Flip-Up Motorcycle Helmet Review
In recent years, helmet technology has reached new levels thanks to all the manufacturers, in countries that are still in the business of making motorcycle helmets. Priorities continue to be safety, comfort, ventilation, function, and, of course, value. The flip-type helmets have become increasing popular, as evidenced by the many new players that have ventured into this unique, but growing category.
Schuberth of Germany has been making motorcycle helmets for upwards of 50 years and is credited with inventing the Concept Flip-Up helmet in the mid 1970s. Better known as the BMW System helmet, American touring enthusiasts did whatever it took to locate a System helmet for their own use as it was only available outside of the country. Schuberth has once again positioned itself at the very pinnacle of helmet technology with its latest entry-the Schuberth C3. Not only is the C3 one of the most innovative helmets on the market today, it is the very best flip-up helmet available from any manufacturer. Yes, a lofty statement for sure.My own experience as a touring rider of some 30+ years includes numerous miles of road testing helmets for the Bell Helmet Company. It was the early days of fiberglass shells and ratcheting face shields that made me very aware of comfort, noise, ventilation, face shield functions, and fogging. We only dreamed of being able to offer riders the technical achievements that are available today from a variety of brands and at various price points. As good as most all today’s standard and flip-up helmets are, the C3 is the clear Best in Class when it comes to delivering the goods. There is a caveat for sure, and that is its hefty price. Yes, at $699, it is not in everyone’s budget and The Devil is in the details for sure.Comfort can mean many things to each individual rider. But one thing that makes a major difference in comfort is weight. At 3 pounds, 10 ounces, it is one of the lightest helmets available on the market and is clearly the very lightest "flip-up" helmet from any manufacturer. Wind noise is another factor that greatly affects the comfort of riding, especially if you are one that rides as many as eight hours in a day of long distance traveling. The C3 is quiet enough that when you forget to put your earplugs in, it’s just not a big deal. Put them in at the next gas stop. Wind tunnel developed aero-acoustics have contributed greatly to the quietness of the helmet, as well as the minimal amount of buffeting. Schuberth claims a noise level of 84 dB(a) riding at 62 mph on a bike with no fairing. Ventilation points are plentiful and when desired, allow an amazing amount of fresh air into the helmet: reportedly up to 2 gallons of fresh air at 60 mph. This includes a very clever duct that, when open, allows fresh air to keep the face shield clear at speeds less than 10 mph.The C3 has plenty of room in the ear cavity area, thanks to the recessed area engineered into the EPS liner specifically for the communication system speakers. The optional state-of-the-art Schuberth Rider Communication System is a Scala G4 system that fully integrates into the helmet. My helmet was not set up with the system during my first 3-day stint wearing it, but it was nice to have the added room for my large ears and glasses without any annoying pressure points. Sizing is another important component of comfort. It appears that the C3 gets very close to what standard head sizes. My head size is a 7 1/8 and it fits nicely with the C3 Medium. The C3W model is specifically engineered for women riders taking into account the fact that women have a smaller head size and facial structure than men. I believe this is the first of its kind and welcomed by all women who have tried without success to adapt to male helmet sizes. The view through a Fog-Free face shield (thanks to a removable Pinlock visor that creates a sealed double lens-sort of like a storm window) is amazingly clear. High quality optics are essential when you know the rider is going to be peering through two lenses instead of just one. Even riding at 15 mph in humidity of 97%, I encountered no problems with fogging. Both shields can be replaced independently of each other.The drop-down sun visor works smoothly and provides the rider with an amazing quality of sun protection that matches the best quality of any Oakleys I ever had. It’s almost shocking when one pulls the visor down, as it is so clear. Peripheral vision, with my estimate of +110° is excellent. Once again, the engineers of the C3 went to extra lengths to maximize peripheral vision–a much greater challenge with flip-up helmets than with a standard full-face. A pleasant little surprise reveals itself when pulling the helmet on for the first time. Many helmets have so much stiffness in the sides that you have difficulty pulling them apart far enough to easily slip the helmet over your ears without collapsing them. This is made even more difficult when one is wearing glasses and most owners and purchasers of flip helmets buy them because of the annoyance and the difficulty of putting the glasses on after the helmet is in place. I might add that my Medium helmet was made in the smaller of the two shell sizes that Schuberth uses for construction. So, the smaller shell (Small to Large sizes) is a benefit once on your head, but often makes putting it on more challenging. The chin bar pulls down easily and clicks into the locked position easily and comfortably. The close tolerances keep wind noise at a minimum, and it’s soon figured out that pulling the chin section down with a finger inside of the adjustable wind-cuff allows for it to move smoothly over your chin and lock in place. The chin strap is a real blessing for all of us Americans that have long tired of the more common and cumbersome D-rings used for fastening the helmet to your head. The C3’s micro-lock ratchet system is not only quick to close and open, but adjustable each time you put the helmet on. This very clever feature is appreciated every time you get ready to ride. Using it is just as easy with gloves on as without. Try fastening D-rings with your gloves on and you will know what I mean.The construction of the C3 is like many things that come from Germany-great paint finish, tight-fitting tolerances, and smooth action with all the parts that require mechanical movement. As mentioned earlier, the optic quality of the face shield and sun-visor are superb. Congratulations to Schuberth. The C3 reflects breakthrough technology, precision functionality and quality manufacturing–characteristics that many German products provide, and Americans seem to adore. Bill Kniegge is the owner of Blue Strada Tours and long-time touring- and off-road motorcycle rider. A 30-year veteran of the Motorcycle Industry and past CMO of Bell Helmets and Husqvarna.