French helmet manufacturer Shark is arguably one of the more underrated in the business. Admittedly, it’s a brand that’s managed to slip past my radar until recently. Having said that, browsing through the brand’s catalog of helmets, we find a surprisingly vast array of lids – from modular touring lids to carbon-fiber racing helmets – it seems that Shark’s got it all.
The helmet that caught my attention was the Spartan RS, marketed as the brand’s mid-tier street and touring option. I felt that this helmet had everything I wanted when it came to comfort features, touring amenities, and of course, a sporty design that would suit my riding style and the bikes I frequently ride. Now, this helmet is not to be mistaken with the Shark Spartan RS Carbon that Earl reviewed earlier in 2023, as that one’s slightly more expensive and decked out in more premium features. The helmet we’re talking about today is indeed similarly styled, but more affordable for folks on a budget. Let’s dive right in.
Strong first impressions
The Shark Spartan RS is my first experience with the brand, and I must say that I was thoroughly surprised with the helmet’s build quality and design. Right out of the box, the helmet was housed in a nice dust bag that seemed nicer than those of other brands. After all, you can tell a lot about a product’s quality from the packaging alone.
Pulling the helmet out of the dust bag, the Shark Spartan RS has excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail. Folks who enjoy scrutinizing small details will enjoy this helmet, as there are tiny details that add to the lid’s premium look and feel, such as a color-matched cap on the sides of the visor, as well as a rubber-coated handle for actuating the drop-down visor. Speaking of the visor, the outer visor has notches that allow you to partially open it for ventilation, while the inner visor rolls up and down with satisfying clicks.
When it comes to styling, the Shark Spartan RS clearly isn’t for everyone. Its modern styling means that it’s ideal for folks who ride modern bikes. Furthermore, it gets its name from styling inspirations from the helmets of Spartans, as evidenced by the chunky front air intake and the large stripe on the top of the head, so it could make you look bobble head-y, especially if you’re smaller in stature.
Nevertheless, I consider the Spartan RS as a sport-touring lid thanks to its comfort-focused design and amenities. While it does get a traditional double-D ring closure, the helmet is equipped with a drop-down visor, as well as built-in speaker cutouts for easy integration with your communicator of choice. The cheek pads and inner liner, which by the way is velvety soft and smooth, can easily be removed for convenient cleaning.
Beneath the surface
While we do try our best to give the most comprehensive reviews of all the gear we get to try, we can’t really provide first-hand accounts of how they perform in the event of an accident, unless of course we do go down in the duration of our testing (knock on wood). As such, we can only take the manufacturer’s word, as well as the certifications that come with the helmet, when it comes to the technical aspects of the helmet.
In the case of the Shark Spartan RS, it’s compliant with the latest criteria stipulated by the ECE 22.06 standard. The shell is constructed out of fiberglass, so it has better impact and energy absorption properties than a standard plastic shell. There’s also a multi-density inner liner that does most of the impact absorbing duties in the event of a crash. Overall, the helmet manages to stay rather lightweight, tipping the scales at just 1,530 grams (about 3.4 pounds).
A real-world performer
Gallery: Gear Review: Shark Spartan RS Helmet
On the road, the Shark Spartan RS delivers a pleasant riding experience thanks to its soft inner liner. It’s so soft that I don’t even need to wear a balaclava, and the sensitive skin on my face doesn’t get irritated. The helmet does come with adequate ventilation that's easily adjustable, however, my only complaint would be that I find the drop-down visor fogs up way too easily, even when you’re in motion. The outer visor isn’t an issue, really, as it comes with a Pinlock anti-fog visor.
At speed, the Spartan RS retains its stability, and clear vision is provided by the Optical Class 1 visor. It’s also remarkably quiet, keeping wind noise to a minimum (I didn’t wear earplugs when I tested this helmet on the freeway). In terms of ergonomics, this helmet prefers a more upright seating position, so it’s ideal for naked sportbikes, sport-tourers, and some adventure bikes.
Should you buy the Shark Spartan RS?
All things considered, it’s hard to find fault with the Shark Spartan RS, simply because of how well put together and comfortable it is to wear in all riding conditions. At the end of the day, it’s really up to you if you like the helmet’s non-traditional styling. What I can say, however, is that the Spartan RS’ features make it feel like a helmet that’s worth way more than its price tag would suggest.
The Shark Spartan RS is priced around the $300 mark, so it competes with helmets from the likes of HJC, Caberg, and AGV. Like most other lids on the market, the Spartan RS can be outfitted with different visors, and you can even change the color of the various trim pieces for even more personalization.