For far too long, full-on sportbikes were my street ride of choice. I had also worn traditional full-face helmets for far too long. Website Editor Ron Lieback’s timing could not have been better when he asked me to review the Schuberth E1 modular helmet.I had just picked up a new-to-me, low-mileage KTM 990 SM T after many years strictly behind clip-ons.The helmet and the bike matched up perfectly and not only their white with orange accents colors but in design philosophy.
The Schuberth’s design caters to the upright riding position. The KTM? Check.
The Schuberth’s design caters to all-day comfort. The KTM? Check.
Another thing that Schuberth and KTM have in common? Both companies only focus on building their core products – helmets and motorcycles, respectively.After more than two decades of riding sportbikes with full-face helmets, both purchases were long overdue.Schuberth bills the E1 as a modern dual-sport helmet for adventure riders searching for the highest level of comfort and safety.Two things first. The weight is just over four pounds – which is on the higher end for modular helmets. As for fit, I typically wear a medium in most full-size helmets, though the large was proper for my head size. The large was initially tight, but after 100 miles or so, it fits more comfortably. Go by Schuberth’s size chart to find your size – it’ll likely be different from what you currently wear in other brands.The design is truly dual in purpose. The German manufacturer proudly employs its wind tunnel that allows the helmet to be stable at speed in an upright touring position, even with the removable peak mounted, which I found surprising.The peak helps early morning and late day’s riding when the sun is annoyingly strobing through the trees, on or off the road. High-speed stability and functional off-road sounds like a perfect dual-sport helmet recipe – something we also crave in ADV motorcycles themselves.A couple of other clever tricks used are patented turbulators on the top of the face shield that prevents whistling and a removable chin curtain. Both contribute to a quieter helmet. While we are at the chin, let’s praise the micro-lock ratcheting chinstrap.Once adjusted for length, you simply slide the mechanism together to achieve your desired tightness every time you put the helmet on. Removal is even easier; a quick tug on the red release strap and you’re free. Both sides of the strap have comfortable padding that doubles as a reliable grip to stretch the helmet off.Another excellent and far simpler feature is ambidextrous shield finger tabs. On some brands, the finger tab is only on the left side. This is inconvenient when stopped in traffic and having to hold in the clutch in and try to open your shield while reaching across the helmet for a quick chat or scratching your face. These features, whether they come by simple logic or complex engineering methods, separate Schuberth from so many other brands.The Schuberth E1 is designed with optimal ventilation where it’s needed most – at lower speeds. The leading vent on the front of the chin looks like a motocross helmet vent opening. The holes are much smaller but effective at delivering fresh air. There is a flap above the vent that can direct air up to the inside of the face shield to help mitigate fogging or to better distribute the air inside.The entire cowl on the top slides completely to one of three positions. The most rearward position allows air to pass onto the top of your head. The adjustment does not rely on a small button or lever that makes the part more reliable and easy to operate with gloved hands. There is a middle position that partially restricts airflow while fully forward closes the vent.The closed position is complimented inside the helmet with flaps on the liner that can be folded out to cover the shell’s inlet holes. This makes for an excellent cold-weather motorcycle helmet, but I’m yet to test this configuration under 50°F.The Schuberth E1 face shield has seven detents for allowing you to ride with the shield in as many positions, and this is safe to do with the interior sun shield down, protecting your eyes. There are seven positions, but the choice for me was easy. Closed, on its soft but favorable lock position, or fully open. At eye level, anywhere in-between put the notched bottom of the shield, or Pinlock, or in view.A couple of other issues were also discovered.The button on the bottom to open the chin bar is small. Even with well-fitting leather summer gloves, I had difficulty in a semi-emergency situation attempting to evict a bee that came walking across my face shield. While the button is easy to push, and the pivot unlocks easily, the depression where the button is on the chin bar’s bottom center is not easy to locate.Let’s talk field of vision. This is my first experience with Pinlock anti-fog lens inserts. I know they work and are valuable, but the distraction of the silicon seal in your field of vision coupled with the notched bottom of the faceshield and the peak in the low position was a visual shock to the eyes when I first set off with the Schuberth.After a few miles into the first ride, I began to experiment with the sun shield. While this adds another layer of plastic to look through, and another line across your viewing area, the benefits abound. I used to carry two shields – a tinted, and a clear. I rarely ride at night these days but still carry a pair of clear safety glasses if I’m ever caught out after the sunsets.With a retractable tinted sun shield, it’s no more concern, and the slide control to lower and retract is easy enough to operate. I was concerned a couple of rides later when I mounted a Cardo Scala Rider communications device, but found that it fit right behind the slide.Thankfully, the peak has three positions. In its lowest position, two inches are visible, which means it’s reducing your field of vision and is just something else detracting your line of sight.The lowest setting may be useful under certain circumstances, but I found it annoying and took the peak off the first time I wore the helmet before even learning how to adjust it. The peak disappears from view in the upper position but sits relatively high and looks a bit awkward. It’s no surprise then that the middle setting is the Goldilocks setting.Maintenance and replacement of pieces is simplified on the E1. The interior liner, peak, face shield, and the sun shield all can be removed without tools.The interior had plenty of room to mount the Scala Riders’ speaker and run the microphone. A clear downside to modular helmets is you have to use a mic on the flexible arm. The mic is very close to your mouth to prevent getting trapped outside the helmet when you open and close the chin bar. Schuberth has a solution—the Sena-made SC10Ua communications device.Handlebars and 17-inch sticky tires on the KTM 990 SM T give me comfort and fun with little to no compromise. The same goes for the Schuberth E1. It is a modular helmet packed with convenience and safety features – a perfect match for the not so perfect road.