By Richard Backus
Up until now, I’d never been a fan of modular helmets. I’d tried a few over the years, and while I appreciated the convenience of a flip-up for interacting with toll booth operators and in situations where it’s nice to converse easily without having to remove your lid, the downside of the attending bulk pushed them out of first choice consideration. That was before the new SCHUBERTH C4.
Back in 2009, I sampled the then-new SCHUBERTH C3, at the time the lightest flip-up on the market. Nicely styled, it was an excellent lid. And while it was indeed relatively light at a tested 3 pounds, 12-3/8 ounces, it was still too bulky for my tastes. I tried again a few years later when Nolan introduced the N104 Evo, which, while lighter yet at 3 pounds, 10 ounces, felt even bulkier. That kind of settled the issue for me and I stuck to my regular Arai Signet-Q. Although noisy, it’s reasonably light (3 pounds, 9-5/8 ounces) and moves lots of air, something I really like in a helmet.
So when SCHUBERTH asked if I was interested in trying out its new C4 I was a little mixed. Sure, I’d love to see what sort of advancements have been made with modular helmets, but pre-disposed as I was, I was pretty certain it wouldn’t deliver the mix of performance and utility I look for in a helmet. Wow, how wrong you can be.
Boasting excellent aerodynamics and a clean, sport-oriented profile,
SCHUBERTH’s new C4 brings new style and quality to the modular helmet category.
Billed as one of the lightest modular on the market, the C4 I got weighs in at 4 pounds even. That makes it slightly heavier than the C3 I tried, but it’s unquestionably a much nicer lid. For starters, unlike any modular I’ve worn before, the C4 fits like the proverbial glove; snug in all the right places for a safe, secure fit whether in the closed position or with the chin bar raised, a first in my experience. And it looks unlike any modular I’ve tried before; less bulky, sportier and more aerodynamic.
That last point is important, because the C4’s wind tunnel derived shape, created after extensive time in SCHUBERTH’s acoustics wind tunnel, delivers one of the quietest helmets I’ve ever worn – modular or otherwise – and one of the most comfortable thanks to minimal lift and buffeting. Putting it on for the first time, the quality of thought that went into making the C4 is immediately evident. I happen to like quick-release chin straps, and the C4’s is nicely padded and easy to use, falling to hand naturally for quick securing and releasing easily thanks a nice pull extension on the release strap. The chin bar release, located front and center on the leading edge of the chin bar, is easy to find and operate, gloves on or off. The chin bar raises and lowers easily, and built-in detents in the chin bar’s pivots hold it securely in the fully open position, keeping the chin bar from dropping down unexpectedly. The detents are nicely calibrated, the chin bar pulling down easily with a light tug from fully open, and there’s no questioning whether the chin bar is locked when lowered, the locks engaging solidly with an audible click. And unlike some modulars I’ve tried, the chin bar doesn’t need to be in the raised position to facilitate putting the helmet on or taking it off.
The SCHUBERTH C4’s chin bar locks securely when shut
and holds securely when fully open thanks to nicely weighted detents in the pivots.
On the move the C4’s qualities come into even sharper focus. The face shield comes standard with a Pinlock anti-fog lens, a must-have on any helmet in my book, ensuring fog-free vision when your hot, moisture-laden breath hits the interior of the shield. The shield features two closed positions. Pull it down lightly and you’ll be in the “urban” position, which holds the shield just off the perimeter seal to allow air flow inside the shield. Push the shield down just a little more and it locks in place, sealing effectively to the rubber weather strip surrounding the face shield opening to keep water out riding in the wet. Peripheral vision is excellent, better frankly than almost any helmet I’ve worn, and the integrated two-position drop-down sun shield (available in five different shades) is unobtrusive and works well when you want it, flipping up or down easily.
Importantly to me, the C4 moves a lot of air, thanks to a chin vent and a 3-position head vent with integrated ventilation ducts deigned into the EPS (expanded polystyrene) inner shell. The chin vent is a simple push-button open/closed affair, and you can push even more air by leaving the face shield in the “urban” position.
The multiple-density EPS inner shell works in concert with a glass fiber outer shell, made using SCHUBERTH’s proprietary Direct Fiber Processing (DFP) construction to provide industry-leading impact protection. Although some manufacturers tout the benefits (mostly light weight) of polycarbonate shells, they don’t provide the same protection as a hard shell, bending instead of absorbing any energy in an impact, whereas SCHUBERTH’s DFP outer shell displaces the initial energy of a strike before it’s absorbed by the EPS inner shell. The C4 also features SCHUBERTH’s Anti Roll Off System, or AROS, which consists of two additional straps running from the rear of the helmet, one each to each half of the chin strap. Simple but effective, AROS prevents the helmet from pivoting off your head from the back when the chin straps are closed and minimizes the risk of the helmet chin coming in contact with your chin or throat.
The C4 continues to show its excellent design in other ways, as well. Maintenance issues like cleaning the interior or replacing the face shield are easily accomplished. The interior is fully removable for cleaning, and SCHUBERTH’s face shield retention system is the best and easiest to use I’ve seen: Removing and installing the face shield is literally a 10-second process, ditto for the integrated sun shield.
SCHUBERTH’s proprietary Anti Roll Off System – AROS – ensures the C4 can’t pivot off the rider’s head
from the rear and minimizes potential contact of the chin bar with the rider’s chin or throat.
Communications devices are big these days, and the C4 comes pre-equipped with a built-in microphone and speakers. An optional communication system developed by SENA plugs into the back of the helmet, completely integrated into the shell and working with a pre-installed antenna in the EPS lining. An optional handlebar-mounted remote makes using the system even easier.
Exceptionally comfortable and quiet, the new C4 has changed how I think about modular helmets. DOT and ECE 22.05 certified and tested as a full-face helmet, it comes with a five-year warranty. $599-$799 depending on color. More info: schuberth.com/us — Richard Backus
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