There's a reason Shark has been a leader in helmet sales in Europe for 20 years. The French company's top-shelf RSR2 employs a composite weave that yields a strong-yet-flexible shell designed to spread energy across the entire surface. The EPS liner consists of six sections cast in different densities to match their positions, with Shark's unique "Fin-Shocks" in key locations. The helmet is finished off with a 3mm face shield (about twice the thickness of most other brands) and fastened to the shell at four points for maximum security.
Initially I was put off by the lid's appearance. Its bulbous shape, narrow eye port and oversized chin bar make it look like something a funnycar racer would wear. Pulling it on swayed my opinion: The fit is fantastic, with a velvety liner and plush, extra-thick foam that cradles my head. That liner is easily removable/replaceable for washing, too, though the padded covers on the chin straps are sewn in place.
On the road the RSR2 proved to be extremely quiet, though that may be due to the limited number of vents, the flow through which is controlled by ridiculously tiny tabs. My only other complaint is the shape of the eye port, which despite being improved over the original RSR still limits peripheral vision, mandating frequent head-turning. Despite these shortcomings, however, I was sold on Shark's safety technology, regularly employing the helmet for performance testing. And am I glad I did!
Shark's Fin-Shock structure is similar to the crumple zones found in cars. The fins collap
I put that technology to the test when a performance run aboard a boutique manufacturer's $40,000, 180-horsepower, supercharged V-twin went horribly wrong. The bike wheelied as expected, but when I set the front wheel down the fork legs slid up in the triple clamps, wedging the tire against the forward cylinder and catapulting me headfirst over the bars! Apparently, the triple-clamp bolts hadn't been properly torqued after the fork was revalved at a factory-authorized dealer.
Amazingly, I wasn't KO'ed and suffered only a slightly separated shoulder. The incident put a big dent in the helmet's shell and blew a circle of paint off where it flexed upon impact. Subsequent dissection revealed visible deformation of the EPS liner and Fin-Shocks.
The RSR2 performed exactly as advertised, and I attribute my being able to walk away from the incident to the helmet's carefully researched design. Had the crash occurred on the street instead of a closed course, those energy-absorbing capabilities might have made the difference between lying unconscious and being able to get up and out of the way of traffic.
I gave the damaged RSR2 to the shop responsible for the incident as a not-so-subtle reminder, and promptly ordered a new one for myself.
Shark RSR2 Helmet
Conctact: Shark Helmets
Verdict 4.5 stars out of 5
You can't dispute helmet safety technology based wholly on science.