Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Annually, we visit Seattle if for no other reason than to say things will improve in the coming year – specifically if we focus on the weather.  Up that way, my riding partner, Randall Guzziboy, and I check in with the bike shops eyeballing new hardware from BMW, then Guzzi and Aprilia, then Triumph, then Yamaha and Victory.  We are both quite satisfied with our current mounts, but as with many things, just because one is on a diet, doesn’t mean one can’t look at the menu.

While my buddy was salivating over a big Triumph, my eye was grabbed by a bright yellow Schuberth flip face helmet (the C-3), the likes I’d read about but knew I could never afford.  I’d heard they were really quiet, lightest in their category and that if you damaged it in an accident, Schuberth would replace the thing for 1/3 of current retail.  Beneath this hi-viz wonder was a SALE! sign. 

I’d been toying with replacing my old Nolan 102 flip face helmet for some time, now.  I’d made the mistake of not wearing the thing around the showroom for the requisite 30 minutes prior to purchase so, through no fault of the good folks at Nolan, the thing never really seemed to fit just right.  Santa was aware of this, I think, but then again, I haven’t been all that good a boy this past year.

Turns out, the Cycle Barn was closing out their representation of Schuberths because of lackluster sales (perhaps due to price point?)  I tried the unit on.  Understand that when I enter a shoe store and there’s a sale rack there, I’ve long ago given up looking because nothing’s ever gonna fit.  Not so this time with this helmet.  I wore it throughout the showroom sitting on everything from Triumph Tigers and Bonnevilles to a Vespa 150s.

The kinds folks at Lynnwood Cycle Barn willingly shipped the helmet and the day after it arrived, the weather gods smiled on me: mid-fifties and clear.

I fired up the Breva intent on enjoying my head-clearing 40-mile loop through the foothills of Placer County.  Out this way, the roads sweep and twist through vineyards and orchards, past derelict barns and rusting implements.  Cows low.  Sheep graze.  Horses do whatever horses do in the winter. 

First thing I noticed about the C-3 was the quiet.  Wind noise was discernibly less than with my other lids.  The exception being that when I approached 70 mph, the laminar lip on my stock Guzzi screen funneled a river of air right at the helmet.  Noisy.  Yet, (and here’s the second thing) under these circumstances, I noted no buffeting.  I turned my head left and right and still none.

The initial part of my loop headed east, the return portion, directly into the sun.  The C-3 has an interior sun visor that conveniently drops down in side the face shield with the slide of a tab on the side of the helmet.  The low January sunrays immediately were quelled, but so was my view of the data on the Guzzi’s readout.

I stopped for a picture of one of those narrow bridges where you always wait for the other guy to cross first.  A gentle pull on the tab on the chin bar released the front.  It swiveled up, completely out of the way.  I figured a cup of coffee could easily be enjoyed without removing ones head from the Schuberth’s cozy confines.  The same might be said for filling up the tank or talking to a partner while pulled over.

One of the things I’ve yet to master is keeping my face shield clear of condensation.  I figured most of what a manufacturer professes in this regard is hokum.  But, the night before this first ride, I installed the Pinlock insert touted as a means to keep fogging at bay.  Rimmed in silicon this insert offers a fraction of an inch of air space trapped between the outer screen and itself.  Shazam!  Not so much as a molecule of moisture showed up whether when I tried it on the previous night in sub freezing temps, or when riding through the 50-degree hills of the gold country. 

Thank God for full face helmets*...
Although I’ve only ridden with the Schuberth C-3 for about 90 minutes and I have yet to use it on the GSA, which has a different wind pattern at speed, I think this thing will become my go-to lid.  It is light, quiet, solid, comfy and, in the case of the one I purchased, extremely visible. 

It has been said that the cheapest thing on a BMW is the rider (perhaps this is said of the Moto Guzzi brethren, also) and I’ll plead guilty.  Still I like quality gear and will usually wait until I can pay the price for it.  I think I learned this from the Michelin Man back in the late 60s.  The fact that this one came to me at a discounted price, perhaps, was Santa’s way of winking at me and telling maybe I was an all right boy this past year after all.


Schuberth Helmets etc: www.schuberth.com
Lynwood Cycle Barn: http://www.cyclebarn.co/

* if only to cover up that face.

© 2013
Church of the Open Road Press

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