Recently we were fortunate enough to get our hands on Shark's Explore-R helmet. Made from carbon fiber and sporting a configureable shield system, it stands out from the rest of the dual sport helmets. Let's see how it stacks up!
Paint and Overall Quality Shark Explore-R
With a clear finish over the carbon black fiber and no graphics any flaws will stand out immediately. The Explore-R that we received has none. Plastic bits are well trimmed with no flash left on them, the vents open and close easily and shield operation is smooth. This helmet probably has the smoothest and most useful internal sun visor in production. Even after weeks of daily riding in all kinds of weather, and getting smacked by some large road debris the helmet shows no signs of obvious wear.
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Overall, I'll rate the Explore-R as "Outstanding" for initial paint and quality. I would rate it “Outstanding” for durability of those finishes.
Fit and Liner Shark Explore-R
Fitment is intermediate oval with a little narrowness in the middle. We would compare it to the Arai RXQ head shape. The liner is extremely comfortable. Made out of bamboo it wicks sweat quickly and while it does get damp it dries quickly and never gets that musty smell after being wet. Ear pockets are well defined and don't put undue pressure on the jaw or ears. It also has generous areas for speakers and comes setup for their Sharktooth communication system.
Overall I would rate the Fit, Shape, and liner as “Outstanding”.
Eye Port and Visibility Explore-R
Here is where this helmet tracks its own path. When the helmet arrives and you unbox it you will notice that there is a face shield, a dual sport peak, and goggles. That's right - goggles and a face shield! You can install the shield and run this helmet like a normal sport helmet. You can choose to use the peak and the goggles and go all dual sport with it, or you can go goggles and no peak for straight up street fighter looks.
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Visibility out of the eye port with the face shield is “Excellent.” The ICON Variant has a better field of vision but not by much. The shield change on the Explore-R is another unique feature. It just pulls off. No levers, no switches, screws, buttons, twists nothing. You just pull. The only minor complaint is the shield fogs up if you look at it funny.
Visibility with the goggles is reduced somewhat. The goggles are wrapped in a very thick foam to seat them into the eye port that a shield also fits. This makes it a bit of a compromise and is the first time the helmet shows how some features are compromised to make the concept work. The goggles are comfortable, mount easily, and are Carl Zeiss optics. The goggles would not be my first choice for colder weather as air flows all around them all the time. They seal well enough to keep water out of your eyes and they refused to fog up while riding.
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The one thing that would be nice: the ability to leave the peak on with the shield. It would make carrying everything easier. When you remove the peak there is a thumb screw you have to track and a plastic plug that goes into it. It takes what could be a truly versatile quick change system and makes it a bit cumbersome.
I would rate the Explore R "Excellent” for the seal and shield change process. I would give it "Average" for its anti-fog capability.
Ventilation and Air Flow
With the shield installed ventilation is provided by two top vents, a chin vent, and rear exhaust flow just enough air. The light weight of the helmet combined with the bamboo liner help keep things cool as well.
With the goggles installed you have more air flow than you will ever need.
The Explore-R gets an “Excellent” rating for ventilation.
With the face shield installed the Explore-R is quiet, stable, and very pleasant. Take that shield off and install the goggles and the Explore-R is loud, still stable, but better suited for off highway use and lower speeds. Ear plugs would be highly recommended for any extended high speed use with the goggles.
Overall for noise I would rate the Explore-R “Excellent”.
The Explore-R in size large weighs 3 pounds 6.6 ounces. That is a lightweight helmet in any style.
There are a couple things that the Explore-R has as features that just don't fit anywhere else. We have already covered the shield and goggles, the bamboo liner, and the smooth operating sun shield. The really, really, unique item is an integrated neck gaiter. Located in the neck roll in a zippered pocket is a neck gaiter to protect you from wet, cold, and whatever else mother nature has in store. All of this from a $429 helmet!
The Explore-R is an "Excellent" helmet overall. It has some really unique features, is extremely versatile, and the shield change mechanism is the new standard that every other manufacturer needs to strive for. Combined with that price it undercuts the competition and offers more for your dollar.