Last fall I had an opportunity to review the already oft-reviewed Schuberth C3 modular helmet. Given its cult-like following, I was curious to see firsthand (headfirst?) whether or not the high praise and ballyhoo were deserved. In short, the C3 in an amazing helmet worthy of every accolade it has received, and I could pile on a few more of my own. Thus, when Schuberth recently announced they had made the C3 better with the release of the C3 Pro, we were all surprised and perhaps a bit skeptical, as it's not often that the best gets even better. However, such ambitions are what have made Schuberth an industry leader since 1922. After logging thousands of miles in the C3, and loving it, it was our pleasure to be amongst the first to try the brand new C3 Pro.
While it does borrow heavily from the C3's highly successful features, it should be said that the C3 Pro is not simply a tweaked C3, but an entirely new helmet for Schuberth. Like its predecessor, the C3 Pro is a flip-up style helmet with a drop-down sun visor, two innovations first brought to the industry by Schuberth in 1984 and 1994 respectively. Both helmets have Schuberth's Anti Roll Off System, which employs two straps positioned along the jawline to reduce the risk of the helmet rotating forward and coming off the rider's head upon impact. The C3 and its Pro variant are also both masterfully shaped for optimal aeroacoustics and maximum aerodynamic stability at high speeds. If these helmets are anything, they are remarkably quiet and stable.
The C3 Pro introduces a few significant refinements over the C3. Ventilation has been greatly improved with enlarged air intakes paired to high-flow exhaust channels to allow air to flow through the helmet as fluidly as possible. To achieve maximum air pass-through, warm air is exited through a section of open cell foam in the center of the neck roll––a nice touch from a company known for their attention to such refined details. A subtle spoiler across the upper aspect of the helmet has been added to create more down force, again to perfect the high speed stability. Masters of innovation, Schuberth can claim another industry first with the inclusion of a built-in antenna to augment the range of the Schuberth SRC Bluetooth communicator system. The SRC components are integrated into the helmet's neck roll so as to not disrupt the slippery aerodynamic qualities of the C3 Pro. It really is an amazing work of kinetic art. Eat your heart out, Darth Vader.
Slipping into the C3 Pro gracefully does require a bit of practice, especially with the SRC communicator in place. Wiggling around the boom mic and SRC unit, and then closing the chin bar may demand a little fiddling at first, but once in place the C3 Pro surrounds your head with an all-encompassing level of comfort that's not constrictive, but undoubtedly snug. As we noted with the C3, the fit favors a round head shape, but the C3 Pro does accommodate a more elongated head better than the C3. The chin bar is surprisingly close to the rider's face, but presents no risk of fogging thanks to the Pinlock anti-fog visor. Some riders worry that flip-up helmets may fail to stay closed in the event of a crash. Such worries do not apply to the C3 Pro with its robust metal closure system. Latching the chin bar in place is a one handed affair, and closes with a confident "click."
Once underway, the C3 Pro is incredibly quiet. In fact, I have found it necessary at times to crack the visor open a notch when I need to hear traffic or turn my attention to the quiet purr of my boxer engine. After a few taps through the gears and up to highway speed, the C3 Pro really comes into its own and effortlessly cuts through the wind. The C3 Pro's stability is impressive, but the range of useful motion is what I appreciate the most about this helmet. Some helmets are stable as long as you stay eyes front, and only eyes front. But what about keeping your eyes on your mirrors or looking over your shoulder? With the C3 Pro, there is no fear of having your neck muscles tested while checking a blind spot at 65 MPH.
Ground Control to Major Tom
I clearly missed my chance to be an astronaut, but the SRC communication system makes me want to count through a launch sequence in a really bad way. Based on the highly-acclaimed Cardo Bluetooth system, the Schuberth SRC in-helmet Bluetooth communicator is one of the best I've used. The sound quality is crisp and clear, and doesn't force you to crank the volume in an attempt to compensate for poor sound quality or a noisy helmet. Pairing to smart phones, GPS units, or other SRC Communicators is quick and simple, and only needs to be done once during set-up. The C3 Pro's built-in antenna now allows the SRC system to reach other SRC equipped riders within half a mile. Using the boom microphone to measure ambient noise, the SRC system adjusts the speaker volume automatically so you don't have your favorite tunes blasting when you pull up to a quiet stop sign in the middle of nowhere. If I had a nit to pick, it might be with with the buttons on the SRC. Even while wearing my thinnest riding gloves, finding the button I want can be like trying to read Braille with oven mitts on. Other than that petty gripe, I have been wholly impressed with the SRC system. It even has an FM radio.
Making of a Great
To appreciate the quality of a Schuberth helmet requires little more than plucking it from its box. There is a tactile experience to a Schuberth that defies description. A Schuberth helmet is solid. It is unimpeachably refined with a polish and overall quality that represents what it truly is: one of the best helmets in the world. It's telling that many Formula 1 drivers have been known to pay to wear a Schuberth.
A Schuberth helmet's greatness can be attributed to many things aside from a near century long history of helmet making. For starters, Schuberth is the only helmet manufacturer in the world operating their own wind tunnel and aeroacoustic chamber. That would explain the impeccable aeroacoustics and rock steady aerodynamics. Each helmet is also handmade in their German facility using the best materials and processes available. Add to that a relentless drive to test, re-test, and test again, and it's no wonder their helmets are trusted by riders and racers the world over.
Adventures in Helmets
I recently had the pleasure to talk with Schuberth's North American marketing manager, Sarah Schilke. One question I posed to her was, when is Schuberth going to design a proper adventure helmet? Her answer: "We already do." Keep in mind that Schuberth has invested substantial time and money in a wind tunnel and aeroacoustic chamber. They dedicate themselves to the refinement of helmet shapes intended to reduce neck and shoulder stress over the course of long trips, so why then would they stick a big chin bar and peak visor atop such a helmet? If I learned anything from that nice chat on a chilly day in Scottsdale, it was that Schuberth is first and foremost dedicated to packaging their safety features into the most comfortable and aerodynamic helmet they can design and fabricate. The folks there also happen to do a ton of adventure riding, so the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
The C3 Pro is a triumph of engineering, and cements Schuberth's position as the headmasters of head protection. Their helmets make me want to ride as often and as far as possible. That's reason enough to slip into a Schuberth.
Christophe Noel "testing" the C3 on a taco run to Jerome, Arizona
Images Courtesy of Schuberth