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 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.
This helmet 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
Aesthetics not to everyone’s tastes
Related: MCN's favourite motorbike helmets