The Shoei Hornet ADV (Hornet X2 outside Europe) crept into existence in January of 2015. The minimalist look and simplistic characteristics meant the press machine was swallowed by the hyped and feature packed Aventuro and BMW’s own, innovative GS helmet.

While features and technology have exploded in helmet design in the last 18 months, with head-up displays, folding helmets and more focussed technology than the industry has likely ever seen, Shoei released a ‘normal’ helmet that deserves far more attention than has been afforded.

We took the Hornet and an optional dark visor across the world to Australia, for three solid weeks of throttle twisting in a hunt for the most glorious riding and breathtaking scenery we could unearth. Our exploration saw us amble from the cold and wet wilds of Tasmania’s forests to the searing 47˚C heat of central New South Wales. The travel was perfect. The helmet took a beating that’d test any item of kit.

The peak is one of the standout features of the helmet, with a square shape and venting that looks like the rear window louvre from a mid 80’s Honda CRX.

The Features

You could easily be forgiven for failing to observe much in the way of innovation with the Hornet. You wouldn’t be far wrong with that perception either. There is very little about the Shoei that slots into the category of cutting-edge. The Hornet feels like and clearly is a product of progression in helmet design rather than a complete revolution. However, that development has gone very well indeed; the Hornet is far better than than you know.

The ADV is presented as the perfect balance between road and off-road riding, designed to be optimal in all conditions, be it the rainforests of central America, the autobahn of Germany and anything in between.

The visual appearance of the Hornet is strikingly different to its predecessor. The rounded chin piece is similar to a road helmet design with additional space around the face for ‘heavy breathing off-road.’ The move away from a traditionally more dirt bike chin bar design was to improve protection in bad weather.

The peak is one of the standout features of the helmet, with a square shape and venting that looks like the rear window louvre from a mid 80’s Honda CRX. The end goal was an aerodynamically efficient design with minimised wind drag and lift all whilst directing the flow into the air vent. The peak is also fixed with quarter turn screws for easy removal.

On top of that, the helmet is fitted with the tech we’ve come to expect from a premium level helmet including an easy to remove Pinlock visor, an abundance of vents, emergency quick release cheek pads, a chin curtain for the cold days and a bumper five year warranty.

We could go on for days about the full specs but we won’t. – Click here for the Shoei site.

The Real World Test

Japanese. The Hornet ADV oozes the characteristics that we’ve come to associate with Japan’s premium helmet brands. From cracking open the box lid, to sliding it onto your head, the Hornet ADV is unmistakably Shoei.

Japanese helmets have a certain style and characteristic. There is a solidarity to the shell design. They’re a touch heavier and typically posses a little less flex than their European produced competition. The vents are colour matched, the shell has less protrusions and obvious frills. It’s clean, simple and inoffensive; the stereotype of a Japanese helmet.

With a clean visor fitted the world looks stupendously beautiful. Shoei got the curvature of the visor spot on.

The fit of the Shoei is very Shoei. It is a helmet that very much hugs the whole of your head. The design has a very prominent forehead cup to the shape, where the front edge rolls a substantial way down your head. It’s something that feels very different to wear to many of the European helmets.

There is plenty of space around the ears with room for headphones, ear plugs and glasses. You can fit extra padding in the ears that’ll cut the noise down a little and generally the Hornet is a decently quiet lid. The internal foams are soft and comfortable. The material is gentle on your skin even after a long, sweaty day in the saddle too.

The peak is one of the more eye catching elements of the Hornet ADV and it’s utterly awesome. I’m not using that word in the colloquial, over used sense either. This is one of the very best peak designs about. The sun is blocked when you need it to be and the peak is almost unnoticeable when cruising the freeway. It’s a challenge to efficiently articulate just how little stress the peak causes when at highway speeds. We haven’t encountered a situation where we didn’t want the peak on the helmet. The design is not height adjustable but this never presented as a problem. The shape and size mean that right up to an hour before sunset it is still useful for blocking the sun at which point the tinted visor does the goods. The only anomaly occurs when the visor is dusty. The dust catches the occasional ray of light slipping through the venting, but it is unnoticeable with a clean visor. All up it’s a brilliant design.

Off Road the Hornet ADV is as equally good as it is on road. The helmet is entirely unobtrusive and ultimately that is how is should be.

It is also as easily removed as any other peak around at this time. Even more importantly it fits back on with ease. The Hornet has created a situation where having a peak has very few drawbacks and stacks of positives. It doesn’t behave like a yacht sail in a gale or feel like a compromise. We’ve also got little problem carrying two visors to deal with bright conditions, it’s simply that easy to change. Visor removals no longer challenge your will to live. Welcome to the future people.

The visor has fantastic field of vision. The aperture is wide enough that you can’t see the top edge of the helmet meaning it can also be swapped out for a set of goggles if you plan on doing some facial leaking or riding in dust. We couldn’t find a set of goggles in our extensive collection that didn’t fit in the gap, including the Scott Recoil, Oakley O Frame and 100% Accuri.

If you’re riding in dust the visor baseplate has an annoying habit of filling up. This stiffens the opening mechanism and is a design issue.

With a clean visor fitted the world looks stupendously beautiful. Shoei have the curvature of the visor spot on; it doesn’t distort or offend at all. The all-new CNS-2 visor closes efficiently with a very positive click and doesn’t leak air. The notches and opening mechanism aren’t as slick as they could be however. If you’re riding in dust the visor baseplate has an annoying habit of filling up. This stiffens the opening mechanism and is a design issue. It causes the mechanism to become stiff and the visor to flex on opening and closure. The end result is that moving the visor up and down can be frustrating but the problem is easily remedied with a little clean out and a touch of silicone spray.  In the grand scheme of how good this helmet is, it’s a small issue to suck up.

Visor fogging is regularly an issue with dual sport helmets. The Hornet ADV finds itself at the better end of this spectrum but using the Pinlock is still the more effective solution. It’s a shame that Shoei haven’t included their popular inset Pinlock design into the CNS-2.

Off-road the Hornet ADV is equally as good as it is on road. The helmet is unobtrusive and ultimately that is how is should be. The visor is wide and well shaped so reading the complex details of the terrain is never an issue. The design is more closed in than a full off-road helmet, to the point it’s close in comparison but if you’ve ridden any great road miles in a dirt bike helmet you’ll understand why they’re less than ideal. However, the Shoei has the balance just about perfect. The chin piece isn’t too close that you feel claustrophobic, you can breathe well and there is just enough room to squeeze the elbow of a  hydration pack into your mouth.

The helmet is a little warm at slow speed but quickly vents when you begin to move. The venting is pretty good for a dual sport helmet too. It’s not the best in class, that accolade still sits with the BMW GS Helmet, but it does as much as you can expect for small inlets.

Conclusion

All in the Hornet ADV is a truly brilliant product. It doesn’t have as many gizmo’s or ideas packed in as some helmets on the market but the features it does have are utterly fantastic.

The peak and visor are both fantastic, executing their jobs as you’d wish them too. The visor is incredibly clear and well shaped, providing a great view of our planet and the peak is aerodynamically fantastic. It’s a helmet we wore all day for three straight weeks, in perfect comfort come rain or shine.

The included chin skirt does a far better job than it appeared as though it should, the internal foams are plush and the sounds levels good. The best trait of the Hornet however, is just how flexible it is across the terrain we threw at it. From smashing out distance on the Highway to bashing through snake infested bush, the Shoei never reared its head and ultimately that means it’s doing a very good job.

Crafted By:

Llewellyn Sullivan-Pavey

Photographer, Videographer, Writer, Motorcycle Racer, Dakar Rally Finisher and BRAKE Magazine's big dog, Llewelyn really likes to do things involving motorcycles. He also likes bicycles, coffee, pop punk and making horrendous puns.

Rated - Shoei Hornet ADV
A helmet that matches it's premium price tag with great ability and comfort.
Comfort9.5
Features8.5
Performance On-Road9.5
Performance Off-Road8.5
Price8.5
Positivity
  • Great Peak And Visor Design
  • Very Comfortable
  • Very Good On And Off-Road
Negativity
  • Visor Mechanism Doesn't Like Dust
  • At The Top Of The Price Range
9Overall Rating
Reader Rating: (76 Votes)
3.4
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