Here in the USA helmet market, we know about all the usual suspects: pricey, high-quality helmets from Japan and Italy and the more budget-oriented (but often very high-quality) lids from Taiwan, China and South Korea. Where are the offerings from Germany, a nation known for high-end and cutting-edge manufactured goods? In your closet, if you’re one of those matching-suit-wearing BMW riders,you might have an ancient BMW-branded Schuberth “System” helmet from the ’80s or ’90s, which you sometimes wear even if it’s probably no more protective (due to age) than one of those cheese hats Green Bay Packers fans wear.
Do not fear—new and old Schuberth fans in the States can now purchase these innovative, comfortable and high-quality helmets, with the new C3 flip-up and S2 full-face model now available. The $699 C3 is older news (and testers have said it’s one of the lightest and quietest flip-ups on the market), but the $699 S2 replaces the S1, which has been on the market since at least 2004.
The S2 has some impressive features. The all-new shell design is made from a composite Schuberth calls STRONG, claimed to be lighter and, um, stronger than other composites and fiberglass, and it’s been extensively wind-tunnel tested to be as quiet, well-vented and aerodynamic as possible. It includes an integrated flip-down internal sun visor, patented anti-roll-off system, “turbulators” on the Pinlock-equipped faceshield to smooth airflow, microlock chinstrap clasp and anti-microbial ThermoCool comfort liner. Also interesting is the world’s first built-in dual antenna for FM and Bluetooth reception, designed to work with Schuberth’s $399 SRC Bluetooth communication system (which I’ll test soon). Another cool bonus feature is the Schuberth Mobility Program. If you crash and damage your helmet within three years of buying it, Schuberth will replace it for 1/3rd the original MSRP.
Wearing the S2 bears out much of the company’s claims. It is light—not as light as the lightest premium race helmets, but at three pounds, six ounces on the MD scale, it’s as light as any full-face with built-in sun visor I’ve had. Build quality is nice, with superlative fit and finish, even if I didn’t like the feel of the plastic fittings like the vents and faceshield mechanisms. The fit wasn’t quite right for me—I usually fit best in an HJC or Shoei—but that’s not the fault of the helmet! Even if it wasn’t perfect, it was still comfortable and I expect it to get better as it breaks in fully.
In any case, two things govern a helmet’s comfort—weight and noise levels, and the Schuberth shines in these areas. With the tight-fitting neck collar in place (which does make the helmet harder to don and doff) sound levels were so low I thought I was riding 20 mph slower than I was on a naked bike. However, with the collar removed (which I like to do in warmer weather), it’s only slightly less noisy than other helmets. That calm quiet, combined with the light and well-balanced design, make the Schuberth a good pick for long-distance, high-speed rides.
Living with the Schuberth is easy, after you read the lengthy owner’s manual. That helps you figure out how to work the vents, remove and wash the cheekpads and liner, and remove the faceshield (which comes with the excellent PinLock anti-fog insert)…all easy tasks in the end. The venting was also impressive, with airflow felt at legal speeds, something you can’t say about most of the helmets I’ve tested. I also found the faceshield to seal well and I was very impressed by its optical clarity, which was matched by the undistorted vision and ease of use offered by the flip-down sun visor.
I found the S2 to be a well-engineered and highly functional helmet in every way. Is it worth $699? Sure, there are cheaper helmets that seem like better values to me—but you can say the same about any luxury product. Why buy a BMW when a Honda Accord will get you from here to there just as well? Schuberth has legions of devoted fans, even in a market where they couldn’t even buy its products for some time. These are riders that put tens of thousands of miles on their bikes every year. Maybe they’re just paying for a name—or maybe they know something you don’t. My experience with my Schuberth S2 is that it’s deserving of its high-end reputation, a solid and well-made helmet that will function well through its entire service life. Find out more at Schuberth’s website.
Photo note: black object on left side of helmet is mount for a Sena Bluetooth headset and is not included with the Schuberth helmet.