The Shark Speed-R isn’t exactly new, having been available for over a year now, but seeing as it’s my current lid of choice and I’ve been using it for around nine months, now is as good a time as any to provide a long term review of it.
For those who are unaware, Shark is a French company who have been designing and manufacturing helmets for 25 years. While they don’t have the profile of Arai or Shoei, they’re probably one of the more innovative helmet companies around at the moment. Check out their astronaut like Vantime‘urban helmet’ or the crossover Vancore. Now, I’m not saying those helmets are good, or even practical, but at least they’re different.
What is good about most Shark helmets, including the Speed-R Range is the bang for your buck safety. Every single Shark helmet, bar one, scores 4 or 5 stars under the Sharp Test program. Compare that to brands like Arai, Schuberth and Shoei, which can sometimes cost twice as much, yet have helmets rated 2 or 3 stars.
While looks are subjective (except in the case of Rob Pattison, he’s damn ugly), I think the Speed-R is a great looking lid. It’s got a ‘double blade’ spoiler at the back of the helmet which supposedly creates a Venturi effect, allowing air below and above it to limit fogging (marketing speak). The available helmet graphics are great too – not too gaudy, with options of solid colors or fairly tasteful designs that don’t scream ‘I’m a wanker.’
A must have in a helmet for me a flip down sun visor, which the Speed-R has. Unusually though, the mechanism to bring the visor up or down is located on the top of the helmet, rather than on the side near the visor hinge. There’s also two air vents, one on the top and one at the front. I can’t say I can really tell the difference when these are open or closed, but air flow overall is excellent – the temperature seems to stay fairly cool in the summer months and not too cold in winter, either. A removable chin curtain is included with the helmet for those colder days which is a nice touch.
So far so positive, any negatives? Yes, a few. Firstly, it’s not exactly a quiet helmet. It’s not the loudest I’ve worn, but it’s up there. Wearing earplugs solves this problem (which you should do regardless of the helmet), but it’s definitely noticeable. The helmet is fairly aerodynamic, so my theory on the noise is that Shark has included space on the side of the riders head for both a Shark Tooth (Shark’s Bluetooth solution) and eye glasses – that bit of space is an empty pocket of air that allows turbulence to get in, creating noise.
The other issue is actually more annoying. The visor, when fully shut, is held in place by what I can best describe as a small pin and the only way to reopen the visor is with sheer brute force. The only leverage you have is a small piece of plastic protruding from the visor, but with gloves on, it’s incredibly difficult to do. Textile gloves are OK, but with leather or winter glove and it’s near impossible. Many times I’ve been stopped at traffic lights and look like I’m having a mild seizure attempting to wrestle the thing open. Over time, it has loosened slightly, but it could be a deal breaker (many customer reviews have also noted this problem).
Overall though, for the price, the Shark Speed-R is an excellent helmet. It’s comfortable, it’s safe and it looks good – if only it was a bit quieter.
Available from $399 at Motorcycle Superstore.com.