Real world review of the Schuberth C3 Pro motorcycle helmet.
I've wanted a Schuberth since news of the S2 first broke, but Wes is an Arschloch (German for butthole) and stole it and I had to wait until their next helmet was released. Schuberth helmets are known for being some of the lightest and quietest available and the tech they put into them fascinates me. Could this new helmet, the Schuberth C3 Pro, live up to my lofty expectations?
The Schuberth C3 Pro helmet is a new offering from the German brand, and is designed to fill a sport touring gap between the S2 and SR1. Despite the fact that the name implies it will replace the C3, the company plans to keep both helmets in their lineup and they feel they meet different needs.
"We heard people say ___________, so we tried to make it better by ____________" was something I heard 694 times during the presentation I was given on the C3 Pro when I went to pick it up (for reference, everyone else just mails the helmets to us). As a consumer, it's my absolute favorite thing to hear because I love it when companies listen to us and use that input to make their product better (something you don't see a ton of in this industry). As a journalist, it's terrifying because that means I have 694 opportunities to forget something new and awesome about this product. Here we go.
The first, and most obvious major upgrade, is the molded spoiler at the top/rear of the helmet. This spoiler increases the down force by an additional 8%, making the helmet more stable at speeds and further decreasing any lifting or buffeting. Schuberth reports it has been tested and produces stability, most noticeable at speeds in excess of 125mph. The shell is made from glass fibre and Dyneema reinforced "S.T.R.O.N.G." fiber matrix construction, which keeps it light (the large weighs 1650 grams) while providing superior strength without increasing rigidity (something you definitely want from a layer that's supposed to absorb and disperse energy from an impact). The helmet comes in two shell sizes, one for sizes XXS-L and another for XL-3XL.
Another addition is the internal antenna and bluetooth receiver, which is built inlaid between the EPS and shell of each helmet, whether you add the SRCS communication unit or not. This means that, should you add the unit, you just plug it into the the antenna via a wire tucked neatly away and can enjoy communication with other riders using the same system (or any other Cardo system) up to 1000 meters away (the C3, which doesn't have the built in antenna, has a range of around 700 meters). The antena also boosts both Bluetooth and FM radio reception.
One thing they mentioned a lot in the presentation where the changes they made to improve fit and comfort based on feedback they'd received. The internal lining has been re designed to fit a wider range of head shapes by decreasing forehead pressure and getting rid of any seams. The new construction process of the C3 Pro allows them to use fewer seams to create a more uniform shape. The new lining is made from a polyester material called COOLMAX, which is easily removeable and washable, that is anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic and provides optimum moisture wicking capabilities. They also offer a set of new, "narrow fit," cheek pads to allow more fit customization options.
Another area they have really focused on is air flow through the helmet. The top vent is completely new and features two, bigger inlets which, they say, flows more air. The top cover comes off as well, allowing you to clean any bugs that have committed suicide via your helmet much easier (I promise it's actually way more useful than it sounds). The chin vent provides indirect ventilation to help de-fog the visor, and the air outlet port at the rear of the collar has been enlarged by 40%, and the mesh portion of the rear neck role has been increased by 60%. All these numbers mean that the Schuberth C3 Pro flows air at 2.2 gallons per second at 65mph (60% more than the C3).
The face shield is the same that is used on the C3 and S2. One thing I found particularly interesting was that they sell two sizes of face shields, one for each shell size. Makes you wonder how other companies get away with selling one shield size for 3-5 helmet shell sizes and still expect to have a nice seal or accurate peripheral vision doesn't it? The shield comes with these cool little bumps at the top called "turbulators" which Schuberth says helps to minimize wind noise by controlling turbulence. The shield also uses a Pinlock insert (included) to prevent fogging, and features a new and improved operating mechanism and new visor trim to provide for a better seal with the helmet. They also have a visor position called "city position" which is basically a millimeter above being fully locked close which allows just a slight amount of air in the helmet to help cool and de-fog....and it's honestly one of my favorite things about the helmet. They have increased the amount of pressure necessary to move the visor up or down so that it will stay in the position you leave it in, even at speed (another nice feature brought to you by customer feedback).
The Schuberth C3 Pro also comes with a new internal sun visor (interchangeable with the C3 and S2, but made from a different material as the one that comes with those helmets), which has been given an anti scratch treatment on both sides, is operated by a cable system on both sides for additional stability and so that it, too, will stay in the position you want it and is not relegated to either fully up or fully down (some customers have bigger noses/higher bridges of their nose than others and brought it to Schuberth's attention). This new visor meets some crazy Australian standard for optical clarity, the toughest Schuberth could find anywhere in the world.
The neck area also features new construction, providing more stretch for comfort and increased ventilation, as well as new, larger, reflective panels for greater visibility to cars at night. They've also re-designed the windcuff under the chin bar, making the insert larger and the connected piece smaller for a greater range of customization because some people were saying it pressed on their Adam's apple too much. I'm telling you, the people at Schuberth are really REALLY listening.
Schuberth also adjusted their microlock fastening mechanism, to adjust for further feedback. The chin strap is now adjustable from both sides so you can adjust exactly where the two sides meet, and the buckle has also been redesigned. The chin strap has also been repositioned to further help for fit and comfort, as some people were also having issues with it hitting their throat or Adam's apple uncomfortably.
Schuberth does some of the most extensive wind tunnel testing of any company and is, in fact, the only helmet maker to own its own wind tunnel. The C3 Pro received the full battery of tests and wind tunnel optimization throughout the development process. With its redesigned shape, new spoiler, redesigned neck collar and new wind cuff, the C3 Pro tests at 82dB at 60 mph (the C3 is at 84) making it the quietest flip up helmet available.
Ok, I think I got most of it. Now on to how it actually performs.
Fit and Comfort
Schuberth has always been one of those brands that you had to have a specific head shape to wear. One of the adjustments made to the C3 Pro was with head shape to create a more universal fit by revamping the liner for more comfort in the forehead area. I waited to review this helmet for two months after getting it because I really wanted to be able to speak to all of the crazy things they tried to accomplish with this helmet. Out of the box, the helmet hurt at my forehead and temples for the first 2 weeks or so of wearing it, but I could feel it getting better with each ride. While this may turn some of you off, I like the idea of a helmet having to form to my head because that means, in the end, it will be that much better fit than a helmet I can wear out of the box. Two months in now and it feels fantastic, though I don't think I have quite the right head shape for it as it hurts after an hour and a half or so on my head.
The materials in the C3 Pro are fantastic. While they may not feel quite as plush or super soft like an Arai, they certainly feel more durable and won't pill like some of those fabrics. We haven't had any super hot days yet, so I can't speak to its moisture wicking capabilities, but I think I'll be riding to Palm Springs on a 115 degree day in the next week or so and will get back to you.
Visibility and Noise
Visibility on the C3 Pro is fantastic, with the exception that there is a very slight taper at the bottom of the sides that sometimes distorts a little bit of light, as do the pinlock inserts. The visibilty port is plenty big, as is the case with pretty much any decent quality full face helmet.
The noise levels are one of the areas that really set this thing apart. The C3 Pro is SILENT. The vents don't whistle whatsoever and the windcuff at the bottom is absolutely stunning. I think part of the reason I had such a problem with the boom created by the Diavel Strada's windscreen was because I was used to the C3 Pro being so quiet. I have the Schuberth Rider Communication System installed in mine and rode to San Diego with a buddy who also had it and we were able to have a conversation the entire ride, freeway and all, which is a testament both to the SRCS system and how quiet it really is inside that helmet. It's incredible.
Weight and Balance
I typically don't like flip up helmets because they are bigger and heavier than their full face counterparts. One of the really cool things Schuberth did was realize that, since putting the helmet on and taking it off was easier since the whole thing opened, they could make the opening smaller and more compact and make the neck port smaller and better fitting. This is part of what helps the C3 Pro to be the lightest flip up helmet available today, and is also why they are able to minimize any lifting or buffeting, as well as why they are able to create such a tight seal around the neck and minimize and wind or sound problems.
The helmet is very light and actually very small compared to other full face helmets, providing great balance and feel.
As mentioned above, the neck port is incredible small on the C3 Pro, something Schuberth has always done well but which they are able to maximize in their flip up helmets. This means that, when desired, the C3 Pro allows zero air or drafts into the helmet (ok, it allows in just enough to breathe). It's the best cold weather helmet I've ever worn.
Since it had been two months since I went over all of the features, I was reviewing it all to help get my facts straight and I came across something called the "summer flaps" I did not recognize. In reading about it, I realized there are two little flaps attached to the liner that you can either tuck under the liner or extend to cover the air vent holes in the EPS liner. I had previously not been all that impressed with the ventilation through the top vents, but now I realize my helmet had the flaps in the "winter" position, with the flaps extended and the holes covered.
Now, riding with the flaps tucked into the liner in the "summer" position, with the air vent holes in the EPS liner left uncovered to flow air, ventilation is much better. It still does not manage to flow air as well as my Shoei RF 1100, but it does an adequate job especially when you consider how quiet the helmet is. With the top vent, chin vent, and visor in "city position" the helmet is as comfortable as one could hope (temperature wise). But then again, the only thing I really want to wear when it's super hot is my Bell Moto-9.
Graphics ad Finish
It's a $769 helmet that looks like a $769 helmet. It doesn't hold fingerprints as badly as my RF-1100, but still scuffs fairly easily (as do all matte helmets). It's a beautiful helmet and the color and shape look fantastic.
Value and Desirability
This is where things get sticky. The Schuberth C3 Pro retails for $769. There are plenty of helmets that are half this price and just as safe and I will forever understand each of you who decides to buy one of those options over a Schuberth. That said, this is one of the quietest and best fitting helmets I've ever worn, with technology that is not only really cool, but really useful. I love telling people about it when they ask and love any company who is listening to the people giving their helmets real world testing and then making their products better. It just shows in the quality and thoughtfulness behind the product.
During the presentation, I was shown a video made by a television show in Germany (which I've been told I'm most definitely not allowed to post, even if I upload it on accident and apologize profusely for it later) that shows each step of the construction process. It's obvious, from the first step of the helmet's design through each step of its construction, that they've taken every step possible to improve your experience wearing their helmet.
One thing they have done, since they know their helmets are an investment, is to create the Schuberth 3 Year Service Plan and Mobility Program. The 3 Year Service Plan allows anyone with a C3 Pro, C3 Pro Women, C3, S2, or SR1 helmet to have a free inspection and helmet adjustment within 3 years of its purchase date, to keep the helmet fitting perfectly throughout its lifespan. The Mobility Program allows anyone who crashes in one of the aformentioned helmets within the first 3 years of owning it to replace the helmet for 1/3 of the retail price, within 1 year of the date of the crash. Both of programs show they know it's an investment and they don't just forget about you once they take your money.
Edit on 7/10/13 - I rode with a clear visor yesterday because I was going to be somewhere at night, and therefore I used the flip down visor during the day portion of my ride and I noticed I felt the ventilation better through the top vents. This could be because the visor blocks the holes partially when in the up position or because it blocks the air coming in from the chin vent when down, allowing you to feel the top vent more with less contrast, but I felt it was worth adding to the review.