position and line up the tabs and push it in.

To put the shield on, hold the cam in the open position and line up the tabs and push it in.

IMG_2260Fog Shield

The RF1200 visors have two posts on the inside to clip in the fog shield which uses Shoei’s PINLOCK® system. The fog shield is mist retardant and when used in conjunction with the visor, creates a clear field of view for the rider during foggy or misty rides.

The fog shield is not scratch resistant, however, and should only be cleaned with soapy water and a nonabrasive cloth then left to air dry before reassembling. The fog shield should only be used during the day and not at night. I found this out when I left it on during a night ride home. The fog shield created a bad reflection that obstructed my field of view and was very distracting.

To clip in the fog shield, flatten the visor and clip in on one side, then clip in the other side. Once the visor retains it’s curve, the fog shield will seal against it.

To clip in the fog shield, flatten the visor and clip in on one side, then clip in the other side. Once the visor retains it’s curve, the fog shield will seal against it.

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The chin skirt helped to reduce air flow on a cold morning ride.

The chin skirt helped to reduce air flow on a cold morning ride.

Options and Accessories

The Shoei RF1200 helmet is available in 22 different colors and graphics from sizes XS-XXL for an m.s.r.p. of $485.99 for solid colors and $589.99 for graphics. All RF1200 helmets come with the pertinent manuals, a nose guard, chin skirt, fog shield, helmet bag and a small bottle of Shoei visor lubricant for ease of shield installation.

Don’t forget all SHOEI helmets are backed by a five-year limited warranty which covers any manufacturer defects. I doubt you’ll find any! With more than 50 years experience, Shoei is an industry leader in R&D for helmet testing with a state-of-the-art wind tunnel facility based in Japan. Their helmets are made in-house making them well worth the money.

The RF1200 has the most wide range of use of all the helmets in Shoei’s product line. Whether you ride scooters, commute or do track days, the RF1200 will provide the comfortable fit and protection a rider needs. “It’s like the swiss army knife of the Shoei line where a lot of the other models are more focused on a particular type of riding,” says Don. Kudos to Shoei for creating this amazing helmet!

Click here to find a Shoei dealer nearest you.

Suzuki GSX-R600/750/1000 Throttle Adjustment

I had a friend ask me about a high idle problem she was having once her 2007 Suzuki GSX-R600 was warm after a long ride. She said the r.p.m.’s would climb to nearly 2,000, then drop down once the motor cooled off. I’m familiar with this problem, as the 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000 I’ve been riding was having a rough, low idle problem and would stall when cold. I corrected the idle, increasing the idle r.p.m.’s with the idle adjustment screw from 1,200 r.p.m’s to 1,500 r.p.m.’s, but the bike would still stall when cold then rev high when warm.

I then checked the valve clearances to the camshafts with a feeler gauge to make sure they weren’t too tight, as tight clearance from the tip of the valve stems to the cam shafts in the top end of the motor can cause stalling issues on higher mileage bikes. The clearances were all within factory specification, so I started up the bike and played with the fast idle screw, which is the smaller screw just underneath the idle adjustment screw on the throttle body. This screw controls the clearance between the arm (holding the throttle cables) and the larger idle adjustment screw.

There I found if I adjusted the fast idle screw too far up toward the arm thus creating a tight clearance between the two, it solved my rough idle issue but the r.p.m.’s would be too high once the bike was warm. Now that I knew I compensated too much, I adjusted the fast idle screw out so as to have a little bit of slack between the screw and the arm. With the bike running, I then rotated the larger idle adjustment in (toward the air box) and was able to solve both the rough idle problem and the high idle problem when the bike was warm. It was just a matter of getting the fast idle screw adjusted correctly before rotating the larger idle adjustment screw in or out.

The factory does not recommend messing with the fast idle screw, but if you are having a high idle problem, this can act as a band aid until you’re able to synch the throttle bodies during the next service. All you need is a 4mm or 5mm T-allen to remove the seat and gas tank and a phillips head screw driver (with a small butt handle, no bigger than your pinky finger) to adjust the screws. When you adjust the fast idle screw, you want just a little bit of slack between the screw and the arm. I learned this from the Kawasaki Team Green mechanics as they used to adjust the same type of screw inside the carburetor to sharpen throttle response on the KX250’s.

This is by far not a precise or factory recommended explanation, but it has worked for me.

The throttle body is located underneath the gas tank and air box, the idle adjustment screws are located on the left side or clutch side of the motorcycle.

The throttle body is located underneath the gas tank and air box, the idle adjustment screws are located on the left side or clutch side of the motorcycle.

 

The arm rests on the smaller fast idle screw. You want to adjust the smaller fast idle screw so that the arm has a little bit of slack before throttle sleeve engagement and rests softly on the larger idle screw. This takes a little bit of trial and error to get the right balance, but the end result is worth it.

The arm rests on the smaller fast idle screw. You want to adjust the smaller fast idle screw so that the arm has a little bit of slack before throttle sleeve engagement and rests softly on the larger idle screw. This takes a little bit of trial and error to get the right balance, but the end result is worth it.

 

Special Ink: Stacey “Get Gone” Hicks

I’m a huge fan of Stacey’s. Any woman who can make a decent living wrenching AND own her own shop is an awesome rarity that makes the world of motorcycling a very interesting place.

I had a chance to get to know Stacey a little bit through this interview I did for IMS. I admit, I was completely enamored by her, her life, her mechanical know how and her shop. She owns RFL Customz, a motorcycle shop specializing in sport bike customization. But not only is she a confident black woman who can wrench like a pro, but she also works alongside her daughters and together, they can do pretty much anything when it comes to transforming a sportbike into a one-of-a-kind show piece. Stacey’s shop is currently being filmed for the Cafe Racer TV show, so we will probably be seeing more of Stacey, her shop and her family on TV soon.

There is nothing this woman can’t do. I would love to see one of her customs in person.

Luckily, Stacey took some time out between builds and filming to tell me a little about two of her tattoos, which have special meaning to her.

Stacey’s words:

“Get Gone” Motorcycles. I’m adding a custom bike by Stacey to my bucket list.

“These are two of my most important tats. The one on the elbow is a symbol of a bike build I did where I converted a sport bike into a Harley Davidson-style bike to match the customer’s Harley truck. At the time, he did not want a Harley, but bought one later anyway!

A piece of living history on Stacey’s body.

The tattoo of the “35” is to memorialize my late Dad, Roger Brown, who was the first Indiana Pacer signed in 1969.”

MI Featured Rider of the Week: Stunt Rider Lily Garcia

Lily aboard a 2010 Kawasaki ZX6-R. Photo by tavaresashanti.com. Make-up by Christina Poplett. Photo shoot at Blue Monkey Tatto in Rialto, CA.

Meet Lily Garcia. Stylish, sleek black hair, glasses, bright white smile. She’s approachable, friendly and when I first met her, I knew she rode, but I had no idea how well. It’s funny how we got started on the conversation of what a stunt rider looks like. She’s about as feminine as they come with a bubbly personality – no sign of a tom boy on her. It was obvious that first impressions can be deceiving. Just check out her ink.

Lily’s mermaid tattoo, a symbol of her days as a junior olympic swimmer.

She’s got a mermaid on her forearm, a visible remnant of her days as a junior olympic swimmer. “It helps me to remember a huge part of my life,” she says, understandable considering how important fitness is to maintaining control of your machine while performing stunts.

Having fun on a sunny day. Free and uninhibited like the ink on her arms.

Her 2008 Suzuki GSXR-600 started off as a showroom beauty, white and gold with gleaming plastics, at least until Lily met Tony Carbajal. She saw what he could do and found her calling. She started playing around on a mountain bike before transferring her curiosity to her gixxer. “You’re going to eat it,” she says when I asked if she was scared when she first tried to do wheelies. But she insists the occasional get-off is worth it to basque in the adrenaline rush it produces. And if you think about it, her stunt born street fighter machine has much more personality anyway.

For Lily, it’s all about enjoying the time you spend on your motorcycle. Grab life by the handlebars and ride it like no one is watching.

Once I talked to Lily, it was apparent the high that drives her stems from independence and breaking through the walls we build for ourselves. She does things most people are too scared to try and she believes in herself every step of the way. When she tells other people about her love for stunting and they shake their heads in disbelief, she shrugs her shoulders and says, “I did something I never thought I could do.” Her unbreakable heart and steadfast spirit are a model for other women to resemble. I was so impressed with Lily, not just because she does stunts like staggers and burn outs, but because she doesn’t let others’ opinions get her down. She lives her life to the fullest, practicing three to four hours a day to fine tune her skills.

Lily stands tall the way many women wish they could. Why not follow her example and start living your life the way you want to!

I asked her if she wanted to compete and it seemed the thought hadn’t crossed her mind. “I do it cause it’s fun,” she says, that feeling of freedom and release being her only motivation for lofting a front wheel to the sky. But she’s still humble. “It’s something to do,”she says. Although her modesty was admirable, I have a feeling this “something to do” is only the beginning for Lily.

Lily’s floral collection that she proudly displays on her upper arm.

Lily’s featured ink is her upper arm tattoo, a collection of flora including the Diablo Dahlia, Tiger Lilly, Hibiscus and Cherry Blossoms. The color is the perfect compliment to her olive skin and she wears it proudly.