Shoei is now an established and respected premium helmet brand, having come a long way since its humble beginnings.
Maya Angelou, a famous novelist and poet once said, "If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going." This is certainly true for anyone's past, let alone of great brands such as Shoei. In fact, they pioneered so many helmet technologies that we ought to thank them for: Ventilation vents, faceshield with internal mechanism (no outer cover). Heck, Shoei was the first helmet maker to debut a carbon fibre shell, waaay back in 1976!
In the beginning
The company had its roots back in 1954 with the founding of Kamata Polyester Co., producing multipurpose safety helmets for the construction industry.
Family member, Eitaro Kamata, on the other hand, operated a traditional Japanese restaurant, Edogin besides an inn called Kamata Ryokan in Tokyo. It so happened that Soichiro Honda and his colleague Kiyoshi Kawashima who was Honda's first test rider and later President of Honda Motor Co., frequented the inn when they visited Tokyo from Hamamatsu.
Eitaro became friends with Kiyoshi who often arrived on a motorcycle. The former also admired Kiyoshi's custom painted helmet.
Eitaro then moved away from his family business and started a new company called Shoei Kako Co., Ltd. in 1959 to produce multipurpose helmets. Shoei began producing motorcycle helmets 1960, and by 1962, Shoei helmets were the first to meet the Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) certification.
When asked about the Shoei name, a company representative answered, "Shoei is not an actual word and does not mean anything. However, the passage of time in Japan is marked by dynasties and the lifetime of an emperor. It was the Showa dynasty in 1959, so 'Sho' was chosen as the first letters, followed by the founder's name Eitaro, resulting in 'Shoei'." So, "Shoei" is pronounced "Sho-Ey" not "Shoe-Ee."
- 1963 - Shoei demonstrated their innovative and competitive spirit from the very beginning, producing their first racing helmet, the SR-1.
- 1965 - Honda Motor Co. adopted Shoei's helmets as their 'genuine' helmets as a part of Honda Parts and Accessories line of products, increasing their popularity and availability.
- 1967 - Production of the first full-faced helmet called the SR-Z.
- 1968 - The current Ibaraki factory was built.
- 1976 - It was Shoei who introduced the world's first carbon fibre helmet, the GR-Z.
- 1983 - Introduction of the Z-100, with injection moulded faceshield and built-in chin spoiler.
- 1984 - Ventilation introduced to helmets the first time ever: Shoei RF-102V and the TJ- 201V.
- 1987 - Wayne Gardner wins the 500cc World Championship with Shoei.
- 1988 - Eddie Lawson wins the Championship, also with Shoei.
- 1990 - The first helmet with internal visor mechanism, the X-8.
- 1991 - The VF-X off-road helmet debuts.
- 1992 - Wayne Rainey wins his third 500cc World Championship in a row with Shoei.
- 1993 - The Shoei X-8SP is introduced, with a revolutionary two-part EPS liner.
- 1999 - Alex Criville wins the 500cc World Championship with Shoei.
- 2003 - Introduction of the Shoei XR-1000.
- 2006 - The Shoei Multitec harks a new generation of flip-up (modular) helmets.
- 2009 - Shoei debuts the VFX-W which became an icon in motocross.
- 2011 - The wind tunnel in Ibaraki is operational.
- 2011 - The Neotec flip-up helmet takes the market by storm.
- 2012 - The Shoei GT-AIR debuts, making it the most advanced touring helmet.
- 2013 - The NXR street helmet is introduced.
- 2013 - Marc Marquez wins his first of many MotoGP World Championship with Shoei.
- 2015 - The X-Spirit 3 breaks cover as the most advanced racing helmet.
- 2015 - The JO open-face/cafe racer helmet debuts.
2022 - The Shoei X-SPR Pro racing helmet debuts in MotoGP, as the most advanced helmet for the track and sport riders.