Shark Explore-R Helmet Review
By Trevor Hedge
Shark has tried to make their new Explore-R ($599.95) a helmet for all occasions. So does it fail at all of them or come up to the mark across most?
It is pretty rare that I use the same helmet when testing a supersports nakedbike, retro city bike, a cruiser and a scooter but in the past few weeks I have used the Shark Explore-R across all those four modes of motorcycling. The only thing I have not worn it for is serious adventure riding, although I have used the helmet in that configuration for various other types of riding, with the conventional full face visor removed and the supplied goggles in place.
As a full face helmet with conventional visor in place the Explore-R fits the bill nicely. It looks the part in carbon, is reasonably quiet and resistant to fogging, is easy to take on, or off, and proves comfortable. The lining has a nice feel to it while on your bonce. From time to time I did feel a little too much pressure on the front of my forehead, which does happen to me from time to time, primarily when by bonce is Arai ensconced, but it generally passed with more time in the saddle.
A built-in sun visor flips down using a small control on the left side of the helmet to help protect your eyes from glare when needed.
A neckerchief/buff also resides behind a zip in the lower chin piece for further protection from the elements. I can’t say I needed it as the Explore-R already has quite generous lower neck protection when worn with a decent motorcycle jacket.
With the visor removed and the supplied goggles in place (an easy conversion in seconds) the helmet was somewhat of a revelation.
Generally, wearing goggles with any helmet at speed is a recipe for streaming eyes and a cold face, particularly if using a pair of very breathable motocross goggles that simply can’t keep the air away from your eyes effectively when travelling at speed. But with the supplied goggles, which incidentally mount perfectly and conveniently on small lugs built into the side of the helmet, I have had no drama at all across all manner of riding and have zero complaints about the practicality of wearing the helmet in such a guise. I was more than a bit surprised.
Unfortunately, I have not had to negotiate tight off-road terrain in summer to prove the goggles resistance to fogging and sweat in such environs. As to be expected, there is a little more wind noise when wearing the goggles instead of the conventional full-face visor and the rim of the goggles sittings inside the helmet does obviously reduce the side vision by a small amount, requiring lane-change head checks to be a little more purposeful than normal.
Where Shark Explore-R differs from many adventure helmets is that is designed first and foremost to offer the protection of a proven full-face helmet suitable for high-speed riding, and is thus designed to withstands high-speed impacts, while many adventure helmets are adapted from lighter duty motocross style to suit an adventure or more versatile role.
I also used the optional Sharktooth ($289.95) bluetooth system and love it to bits. The hardware for the system is produced by intercom company Interphone, but the genius of the Sharktooth variant is that Shark have made selected helmets in their line with the use of the system already catered for. At the lower rear of the helmet, between the lining of the helmet and the protective skins is a moulded in reservoir to take the battery for the Sharktooth system. This has allowed them to build in a much larger battery reserve than commonly found in helmet systems, and has allowed the actual side mounted bluetooth unit to be much slimmer and more streamlined. There are also small pockets behind the ear pads for the placement of the speakers, which produce good clarity and volume. The microphone cord etc. is also catered for and the microphone placement convenient. On first installation I was rubbing my chin on the foam of the microphone but eventually it found the position it liked to be in and stayed there.
I took my first call while in Gold Coast traffic on the BMW S 1000 R, and much to my surprise was having a clearly audible conversation and not once did the person on the other end have to ask me to repeat any sentence. Obviously the background noise cancelling functions of the microphone work very well indeed. The system can also work as a rider-to-passenger or bike-to-bike intercom at ranges up to 500 metres. And obviously also caters for music streaming from your mobile phone, which automatically interrupts when a call comes in. Likewise, the system can also relay voice instructions from a GPS unit. I have ony charged the unit once but have used it on plenty of rides thus far without recharging the battery. With the full face visor in place, the system is fine up to 100km/h, with goggles in place that useful speed range comes back to around 80km/h. However, at long-haul highway speeds, in-ear buds with inbuilt speakers still can’t be beat
Complaints? Ideally the conventional visor would have come pre-fitted with a Pinlock system to make it 100 per cent resistant to fogging but apart from that I would say the Shark Explore-R is my new favourite helmet.
Technical jargon – “The Explore R features a lightweight carbon aramid fibre and multi-axial glass fibre shell with a removable peak, drop-down sunglass visor and removable clear visor. The full screen panoramic field of vision is backed by a Rapid Anti-Fog System for guaranteed complete visibility no matter the conditions and the Easy-Fit System ensures optimal comfort even for riders wearing glasses.”
I reckon – SHARK Explore-R is one of the the most fully-loaded and full-featured helmets on the market. I like it, and not just because they gave me one 🙂
For more information or to find your nearest stockist visit www.ficeda.com.au. A big thanks to iKapture for taking the image below featuring the Shark Explore-R in all three configurations.