Scorpion EXO-900 Transformer – Rider’s Review

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: The CE rated Scorpion EXO-900 is really a Swiss Army knife sort of helmet with a variety of features and plenty of versatility. The price seems more than reasonable to me too.

I took note of the Scorpion EXO-900 when it came out but I didn’t focus on it because I wasn’t interested in a modular unit. Now that I am an eyeglass wearer (see my previous post entitled Eyeglass Update) I have taken a closer look at the whole modular helmet scenario. I like the Scorpion because it is versatile, well thought out, CE rated and (absolutely mandatory for me) comes in a hi-viz flavor.

My head girth rings in at 60 cm.  This usually puts me right on the cusp of the medium and large dome sizes. Scorpion’s size chart steers me to the large. I popped it on and found, voila, the best fitting helmet I have ever had. The EXO-900 fits my head perfectly. I am what is known as a medium oval and this helmet feels as though it was custom crafted for my skull bone.

Ok, let’s start going through the features. The EXO-900 has a drop-down, fighter pilot, style of sunvisor. You work it with a modest push or pull on a left side lever and its easy with a gloved hand. The action is quick and smooth. When the visor drops down it pops gently off of your nose and then back up a little. Your nose may vary but for me it was just a gentle tap and then it was resting without contact. It retracts pretty easily too. The visor never got in the way of my eyeglasses. The visor is not polarized but it is dark enough to cut down on bright sunlight and its a neutral grey color. I would have preferred a nice brown lens but that’s me.

The whole modular unit hinges up and down by pulling outward on a red button on the chinbar. This too is easily done with a gloved hand. The chinbar moves up and rests on the top of the helmet. The motion is easy and sure. Scorpion goes you one better and once you have positioned the chinbar in the right place and pulled back on the 2 safety catches you can remove the chinbar unit in its entirety thereby leaving you with an open-faced helmet (with the drop-down sun visor.) That’s a neat trick. The mounting points are two bayonet style tabs in the chinbar. The tabs work in combination with the spring loaded safety catches that open up the receiving holes a bit so that you can insert the tabs. This whole operation is a bit tricky at first…and second … but by the fifth time I had it knocked. Please note that I have a bit of a hard time with shield swap outs and I have always found my Arai shields a bit of a test so I am clearly not the standard by which this process should be judged.

When you have finished removing the chinbar its time to install what Scorpion calls the “3/4 Peak Visor.” This is a plastic crescent that sits atop the upper ridge of the helmet’s face opening and snaps down along the sides of the face opening of the helmet. This makes the helmet look more like an open-faced helmet with a mini-bill, like the Shoei RJ Platinum-R. The Peak Visor uses the same bayonet and latch points that the chinbar utilizes. Once you suss the lineup, and with some practice, it also pops on and off pretty quickly. Make sure its all fully seated before you put the helmet on.

There are only two vents on the helmet and that makes sense – if you want more air take the chinbar off. Both vents open and close easily with a gloved hand: a top vent and a rear vent. I rode with the chinbar down and both vents open on a 78° day and it wasn’t stuffy inside the helmet.

The helmet has Scorpion’s air pump “Airfit” system that inflates segments of the padding around the lower part of your chin. There is a rubberized, red, circular button on the rear helmet padding: push the button – inflate the air bag. Press a small button next to the big button and release the air, hey presto. You do this with the helmet on your head and you stop when it feels right. The action on my test helmet was pretty minor so I took another Scorpion off the shelf to check it out. Apparently the inflated bag isn’t huge and the effects are subtle. I assume it will work to keep the helmet in place when you land and I can’t find any reason not to like it as long as it holds up. This is yet another clever idea from Scorpion. I have been an Arai person for years and years but I am starting to like these guys. I recently reviewed one of the Scorpion jackets and I liked the way that was put together too.

Having said that I must note that because the helmet is a modular it is necessarily heavier than my Arai. Because the Scorpion EXO-900 is a modular it is also noisier than my Arai full-face. I wear custom molded ear plugs and I also have tinnitus (life takes it tolls) so I may not be the most critical evaluator of wind noise. My testing equipment has been repeatedly and foolishly placed next to too many mega-concert speakers and has been hung out in the wind on too many unhelmeted motorcycle rides. Ahh, that’s all behind me now – sorry, what did you say?

I have two bikes, one has a moderate sized windscreen (bigger than a sport bike thumbnail but smaller than, say, a Vetter) and the other has no screen at all. The wind coming off of my screen at freeway speeds hit the helmet at an angle that seemed to catch under the ¾ Peak Visor and push my head back more than I am accustomed to. I am going to go for a ride without the chinbar and Peak Visor just to see what the wind does to the helmet on both bikes. The wind thing is tricky and you really have to match the helmet to your bike as well as to your head.

The padding material is wicking, removable and washable and feels like flannel pj’s. against your delicate skin. No, really.  As I said at the top the helmet’s interior fit me perfectly and yeah, way comfy.

The visor is billed as super strong and optically correct. From what I hear Scorpion has the visor thing down. It is also equipped with an anti-fog treatment called “EverClear” (no, not the same stuff) that they guarantee for a year. I have just gotten used to my Arai Pinlock system and fog is a thing of the past for me but riding around with EXO-900 I noticed no fogging either with the sun visor up or down. There is a chin curtain that snaps into place as well.

There are a variety of colors but quite frankly all I care about is hi-viz. They have it – I like it.

Oh – lest I forget, there are also external ports built into the helmet for a communication system. Just pop out the cover plates and install the comm.system. Scorpion does not make its own proprietary system but a host of manufacturer’s have designed adapter plates for this helmet. If you want a comm. system this should be a straightforward alteration.

All in all this is a dandy helmet and it is another of those products that I find to be well made and feature packed. Helmets keep getting better every year.  If you are already a modular wearer this one is a fine replacement and if you wear glasses this is a strong candidate for your next helmet.

Gerde Applethwaite

Nolan N-104 vs Shoei Neotec

Both Nolan and Shoei are known for making premium helmets and now they are releasing their version of what a modular/flip-up helmet should be.  With the upcoming release of the HJC RP-Max this spring, it should be a great year for modular helmets.  See our comparison of the Nolan N-104 and Shoei Neotec below!

Shoei has already released their Neotec modular helmet and they are going fast!  The Neotec is available in 7 solid colors including: black, matte black, anthracite, white, light silver, wine and brilliant yellow.  The Nolan N-104 is available in solids too but is also offered in 17 stunning colors!

Both helmets are chock full of amazing features but the choice is made easier by the difference in fit. According to webBikeWorld.com, “…the Neotec [has an] internal shape and fit (“neutral” to “slightly round”), while the N-104 is neutral to “slightly narrow”. Riders who have already established brand loyalty by fit should have an easy time choosing.

Shoei Neotec Modular HelmetSHOEI NEOTEC FEATURES:

  • Flip-up chin bar & face shield
  • Noise-reduction design
  • Stainless steel components within pivot locking system
  • 3 Shell sizes
  • XS-XXL sizing
  • Internal sun shield (QSV-1)
  • New CNS-1 shield (wider and taller than the previous CX-1V shield)
  • Pinlock anti-fog shield & lens system included
  • Fully removable 3D interior liner
  • Interchangeable cheekpads to customize comfort & fit
  • Channeled dual-layer EPS liner enhances ventilation
  • Features EPS liner in chin bar
  • Breath guard and chin curtain included
  • D.O.T.

Nolan helmets continue to improve with every model released.  This March the new N-104 modular helmet will be released in solids and graphics.  That’s right, the N-104 will be available in graphics which gives riders more options.  Just to give you an idea of how amazing Nolan helmets are, all manufacturing and painting is done in house at their facility in Italy. The Nolan N-104 has also received praise for its enlarged eye port which gives the wearer an increased field of vision.

Nolan N-104 Modular HelmetNOLAN N-104 FEATURES:

  •     Injected polycarbonate GE Lexan shell
  •     2 shell engineering allows Nolan to offer sizes from 2XS to 3XL
  •     Dimensionally correct sizing allows ample cubic volume in chin/nose area
  •     Ultra-wide eye port opening is the largest on any Nolan helmet for superior vision
  •     So unique that faceshields are sized to fit the 2 shell sizes
  •     Centromatic chin guard opening mechanism
  •     Shield is changed by a simple push button mechanism
  •     Pinlock shield included with each helmet
  •     New VPS System
  •     VPS lens is scratch and fog resistant
  •     New AIRBOOSTER ventilation system
  •     Removable, washable interior is anti-fungal and anti-microbial
  •     New Microlock2 retention system
  •     Factory ready for the new B4 N-com system
  •     Meets or exceeds D.O.T. standards

The Shoei Neotec: a new Helmet Contender

The new Shoei Neotec Modular Helmet is expected to be one of the most versatile flip-up helmets for 2012.  Modular helmets have skyrocketed in popularity as a broadening number of riders seek more versatility from their lids. Shoei took what made the Multitec a huge hit, made some improvements, and designed a new helmet contender.

When fully closed the Neotec resembles a full face helmet by bearing a chin bar for absorbing face impacts.  The chin bar can be pivoted upwards allowing riders to eat or drink without unfastening the chinstrap or taking off the helmet. If you are looking for a hybrid between a full face and an open face helmet for street use, this is the way to go!

Key features of the Neotec include:

  • Flip-up chin bar & face shield
  • Noise-reduction design
  • Stainless steel components within pivot locking system
  • 3 Shell sizes
  • XS-XXL sizing
  • Internal sun shield (QSV-1)
  • New CNS-1 shield (wider and taller than the previous CX-1V shield)
  • Pinlock anti-fog shield & lens system (included)
  • Fully removable 3D interior liner
  • Interchangeable cheekpads to customize comfort & fit
  • Channeled dual-layer EPS liner enhances ventilation
  • Features EPS liner in chin bar
  • Breath guard and chin curtain (included)

On top of all the impressive features listed above, the Neotec comes with plenty of new upgrades and refinements over its predecessor, the Multitec:


Shell
As expected from a Shoei helmet, the Neotec is lightweight but has an extremely durable outer shell.  Shoei used its own shell structure: the Advanced Integrated Matrix (A.I.M). A balanced combination of rigid and pliant layers gives the wearer noteworthy safety performance by using strong fiberglass layers with organic fibers.  The Neotec is also DOT certified so, it meets strict safety standards that is expected from motorcycle helmets.

Interior and Fit
The interior fit has been redesigned in the Shoei Neotec Helmet, which allows for fine adjustments and easy maintenance.   Different fabrics are used in the interior to maximize comfort and breath-ability.  With the help of polyurethane foam layers, wearers receive a snug fit while staying comfortable throughout their ride.  Also, removing the interior parts for cleaning is made easier with the removable top center pad.

Ventilation
Shoei’s Dual-Layer EPS Liner is designed for maximum airflow by pulling warm air up and out of the interior as well as dispersing air evenly throughout the helmet.  Vents in the Neotec can be controlled with a three-position shutter which allows the rider to make easy adjustments, even with gloves on!

Conclusion
The Neotec Modular Helmet is perfect in every detail, as it ushers in the future of helmet technology with the type of quality that only Shoei is known for.

Want to know even more about the Neotec?  Check out the Neotec video from Shoei which provides even more feature details!