It's been five years since German helmet manufacturer Schuberth has had U.S. distribution, and it seemed like forever to some of us. Having parted ways with their previous U.S. distributor, the nearly 90-year old company regrouped and decided to do it right.
By "right" I mean doing it themselves. Opening an office in California, Schuberth is finally back and much has changed. At least since the early 2000s when I bought my first S1 model. Back then, their quality of helmet build was insanely high-level but the helmets themselves were a bit bulky and certainly heavy when compared to most other helmets on the market.
The top-notch quality comes from developing everything from industrial hard hats, riot head gear and lids for the world of Formula 1 racing. Yes, Michael Schumacher is their unpaid (but I am sure pleasantly provided for) test guru for the racing end.
So at Schuberth, helmet development is an ongoing, constantly elevating process. Which was immediately evident the moment I put on my brand new C3 modular helmet. Not only is the lid quite light, but it is very quiet, (a feature not found on most modulars) and comfortably snug.
Clarity is always very good on a Schuberth helmet. I had a pre-installed fog shield inside the model I tested and it proved to be very effective in keeping my field of vision fog-free. The fog shield comes off quite easily for when the weather turns warmer.
Partnering with Scala on the C3's SRC fully-integrated communication system was a great move since Scala makes one of the best comm systems out there. When smartly integrated with a helmet this well built, the comm system is easy to operate even with gloves.
Unlike other aftermarket systems, there is no bulky outer-attached control unit. Rather, the controls are well positioned rubber keys encased in a replacement neck collar that snaps into place and is fully operational within minutes after initial charging.
You barely see the buttons but you can quickly and accurately operate them. You can enjoy bike-to-bike intercom, cellular phone, GPS and MP3 functions with the C3's SRC system. When paired with your cellphone, a push of a button puts you into voice dial mode and you are hands-free the rest of the call.
Very smooth operation and great clarity were experienced not just with cellphone calls but also iPod operation and even a GPS Bluetooth connection. Regarding the intercom, up to three riders can communicate within a range of up to 325 yards and there is an automatic connection set-up by speaking; automatic connection shut-down after 30 seconds of silence (Two-channel system of communication). There is also automatic reconnection when call is cut off.
The true real-world advances and improvements are all in the details of the C3 though. For instance, the slider control for the hidden, interior, tinted sun shade used to have just an up or down position. Now it slides with a little grip to it so you can adjust it to exactly the position you desire. This is a seemingly small but hugely heightened improvement to an already solid design.
The downside to Schuberth helmets has always been their somewhat lofty price and indeed, some people have ceilings when it comes to what they will spend on protecting their heads. But it does house your brain after all and not only should you protect it, you should do so to the best of your ability. In my opinion a Schuberth helmet is that ultimate piece of protective head gear- worth the $700 price tag. (The SRC electronics will cost you an additional $400) You can no doubt get fine protection from helmets nearly half that price. (I've owned a lot of them over the years and that has given me a good, objective perspective on this) But for overall fit and function with a true feeling of strong, exoskeletal, head-covering body armor, The Schuberth C3 is clearly the king.
If you are not ready to make the jump to a C3, and if you are looking to go on a motorcycle tour, I have just the thing for you... MotoQuest Tours which offers guided motorcycle tours across the globe in North and South America, Asia, Europe, India, New Zealand and South Africa has partnered with Schuberth and are providing C3's for their customers to use while on tour.
Phil Freeman, owner and founder of MotoQuest Tours, says, "Schuberth is known worldwide as a leader in the premium helmet market - the C3 is comfortable and sturdy, and Schuberth North America offers unparalleled customer support. This is why we've chosen to use the C3 on our guided tours."
From the manufacturers side Schuberth North America Marketing & P.R. Manager, Sarah Schilke had this to say, "It is an honor to have the C3 selected as the helmet of choice from such a prestigious global tour company. We look forward to working together, and especially riding together!"