For some, a helmet is a distress purchase; it’s the only part of motorcycle kit that is a legal requirement and as such, some feel that spending the least amount possible on a helmet leaves them more money for other things. However, what is more important that the safety of your head?
Choosing a helmet can be a tricky task; there are so many manufacturers, so many styles and materials, so many colours and designs.
A common theme when choosing a helmet is the shape of head you have. It might sound weird but some people simply cannot wear one style or manufacturer’s helmets as their head-shape just doesn’t work with the inherent style of the helmet.
However, over the years, I have found several manufacturers that my head seems to work well with and one of those is French firm Shark. And one of my favourites is this, the Spartan Carbon. It is my go-to sporty lid, fits beautifully and instantly makes me feel like a MotoGP rider...
Construction and safety
The first thing you notice, of course, is the carbon-fibre construction. The exposed carbon weave looks great while the addition of Silvain Guintoli’s Suzuki MotoGP homage paintjob breaks it up a little, adding some much-needed colour.
Of course, in addition to looking high-tech and racey, the carbon-fibre also means excellent strength and low weight – the helmet is quoted at some 1320g and it feels every bit the part.
Safety is without question, of course. It is ECE22.05 certified and also ACU approved, so it can be used on-track for racing or trackdays. It also gets four stars (from five) for safety from Sharp, the UK government testing scheme.
Shark Spartan Carbon specification
Sharp rating: 4 stars
Fastener: Double D-ring
The second thing you notice is the shape; it’s clearly a sports helmet and the deep chin, high visor aperture and shaped rear section suggest it is intended primarily for use on sportsbikes, where the rider is leaned forward with the head tipped backwards in the typical ‘racing tuck’. Having said that, it also works if you’re sat more upright, such as on a naked or a roadster.
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The rear spoilers help with stability at higher speeds, like on the circuit and the panels that mount the visor are flush so this helps to reduce noise as well.
Shark Spartan Carbon visor
The visor itself is wide, giving a good view and features posts for a Pinlock Max Vision anti-fog insert to prevent the visor misting up. The visor removal system is a bit clunky – it basically involves a bit of force to pull it out of the mount instead of a release tab but once you’ve done it a couple of times, you get the hang of it.
It closes snugly though not as securely as some but there are four positions it can be held open in, including one to allow a little extra air flow.
Speaking of which, venting is excellent; the chin vent doesn’t look like it will do much but it’s very effective and similarly, the vent on top of the head is also good at drawing in air and channelling it through the liner to the rear-mounted exhaust vents built into the spoiler fins.
One feature that marks the Spartan as a road, as well as circuit, helmet is the inclusion of a drop-down sun visor, which is useful for both applications.
The slider is on top of the head, so its movement is directly related to that of the visor, as opposed to a side-mounted lever that has a massive mechanical advantage and a tiny movement of the lever causes a big movement in the visor.
It reaches down to the breath guard so that there is no annoying strip between the sun visor and the edge of the chinbar to distract you.
The interior is very soft and supple and feels lovely against the skin, though it has started to bobble where is sits against an unshaved cheek. The cheekpads are interchangeable to ensure the right fit and the whole lot can be removed for washing and to keep it fresh, though I’ve not needed to in the two years I’ve been using it.
In use, I find it extremely comfortable – my head shape clearly suits both the aperture and the helmet itself – and have spent hours in it with no pinching or comfort issues.
It is very light, which helps enormously on track, for example, where there are lots of direction changes as well as on naked bikes, where there is lots of windblast on the head. Its aerodynamics also help massively here too, minimising drag and buffeting.
The only real downside is because it’s designed as a sporty helmet, it is louder than those intended for longer journeys.
Straight wind noise is not too bad but if you end up in dirty air (see, I told you it releases the inner racer…) then the buffeting can get a bit drony.
It’s not a helmet I would necessarily choose to ride to the south of France in, but a 90-minute hack up the M1 to Silverstone for a six-session trackday then home again was absolutely fine.
I was comfortable, entertained (there are cut-outs for intercom speakers, more suggestion of a road intention as well as race) and most importantly, reassured and well protected.
The Spartan Carbon is a comfortable, light and protective helmet and as I said earlier, is my go-to sports helmet.
Low weight and high strength
Comfortable and protective
Bit noisier than say a touring helmet
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