Schuberth takes pride in making a quiet helmet. They put in the work too, testing in a wind tunnel and acquiring noise data before bringing helmets like the flip-front C3 Pro to market. It’s resulted in peculiar little innovations. The helmet’s exposed interior foam is flocked, for instance, for sound deadening, and tiny turbulators across the top of the visor smooth airflow. Together, it works. Shut the front of a C3 Pro and it seals up like a vault. The quiet and convenience has made it an easy helmet to reach for on my horrendous commute across LA.
Los Angeles to Irvine is 50 hard miles. A relentless 60 minutes of every road hazard and stereotype of Californian driving. If it wasn’t for motorcycles the thought of my commute would make me break out in a cold sweat. But with a bike and the right gear, I hit my desk with my mind clear and the tingle of invincibility that comes with dodging doors for an hour.
Motorcyclists have long found refuge in our helmets. Not from noise, but from a type of noise. From the intrusion of anything but our own thoughts. From text messages and sports highlights. The drumbeat of daily news. Put on a helmet and it’s gone. Navigate into the stream of traffic and its memory goes too—replaced by what’s in front of you and tangible and dangerous and real. Motorcycling can be a rare moment of focused solitude in the midst of chaos.
I’ve been reluctant to dabble with in-helmet communications systems. I don’t want distractions or to quiet my inner monologue. But good company is a strong temptation. Convenience is too. So for our ride through the Italian Alps (which required organization, photo stops, and not getting separated in congested Italian villages) we installed communications systems in our helmets.
It’s a strange experience, having someone in a helmet with you. Trying desperately not to sneeze too loudly. Hearing an immediate laugh after a mumbled expletive. It’s weird, but it becomes intuitive. The C3 Pro has integrated communications options from Cardo and Sena. Both disappear once installed, no protuberance dorkily dangling off the side of your helmet. No fuss at all, really. It was the Sena SC10U that won me over.
The Sena has no rough edges. It’s easy to install, tucking in under the C3 Pro’s neckroll then clipping to the eyeport. Voice prompts are clear and concise. It’s loud enough to sound decent through earplugs, which I’ll still wear on long rides. The battery lasts for ages—Sena claims 10 hours. Enough that I seldom hear the robotic voice of impending battery doom grousing at me.
Technology hasn’t won me over completely. I’m not taking calls or turning my ride into office hours. I’ve been using Sena’s Bluetooth functionality to play music though. Blasting Devo’s “Gut Feeling” on a twisty road? Delightful. But really, it’s the intercom functionality that appeals most. Sharing moments with someone, whether they’re a passenger or another rider, has a place in riding. I didn’t get that. Now I do.
It’s a curious thing. The quiet that made the C3 Pro my go-to commuting helmet has also made it a perfect companion for technology I was almost religiously opposed to. Now the SC10U has a permanent home there. And the intrusion of distraction and noise? Hold down two buttons and it’ll all go away. When it comes alongside quiet and camaraderie, that’s all the freedom from distraction a rider could ask for.
|Summary:||A premium helmet and top-notch communications silence a critic|
|Prices:||C3 Pro: $720, Sena SC10U: $269|