The LED lighting in the Shark Skwal is a unique feature that risks overshadowing everything else this helmet does well – particularly when people reviewing it refer to it in the first paragraph. Sorry.
But it’s important to address this elephant in the room early on because the Skwal has lots to offer aside from illumination, and you shouldn’t let that be the reason you do or don’t purchase it.
It’s a sleek-looking sports touring lid (that sits closer to the former than the latter) with lots of ergonomic features and enough colour schemes to keep even the fussiest kit-matcher happy. All at an accessible price.
What safety features and ratings does the Shark Skwal 2.2 have?
The helmet on test here is the updated Skwal 2.2 version and this comes tested to the mandatory ECE 22.05 standard, as well as featuring an ACU gold sticker for track use.
Sharp gave the Skwal 2 four stars and although that doesn’t apply to this updated 2.2 version, it doesn’t seem fundamentally different - just brighter LEDs and a tweaked visor mechanism.
It’s made from thermoplastic rather than carbon fibre, which keeps costs down, albeit at the expense of weight-saving, but it’s no heavyweight. A quick-release ratchet buckle keeps it attached to your head.
The headline feature of course is those LEDs lights – situated by the chin and head vent, and around the back by the spoiler. There’s a small battery pack and button hidden in the neck roll and then a micro-USB charging cable at the back.
Is the Shark Skwal 2.2 comfortable?
The neck roll is extensive and very well cushioned – this is an effort to reduce wind noise around the base and for the first few wears at least means it’s a bit of a squeeze to get on.
Inside there is a very plush lining with less padding around the temples to allow space for spectacle arms. Although there is only one shell size it doesn’t feel too big or unwieldy to wear and remained stable on my head even when looking over my shoulder on the move.
The ratchet buckle is easy to use once set up – I found I had to take in quite a bit of the strap’s slack at first, which was a bit fiddly, in order to get it done up tight enough. That said, once you’ve done this once it’s done for good.
While riding it’s a bit noisier than my current benchmark (the very quiet Schuberth C5) but there isn’t much buffeting, and the wind seems to sound like it’s coming from the top and sides of the lid rather than around the neck area.
Initially, I removed the small piece of fabric trim that runs under the chin in an effort to get a bit more cooling air in during a hot ride, but this caused quite a bit of lift when the wind got caught under it, so I’ve since reinstalled it.
Picture by Will Lobley
I’ve worn this helmet all year, including a thousand-mile Euro trip on my Triumph Daytona 675, and as time has passed, it feels like it’s adapted to my head shape and is now very comfy indeed. It still pulls my ears a bit when I take it on or off, though.
For me, the stand-out feature of this helmet is its ease of use – particularly the drop-down sun visor. Often these are flicked open or shut using a fiddly toggle hidden somewhere on the side or top, while the Skwal’s is super easy to locate (it’s found on the visor hinge) and rotate into position.
I can’t get across how much I appreciate this feature, it makes me wonder why every helmet doesn’t do the same. The number of times I’ve had to flap around looking for a poorly positioned sun visor activator. It also means the outside shell of the lid is very cleanly designed and free of switches and buttons.
Equally changing the visor itself is simple - just open it and pull it (carefully) away from the mechanism. No faffing around with extra panels, tools or tricky toggles, just plug and play.
Is it well-ventilated?
You get a chin vent and then another on the top of the helmet and in all honesty, I wasn’t overwhelmed by either – but then I am used to riding in an open-face lid, and I have a hot head.
The lower vent is probably the more noticeable of the two when open, with the top opening drawing air into a channel across the top of your head and out of the rear.
I’ve ridden on some pretty hot days this year and often found myself cracking the visor, particularly at traffic lights or while waiting for friends to catch up. Frustrating then that there’s only one tab to open it with, on the left-hand side, so it’s awkward to operate while you’re sitting with the clutch held.
It’s probably worth remembering that 2022 was unusually warm and that my bike runs hot. And has an under seat exhaust. So I spent the year overheating in one sense or another regardless of what helmet it was wearing.
What other features does the Shark Skwal 2.2 have?
The aforementioned lights of course – these can run solidly or flash and Shark reckons on a couple of hours of illumination before they need a recharge. That’s probably enough unless you live in Scandinavia and regularly ride for three to four hours in the dark.
You can’t really see them on from inside the helmet (probably deliberately) and the button to activate them doesn’t click very positively, particularly when wearing gloves, so the only way to check if they’re on is by creaking your head into the mirror.
I’m undecided on how useful they are besides looking cool. Obviously, any way you can make yourself more visible is going to be beneficial, and the fact they don’t rely on car headlights like a reflector is another advantage. Ultimately, I’d like to see some research that proves additional lighting in your lid means better low-light safety before commenting.
The Skwal ships with a dark visor (for track use only, of course) and this drops the ambient brightness considerably even on a very sunny day. For road use, there’s a drop-down visor built-in and this offers good coverage and protection from the sun. It does have a slightly green tint though.
You only get one Pinlock 70 insert though, so you’ll have to choose which visor you install it in, and despite this not being the strongest anti-fog rating offered, I’ve found it does a great job of stopping the Skwal steaming up. It even stayed clear during a six-hour ride through France where the rain didn’t lift once.
Is there an intercom for the Shark Skwal 2.2?
Yes – there are cutouts for speakers so you can install an own-brand Sharktooth intercom, or like me, you can stuff a Cardo Packtalk Edge in there.
This was a little tricky as the leads and battery for the LED lights take up the same space that you need for the intercom wiring, but with patience and only a small amount of swearing it went in fine.
What don’t you like about the Shark Skwal 2.2?
The chin vent is easy to open accidentally if you brush past it, and the aforementioned single tab to open the visor is a bit annoying.
This is also a bit of a niche complaint but it’s not the easiest thing to hold while it’s off your head either, the chin bar section is smooth and hard to grip, and the neck roll is so chunky it’s hard to get a good hold of.
Finally, I managed to break the dark visor while I was swapping it for the clear one – mostly because I was being a ham-fisted idiot (I was literally saying ‘look how easy it is to swap the visor’ to my friend at the point when it broke), so this is less of a complaint and more of a warning to be careful.
I really like the Skwal, it’s a great value lid with well-thought-out features and a huge number of good-looking graphic options. Those are £239 (rrp) while a plain black or white is £219 (again, you can pick one up cheaper than this online).
Shark also sells the D-Skwal for £199/£169 (graphic or plain) and this is broadly speaking the same helmet minus the LEDs, with a slightly less plush interior, which is a pretty good saving if you can stomach losing those two things.
Ultimately the fact it fits well, remains quiet and stable on my head, and is intuitive to use keeps me coming back to it on the shelf for a ride. I’d like a bigger top vent, but if you don’t run as hot as me, this won’t be an issue.