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Schuberth M1 Helmet Review

Schuberth M1 Helmet Review
The Schuberth of Open-Face Helmets
by Rick K. and "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com

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Owner Comments (Below)
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See Also: Schuberth SRC Intercom Review

UPDATE: The Schuberth M1 wins the wBW 2015 Motorcycle Helmet of the Year Award!

Summary

The Schuberth M1 may look like a (somewhat) ordinary length open-face motorcycle helmet, but it isn't.

Every detail makes the M1 the "Schuberth of open-face helmets".

That includes the outstanding build quality, paint and overall finish, the no-seams ultrasonically welded three-part liner.

And the list price...

It has a huge face shield and internal sun visor, both with outstanding optical quality.

The icing on the cake is that the Schuberth M1 has built-in dual microphones and speakers, wired and ready to go.

It also has a built-in connector in the rear that is ready for the Schuberth M1 SRC Bluetooth intercom system, made for Schuberth by Cardo.

Pop the surprisingly reasonably priced M1 SRC in the rear of the helmet and in literally 5 seconds you have a beautifully integrated helmet intercom system.

Even the chin strap padding got a re-design, with thick padding and a rubberized backing to hold the chin strap in place.

Are there any downsides? Well, you'll have to get over the fact that this is an open-face helmet. Too bad they didn't include the removable chin bar pioneered in the Schuberth J1 (review).

Also, it's a Schuberth, made in Germany, so be prepared to drain that wallet. And no Pinlock insert included?

But the bottom line is that the Schuberth M1 is a remarkable motorcycle helmet that points the way for future designs from the German company.

Schuberth M1 Helmet
Background

The Schuberth M1 was introduced to the world and to webBikeWorld visitors during last year's AIMExpo show in Orlando, Florida.

As an open-face helmet, the M1 was and is a radical concept for Schuberth and the design also sets a trend for the entire motorcycle helmet industry.

Besides the "radical" feature of -- get this -- remarkably good upper ventilation, sorely lacking on so many motorcycle helmets, the killer feature of the M1 is the beautifully integrated M1 SRC Bluetooth intercom system.

If this is a hint at where motorcycle communications systems will be headed in the future, then count us in. As long-time webBikeWorld readers know, we were not big fans at all of integrated comm systems in the past, but the M1 helmet and its special SRC intercom system is a game-changer.

We'll have a more detailed review of the M1 SRC coming soon, but in the meantime, let's focus on the M1 helmet itself.

Schuberth M1 Helmet Sun Visor
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Schuberth M1 Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

Most open-face helmets are relegated to second-tier status in a manufacturer's lineup, but Schuberth pulled out all the stops with the M1.

The helmet comes in a variety of colors, although the U.S. versions all have a matte finish other than the black.

The M1 shown here is a gloss anthracite, fresh off the production line (date of manufacture is May 2015) and not listed in the Schuberth catalog -- at least that we could find -- so it may be a one-off factory paint test or a soon-to-be-released color.

[UPDATE: I confirmed with Schuberth that there are three gloss colors (Amsterdam Anthracite, Berlin Black and Vienna White) and three matte colors (Madrid Metal, Paris Blue and London Matte Black). The helmet shown here is the Amsterdam Anthracite (gloss). The colors shown on some retailer websites may not be correct.]

The paint on the composite matrix shell is beautifully applied and it has a thick, shiny gloss finish, which bodes well for long-term use.

The rest of the helmet and moving parts are very nicely designed and executed, especially the new ultrasonically-welded helmet liner, which consists of three parts. There are no seams to be found and the "3D" pieces fit tightly together so that the very thin edges of one piece slide under another.

This leaves nothing but smooth liner padding sections and very defined liner section edges tucked tightly against the typically Schuberth flocked lining on the EPS.

It may sound silly but the M1's liner is quite artistic in its own way and really is something to see.

The oversize top vent and the rear exhaust -- which is formed in the shape of a helmeted rider's head -- are design signatures that make the helmet immediately recognizable as a Schuberth M1 or Metropolitan 1.

The grid in the rear exhaust feels like metal and it's a nice touch.

Originally, Schuberth said that the top vents might be interchangeable in different colors for owner customization, but that probably turned out to be a retailer logistical nightmare.

Top vents are available in two colors now (silver or black) but the removable short peak for true open-face riding is available (Titanium or Black to match the top vent colors).

In the world introduction at last year's AIMExpo, Schuberth also said that the M1 would have "Top quality gel stickers in the colors of the national flags of Germany, Italy, Great Britain, France, Spain and the USA provide riders with yet another way of customizing their helmets." [UPDATE: These are coming soon.]

In fact, they said that the M1 could be "customized in up to 4,200 combinations, with 5 visors, 6 different flag stickers, 2 linings, 5 different sun visors, 2 peak colors and more".

The customization is a neat concept that apparently some of it proved too difficult to implement, but one never knows...

[UPDATE: Schuberth also said that helmet liners will be available in two colors: Gray (Standard) and Coffee. There will be 5 sun visor colors: Silver, Yellow, Blue, Clear, Smoke.

There will be 5 face shield colors: Clear, Light Smoke, Dark Smoke, Silver Mirrored, Blue Mirrored. All of these accessories will become available in the next container shipment to the U.S.A.]

The huge polycarbonate face shield also deserves mention; it's optically correct and without flaws, as is the drop-down internal sun visor which, by the way, has outstanding coverage.

Schuberth listened to us regarding the padding for the chin strap; it's thick and full coverage and it even has a rubberized surface on the outside to grip the web strapping. Only thing missing are loops to hold the straps to the pads...

Score: Bottom line is that the Schuberth M1 has outstanding quality all around, in both design and execution.

Schuberth M1 Helmet Slide Show
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  • schuberth_m1_helmet_rear_view
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  • schuberth_m1_helmet_side_view
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Schuberth M1 Helmet Fit, Internal Shape and Liner

We've always had an issue with the fit of the Schuberth C-series flip-up helmets. With just two shell sizes to cover the range, the size L is too small and the XL is too big. Combine that with the narrow internal shape and you have to have a special head to fit one correctly.

The M1 was a chance to adapt to reality and we hope the next Schuberth flip-up -- the C4? -- will have at least three shells to span the range.

The M1's internal shape moves the indicator very slightly towards the "Neutral" category but it's still a "Slightly Narrow" profile.

The thick and cushy padding in the M1 does, however, help to mask the shape slightly and the helmet should fit a variety of head shapes. Also, Schuberth promises different thickness cheek pads and liner parts for a bespoke fit. Those haven't appeared in retailer stock yet but hopefully soon will.

There's almost zero information and technical details about the M1on either the Schuberth US or DE websites, so the officially listed head size is unknown at this time.

But there's a hint in the hand-marked label attached to the inside of our size large M1. It indicates the following:

Schuberth M1 Size Chart
Helmet Size Head Size (CM)
XS 53
S 55
M 57
L 59
XL 61
XXL 63

Note that the head size range listed on the label in our helmet has the small end blacked out manually for some reason.

The M1 has but two shell sizes to span the head size range and the size L at 59 cm listed on our tag is the same as the C3, a non-standard Schuberth size, just like the C3 (standard size large helmets usually fit 59-60 cm, not 58-59 cm).

The good news is that the M1 in size large has a bit of wiggle room, so a normal size 60 cm head should fit.

The fact that this is an open-face helmet helps; that type of helmet gives some play at the cheeks due to the design, which helps to mask some of the internal size differences, if any.

Bottom line: The M1 has a "Slightly Narrow" to "Neutral" internal shape that seems a tiny bit relaxed compared to a size large C3, due to the M1's open-face design that provides some stretch at the open bottom.

The thicker (but firm) padding in the M1 and the open-face design make the helmet comfortable to wear and it should please a wide variety of owner head shapes.

Schuberth C3 Internal Shape

More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, along with the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Score: The M1 gets an "Excellent" rating for fit with a thicker and nicer-feeling liner than the current C3. See the motorcycle helmet rating scale at the bottom of this page.

Schuberth M1 Top Vent
The entire top vent slides rearward to open and provides excellent air flow.
Schuberth M1 Rear Vent
The "3D" rear exhaust is in the shape of a rider's head with helmet.
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Schuberth M1 Face Shield, Eye Port and Visibility

The first thing you'll notice as soon as you pull away wearing the M1 is the huge eye port and the virtually unlimited visibility it provides.

We've commented on this aspect of some open-face helmet designs before and the added visibility over a full-face helmet is a real safety factor. It lowers the anxiety threshold when you're looking over the shoulder or back and forth for traffic checks, especially for those new to motorcycling.

It also helps eliminate the claustrophobia of a full-face helmet and the big face shield allows you to see the instruments and -- importantly -- a GPS or tablet or cell phone you might have attached to the handlebar or tank, giving directions.

The optical quality of the Schuberth M1 face shield is outstanding, with that crystal-clear "it isn't there" feeling that always seems strange, like you're floating through air with nothing in front of your face and no wind pressure where there should be. We measured the polycarbonate at 2.20 mm thick.

It includes the Schuberth "turbulators" along the top which are supposed to help break up the air stream and improve aerodynamics or something.

The giant curved face shield also has dual lift tabs, one on each side. The face shield seals tightly across the gasket along the top of the brow, which means it passes the webBikeWorld water ingress test (we tried it).

The internal sun visor operates with a slider on the lower left of the helmet shell. The sun visor provides outstanding coverage with the same high-quality optics as the clear face shield. Both are available in an assortment of tints, by the way.

The internal sun visor can also be stopped in an intermediate position, another plus.

The M1 face shield is ready for a Pinlock anti-fog insert (review), but none is included with the helmet. We think this is an oversight; some helmets at a much lower price point include the Pinlock insert and it certainly should be included with the expensive M1.

Schuberth M1 Visibility

Score: The Schuberth M1 rates an "Outstanding" for the design and operation of the face shield and sun visor.

Schuberth M1 Helmet Liner
The ultrasonically sealed "3D" helmet liner is smooth and comfortable and channeled for ventilation.
Schuberth M1 Ventilation

The M1 is an open-face helmet, which means lots of air flowing in from underneath...like it or not.

Many open-face helmet designs pay lip service only to the top vent, but the M1's huge vent is both a signature styling feature and it's functional.

Push the entire vent back and air flows into the helmet. It can be felt, no question about it, even in hot summer weather. The catch? Noise levels definitely increase when the vent is open. There's a noticeable difference in sound with a closed and open top vent.

But we'll take the tradeoff, because the noise increase isn't as bad as some and the ventilation provided by the open vent ranks among the best we've experienced, no matter the helmet type.

The big face shield blocks most of the air around the face, with some leaking in from underneath when you're riding a non-faired motorcycle.

Schuberth M1 Ventilation

Score: The Schuberth M1 gets an "Outstanding" rating for ventilation.

Schuberth SRC Rear Intercom Cover
The Schuberth M1 is ready for the M1 SRC Bluetooth intercom system. Remove the rear panel, connect the optional SRC and you're ready to go.
Schuberth SRC Intercom Connector
Here's the SRC connector in the cavity with the rear panel removed.
Schuberth M1 SRC Intercom
The optional Schuberth M1 SRC made by Cardo. Plug it in to the helmet and you're done.
Schuberth M1 Microphone and Speaker
The M1 comes with dual microphones and speakers already installed.
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Schuberth M1 SRC

We'll take a closer look at the Schuberth M1 SRC Bluetooth intercom system in an upcoming review, but suffice it to say that the M1's SRC has to be one of the most smoothly integrated motorcycle helmet intercom system we've seen.

One of the main reasons for that is the M1 helmet, which comes equipped with speakers and two microphones; one each, hidden under the cheek pads on each side.

At the rear of the helmet is a removable cover that hides the SRC interface. You buy the M1 SRC for $220.00, remove the cover on the back of the helmet, snap in the SRC and you're done and ready to communicate.

In fact, the M1 SRC box has only the snap-in intercom module and a USB charger. That's it. A refreshing and simple change from the typically complex motorcycle intercom systems and issues with mounting accessory speakers and mic.

The low-profile M1 SRC communications system is made by Cardo for Schuberth, like all of the other Schuberth SRC Bluetooth intercoms (review). This means that it will pair with any other Schuberth or Cardo system, a real plus. 

Schuberth M1 Sound Levels

The Schuberth M1 is quiet for an open-face helmet. As expected, there's some wind noise around the bottom of the helmet if you're riding a non-faired motorcycle.

But overall, the noise levels are low for an open-face helmet and about equivalent to a quieter than normal full-face.

The top vent adds noise when it's open, as mentioned above, but the tradeoff with the excellent air flow is worth it. When riding behind a fairing on a full-size touring bike, the M1 has excellent noise control.

One thing to mention is that we both notice a slight tumbling or shaking around the M1, depending on the motorcycle and windscreen. On the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS (Blog) for example, the shorter windscreen directs air at the upper quadrant of the helmet and short back-and-forth head tossing is noticeable.

This effect (and perceived noise levels) will, as always, depend on the match of the rider's head to the helmet's internal shape; the motorcycle being ridden and even the riding gear worn by the wearer.

Schuberth C3 Noise Levels

Note that our helmet evaluations are normally a combined effort of several riders over time, on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens.

Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality ear plugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems).

Always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.

Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual.

Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit; the type of motorcycle and windscreen; wind speed and direction and even the type of clothing that is being worn. For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.

Score: We'll give the Schuberth M1 an "Excellent" rating for noise control.

wBW Video: Schuberth Metropolitan 1 Helmet
Schuberth M1 Helmet Weight

This M1 helmet in size large weighs 1521 grams (3 lbs., 5-7/8 oz.). The M1 SRC adds 67 grams (2-3/8 oz.) for a total of 1588 grams with the SRC installed.

This is at the upper end of the open-face helmets we've reviewed and weighed. For example, the Arai CT-Z (review) in size large weighed 1564 grams; the Nolan N40 (review) in size large weighed 1576 grams and the Shoei J-Cruise (review) in size large weighed 1610 grams.

The comfortable fit and good balance masks the weight on the road.

All of these weights for full-face, flip-up and open-face helmets are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Score: The Schuberth M1 gets a "Very Good" rating for its weight and excellent balance.

Schuberth M1 Helmet Visor Removal
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Miscellaneous

The M1 has a "quick release" micro-adjust style chin strap buckle that's typically thick and a bit clunky. As noted above, the chin straps are extra-thick and nice and long, with a rubberized textured lining on the outside.

However, they would be even nicer with a fabric loop or something to hold the chin strap on the padding. When you put the helmet on, you have to push the thick pads underneath to get everything situated correctly or the long pads won't lie flat.

The face shield is easy to remove but we found that the best way to reinstall it is to push both sides in simultaneously. For some reason, it's difficult to reinstall if you try one side, then the other.

wBW Opinionator: Schuberth M1 Helmet
Picks...
  • Outstanding build quality.
  • Huge face shield and visibility.
  • Good sun visor coverage.
  • Comfortable liner.
  • Upper ventilation.
  • The M1 SRC system.
Pans...
  • Price.
  • Only 2 shell sizes.
  • Open top vent noise.
  • Fussy strap padding.
  • No Pinlock?
Conclusion

The Schuberth M1 is a class-leading entry in the open-face helmet range. It has outstanding build quality and an extensive feature set not found on other high-end open-face helmets.

The M1 SRC system is very nicely integrated into the helmet, albeit at a cost that brings the already steep price up into the stratosphere.

The M1 lists for $550.00; add the M1 SRC for $220.00 and we're at a price level that will probably interest only the most die-hard BMW fanatics.

That said, the M1 has proven to be very popular, especially with the touring, urban and scooter crowd. In fact, some of the helmets and the M1 SRC are currently out of stock as this is written.

If you can overlook (or justify) the cost, however, the Schuberth M1 is a fantastic new helmet that has just about everything any motorcyclist needs...except a chin bar.

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wBW Review: Schuberth M1 Helmet
Manufacturer: Schuberth USA
List Price (2015): $550.00
Made In: Germany
Colors: Matte Gray, Black Blue, Red. Gloss Black, White.
Sizes: XS-XXL Shell Sizes: 2
Review Date: August 2015

Note: Item provided by a retailer, distributor or manufacturer with these Terms and Conditions.

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From "J.W." (August 2015): "I've been playing with this helmet for a few weeks and it's fantastic overall. I hope the successor to the C3 Pro picks up on the concept of a fully integrated comm system.

Good catch on the floppy chin strap pad. I have found that if you take a few seconds and ensure it's layered correctly under the chin, this can be mitigated. Nonetheless, it would have been nice to see those chin pads fastened more securely.

I do have an aesthetic nit pick: in the configuration without the shield attached, the hinge areas on the side look unfinished, which could be resolved with a set of Arai-style snap-on covers.

Lastly, the helmet is quite a bit thicker than the typical scooter helmet (likely due to Schuberth focus on safety) so it doesn't fit under my a standard Vespa 150 seat. Some type of attachment point for a standard helmet lock would be nice.

Looks like the red one is not coming to the US anytime soon, so more colors would be a bonus."

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