Shoei X-SPR Pro review

XSP-R motorcycle helmet review

I’ve been out and about testing the flagship Shoei X-SPR Pro road and track motorcycle helmet this summer, and even took the chance to try out Shoei’s PFS bespoke fitting service.


The Shoei X-SPR Pro now sits at the top of the Shoei sports road and track range of helmets, taking up the place that used to belong to the venerable X-Spirit III. Like that product, the X-SPR is the choice for Shoei fans looking for a track-biased lid. And for this totally new helmet, Shoei has utilised a certain Mr Marquez to help with its development.

For this latest and greatest Shoei the team went back to the drawing board, using the ethos of the X-Spirit III as an inspiration, but that’s not to say this is merely an updated helmet.

Shoei X-SPR Pro price

As is always the case with lids, the price you actually pay can vary vastly from the RRP, but at the time of writing the X-SPR Pro starts at £699.99 for the matte black item I have, and rises to £819.99 for the Marquez Dazzle TC-1 you can see above. While that does put this product at the premium end of the spectrum, compared it to the competition it actually looks pretty good value. Both the FIM-approved AGV Pista GP RR and Arai RX-7V come in slightly more expensive, at £999.99 and £749.99 respectively.

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Shoei X-SPR Pro review

Shoei went to town with the development of the latest helmet, claiming to go through 150 iterations of the shell and testing every one of them on the track and in the wind tunnel. The result is a totally different shape to that found on the X-Spirit III, with a slightly more aggressive and angular look. A lot of the work went into shaping the tunnels and gullies that channel air at high speed, helping to keep the rider’s head stable while riding on the track.

The team has also been working on improving the ventilation, and as a result the exterior features a total of five frontally mounted inlets and two top-mounted exhaust vents. The front five inlets are all fully and partially closeable, while to the top two exhausts are always open.

Shoei X-SPR Pro - shell and vents

Having ridden extensively on road and track with the X-SPR, I can tell you that Shoei has improved the airflow considerably when compared to the X-Spirit III. A new innovation for this lid is the cheek cooling system, which is fed cool air from the lowest of the two chin-mounted vents. The fresh air is then fed out of tiny holes mounted in the rear of the visor mechanism and it made a noticeable difference on track. The slightly larger of the two chin vents doesn’t cool your face, and instead acts as a deminster, although that vent is mainly redundant as I always have the Pinlock installed.

On the forehead area of the helmet, you have a large air scoop that surrounds the Shoei logo which includes closeable vents on the left, right and centre. The central vent is fairly easy to open and close, even when on the fly, while the two on either side can be a bit fiddly. These inlets cool the crown of your head, with the central vent cooling the centre and the left and right vents acting on their respective sides. It’s these that I struggled to feel while I was riding. I’m assuming they do quite a bit (given how big the inlet scoop is), and am putting it down to the cheek cooling being direct to skin, and not battling through your hair, which is diminishing the effect.

Is the Shoei X-SPR Pro stable on track?

The 2023 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S launch provided me with the perfect chance to get to grips with the new X-SPR, and as I was such a fan of the X-Spirit III, I was keen to see how it performed. Like the helmet it’s replacing, the new track-focused X-SPR is super stable at speed, and even topping 160mph on the back straight at Almeria it felt like it was scything through the air nicely. The rear-mounted stabilisers have been re-shaped, and there are new tunnels that feed air from the top of the shell, through to the low-pressure vortex which forms at the rear of the helmet. Both of these systems are designed to work specifically with race leathers that feature a large aero hump - riding on the road sat bolt upright on your MT-09 might be completely different!

It’s not all good news from the first track ride though, because I did encounter one strange trait on track and it came at the end of the straight when I sat up to get on the brakes. The helmet would lift slightly when I came out of the tucked position to get on the brakes, although it only ever happened at the end of the back straight at very high speed. I’d estimate the movement was not more than four or five millimetres, but it was noticeable enough to have me tightening my chinstrap in preparation for the next lap. While tightening the strap helped the situation, it didn’t totally fix it. So after the launch, I got on to Shoei’s UK PR team to get some advice.

Shoei recommended I get booked in for what they call the Personal Fitting Service or PFS - and no, before you say it, this isn’t something that is reserved for pampered journos and racers only. Anyone can book in to have it done, although there may be a fee. It takes place at some but not all of Shoei’s approved retailers and service centres, and involves a technician taking a few measurements of your bonce and then feeding them into a laptop along with the model and size of the lid you are using. After a bit of number crunching the system will give the technician instructions on where to add or remove the internal padding to get the perfect fit. After another 20 minutes of swapping out some pads from the skull cap mine was complete and placing it on my head for the first time it was immediately clear of the difference. The system had added padding at the back and side of the inside of the lid, and the next time I rode on track in the X-SPR Pro the lifting had almost totally cured. There was still the tiniest bit of movement, but it was 99.9 per cent better than when I’d first used it on track.

Shoei X-SPR Pro visor

The X-SPR is fitted with a CWR-F2R visor, and no, I have no idea what that means either! What I can tell you is that the visor aperture is vast, giving you a great field of view while fully tucked behind the screen. Should you need to angle the visor and helmet up a bit more - I’m looking at you teenage Moto3 racers - you can pivot the cheek pads of the helmet back to obtain a more relaxed or racy position as required.

On the road and away from the track, I always have Pinlock installed and as such it’s never suffered from any fogging no matter the weather. The view through the visor (even with the Pinlock installed) is also perfectly clear, with no distortion which I assume is down to the flat visor design with no convex curve. It’s something that also makes the use of racing tear-offs much easier, as you don’t have to worry about getting so many bubbles between the layers of the tear-off.

It’s impressive how much safety technology the team have Shoei-horned into the visor. Special visor locks work to prevent the visor from popping off should you take a tumble through the gravel and form part of the latest FIM regulations. The first visor lock is on the front of the lid and It slides to partially cover the locking mechanism holding it in place. It might go some way to explain why Marc Marquez can never open his visor when he’s stumbling around the gravel in a daze. The second is a system that prevents the thumb-operated visor removal buttons from being pressed by locking them with a small red cam. This system isn’t the sort you’re going to use often, because it’s quite small and too fiddly to do. Just remember to close the lock when you put your visor back in and you’re covered and won’t have to touch it again until you swap out your visor again.

Is the Shoei X-SPR Pro a quiet helmet?

As with any motorcycle helmet, earplugs should always be worn, not doing so could seriously damage your hearing - consider yourselves warned! But on the noise front, I do find the Shoei X-SPR Pro to be a very quiet lid. It’s marginally quieter than my Arai RX-7V, and significantly more peaceful when cruising than the AGV Pista RR. Any lid will become noisy when you hit the track, but for normal road riding I’d say the X-SPR is the quietest of the more track-focused helmets I’ve tested.

Is the Shoei X-SPR Pro a comfortable helmet?

So this is a tale of two halves, and prior to my PFS session, I found the X-SPR to be marginally more comfortable than it is now. It’s not that it’s unwearable, not at all. But if I’m heading out on a long ride wearing it, like my 200-mile trip to the office for instance, I’ll be getting a bit of a tension headache after around two hours of riding. It is important to remember, though, that this is a track helmet, created for and tested on the circuit, where riding for two hours straight without stopping just doesn’t happen. But that’s not how everyone uses their helmet, and there will be some riders out there simply looking at the X-SPR as a road-going lid, and quite possibly just because they are a Marc Marquez fan. For those of you looking at the X-SPR as a track-only helmet, fear not. Over the course of a five-session track day I had no problems on the comfort front, and the liner dries out quickly between sessions which is helpful in hot weather.

Shoei X-SPR Pro verdict

I was a very big fan of the X-Sprit III. It was my do-it-all choice and came with me on track launches, commutes to the office and even a tour of Germany for the BMW Motorrad Days event. I loved the comfort, the look, and the stability, so was keen to see if lightning could strike twice with the X-SPR.

On most fronts, Shoei has succeeded in improving on that previous design, with the biggest strides coming thanks to improved ventilation and stability from the new range-topping lid. And while I’ve not found the Shoei X-SPR to be quite as comfortable over long distances as its predecessor was, I have a myriad of other touring lids that I use for that, and this one is now solely reserved for riding on track. What is a big bonus is the FIM homologation, and for those club racers and track dayers out there, I have a feeling that it won’t be long before the FIM-approved kit is the only option if you’re looking to get out on track.

You can check out the Shoei X-SPR Pro in use below, at the launch of the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S.

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You can find out more about the Shoei X-SPR Pro on the official website.

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