Schuberth SR1 Helmet Test
In 2009, during the Hungarian Grand Prix, Formula One driver Felipe Massa was struck in the helmet by a large spring fallen from Rubens Barrichello’s race car.
Massa, who was traveling at an estimated 160 mph, suffered only a concussion and continues to race to this day. He was wearing a helmet from Schuberth, one of only three manufacturers whose helmets, at that time, were approved for F1.
Online videos of the incident and subsequent crash are horrifying but underline the value of a premium helmet and that is Magdeburg, Germany-based Schuberth’s forte; the production of some of the best helmets for auto and motorcycle sports, as well as those for firefighters, police, military and industrial applications. With over 70 years of experience building only helmets, I trust them with my brain.
Given that lineage, the SR1, sold as a race helmet, demands attention. And its feel, when held and examined, is light and solid, angular and impressive. Incorporated are some unique features like a 3-way chin vent that can be turned off, or clicked left or right to focus air intake in that region.
The air flows either to the mouth area or to the cheeks, and exits through flow vents in the fabric at the back of the collar area. This, in conjunction with its twin-top vents – that exhaust through openings under the spoiler – provide what we thought was the most effective ventilation we have ever experienced in a full-face helmet. Schuberth says there were many important design considerations taken into account to reduce CO2 concentrations inside in light of how well sealed it is.
Also unique are the small acoustic doors behind and below the ears that are designed to slide open to allow more sound to penetrate. I did try these on the highway, in the canyons and at the track, and found I preferred them closed at all times.
Perhaps real racers will prefer them open to hear the sound of nearby bikes. Schuberth makes claims to this helmet being one of the quietest available. We have no way to quantify the claim, but it certainly is one calm environment within.
There is truly an isolated nature to wearing the SR1. I rode at a track day without earplugs on a stock Suzuki GSX-R750, and I was not only okay with doing that but did feel more of a sense of peace during our sessions. It was quite agreeable. Earplugs are still advised.
In the canyons and especially at the track, we found the SR1 exhibits little drag and no oscillation. At high speeds it seems neutral and neither lifts nor presses down unduly. Quick body and head movements aren’t hampered by its mass and the lower edges fit the body position well. The eye port is wide and tall, especially helpful in a tuck when looking out the top slice of the visor.
The face shield appears ultra-clear, and changes out in seconds with the push of a button. There is a sliding catch at the bottom to lock it closed and the detentes for each visor position are nice and stiff, keeping the visor in whatever position you leave it no matter the speed.
Schuberth makes many statements as to the level of engineering related to the construction of this product. Included are: high aerodynamic performance (in their own wind tunnel), top sound attenuation (resulting in their claimed 88 dB noise level at 62 mph), superior glass fiber/carbon shell construction (compressed in a vacuum and offered in three helmet shell sizes to aid in keeping the helmet as small as possible, whatever one’s head size), an adjustable rear spoiler that allows the rider to add to the down force depending on whether riding faired or naked bikes (up for nakeds), Schuberth-exclusive EPS foam inner shell, push-button visor release, and more.
The fit on each riders’ head is of upmost importance in order to achieve the design characteristics engineered into the helmet. Consequently, the band that surrounds the head opening is quite firm and generous, and the pads surrounding the neck are large and quite firm. I’m a size large in most helmets, and that was true here, but be prepared to experience the tightest helmet ever – if properly fitted.
At first try I was certain I couldn’t get it on, and had to pull hard on the straps, work it on carefully and have faith. Only when my head was completely enclosed did I realize that all was good.
The double-coated Coolmax fabric glides on and the band around the forehead is snug and well-shaped for my oval head. More importantly, I can feel even support against my face from forehead to chin – unlike many others that have more support in the cheeks or chin but not both. Perhaps this is my own fault for not changing pad sizes, but that’s not easy to do without being at a store or show that carries all the replacement pads sizes and knows how to use them. In this case the fit was perfect.
As for fit, professionals say that if your helmet is comfortable when you first try it on then it’s too big. In this case I did have two pesky hot spots on the forehead, above each eye, about an hour into my first ride. My solution, as with all helmets, is to put the helmet on a pad, take a wooden spoon from your kitchen, put your thumb in the concave area and firmly press the edge of the spoon in an up-and-down chopping motion repeatedly across the offending areas. Don’t drag it back and forth. It works like a charm.
Keep in mind that air flow, mentioned earlier, is superb, even though the chin and neck area of the SR1 are about as enclosed and sealed as, one imagines, is possible short of a deep sea diving helmet. How much of the ventilation in your present helmet is coming in from around your neck? I call that “unintentional noise generation” and not true controlled venting, especially for high speeds.
Even though the SR1 is race-oriented, I thought of installing a Bluetooth headset system for street rides. I found there is no room as the helmet is designed without indentations for speakers, undoubtedly adding to the sound attenuation and race bias of the model, and I would not think of carving out space for speakers as was occasionally done in years gone by.
My only complaint is that, once buckled on, it’s hard to find the snap on which to clip on the long end of the chin strap. Most manufacturers place that snap along the strap but Schuberth suspends it on its own mini-strap which takes a bit to find. Am I nitpicking?
The Schuberth SR1 is a beautifully orchestrated piece of highly functional safety equipment. Whether you race or are a spirited sportbike rider, this offering deserves your attention.
For additional information, log onto Schuberth’s website.