Also: Shark RAW Helmet Preview
The Shark Raw helmet (2013 Preview) is certainly a looker.
But like most things radical, the chances are that you'll fall into one camp or the other -- you'll either love it or hate it.
There probably isn't a better-looking helmet on the planet for sinister bad*ss cruising, but unfortunately, looks aren't everything.
The helmet actually fits rather comfortably, despite the loose cheek pads that are apparently a common complaint.
And it's much quieter than you might expect, due to a close fit between the goggles and the eye port.
But there are a couple of rather amateur features that bring the Raw down on the usefulness list.
The most serious issue is in the design of the face mask or breath guard. It's very, well, "chintzy" is the word. It attaches to the underside of the goggles with four weak molded posts and they are very difficult to insert into their mating holes.
We're not sure why Shark didn't use snaps or even hook-and-loop strips to make the mask attachment and removal easier and more reliable.
There's basically no way to control the amount of air coming in to the helmet, at least at the lower portion. And if you need to scratch your nose, you're out of luck.
The top vent is also very crude; you don't get the familiar rocker switches or sliders. Instead, a simple flat piece of rubber is a friction fit in the vent slot on top. You pull it out and put it in your pocket to uncover the vent hole underneath.
Ours is a bit loose and I suspect it will quickly disappear.
So the bottom line -- at least in my opinion -- is that the Shark Raw is much more "show" than "go".
The Shark Raw helmet is available in solid colors and a few military-inspired graphics, including the Trinity, Michalak and the Soyouz graphics shown here. Each pattern has its own set of colors and there's also a Stripe version with a more traditional look for the military-averse.
I'm not sure who "Michalak" is, but I'm guessing it's not the guy who got burned by a UFO exhaust during his alien encounter. (webBikeWorld visitor "L.E." wrote to say that "Frédéric Michalak a French Rugby star. Maybe it is a Rugby helmet?").
Our helmet is in the matte gold Soyouz graphics, with gratuitous Cyrillic letters that apparently reads "Shark" on the sides and "White Shark" (?) in the center.
Some of you may remember the Russian Soyuz space program of the 1960's, for which the helmet is named; Soyouz is the French spelling for the Russian word Soyuz.
There's no doubt about it -- the Shark Raw is one of the most radical motorcycle helmet designs ever made and, we suspect, you'll either love it or hate it. But there's no denying that it will attract attention.
The paint, decals and graphics on ours are very nicely executed and if the matte color, dark goggles and face mask aren't enough for the post-apocalyptic types, then the militaristic look puts it over the top to make the Raw seem even more sinister.
I'm not really into sinister, militaristic or role playing but I have to admit, the Shark Raw looks cool.
The helmet shell feels well made, with just a bit of flex but it does feel more like a high(er)-tech composite shell than the polycarbonate it really is. The shell comes in two sizes to span the range of XS to XL, which is also a nice feature because it helps to keep the outside shell size proportionate to your head size.
The helmet is made in Portugal, so could it be that Nexx has something to do with it?
Unfortunately, there are a couple of construction-related flaws in this helmet that hurt its overall quality impression and make me question the price.
I'll get into that in the rest of the review but the biggest issue is the face mask, which quite simply has a very poor design in the way it fits into the bottom of the goggles.
Besides the fact that the face mask is a bit impractical, the flimsy connectors sort of ruin the overall ambience of the helmet. Also, the top vent works with a removable rubber plug that's a friction fit into the vent slot. This also does not seem becoming on a nearly 300 buck helmet.
Also, the foam gasket around the back of the goggles just seems cheap. The shape and fit and lens on the goggles is about equivalent to an average set of motocross goggles, but the quality of the gasket leaves something to be desired.
And, as long as I'm piling on, I'll also mention the loose cheek pads in this helmet, which were noticed as soon as the helmet first came out of the box. Conversations with a couple of other Raw owners indicate that this is a common problem.
Production of the Shark Raw helmet was delayed for some time last Fall, and I can only guess it was to try and address these issues but in the end, it seems like the helmet was rushed into production without a good solution.
Score: We give the Shark Raw a "Neutral" overall rating for quality. The paint and graphics gets an "Excellent" but the face mask, top vent, cheek pads and goggle gasket get a "Poor" rating. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.
The Shark Raw has a "Neutral" to "Slightly Narrow" internal shape as defined on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ, consistent with many other open-face helmets I've tried.
The open front means that the sides of the helmet have some flexibility.
On my "Round" head, the sides are a bit too tight and I can feel the extra room front to back at the top of the helmet. I'd guess that anyone who fits into other Shark helmets or Shoei helmets should have no problems fitting into a Shark Raw.
This helmet is a size XL and fits about a half-size small. It feels more like a size large at the sides and an XL on top. Shark offers optional size cheek pads for the Raw helmet, which means you can customize the fit but it will cost you $39.95 for a new set.
The padding feels slightly thin but the helmet is comfortable and the chin strap has adequate padding. Even with the slight mis-match to my head shape, I can wear the Raw helmet for some time without feeling any pressure points.
Overall, the helmet feels pretty much like any open-face, 3/4-length helmet, so nothing unusual here, despite the Raw's radical looks.
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: We We'll give the Shark Raw a "Very Good" rating for shape, comfort and thick padding.
The main difference between a "normal" 3/4-helmet and wearing the Shark Raw is with the built-in goggles and face mask. If you're not used to wearing goggles, you may be surprised.
There's always a bit of "tunnel vision" when you're wearing goggles because your peripheral vision is blocked slightly. So you'll have to turn your head farther than normal to do over-the-shoulder traffic checks and to see what's coming at stop lights.
Also, goggles can fit differently across the bridge of the nose, depending on the size and shape of the nose, which varies quite a bit from rider to rider.
This can be uncomfortable for some, with a feeling like something is pinching your nose.
The goggles fit nicely into the shape of the helmet's eye port, which seals out most of the air at speed, helping to reduce the overall noise levels.
Only small- to medium-sized eyeglasses or sunglasses will fit instead.
The strap for the goggles rotates up and down in a clever design hidden under the side plates. Once the helmet is on, it's easy to pull the goggles and face mask assembly forward and then up and on to the top of the helmet for that "ton up" look (although the face mask acts as an air catch if you leave it that way and start riding).
Just don't grab the face mask when you're doing this though; the "pin in hole" attachment system is a weak point. Four thin posts are molded into the top of the also-thin plastic face mask.
The posts just don't hold the face mask very firmly. We're not sure why Shark didn't use snaps or hook-and-loop or some better method to attach the face mask to the goggles, but the overall design just feels cheap and doesn't help the overall impression of quality at all.
Those molded posts are supposed to be a press fit into receiving holes in the bottom of the goggles, but it's very difficult to get the face mask to fit correctly back into those holes once it's removed, so you probably will not want to do this very often.
The face mask is a close fit in front of my mouth and although there's lots of air that comes through and bugs are blocked, it can get pretty moist underneath.
The mask also makes it difficult to scratch the nose; basically, you'd have to be stopped and pull the entire assembly with the goggles out and up on to the helmet to get some relief.
So here's the paradox: the very feature that gives the Shark Raw its "different" look is the same feature that makes the helmet difficult to wear for several reasons.
In the end, my feeling is that Shark Raw is for looks only and some simple cruising. Sure, you'll look good when you pull into the parking lot, but in reality, the helmet is more of a novelty than a serious tool.
Score: Wearing goggles typically reduces peripheral vision.
As with any 3/4-length, open-face helmet, you'll get tons of ventilation in the front. The goggles block the air, of course, although they have mesh-covered vent openings at the top and bottom.
The face mask blocks some of the air but there's a large opening in front with a plastic mesh screen in back and the shape of the face mask has two large horizontal vent slots along the top, where it meets the bottom of the goggles.
This allows a lot of air to flow in, which is a bonus in warm weather but a liability in the cold.
I've been wearing the Raw on and off for a couple of months and when the temperatures drop below about 10 C (50 F), there's too much air flow that can't be controlled, making it too cold for me.
The Raw is better than an open-face helmet for sure when the temperature drops, but since there's no way to control or limit the amount of air flowing in, after a certain point it becomes just too cold to comfortably wear the helmet.
The top vent is hidden under a slot along the top of the helmet. The vent is covered by a flat rubber mat or plug that is inserted manually to block the vent.
It's a friction fit and it feels loose in our helmet (see the video below). It's a surprisingly crude way of operating a top vent so my advice is to leave it installed in winter and remove it in summer. Hopefully, you won't lose it if you carry it in your pocket.
Otherwise, the top vent actually does direct some air down through a relatively large and direct passage into the helmet. So with the rubber plug removed, the helmet has pretty good upper ventilation. There is no rear exhaust vent, however.
Score: We'll rate the ventilation system of the Shark Raw as "Excellent", although remember this is an open-face helmet and there's no way to control the amount of air coming in the front.
Open-face motorcycle helmets can be pretty noisy, with nothing to block the wind at the front.
But the snug-fitting goggles and the face mask on the Shark Raw helmet do help quite a bit and the helmet is much quieter than I expected.
In fact, I think it's even quieter -- or should I say "less loud" -- than some full-face helmets I've worn. Certainly it has to be one of the quietest open-face helmets I've worn, with or without a face shield.
Note that our helmet evaluations are 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 rider's clothing.
For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.
Score: We'll give the Shark Raw an "Outstanding" rating for noise control.
This Shark Raw in size XL weighs a light 1396 grams (3 lbs., 1-1/4 oz.), which is about mid-pack for an XL open-face helmet on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page.
The comfortable fit and trim shell shape of the Shark Raw, combined with the light weight (about 200 grams lighter than an average full-face helmet), make for a pleasant riding experience with the helmet.
Note that the open-face helmet weights are listed separately, towards the bottom of the page on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page but the open-face helmets are combined with weight and shape types on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.
Score: We rate the Shark Raw as "Excellent" for its reasonable weight and good balance.
The Shark Raw chin strap uses a double-D ring attachment system with a plastic snap to hold the excess. The snap is nicely hidden under a fabric strap. The padding under the chin strap is adequate and comfortable.
The Shark Raw meets the DOT standard in the U.S.A. It is available in sizes ranging from XS to XL.
There's no doubt whatsoever that the Shark Raw is the most radical helmet we've seen since the original Roof Boxer (review).
But in the end, the helmet is more of a novelty than a serious or useful piece of gear for motorcycle riding. If you're travelling a short distance and want to look cool, than this is your helmet (although not everyone is into the styling).
The Shark Raw is expensive for what it is. After the initial rush to buy one because it's new and different, I wonder if sales can be sustained.
Maybe I'm wrong and if so, I'd wait for "Version 2.0", when hopefully Shark will fix the silly face mask attachment and add a lever on top to operate the vent.
Fix the loose cheek pads while they're at it and at least the helmet would be more functional.
From "R" (June 2015): "I am pretty sure that the review you made is more of a personal preference than an unbiased review.
First off , there are plenty of videos from RevZilla and actual owners on how to properly connect to the face shield to the goggles.
Second, this helmet is not designed to offer luxury comfort or perfectly controllable airflow , it is exactly what its name is designed for "RAW" made for riders of custom naked bikes and Harley type customs; bikes that can be categorized as not perfectly symmetrical like their owners.
I think maybe you might be a little biased because maybe your afraid to let that hooligan biker side of you out so you have a little tid bit with the helmet.
But its all good man, sometimes you have to just let it all hang out and be free and not nit pick and this helmet and riding represents all of that.
I enjoy the imperfection in myself, my bike, and my helmet. And this helmet by the way is way more comfortable than my Bell.
This one is for the guys with scraggly beards, bikes that leak oil and have helmets that aren't perfect like mommy's little PB&J sandwiches with the crust cut off.
Hopefully this will give you a little more insight on giving reviews."
Editor's Reply: There's no "pretty sure" about it: this review -- like every review ever written since the dawn of history -- is an opinion. There is no such thing as an "unbiased" review; all reviews are opinions, based on the subjective feelings and biases of the author.
The only other type of article would be a technical product description and that would be booooring. You can get those from the usually worthless marketing collateral.
Our reviews are subjective opinions by owners and we make that point clear time and again and have never implied anything different.
We have reviewed over 350 helmets and that knowledge is what is used as the mental database for comparison for this helmet and every other.
I understand perfectly that the Shark RAW helmet is marketed towards the "Bad Boy" type and have no problem with that. But does being a "Bad Boy" mean giving up any semblance of quality -- especially when you're spending 300 bucks on a helmet?
Bad Boys still need a decent helmet that offers comfort, visibility, ventilation and protection and doesn't fall apart when you take it out of the box.
From "J.L." (February 2014): "Like many who will purchase a Shark Raw Soyouz, or any other of its forms, I bought mine first with style in mind and function following after. I agree with your review�s take on the helmet but did not find some of the drawbacks you mentioned to be troublesome in my experience.
I prefer a 3/4 helmet over most other styles even though common safety sense pushes me toward a full face helmet more and more.
The Shark Raw Soyouz is very much in line with the performance expectations I have with my other 3/4 helmets, and aside from the cumbersome ergonomics inherent with raising the Goggles/Face Shield it is as good or better than most of them.
I really like the head shape on the inside of the helmet, it�s a dead ringer for my melon!
The outside elongated narrow shell is unique and aerodynamic and does not contribute to the 'Mushroom Head' look like some of my others do ( i.e. The AGV Diesel Hi-Jack and the OSBE Tornado�s); it adds to the bad ass-ness appearance of the helmet, in fact.
I am, like you, very disappointed with the half-ass method the designers chose to use to attach the face guard to the goggles. It�s weak, probably won�t hold up, and basically a really lazy solution to the problem.
If you reach inside the goggles and pull the pins on the face guard through as far as you can it does seem as if the guard will stay on pretty well. Time will tell and I will update this memo when and if it fails or I figure out a better system of attachment.
The cheek pads on my helmet are securely attached from the beginning and have stayed that way after several wearing�s. I wear a XL in Bell Star and Vortex Helmets and this one is a great fit in a large.
The venting system is almost (aww hell it IS) more lazy even than the goggle/faceguard attachment system..........a plastic plug? How Russian!
Really not such a big deal though as it is a 3/4 helmet and going to breathe well by nature.
Still, at almost $300.00 a pop it�s kind of like Shark thumbing it�s nose at the buyer, although if you are anything like me, you will put up with a certain amount of cheesy in the name of style. And I�ll make no apologies, that�s why I bought this one."
From "J.Z." (February 2014): "I love the looks of the Raw. I felt like it would make me look like a badass -- not an easy task.
So I bought it but unfortunately I was disappointed.
1) I am size small with a round head, I ordered a medium and it was still tight and I wasn�t going to move up to a large as it would be the larger shell.
2) Not light, I don�t have a scale but it felt heavier than my Nexx which is a full face. Rephrase: it felt heavier on my head, perhaps because it�s so top heavy (the shell is rather big and bulbous).
3) The face mask is too close to your mouth and if your remove the face mask, the badass look is gone.
Also, the whole goggle and face mask movement is just weird (with time you may get used to it). Overall, it is still a unique helmet and probably good enough for cruising around town.
You are right about the liner and cheek pads; mine had the same problem."