When it comes to the top racing helmets, Shoei and AGV lead the pack. So that begs the question, which one is better? So what we did was line the AGV Pista GP R and Shoei X Spirit 3 up and check everything out!
AGV Pista GP R vs Shoei X Spirit 3
When you are looking at the best motorcycle helmets from the best brands it can be hard to separate them, so of course that is what we have done and today I will be comparing the AGV Pista GP R to the Shoei X Spirit 3. These are 2 of the very best full face helmets available today. They both have a very strong racing pedigree from the top levels of racing and have been designed to let you race at high speed at your absolute best. Now the competition between these two helmets is as about as strong as that between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez, seeing as they wear these helmets themselves. Now there are some differences with these helmets that really set them apart and it is these differences which will influence which one you prefer. If you want to know more about these helmets specifically you can check out our AGV Pista GP R Review and Shoei X Spirit III Review. For this, we tested two helmets of the same black colour and both in the XL size. When it comes to the very best racing helmets, there is no more difficult decision than that of the AGV Pista GP R vs Shoei X Spirit 3.
As always we are starting with the outer shell of the helmet. Now straight up, the GP R is the better here. The Pista GP R is made out of carbon fibre and that is the best material for a helmet in terms of safety and weight reduction. It is therefore also the most premium material available. By comparison, the X Spirit is made out of a fiberglass composite material which is still a great shell but it is typically slightly weaker and heavier than carbon fiber. Despite the difference in material though, both of these helmets weighed in on our scales at 1.5kg. This is pretty interesting and maybe indicates that Shoei has really tried to reduce their overall weight. For head size, the X-Spirit III is available from sizes XS to XL and the Pista GP R comes in sizes XS to XXL.
Aerodynamics is something that is hard to judge. Both certainly look aerodynamic and they were both designed using wind tunnel testing. The lower profile of the ventilation on the Pista GP R gives it a slight advantage here though as it gives little wind resistance. The X Spirit is also going to glide through the air though and has some cool features on the visor to improve the aerodynamics. I would call them pretty in this regard. One difference is the spoiler though. On the GP R it is designed to break off under pressure in order to protect you in a crash and the spoiler on the X Spirit is more fixed. This is both good and bad for AGV. It is a safety feature to break away and it allows them to have such a big spoiler but the spoiler breaks so easy. This sucks when it breaks off because you bumped it a bit. So the Shoei is more stable but lacks that safety aspect.
Now onto the visors. There are a few similarities. Both have anti fog Pinlocks, are Pinlock ready, have tear off pins, treatments and they both, of course, open. The AGV has a bigger visor though which gives more vision which is great. The X Spirit has multiple setting to open to, which is useful on the road. So does the Pista, they have the setting where it clicks once, still allowing airflow into the helmet. This is a nice setting when you are riding in an urban environment. Although slightly different, they both offer good versatility in terms of visor settings. The visor mechanism however, is a difference. The mechanism of the X-spirit is more sophisticated. The Pista GP R mechanism does the job very well, but the mechanism from Shoei enables the visor to seal better on the shell. So we safely say that the visor itself is better on the Pista GP R, but the visor mechanism definitely goes to the X-Spirit.
When it comes to the ventilation systems, Shoei wins in terms of airflow. The X spirit has more vents and they can be closed using sliders. The Pista GP R has good ventilation too but it is a little lesser and the vents have to be closed up top with stoppers or via a switch inside the helmet. For racing this is fine. You don’t change your vents mid race and having less vents means better shell integrity. So we have less versatility but more safety and the vents are ringed by metal here for this.
Noise isolation doesn’t really matter for a racing helmet but when everything Is closed up, The X Spirit seemed the best. I believe this comes from the more advanced visor, ventilation and all that.
The Inner Liner
Now onto the inside and the liner. First the similarities. They are both antibacterial, fully removable, washable, adjustable and moisture regulating. The biggest difference is that the Shoei feels more comfortable to a us here at Champion Helmets. If you look inside you can see more even padding throughout the Shoei, plus the material just makes it feel more comfortable for me. The liner and cheek pads are also made of more different layer for a super comfortable fit. In this image you can see how advanced it actually is.I give this to the X Spirit. The Pista GP R does have a water system built in which is pretty cool though. That is a plus for AGV. Both helmets use a double D ring enclosure system and an emergency quick release system for the inner liner.
Now for perhaps a very important question. What is the cost? The Shoei X Spirit 3 costs 730 USD at the RRP and the AGV Pista GP R 1400 USD. These prices are for the XL size and the basic, black colours. What a difference that is too. The Pista is double the price of the X Spirit. This is influenced largely, I think by the carbon fibre material. But you can buy 2 X Spirits for 1 Pista GP R which speaks volumes.
So we have looked at the features of these helmets and it is time to say which is best. First, let me summarise them though. The AGV Pista GP R has a better shell, detachable spoiler, a wider field of vision and perhaps also a better design. The Shoei X Spirit 3 has a more complex and versatile visor mechanism, stronger ventilation which can also be easily adjusted, a better inner liner and comes in at around 50% the price of the GP R. For me the Shoei wins. It is so close if you do not factor in the cost but that just swings it heavily in favour of Shoei for me. Without cost, I would probably also pick up the Shoei. The comfort and versatility just appeals more to me. The AGV Pista GP R is probably the better race helmet though. All the areas where it loses in are pretty much irrelevant for racing, like the visor mechanism and ventilation controls. It is more focused upon being the best racing helmet and here it scores big for racers.
So there you have it. The Shoei X Spirit 3 is a more versatile, comfortable helmet with much more dollar to dollar value, while the AGV Pista GP R is just more orientated to racing. It is also much more expensive though. If you want to take your racing helmet on the road, the Shoei will be better than the AGV but the Pista GP R is then going to be better on the track. I hope that is clear enough but simply put, the Shoei has versatility while the AGV has specialization. That is the best way to look at these helmets.
Remember that if you want to see more of these helmets, be sure to check out our focused reviews on our YouTube channel or read about it on our website, Champion Helmets.com. I am glad to announce that you will now get a free dark smoke visor for both these helmets if you order one in our shop. Just scroll down and use the product bundles to score this free visor to give that extra aggressive look on your helmet.
Thanks for reading and ride safe!