I’m not a helmet snob. For most of my riding career, I’ve used HJC, CKX, or other lower-priced lids, and never complained. However, when Schuberth said they’d ship me their new C3 Pro modular helmet to test this year, I wasn’t about to say no.
Not only did they send me a new helmet, they had one of their reps deliver it personally at the start of the riding season who also gave me a presentation about the helmet’s features and manufacturing process. That’s a lot of attention to detail, but it’s typical of Schuberth – read on.
As I said in my initial blurb on this helmet back in June, the C3 Pro is an upgraded version of Schuberth’s existing C3 flip-face helmet.
Basically, it sounds as if Schuberth found out everything customers thought could be improved on the C3, and threw all those suggestions into the new lid. Want more ventilation? How does a 30 per cent increase in airflow sound? The helmet now flows up to nine litres per second at 100 kph.
What about the visor? Thanks to Schuberth’s re-design, you can leave the visor flipped up for around-town riding, but as soon as you reach highway speed, the wind blast will force it down, without you lifting a finger. Those are the sort of things you can engineer if your company owns your own wind tunnel for testing.
That wind tunnel testing shows itself in other ways. The helmet is quieter than the C3 (Schuberth claims 82 dB at 100 kph on a naked bike, whereas the original C3 was rated at 84 dB). It’s also stable at speed; the design is supposed to eliminate buffeting, upward lift and has no “oscillatory tendencies.” Translation: You can ride up to 160 kph without your noggin shaking in the wind like a broken bobblehead. That’s partly due to a new built-in spoiler on the back of the helmet.
Even the little things got re-designed for this helmet; the Coolmax/Thermocool lining (removable for washing) was reshaped a little, just to provide a tad more comfort. The chinstrap was moved forward so it wouldn’t dig into your neck, and the chin curtain on the front of the helmet was also tweaked to allow for more neck room.
Other C3 features also return on this helmet including the very handy drop-down sun visor, the Pinlock insert to prevent fogging and the optional built-in SRC communications system.
The C3 Pro is safety certified to ECE-R 22.05 standard. It retails for around $770 online. There’s also a women’s version available, basically the same as the standard helmet but designed to fit feminine facial features …
By the way, if you crash your C3 Pro helmet in the first three years of use, they’ll sell you a new one at a reduced price. That’s good customer service.
How well does it work?
I could sum this review up in one paragraph: “This helmet is comfortable. This helmet is quiet. This helmet is good. Buy this helmet if you can afford it. Oh, and it fits.”
But, getting a little deeper than that – yeah, I liked the C3 Pro. I liked it a lot. I wore it almost exclusively this season, and it worked very well. I found it lived up to the marketing spiel – a rare thing in the motorcycle world.
For instance, Schuberth claims this helmet is stable at speed, with no buffeting. Well, you can’t escape buffeting when you’re behind a poorly designed windshield, but I found when I took the screen off my DR650, my ride actually improved when I wore this helmet.
It was the same on the CTX700N and CB500F from Honda; neither model has a fairing, but with this helmet, my head was perfectly stable at speed. That makes for a much more comfortable ride, as there’s nothing more annoying than having your head twisted like a pretzel while riding due to poor helmet aerodynamics. Even on the notoriously windy highways around Sackville, NB, CMG’s home base, the C3 Pro did a fantastic job of shedding wind blast from the sides and front at speed.
That’s a major benefit when you’re really laying down the miles, but on those long days, the helmet’s other features also prove their worth. The helmet is amazingly quiet. You’ll still want ear plugs if you’re going to ride all day, especially if you have loud pipes, but there is a noticeable difference between this helmet and much of the competition. Plus, if you’ve got a communication system installed, the reduced in-helmet noise makes it much easier to hear what’s coming over the speakers.
Schuberth said they made this helmet shell as small as possible to keep weight down (the shell is mostly fibreglass laid over polystyrene foam); the medium helmet weighs 1570 grams, and they claim that’s the lightest flip-front in its class in order to “protect the neck muscles.” That light weight is a blessing for touring – not once this year did I feel worn out after wearing the helmet all day, and I certainly put some long days in while wearing it.
This is my first flip-front helmet I’ve ever used, and now that I’ve had some experience with one, I’m not sure I ever want to go back to full-face helmets. While you’re on the road you don’t notice the difference, but when you stop for gas, or you want to talk to someone, or you want to stop for a drink of water, this helmet is fantastic. There’s no more popping your helmet off constantly at every stop – just flip the front. Just make sure both sides are locked when you close it.
The drop-down sun visor is also a fantastic feature. If the sun’s in your eyes, it’s simple just to slide the sun visor up and down, instead of wearing a pair of sunglasses that dig into the side of your head and want to slide forward. Plus, the visor offers more peripheral vision than sunglasses, and makes you look like Judge Dredd.
The C3 Pro also uses that micro-click chin strap that Schuberth is known for. It’s far superior to D-rings, in my opinion. It doesn’t offer any more functionality, but it’s just a little quicker to get in and out of.
My helmet came in flat black paint, and while I like the colour, I was reconsidering my choice while riding through the heat in the southwest US. But, as long as you’re rolling, this helmet has great ventilation. It’s not as breezy as an open-face or a motocross helmet, but there’s a very noticeable cooling draft that comes in the top of the helmet while you’re rolling.
No product is 100 per cent perfect, and I did have a few issues with the C3 Pro, mostly related to the visor.
I was very surprised that the top of the visor leaked some raindrops while riding in a downpour. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t really a fan of the visor’s self-closing feature either – there were times when I was cruising at highway speeds when I wanted to flip the front of the visor completely open to take in some fresh air, and that wasn’t possible. Schuberth says the helmet has had careful design to ensure the rider has enough fresh air, but there were times when all I wanted to do was ride with the visor open, and I couldn’t.
As well, I was torn on the visor’s Pinlock insert. In some ways, it’s superior to the anti-fog coating found on other helmets’ visors, since you can replace it. However, the perimeter of the visor is not protected by Pinlock and would still fog up.
I think those are mostly minor annoyances, though, and the only real issue I had with the Schuberth was that my head is just the wrong shape for the helmet. You may have heard that there are Shoei heads, there are Arai heads, and apparently there are Schuberth heads too. I don’t have a Schuberth head. Although the helmet is very comfortable, there’s a little more forward-backward play than I’d like.
Ultimately the C3 Pro is just a helmet, and a cheaper unit will likely protect your brains just as well. But, it does everything just a little better than most of the competition. That luxury comes at a higher price, and many will be unwilling, or unable to lay out the hundreds of dollars the C3 Pro commands. But for those who have the dough and don’t mind spending it, I’d recommend you check it out.
SRC communication system
Along with the C3 Pro, Schuberth also gave me an SRC communication system for testing. This is essentially a Cardo Scala G4 that’s been re-worked to fit into the C3 Pro via a removable collar; the SRC system fits into a replacement collar that plugs into one of the the helmet’s built-in antennas (there are two separate antennas for the FM radio and communications system). It has similar features to the G9 Rob and I reviewed a while back.
The SRC system has a 700-metre range under ideal conditions, and allows up to three motorcyclists to connect simultaneously. I only used it to connect to one rider at a time, though, and found that like the G9, the SRC would disconnect sometimes randomly. However, it did a bang-up job of automatically reconnecting if we lost contact, which was a major issue we had with the G9. Sound quality was great, too, and connecting to a Scala G4 wasn’t difficult. However, for some reason, we could only connect the SRC to a G9 system through Channel B, but other than that, it was fairly painless.
With nothing else to do for long hours in the saddle, I spent a lot of time fooling around with this communications system while I rode to Arizona in the spring. Mostly, I used the SRC system to listen to the radio, or to occasionally listen to MP3s (it can connect to MP3 players, GPS or smartphones via Bluetooth or an auxiliary cord).
Like other Cardo systems, it was a bit lacking in bass, but otherwise, I thought the sound was pretty good. Like the G9 and G4, the SRC has an automatic gain control – if helmet noise rises because you’re riding faster, the SRC will automatically boost volume to match.
I think the SRC system has a superior mounting system to Cardo’s over-the-counter units. It’s true you can’t switch it between helmets, but the in-collar mounting system seems as if it should handle long-term use much better than the mounts that attach to the side of your helmet. My G9’s glue-on mount delaminated after less than a year of infrequent use, while the SRC system is just as solid as when I installed it.
Another bonus for the SRC system – the five-button interface is easier to use than the later G9’s interface, at least for me. Like the other Cardo systems, you don’t even need to press buttons for many functions – many are voice-operated. For instance, if your phone starts to ring inside your helmet (via the Bluetooth connection, of course), you can shout loudly, and the system will answer the phone for you, keeping your hands free for things like throttle control and clutch work.
The SRC system only gave me one problem. In the middle of my ride across the US, the auxiliary cord attachment malfunctioned. While I could still plug in the power cord to the SRC unit, I could not attach my iPod Shuffle via the auxiliary cord (both functions use the same pigtail at the back of the helmet). Schuberth staff at Overland Expo puzzled over the helmet but couldn’t solve the issue; however, when I returned home, Schuberth sent me a new auxiliary cord that fits just fine. I don’t know why the original piece malfunctioned, but the new piece fixed the issue.
The only other downside I could find with the SRC system was the price; online, it retails for around $430. When they were still widely available, a Scala Rider G4 system sold for about $220 for an individual unit, and the G9 currently sells for about $290, so there’s a premium attached to the convenience.
All in all though, if you can afford the lid, you likely can afford the extra for the SRC system too.