Battle of the Open Face Helmets: Shoei J-Cruise versus Schuberth M1
The history of the motorcycle helmet is a fascinating one. It goes right back to the pioneering days of racing with the first headgear designed explicitly for motorcycle racers coming along in 1914.
The helmet was an oval-shaped half shell made from canvas and stiffened with shellac (a resin made from bug secretions). Looking at the helmets worn by some custom bike riders today, it’s easy to think that we’ve hardly progressed.
Thanks to technologically advanced materials and construction techniques today, even modern half shells can attain safety ratings. This review isn’t about the dubious joys of riding around in half a coconut, but rather about two open face helmets both at the top of their game.
Whether you’re a fan or not, and this usually comes down purely to head shape (Shoei’s are famously oval), this is a company always associated with quality.
Every helmet that comes out of the Japanese factory is handmade. Despite the technologically advanced construction techniques, it’s surprising to know that Shoei helmets still pass through the hands of 50 people before considered finished.
The J-Cruise has been in production for a well over five years, and this is one case where ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it’ works well. The helmet’s rigidity and excellent impact resistance is courtesy of a multiple layered AIM (advanced integrated matrix) shell.
This multi-layer design, which sees five hand-laid fiberglass and organic fiber levels bonded with resin, also help keep the weight down to 3.75lbs (against Schuberth’s 3.6lbs). Despite the helmets heavily contoured exterior, the precision of the shell construction ensures a consistent shell thickness throughout.
As previously mentioned, the outer shell is noticeably contoured, and this is a result of countless wind tunnel hours. On the top, the raised section on the forehead is primarily to garage the drop down sunshield without affecting the EPS liner. It does, however, also serve to funnel passing air directly into the top vent, while the resulting backpressure helps suck air from the three exhausts.
The Shoei’s rear spoiler also helps to reduce lift and drag, making it very stable at interstate speeds. While on the subject of stability, even the shield plays its part. One centimeter longer than its predecessor, the bottom edge now incorporates an air dam. There is no chance of looking like a bobblehead doll in this helmet!
Due to the deep cut-away on each side, the shield affords an excellent field of view. Also, thanks to a 3D injection molding process it gives distortion free vision right to the outer edges.
Distortion Free Visor
The shield comes Pinlock ready, and the helmet also features a drop down sun visor. This visor is also distortion free, blocks 99% of UV rays and has a very solid click to it when operated from the left side of the helmet.
Moving on to the interior; the varying density foam EPS liner provides enhanced impact protection, while built-in channels allow unrestricted air passage over the head.
The comfort liner has a three-dimensional shape, incorporating multi-layered cheek pads and head contours to allow for fit and comfort. Removable for washing, the Max-Dry liner sucks away sweat twice as well as traditional helmet liner materials and is also adjustable.
You’re going to enjoy a perfect fit with the Shoei J-Cruise; stability is almost unmatched and thanks to the contouring and air dam shield, also keeps noise levels low.
Personally speaking, I am a fan of the old Schuberth J-1, a predecessor to this model. I like it due to the built-in chin bar, which gives the lid a bit of an American football helmet look.
Like all crash helmets though, their primary role is one of safety, not vanity, but it just goes to show that a helmet can have the looks as well as the spec.
The chin bar may be gone, but the M1 is a handsome helmet and like all German gear, has that underlying air of competence about it. While giving the helmet the once over there are several features that stick out straight away.
For a start, the profile reveals some very noticeable contouring. This shaping amounts to almost a shelf on the rear third of the helmet, which flows down into a pronounced neck dam.
Spoilers and Shelves
The latter acts as a spoiler to keep the helmet planted at speed. That rear shelf though is more of a mystery, but Schuberth’s R&D wind tunnel experts know a lot more than me about these things.
Next, is the large stepped single vent on the top. Although many open face helmet manufacturers don’t pay much attention to this aspect (after all, you are getting a face full of wind), this is not the case with the M1 and the J-Cruise.
The style of the M1’s exhaust vent is a version of the company logo, complete with air conditioner type grill, which both looks and works, very well.
Like the J-Cruise, the M1’s field of vision is incredible (if not slightly better), thanks to the width of the shield and its optical clarity. The main shield also seals well along the top.
Thumb tabs on each side of the shield and a drop down sun visor operated by a control under the left edge, complete the eye protection.
As for fit, Schuberth offers two shell sizes to Shoei’s four. However, with a thick and compressible comfort liner and different size cheek and liner options, the German manufacturer says they can accommodate most head shapes.
Plug and Go
So far, both helmets in terms of spec and quality have been pretty neck and neck, but this is where the Schuberth leans forward and kicks for the finish line. Included in the M1’s line-up is a fully integrated speaker and twin-microphone Bluetooth intercom systems, ready to merely plug and go.
Pop-off the protective cover on the back of the lid, plug in the optional M1 SRC intercom unit and you are good to go. Within seconds, you’re taking hands-free calls and getting directions from that lovely sat-nav lady.
When compared back to back, these helmets have functionality, style, and safety by the cartload. Both are premium products, and so close in terms of features, your choice would probably be determined purely by the shape of your head.
However, there is an area where one helmet, in particular, stands out head and shoulders above the other, and that’s in the communications department. The Shoei, may have pockets ready to take the necessary gear, but the Schuberth has speakers, mic, and jacks, already installed.
In the battle of the open face helmets: Shoei j-Cruise versus Schuberth M1, we for once have a clear winner; take a bow Schuberth M1.