Perhaps the best thing that can ever be said about a helmet is nothing.
Sound weird? Well, ask yourself how many times you’ve thought about your helmet while you’re riding - and then ask how often that thought has been positive.
Most of the time a helmet makes us aware of its existence by causing us an issue of some sort - discomfort, noise, visor misting, fiddly vents and catches.
But the new Shoei X-SPR Pro did what I now know we should all desire from a helmet - to be left to get on with the tricky endeavour of riding a motorcycle, without dealing with distractions from the thing strapped to our head.
I realised this after a series of track sessions around Cadwell Park, where I’d turned up with the almost sole reason of exploring the performance and potential of Shoei’s new race helmet.
Having been thoroughly focused on the task of riding an excellent Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR around my favourite strip of tarmac, I forgot to devote any thought to the helmet at all.
Initially annoyed with myself, I then realised I’d learnt exactly what I came to find out.
The new helmet proved itself perfectly stable at 130mph on Cadwell’s two straightest bits, gave brilliant forward vision when crouched low behind the Triumph’s screen, and didn’t push back against my head at speed, either.
The Pinlock Evo insert (a Pinlock 120 in the terminology of any brand other than Shoei) gave perfect clarity through the visor and held all mist at bay.
The open vents also kept enough air flowing to stop me overheating badly, even though it was 26°C and three years away from proper track riding left me almost bereft of track riding fitness or sharpness.
This all backed up the experience I’d had on the road, where the new X-SPR Pro excelled in the 300 miles or so that I’d racked up on the Speed Triple and my own Yamaha FZ-1 Fazer.
The new lid, which will replace Shoei’s X-Spirit 3 in September 2022, has the same shell material as its predecessor, and retains many of the key features that made it so popular.
The lining is nearly identical in materials, but is now adjustable in the sense that its positioning can be tweaked, and you will also be able to add extra padding at the top, front, back and each temple to finetune the fit for you.
It can also be converted into race mode, which tilts the lid back slightly for even better forward vision when tucked in. Unlike the X-Spirit 3, the new helmet’s cheekpads have to come out to make this adjustment.
I wore the lid in the normal mode throughout my track sessions and never once thought I’d need to alter the angle, though it’s good to know the option’s there on even more crunched-up bikes than the clip-on-clad Speed Triple 1200RR.
The aerodynamic scoops and stabilisers remain from the X-Spirit 3, though they’re reshaped around the bottom to better cut through the air.
It’s a sign of the times that the helmet meets the newer ECE 22.06 standard for road use, along with the FIM approval required for international road racing events.
The construction of the lid is typically high quality and there is a reassuring feel of safety that comes from wearing a lid like this.
Perhaps the most noticeable change is the visor, which is very similar to the one fitted to the Japanese company's 2021 release, the Shoei NXR 2.
It’s the CWR-F2R visor, which is flatter across the front than the NXR 2’s CWR-F2 visor to help racing tear-offs sit properly on the surface.
The baseplates that hold the visor to the lid are also revised for the X-SPR Pro, with two red tabs to help it stay firmly attached in the event of an accident.
Turn those two tabs towards the base of the helmet and the levers for removing the visor are disabled.
Like the NXR 2, the visor lifts and lowers from a central tab that has a reasonably strong lock on its final push down against the chinbar seal.
You need to push a release button just under the latch to release it when lifting. At first I found this a fiddle, but the motion became more natural with time in the helmet.
For a complete lock there’s a sliding tab that moves across and blocks off the lifting tab, making it all but impossible to lift it.
That tab, if moved across before lowering the visor, makes it stay open by just a small amount to allow in some airflow.
It may be fiddly at times, but the new visor gives a good balance of security and ease of use.
The venting is designed to work best when crouched low on the bike and in my experience it cools the inside temperature gently rather than by dragging in a load of windblast against the skin.
The two chin vents direct air through the chinbar to small exits by the mouth and cheeks and the top vents feel as though they’re more about extraction of warm air than induction of cool air.
Noise from the lid was a little higher than normal when I wore it on my Fazer, but was pretty average when riding the Triumph.
It wasn’t problematic on either bike as I wear earplugs, but a quiet ride wouldn’t have been top of Shoei’s design objectives for this helmet so hoping a race lid will be quiet always involves a degree of optimism.
I’ve worn all three versions of the X-Spirit series over the years and each sequel has been slightly better than the previous. That improvement continues with this X-SPR Pro, which takes the idea of the race helmet and moves it on that little bit further.
It’s reassuringly well built, steady at speed, gives great vision and just lets me get on with what I should be concentrating on - riding.
Click here to shop the Shoei X-SPR race helmet.