I wear my Shoei Neotec II helmet every day, clocking up at least 200 miles a week in all weather conditions. I’ve travelled big distances wearing the lid and have even worn it on the track. With more than a year of ownership and I don’t know how many thousands of miles under its belt, the helmet is still in great condition, still comfortable, and still looks good (or, well, as good as a modular helmet can); I find I actually like it more now than when I first got it. In my opinion, it is well worth its roughly £520 asking price.
But here’s the thing: I didn’t pay for my Neotec II. Shoei sent it to me to review. And something that I often think about on my way to/from work is this: if I had had to pay for this helmet how would I have known that it was going to be worth all that money? In particular, how would I have known that it was going to be as everyday comfortable as it’s turned out to be?
I can’t help feeling that I lucked out. I just happen to have a head that just happens to be pretty comfortable in a Neotec II. But, you know, not everybody has my head. And I think I’d feel a certain amount of guilt if someone were to read my glowing review of the helmet, go off and buy the thing, then discover that, no, it’s all wrong for them.
A few weeks ago I was talking to Ritchie Lee from Fortamoto, the guys who sent me an HJC RPHA 70 to review back in February (I’m working on a full review of that at the moment), and he said that Shoei has actually considered this issue and come up with a way of remedying the situation via the so-called PFS. I had never heard of the Shoei Personal Fitting System but apparently it’s been around for years in Japan. Now it’s making its way to Europe and Ritchie was bigging up the fact that Fortamoto does it at their headquarters in Amsterdam.
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Man, the Netherlands gets all the good things. The Shoei PFS, a Eurovision winner, stroopwafel…
Anyhoo, the PFS involves sitting down with an expert who measures your head in all sorts of ways, then works with a computer program to develop a number of liner inserts to ensure perfect fit.
Condensed into one sentence like that, it doesn’t seem terribly revolutionary, does it? I mean, I find myself a little confused as to why helmet manufacturers have taken so long to develop such a system. It’s your head; no two skulls are truly alike, and of course you want your helmet to fit perfectly.
By my count there are some 27 different inserts of various sizes and purposes, which means the possibilities are beyond my ability to calculate. The inserts are attached permanently to the cap-like liner of the helmet, so it’s very much a case of tailoring the helmet to suit the individual rider. One additional benefit is that in the process of filling the space not taken up by your brainbox the PFS helps reduce noise.
The bad news here is that if you don’t live in the Netherlands you may find it difficult to hunt down someone who’s been trained in the process. Ritchie said it’s a big thing in the Netherlands, with Fortamoto being just one of a number of retailers offering PFS fitting sessions, but things thin out pretty quickly from there. Shoei is presently working on bringing it to Germany and Belgium, but there’s no word on when it will hit the United Kingdom (or the United States, for that matter).
Hopefully it will take off. I know I’d feel more comfortable recommending (or buying) a helmet if I could be certain it would fit properly. Oh, and the fitting service is available for existing helmets as well. So, if you’ve already bought, say, a Neotec II or RYD helmet you can take it in and get it tweaked to fit better.
Fortamoto’s website has a page that explains the PFS in a little more detail. If you happen to live in or near the Netherlands (a short 5.5-hour ferry ride from the UK) you can get in touch with them to set up a fitting appointment.