Date reviewed: September 2019 | Tested by: Steve Lamb | Price: £349.99 | www.shoeiassured.co.uk
Squarely aimed at the classic and neo-classic bike rider, Shoei's latest open-faced helmet – the J.O on review here – gives you the retro look while still being packed with the latest tech.
I've been wearing this Carburettor TC-6 for three months (though I do also own a matt brown J.O that I bought several years ago) mainly of my Ducati Scrambler, but also on scooters such as the Vespa 300 and Yamaha's XMax. I like the easy-going nature of an open-face helmet, and when combined with goggles and a neck tube or buff, I feel secure enough against summer bugs and stones.
The J.O utilises Shoei's AIM (Advanced Integrated Matrix) shell – a mix of organic and composite fibres giving a medium density material that absorbs impacts well, and claims to retain strength even in the event of a second impact. While I've not put it to the test (nor do I intend to) having seen the Shoei test and production facility, it's reassuring to know that the company’s latest material developments extend to the open-face helmets too.
Open-face helmets are naturally lighter than full-face or modular lids, and this is illustrated by the J.O, which weighs in at just 1,000g, against a typical full-face weight of around 1,600g+.
While being very lightweight, don’t let that fool you into thinking it's not a luxury product - it has a quality feel that belies its weight.
As you would expect with an open face helmet , additional vents are not very high on the list of priorities. On the J.O, it comprises two small exhaust holes in the bottom edge of the rear liner, and that’s it. When you have a 50mph wind blowing in your face, how much more do you need?
With the integral visor down, there is some air that is funnelled up by your face, under the bottom of the visor and into your eyes. While this does provide a nice breeze, it can also lead to watering eyes – the last thing you need at 60mph – so wearing sunglasses can help.
On hotter days, ie this summer's 30°C+, as with all helmets my head was soon sweaty, the lining wet and no amount of venting would help as the incoming air is just as hot as that exiting.
The J.O has an integral visor (also used on the Shoei Ex-Zero) that retracts in to the shell. It’s easy to deploy with tabs each side, which also double as cheek guards, removing any sharp edges from your face. Once down there are three position locations thanks to discreet levers that once set, allow the fit to be adjusted to each wearer. I found that the middle setting allowed some air in without allowing flies and bugs in and being claustrophobic.
If you prefer to wear goggles, there is a strap loop the rear with a very strong popper to keep it in place. I’ve used the J.O with a pair of Biltwell Overland goggles that I bought from Krazy Horse and fit very well in the face aperture and hold in place, even at speed.
The J.O is fitted with a plush fleece lining that has leather and suede inserts along the top and bottom edges to give that vintage retro feel. The centre and cheek pads are removable to allow for ease of washing, but also to allow fine tuning using different size pads (available from Shoei).
There is a large label on the inner lining that I found tends to crunch and scrunch when riding; not a deal breaker but a bit distracting at times.
The J.O is fitted with a classic double-D ring fastening which I much prefer over any seatbelt of ratchet strap. It’s a nice simple operation with a stud fastener to keep the loose end from flapping.
Fit is, as always, entirely subjective and many people struggle with open face helmets, but what attracted me to the J.O over others is the slimline design. Many can look like a melon on your head – bulbous and tall – but the J.O is slim enough to look great with or without goggles.
Open-face helmets are never going to be quiet, but with the visor down noise is minimised as much as it can sensibly be. There are no weird draughts or whistles and the relatively tight fit ensures that your ears are as protected as can be. We would always recommend riding with earplugs, and this is no exception.
For more information on why earplugs are vital with any helmet, and advice on which are the best, click here.
I love an open helmet for sunny evening rides, short hops into town or commuting. The feel-good vibe from an open-face cannot be beaten.
The J.O Carburettor TC-6 fits in very nicely with the current retro movement – while I could never recommend it as an everyday do-everything helmet, if you have some spare cash and want to treat yourself to a new lid to go with your scrambler, brat or classic, then the J.O should be high up your list thanks to its excellent build quality.