They aren't for everyone, but there's no denying that flip-front helmets, like the Shark Evo GT, add a degree of convenience that you simply don’t get with either a full-face or an open-face.
They give you the opportunity to seal yourself from the outside world and the windblast of riding. At the same time, they allow you to pop the flip-up and get some air to the face, grab a mouthful of drink or snacks or have a chat with friends or fuel-station staff. Flip-front helmets can be like taking the helmet off... without actually taking it off.
However, most traditional flip-front helmets tend to be fairly ungainly with the flip open, even if they are dual homologated (recommended for use with the chin-bar both closed as well as locked open). You have a large proportion of the helmet above your head which can make it awkward, uncomfortable and very unstable, catching the wind as you travel.
However, this helmet from French manufacturer Shark allows you to effectively ‘remove’ the chin-bar by rotating it over the top of the head and parking it at the rear of the helmet, forming a jet-style open-face lid. The concept is to give the best of both worlds and it does a pretty good job of it.
With the chin-bar down and locked, it’s a fairly traditional (if a little larger than usual) full-face helmet. You put the Shark Evo GT on like a traditional flip – with the chin-bar raised. The seal around the neck is as snug as a normal flip but the size of the chin-bar, to allow it to move all the way over the helmet, is larger than normal.
To get a decent seal, there is a pull-down chin curtain that lives inside the flip and you grab a ring and tug it down. You do need to remember to put it away before you open the chin-bar, though.
Inevitably, it’s louder than a traditional full-face helmet – the chin-bar is wider on the bottom and it has a definite Blake’s 7 feel to it (if you don’t know what that is, ask your dad or Google). Having said that, it’s not unbearable by any stretch – just something to be aware of.
Venting is pretty good – it has Shark’s shouldn’t-work-but-it-does chin vent that pivots forward at the top and two vents on top of the head as well as two exhaust vents at the back. There is also a drop-down sun visor that operates via a direct-action slider in the centre of the helmet, much like other Shark lids – and surrounding the top vents are a couple of aerodynamic spoilers to stabilise it at speed.
Opening the chin-bar is easy and can be done with one hand and when moving. A thumb activates the button inside the bottom of the chin-bar and the ‘Auto-Up’ system pushes the main visor up and out of the way.
You lift the chin-bar up and push it over the top of the main visor and the helmet itself, then pull the visor back down into place. It’s now a jet helmet and the airflow and freedom it offers are delightful, particularly on a warm day. The visor keeps bugs and debris out of your teeth but you get loads of air and it feels delightful.
It works pretty well up to cruising speed and while you can close the lid anytime you want, I wasn’t prepared to try it at motorway speeds.
To close the lid, you just pull the chin-bar forward over the helmet. It again automatically raises the visor out of the way and clicks into place. Again, just close the visor and you’re done.
I tried the older version of this helmet and a few times, the chin-bar got caught up in the visor, leading to the odd moment of figuring it out as you’re peering through a tiny slit. Thankfully, this latest version hasn’t done that at all. It’s not heavy, doesn’t seem to pick up turbulence too much and has a massive field of vision, even with the chin-bar locked down.
The Shark Evo GT does a pretty good job of doing two very different things. It is an – admittedly – bigger-than-normal full-face helmet as well as a great jet-style open-face for warmer rides.
When closed, it’s a little louder than normal but it’s not a disaster while when open, it offers great airflow and a feeling of freedom.
Vision from the huge visor is excellent and it comes with a drop-down sun visor and decent ventilation when closed. It’s a great all-rounder with little to find fault with.
• Genuine two-in-one flip-front helmet
• Dual homologation
• Decent ventilation
• Aesthetics not to everyone’s tastes
I’ve been a wearer of Shark lids for over 25 years, my first being bought for me as a wedding present by my big brother, definitely not your most traditional wedding present and better than a toaster or towels. Having been a fan of Foggy and watching every World Superbike race for the preceding couple of years, the only option was for one of his replica lids.
From that first experience of Shark lids, I’ve tested around ten in the following years, all have been comfortable, fitted well and I’ve come to trust the brand. I’m afraid the same can’t be said for the latest evolution, the Shark Evo GT.
Rated to ECE22.05 standard, it has a thermoplastic shell, fully washable and removable lining and a seat buckle style fastener. It’s dual homologated, which means this flip front lid can be worn as either full or open face, and comes with a variety of cheek pads to ensure a snug fit. There are plenty of vents, to keep cool on warmer days, plus a drop down sun-visor.
I find the visor can be tricky to open, as the tabs to open it are quite small and not easy to locate, particularly when on the move. I opted for the fluro orange version but there are more subtle paint schemes available. Priced at around £400 it’s not the cheapest flip-up lid on the market and I feel it’s slightly overpriced.
The flip section isn’t the easiest to operate, the chin bar lifts completely over the top of the lid, to make a true open-faced option. When I come to revert back to the full faced variant, it sometimes gets stuck and needs a firm hand to ensure it closes properly, which is rather un-nerving and I’m concerned I may damage the lid.
On initial wear, and for rides of less than an hour, it’s perfect, fits well, worn with ear-plugs is reasonably quiet, I can’t fault it but anything over the hour, my head starts to throb. There’s a problem around the temples, where it comes to a point that I have to stop, have a few minutes off the bike and then start my ride again. I wasn’t sure if it’s the turbulence caused by the screen on my Honda NT1100 test bike or the helmet, so have swapped to other lids, none of which have the same problem.
My only course of action has been to speak to the Shark distributor, to see what they suggest. Their technician modified the internals, fixes I wouldn’t attempt myself, nor would recommend you do. If you purchase your lid from a reputable dealer, they’ll be trained to make modifications, to try and resolve such problems.
My next long ride was more comfortable and there is a vast improvement to the fit of the lid. Not only is after sales care good, there is another benefit that’s good for peace of mind - it comes with a five year warranty.
• Vents are ample for warmer rides
• Needing to modify to fit correctly
More flip-front helmets to consider:
3. Caberg Duke II
4. Shoei Neotec II
5. AGV Tour Modular
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