There are many different types of motorcycle helmets on the market, but those who want an extremely well built helmet will likely be looking to one of the recognized leaders, either Shoei or Arai. The Shoei RF-1100 represents the mid-range model in the manufacturer's lineup, though its price will still be more expensive than some of the best models that other brands have to offer. Think of the Shoei RF-1100 as a luxury sedan - it's not a Ferrari, but it's still a cut above the rank and file.
The first consideration when buying a motorcycle helmet is safety. While comfort, look and ventilation are all nice features to have, the reason riders buy a helmet in the first place is to protect themselves in case of a crash. The Shoei RF-1100 delivers in this regard and then some. Obviously, the RF-1100 meets DOT standards, as all motorcycle helmets must. However, it also goes two steps further, meeting both the Snell safety standard and the ECE 22.05. The latter is a special safety certification used in Europe and considered the very best a helmet can aspire to.
The next priority for many riders will be fit and comfort. If you're gonna drop a few hundred bucks on a helmet, it obviously has to feel right. Those with slightly narrower heads will likely find the RF-1100 more comfortable than those with rounder noggins. Some riders may be familiar with the RF-1100's predecessor, the RF-1000, which was a very popular helmet. Those who are looking to upgrade should know that the interior shape of the helmet hasn't changed, so it should still fit just as well. Combine the shape with the plush interior lining, and the RF-1100 is one comfortable motorcycle helmet.
Of course, even the best-fitting helmets will start to feel uncomfortable if the rider is sweating up a storm inside. Fortunately, the RF-1100 has this department covered as well. The model offers an outstanding ventilation system that gets a good amount of air to both the top and bottom halves of the helmet. Both the vents on the top of the helmet and the chin do a great job of circulating airflow throughout the interior. While the rear vents leave something to be desired, many helmets have the same problem with ventilation in the back, so it's unlikely to be something that riders really notice.
Shoei has a reputation for quiet helmets, and the RF-1100 continues that tradition. With the vents open, riders will not be in complete silence, but it will be pretty close. Depending on the riding style and model of bike, a whistling noise may be present due to the top vents of the helmet. However, the RF-1100 is still above average when it comes to providing a quiet ride.
Finally, the RF-1100's face shield stands out as one of the best parts of the helmet. Those who have replaced face shields know that it can be a difficult process on some helmets to remove the original part, but that's not the case on the RF-1100. Shoei's quick release mechanism allows riders to change face shields in a snap. It's also quite simple to flip the face shield up when needed. Riders get the option of a Pinlock anti-fog system if they so choose, although it does not come standard with the helmet.
Overall, the RF-1100 is a solid helmet that provides above-average features in just about every area.