This helmet’s design may be about a decade old at this point, but perhaps Shark got it so right on the first try that nothing better could have been done. At least, that’s what I feel must have happened. Other brands have moved on to newer and fancier shapes over the years, but Shark has stayed true to this design for over a decade now.
Personally, my favorite types of helmets are the single-visor sport lids. Not only do I love the styling of a sporty-looking lid, but it’s also a go-to in terms of the features that matter to me. Shark’s been pushing their Race-R series for quite some time now, and the Race-R Pro has a stellar reputation and is regarded by many as one of the gems in the helmet market.
Going into this helmet, I definitely wanted to compare it to my HJC RPHA 11 and RPHA 1, as well as Shark’s Spartan RS Carbon Skin. Given that the Race-R Pro GP exists, however, I’ll be viewing this through the lens of a road rider since the GP would be the helmet to get if you’re getting it for prestige or for mostly track riding. Importantly, that’s not to say that the Race-R Pro can’t also be good for the track rider, or for the prestige.
Yesteryear’s Best, Still Good Today
I mentioned in my previous Shark review that I kind of wrote off the brand before getting to try any of their models, and boy was I wrong about them. I found myself picking up the only Shark I had off the table more than I had anticipated over the other helmets in my collection. Once the Race-R Pro made it to my collection, it was kind of game over. I liked the design of this, and it was even more shocking for me to discover that Shark’s been pioneering this particular shape for over a decade now.
Look, just because this helmet’s design isn’t newer than the competition doesn’t mean that it’s not usable anymore. For me, this was my first time experiencing this helmet, and in a field where stellar lids like the HJC RPHA 1 exist, the AGV Pista GP RR still persists, and brands like Arai are employing the same shapes as before, I can only say one thing: Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
The shell is a Multi-Axial Fibre Structure (Class-Carbon-Aramid) and Shark Resin. In a size medium, the whole helmet only weighs 1,330 grams, or 2.93 pounds. That's quite impressive even if there are only two shell sizes across the lineup. While that may be a dealbreaker for some, at medium, the helmet is as trim as it can be for my head.
The design fits a lot of fully-faired sportbikes, as well as sport nakeds, and I’d argue that it’s a versatile sport helmet for most motorcycles as long as they’re not of the classic variety. One of my co-workers recently got a Race-R Pro GP, and he said that the Race-R Pro was more versatile on a myriad of bikes. The GP was too focused, he said, and the standard Pro was more than good enough, form-and-function-wise. So far, I totally agree. It’s still as modern as the other competitors, and it’s made more eye-catching up close with its glossy carbon finish.
Living Up To The “Race” Name
For this helmet, the shape is intermediate oval, which made me go up a size. However, the fit is still spot-on for a race-bred helmet. Before the Race-R Pro GP came out, this was the helmet that Shark fielded for its racers, and it was also recognized by the FIM even before the FIM Homologation came out.
Other racing bits are also present, like the “thick” face shield, the absence of detents, the spoiler, and the ventilation channels of the lid. The spoiler is one thing that I want to touch on because it looks like a joke compared to other spoilers in the market today. A lot of helmet manufacturers (Shark included) are moving towards these huge spoilers at the back of their helmets, but the Race-R Pro uses a double blade that’s angled for a full tuck that makes it look less like a racing helmet, and more like a standard sporty lid. That’s good or bad depending on how racey you want to look, but for me, the front end is already racey enough.
Apart from that, the interior of the helmet is tailored with athletic and moisture-wicking fabrics, the likes of which are among the coolest I’ve experienced so far. The Alveotech on the cheeks and on the comfort liner really helped keep my head cool and rather fresh, though I will admit that the helmet may get stuffy if you’re going to ride for hours at a time.
Truly, it’s a race helmet, and it’s tighter around the cheeks, jawline, and even the crown of your head. It might not be advisable to take this out on a long tour, though it can be done as long as you know what you’re getting your head into.
From Race to Road
The racing pedigree of this helmet is undeniable, though the road performance of it is still something to be considered especially since it’s now the “lite” version of the Race-R Pro GP in the lineup. As far as on-road behavior is concerned, the Race-R Pro is a few notches above other sporty options out in the market today but it does it with a little more thought in mind. Knowing how old this helmet is, it feels like the rest of the industry has been playing catch-up, as Shark’s been minimally updating and refining this model over the years instead of coming up with something totally new.
This is hands-down one of the quietest helmets that I’ve ever used. The seal that this creates around your head is unmatched, and the neck roll is very comprehensive. Wind noise is no issue whatsoever, and other riders have said that it took some time to get used to the quietness of this lid, myself included. Wind noise only started to become intrusive at 90 miles per hour. Any speed below that is weirdly serene.
Though, it's worth noting that seal comes at the price of a less easy on-and-off. Putting the helmet on is fine, but taking it off may smash your ears in. That's something that I’ve experienced and struggled with, though a high-quality balaclava helped immensely. I’ve never had my ears smashed by a helmet before until I strapped on the Race-R Pro, but once on, it fits one-to-one, good for my thin face, but perhaps a little too tight for bigger-headed riders in my opinion.
Also, all those exhaust and intake vents are good for allowing the helmet to breathe. Even with all the quietness that this helmet provides, it’s pretty breezy, especially with the chin vent open, and at higher speeds. Though, what’s more impressive is that the top vents may be the best I’ve tried so far.
If you take apart the pads of the helmet, it also reveals an impact liner that has a ton of air channels to allow massive amounts of air to pass through and cool you off even while things heat up. Even if its ventilation channels are well-considered, I find that the fit is just a little too tight for full-on touring. As a helmet for quick sessions on track, it’s perfect. As a helmet for long-distance tours, it can get the job done, but I feel that the Shark Spartan RS would be a better fit for that purpose.
Safety and other concerns
Now, one thing that is a bit off about this helmet currently is the safety homologations it has now. Safety-wise, the helmet is quite sound for now with ECE 22.05 and DOT on the labels and a “soft” homologation (really just a shout-out way back when) from the FIM, but that’s probably a bit meaningless right now.
Truth be told, this helmet is a bit behind in terms of safety, but if the minimal change made to the Race-R Pro GP is anything to go by, I think it’s a solid ECE 22.05 rating here. I was so concerned that I asked the local distributor, who in turn, asked Shark, who then replied with an e-mail saying that the ECE 22.06 version of this helmet comes with a one to two percent increase in safety to meet the requirements laid out by the European Commission.
Other than that, however, you have to consider that the visor is not Pinlock compatible. I do prefer Pinlocks on my helmets as a matter of choice. However, the anti-fog coating was good enough to keep the visor fog-free, although that coating did need a refresh after several rides.
It's also worth noting that I installed my Cardo PackTalk Edge in this helmet, which it took quite well. Deep speaker pockets, tons of spaces for wire tucking, and it was off to the races with a clean install. The double-D ring was also something to get used to, because it has a magnetic snap, and it’s on the other side from a standard D-ring design.
Lastly, one feature that is totally absent from this helmet is the lack of an emergency quick release cheek pad system. While it is a feature that I hope to never use, it's something that is present on many modern helmets, and is absent from the Race-R Pro.
This Shark Race-R Pro Carbon is quite the catch if I am being honest. It’s been one of my favorite helmets so far, often sharing seat time with a bunch of my other favorites if not a little more than my regulars. Now, for $759.99 USD, it had better be a good helmet, and it is. You get what you pay for in terms of its performance, though I can understand some reservations that people might have about it.
It’s priced a bit high in my opinion, and sadly, it has to share shelf space with some other great lids out there. However, as a premium sporty helmet with a historic racing pedigree, it’s a great nick. It’s easily one of the quietest helmets out there and one of the most comfortable while on a fast-paced ride. This helmet fits my preferences well. I can do without the sport-touring features in favor of a lightweight and simple helmet.
Gallery: Gear Review: Shark Race R Pro Carbon
It is indeed a racing helmet and one that’s built for the purpose of going fast, not so much for going far. I’m sure that Shark’s other offerings can be of better service, like the Spartan RS, if you want to fish in the same pond. However, I cannot deny that for the look, and for the fact that it feels so good sitting on my head, I can ride in this thing for hours. You should probably give it a go if you’re into fast bikes and fast rides.