Safety, utility, and functionality for every rider... not just those who are into on-road, off-road, or Dual Sport riding.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- May 4, 2009
2009 Shoei Hornet DS – $456.99 in black and available in an assortment of solid colors for $489.99. A good helmet is one of the most important bike investments you can make.
Motorcycles are great fuel saving transportation solutions endorsed by CleanMPG, and here we look in detail at one of the most important pieces of safety gear available for riders. This helmet includes the very latest in safety technology, and though cranial protection is neglected or even spurned by some riders, it is absolutely indispensable. After a few email exchanges, we were kindly presented with the opportunity to take Shoei Helmet Corporation's latest dual sport Hornet DS model out for a test ride around LA and its suburbs.
Shoei’s history starts with general purpose helmet manufacturing in a small Tokyo facility back in 1959. By 1960, Shoei had begun manufacturing its first motorcycle specific helmets and in 1962, Shoei received its first Japanese helmet safety certification. Although helmets certified to the standards in place 50-years ago are in no way comparable to today’s certifications, this was a small but important step in Shoei’s evolution as a company. They went on to become what is now one of the most respected and trusted names in the industry.
Shoei’s commitment to helmet safety continues today with a line of helmets covering almost every motor sport including our favorite -- motorcycles. Any company celebrating its 50th anniversary in the helmet business deserves special consideration, and the Shoei Hornet DS certainly proves a celebration is in order!
Auto racing, motorcycling, bicycling, skiing, and any other activity incorporating speed, agility, and an exposed head all impose risks of injury leading to death or permanent disability. Simply put, a helmet is the single most effective means of preventing severe injuries during an accident. Helmets are also designed to keep debris from impacting the face and eyes of the wearer, usually providing some level of glare reduction in addition to important impact protection.
In June 2005, Motorcyclist wrote up an unorthodox article entitled Motorcycle Helmet Performance: Blowing the Lid Off - Searching for the truth behind motorcycle helmet design, helmet standards and actual head protection
. It provided a detailed overview of motorcycle helmet certification standards and attributes however its conclusions are not even close to actual accident reality and some of its authors have disavowed being a part of the slapped together study and its conclusions...
A motorcycle helmet should be worn any
time you straddle the bike and turn the key. When choosing a helmet, be sure to pick one with a color to “be seen
”. All black is not recommended due to visibility issues, but a black helmet is much better than no helmet at all! An uncomfortable or non-aesthetically pleasing helmet is much less likely to be worn; be sure to get a proper, comfortable fit along with a “cool factor” so you'll actually want to wear the gear.
Shoei helmet philosophy
Shoei product development is focused not only on maximum impact protection but also on comfort; according to the company, this has a critical influence on rider concentration and thus overall safety. Models guaranteeing a perfect fit provide enhanced protection and few in the industry do this better than Shoei.
2009 Shoei Hornet DS - Competitive Comparisons
2009 Shoei Hornet DS – Comfort and Features
|Shoei||Hornet DS||$456.99 - $489.99|
Dual Sport riders have been faced with a predicament since the first on-off road bikes came into existence. Should they ride with a full face, on-road helmet lacking the air flow, visibility, eye shade, and style of a motocross helmet... or use the motocross helmet, goggles, and buffeting visor on the street with its limited face protection, high levels of wind noise, and lack of thermal protection in temperatures below 60 degrees F?
The crossover Shoei Hornet DS Dual Sport presents a solution to this dilemma.
The Hornet DS was first introduced in 2007 and with the removable visor detached; riders can hit the streets without sacrificing comfort, performance, or safety. When it's time to go off-road, they can attach the visor, remove the shield, and (after adding goggles) play in the dirt all-day long with full frontal ventilation. This helmet truly offers the best of both worlds.
As most bikers will discover, a simple “Just wear it” is where the Hornet DS excels. Offering two helmets for the price of one without sacrificing capability under any scenario is a win-win for any rider. Besides looking the part on a Dual Sport rider's head (yes, it really does
), the Hornet DS offers features which will satisfy even the purist road rider.
To start, the shield can be adjusted from fully closed to full open under the visor using 4 separate detente positions. Ventilation is handled by 4 adjustable intake and 3 exhaust vents. Some of the intake air coming in through the nose piece is deflected upward to help prevent fogging of the shield when fully closed. A chin curtain is also included to prevent drafts -- both decreasing noise and adding warmth on the coldest of rides.
2009 Shoei Hornet DS – Impressions
Adorned with the excellent Shoei Hornet DS on the Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, CA.
Throughout over 140 miles of riding the Hornet DS performed superbly. This travel included stop light to stop light riding from Anaheim to Huntington Beach in 80-90 degree daytime temps, as well as a 70 mph jaunt up the I-5 and into the foothills in 60-70 degree temps at night.
During stop light to stop light rides in the heat of the day, I lifted the visor up two detentes whenever stopped. This allowed enough cooling to make the warmer temps tolerable. As soon as I was under way again, dropping the shield let the very capable Hornet DS ventilation take over. This procedure kept me comfortable for well over three hours of riding in the warmest of temperatures.
While on the Interstate, lift and buffeting due to the attached visor begins just above 60 mph on a non-fairing equipped '09 XR650L. Even then it was not really a battle, as the buffeting was quite mild. Opening the shield to its first two detentes while on the Interstate revealed yet another excellent design attribute... the shield stayed where it was put. When riders encounter temperatures approaching 110 degrees F and need maximum ventilation, this capability will serve them well without sacrificing safety.
Opening the shield is a simple affair requiring only the push of a small black plastic tab incorporated into the lower left side of it. Each detente engages with a positive feel, yet the shield can easily be moved to the next one with only a small amount of additional pressure.
An unexpected feature is to be found in the temple area of the variable EPS (variable density E
olystyrene inner S
hell) -- there is a slight indent which allows sunglasses' frames to slide right in without compromising the snug fit and safety of the helmet. This is an ingenious addition for those of us who wear sunglasses under full face shields and is further proof that Shoei continues to think outside the box.
One additional feature that I did not use is the ability to wear goggles beneath the shield -- the rider can simply close the shield over the straps.
All in, the Hornet DS offers reasonable noise attenuation, excellent ventilation, and superior utility.
For more technical design details, you can download the product release PDF from the following location: Shoei Hornet DS – Technical documentation
Shoei Helmet Corporations Bret Milan – Hornet DS Overview
2009 Shoei Hornet DS – Conclusion
A comparison to the Arai’s XD 3 crossover will come at a future date but the Hornet DS’ minimal wind noise, reliable shield detentes, easy to use shield install and removal hardware, and lower price makes it one of the two helmets of choice for Dual Sport riders. It is also one of the most comfortable and stylish helmets available on the market today. Adorned with the latest DOT FMVSS 218 and SNELL 2005 certifications, the Hornet DS’ safety is also top notch. Now if only Shoei would add some of the slick paint jobs available for most of their full face, all-road helmet lineup...
In conclusion, the Hornet DS offers both maximum head protection and
maximum comfort. Though its standard attributes really don't differ much from offerings delivered by other high quality helmet manufacturers, what almost no other company offers is that on-road to off-road conversion utility. The ability to ride pavement to the store or across the country with the utility to go off-road on a whim (while looking the part!) makes this helmet a must have for any Dual Sport rider.
Individual behind the scenes
I would like to thank Bret Milan of the Shoei Helmet Corporation for allowing CleanMPG to take the Hornet DS out for a ride and for providing the overview.