Summary: The Shark RSF 3 apparently replaces the
late and lamented RSX in the Shark helmet lineup for 2009. The RSF 3 is
an update to the popular RSF2i and it has typical Shark quality and focus on
safety as do all of the other Shark helmets in my experience.
After wearing the new Shark RSF 3 for the past few weeks,
I've come to the conclusion that Shark is now my
favorite motorcycle helmet manufacturer.
The company makes what I think are the
highest quality motorcycle helmets available. All
of the Shark helmets I've seen have beautiful graphics
combined with an outstanding surface finish with thick
clear coat. The parts always seem to work as
expected and everything feels tight and secure and the
helmets just feel strong and safe. The padding and
liner material is typically soft and comfortable.
And one of the best things about the
company is their total dedication to safety, with helmet
shells and specialy EPS shapes designed to spread the
impact in a way that will hopefully minimize injury to
The RSF 3 is new for 2009 (although it
was first released in 2008) and follows that same Shark
tradition. The only thing that might be an issue
for some is that Shark helmets seem to all have an
internal fit biased towards the long oval. If only
Shark would realize that there's more than one head
shape, I do believe they'd be the Helmet Kings of the
By the way, this is not a problem that
is just isolated to Shark; all of the other helmet
manufacturers, with the exception of Arai, don't yet
understand or haven't made the effort to address
different head shapes. Why they let Arai own the
market for this feature is beyond me.
But, in any case, you pretty much can't
go wrong with a Shark helmet, in my opinion.
The Shark RSF 3
The RSF 3 apparently replaces the fantastic RSX (review)
in the Shark helmet lineup. No word that I know of
from Shark on whether or not the RSX will be continued
as a next generation.
So the demise of the RSX thins out the
Shark lineup somewhat; the RSF 3 apparently will fill
that role. The RSF has a heritage also; it has
been evolved from the RSF2i, which was a popular helmet
The RSX is probably the most solid,
highest-quality helmet I've ever experienced -- and it
also had that thick 3 mm visor. From my reading of
Shark's marketing brochure, it looks like only the RSR2,
which is Shark's top-of-the-line race helmet, will
continue with a 3 mm visor in 2009, and I think that's a
The 3 mm visor was a unique
characteristic of Shark helmets that distinguished them
from the rest of the competition. It also worked
better, in my opinion, because the thick polycarbonate
kept the visor from flexing as it was rotated up and
down, which is a pet peeve of mine.
Plus, the 3 mm thick visor was safer --
Shark themselves tout the 3 mm thick visor on the RSR2
as "F1 type, enhanced safety". For a company that
is so focused on technology and motorcycle helmet
safety, it just seems strange to go to the same
thickness visor that everyone else is using.
Could it have been a matter of cost?
Who knows, but I can't believe that extra millimeter
would cost all that much more? How about it Shark?
At the very least, offer it as an option for all your
helmets. I'd pay extra for it!
I will grudgingly admit though that in
reality, few owners may notice the difference. We
measured the visor on the RSF 3 shown here at 2.1 mm
thick, which is actually about 0.1 mm under the average
helmet visor thickness. It works well (I'm getting
ahead of myself here) in all other respects, as you'll
learn when I get to the visor section, although it does
not have the same never-twist feel of the 3 mm version
on the RSX.
Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
Visor aside, what we have here is a very nice helmet,
very well made, with an excellent and super-shiny clear
coat. All of the parts fit perfectly and
everything lines up evenly with very close tolerances,
and all works with precision.
The visor does fit very tightly to the
helmet shell with a tolerance rarely -- if ever -- seen
on motorcycle helmets. The RSF 3 eye port also
includes a nice, thick gasket around the entire
Shark has been expanding and
experimenting with artistic graphics patterns over the
last couple of years -- the art department is now just
as important for selling helmets as anything else -- and
the dark charcoal "Kobe" pattern shown here is a winner.
It has a subtle design with some depth
that isn't apparent in the photographs. The
pattern looks like a decal under the clear coat, which
creates a few raised edges here and there at the edges
of the decals. These can be felt where the decal
meets the paint, and this may bother those who sit and
stroke their helmets at night.
There are many color patterns available
in the RSF 3 model, but for those who like dark or black
helmets (and there are many), this Kobe design has the
look while still offering a big dose of style.
The clear coat is excellent and almost
as smooth and shiny as the
version of the Shark Evoline we reviewed recently,
which is a stunner. You can see in these photos
that it was very hard to keep the studio lighting
reflections off the very glossy RSF 3 surface as we were
taking the photographs.
Score: Overall, I'll give the Shark
RSF 3 an "Outstanding" rating
for the paint and the finish and overall quality. See the ratings scale
in the summary table at the bottom of this page.
Shark RSF 3 Helmet Shape and Fit
Most of the Shark helmets I've tried fit me without
problems, but I was asked to evaluate the RSF 3 because
the Editor has a much rounder head, which isn't quite
compatible with the fit of the RSF 3.
I've worn the Shark RSX many times, and
my feeling is that the RSF 3 and that helmet have an
identical internal shape, so they fit the same.
The RSF 3 shown here is a size XL, and I probably could
have used a size large instead, but it's close enough.
For reference, other helmets that fit
like the RSF 3 include the
Scorpion EXO-700, which I think has a very similar
internal shape as the RSF 3; also the
Fulmer D4 we
reviewed recently and the
The fit of the RSF 3 is not quite as round as the
RF1000 and Rick says it's definitely not as round as
the Arai Quantum
If you read the webBikeWorld review of
Evoline DOT, you'll notice that the same helmets
were used in comparison to the fit of the Evoline, which
tells me that Shark as a template for head shapes that
they're using in most or all of their helmets. The
Shark RSi is
even more "long oval", and the
S 650 is
probably closer to the RSi than the RSF 3 also.
I know the Editor and others have a wish
that Shark would make a helmet with an internal fit
specifically designed for round shaped heads. This
could increase the customer base, so it's not clear why
Shark -- and other helmet manufacturers -- don't add
different internal shapes to their product lines.
It would be nice if all human heads came in the same
shape, then we wouldn't have to worry about that, but
they absolutely don't, so why make a helmet that only
fits one shape?
Nevertheless, for me -- and, I suppose,
for the majority of motorcyclists -- the RSF 3 is a
"neutral" to "long oval" shape that fits just fine.
In terms of sizing, the XL fits as
expected for an XL; I'd guess a 61-62.5 cm head in the
correct shape would be perfect.
For more information on helmet sizing, see the
Motorcycle Helmet FAQ for a discussion on choosing and fitting a
motorcycle helmet and an illustration of human head
shapes. And don't forget that choosing the correct
helmet shape is crucial for both comfort and safety.
Like the Shark Evoline, the RSF 3 has a
"deep" shell shape that comes down lower than my chin.
We believe that some of the European helmets are being
redesigned with a deeper chin bar and helmet shell to
SHARP helmet safety standards (our report).
The chin bar seems noticeably taller or deeper than
This has some benefits, because it may
help keep the noise low and, along with the standard
chin curtain on the RSF 3, it blocks a lot of unwanted
air from rising up from under the helmet. On the
other hand, the RSF 3 does not have vent passages through
the chin bar, so the combination of the chin curtain and
larger than average chin bar can make it a bit toasty
Score: I'll give the Shark
RSF 3 an "Excellent" rating for the fit and shell
Helmet Liner and Padding Some inexpensive helmets (and some expensive helmets
too) use lining materials and padding that just aren't
very comfortable. It's not that they're terribly
uncomfortable; it's just that when compared to helmets
like the Shark RSF 3 and helmets made by Arai and maybe
some others, there is a difference.
Shark helmets as a rule have very
comfortable lining material and form-fitting padding,
and the RSF 3 is also excellent in that respect.
The lining feels very similar to the comfortable
material used in the RSX, and the padding and
construction of the liner lends an overall feeling of
quality to this helmet.
The lining is fully removable and I'm
assuming that different sized cheek pads are available,
like they are for the RSX, although I can't confirm
Score: I'll give the Shark
RSF 3 an "Outstanding" rating for the liner, padding
and interior comfort.
The RSF 3 has what looks like an evolution of the Shark top vent design that
I first experienced on the original
Shark RSR. This "sugar scoop" top vent is -- or was -- almost a
Shark trademark. It worked pretty nicely the past and overall I'd say
it works well on the RSF 3.
A small serrated wheel is turned back
and forth to open and close the vent on the RSF 3.
The wheel could probably be larger, and the detents
stronger, but in general it works well and the top vent
does seem to provide an adequate, if not overwhelming,
amount of air flow. The EPS liner inside the
helmet has channels and there are vent holes through the
lining to let in the air.
The vent does whistle slightly at
certain angle of attacks, caused by air rushing over the
opening. When the vent is closed, the noise all
The chin vent also has the serrated
wheel and you'll have to remember that left is open and
right is closed. This isn't very intuitive; I
think it would have been better to duplicate the
vertical movement used on the top vent, with down for
closed and up for open on the chin vent also.
While the chin vent opening may appear
large on the outside, the horizontal switch only works
to slide a series of "teeth" back and forth across other
teeth to open or close the vent, much like the system
used by KBC. So the vent opening is immediately
only 50% efficient, because half of the surface area is
blocked by the closed teeth.
The big disappointment is that the
RSF3's chin bar does not have air vent passages, so what
air does enter the chin vent only flows up in back of
the visor and not directly on to the rider's face.
The combination of the deep chin bar, the large chin
curtain and the small vent with no holes in the chin bar
results in a hot environment for the lower part of the
I had to remove the chin curtain on this
helmet, which helps by allowing air to flow up from
underneath the chin bar. I think that a pair of
direct air passages through the chin bar would be a
better idea, but I wonder if yet again the helmet is
being designed to meet SHARP testing and perhaps holes
in the chin bar would give it a lower score?
Score: I'll have to
give the Shark RSF 3 a "Good" rating for
ventilation, with the top vents providing what I think
is slightly better than average ventilation but the chin
vent system drops the score.
Shark RSF 3 Flash Slide Show
The Shark RSF 3 is generally quieter than average, in
my opinion, compared to other helmets I've reviewed
or which I wear. The large and deep shell with
thick padding and, for me, a good fit, conspire to
keep noise levels relatively low.
The top vent does tend to whistle
slightly, but it's not that loud and probably more
noticeable only because of the relatively low noise
I notice no undue rumbling or
low-frequency booming from underneath when riding behind
a short fairing -- it's there, but I believe the deeper
shell shape helps to attenuate the volume.
As always, for more information on helmet noise, visit the
Motorcycle Helmet Noise page. Also, note that we always wear high-quality, correctly
fitted ear plugs when riding -- see the
Earplugs and Hearing
Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
If you don't wear ear plugs, all bets are off -- every motorcycle helmet is
dangerously noisy, in our opinion, and your hearing is as precious as your
eyesight, so don't mess with it. Wear ear plugs.
Also, different riders will experienced
different noise levels due to a variety of factors
including most importantly the fit of the helmet to the
rider's head; ear plugs; motorcycle type; windscreens;
neck shape and even clothing.
Score: I'll have to
give the Shark RSF 3 an "Excellent" rating for overall
slightly lower than average noise levels.
The clear face shield has 6 detents to hold it open
as it rotates upwards. It starts with a small
demisting opening and goes up from there. This is
different from the Shark RSX, which has a continuous
friction held visor opening system. The visor is
optically very clear with no distortion.
The visor seems relatively firm and not
flexy, even though it's 33% thinner than the 3 mm thick
visor on the Shark RSX. I think the new visor
rotating system with its large round buttons on the side
of the helmet helps to allow the visor to rotate up and
down with less binding.
The visor also now includes a lifting
tab on the lower left, which is different than the RSX,
which had no tab but an indent in the helmet shell.
The new push-button visor removal system
works well. Lift the visor all the way and push in
the (stiff feeling) button on the side and the visor
pops off (demonstrated in the video below). Push
the button again to replace the visor. It's better
to do this with the helmet on a table facing away from
The visor is coated with and anti-fog
and anti-scratch treatment, and it does seem to work
well to prevent fogging, which is important due to the
more confined feeling behind the large chin bar.
The visibility from the eye port is
about average. It's somewhat better than the RSX,
which limited the peripheral vision due to its narrow
dimensions. But the large/tall chin bar on the
RSF3 does slightly impede downward vision, and the
side-to-side vision through the eye port is only
Score: The Shark
RSF 3 gets an "Excellent" rating for visor quality and
operation. It could have been an "Outstanding" if
the visor was thicker!
Shark RSF 3 Helmet Weight
The Shark RSF 3 in size XL shown here weighs a light 1504 grams (3 lbs., 5.0 oz.). This is
actually very light, and the RSF 3 is even lighter than
the HJC FS-15 Carbon reviewed here not long ago!
It's sometimes (usually) difficult to
tell if a helmet is light or not when first handling it,
before it goes on the scale. And the RSF 3 is a bit
deceiving, because the large and deep shell may make it
seem heavier than it really is. But 1504 grams for
a helmet of this type is very good indeed, and it wears
light and the simple but straightforward aerodynamics
give it a solid feel.
Score: The Shark
RSF 3 gets an "Outstanding" rating for low weight
combined with a robust feel.
This RSF 3, like the Evoline DOT version, is labeled as meeting both DOT and ECE
standards. As we reported in the Evoline DOT
review, it is our understanding that the ECE frowns
upon labeling helmets sold outside of the ECE as
meeting ECE standards. Sounds pretty fussy to
me -- why not help your manufacturers brag a little
bit in worldwide markets and maybe create some more
sales -- and jobs?
As was mentioned in the Shark
Evoline DOT review, "In any case, it's nice to know
the helmet meets two excellent motorcycle helmet
The RSF 3 has a double-D-ring helmet
retention system when sold in North America.
Video Tour: Shark RSF 3 Motorcycle Helmet
The Shark RSF 3 is an excellent, high quality helmet that feels both
comfortable and strong while also coming in as a
super-lightweight. Other than what some may
consider to be the minor nitpicks of the thinner visor
and single internal shape, this is an excellent choice
for anyone looking for a very high quality helmet that
meets both DOT and ECE standards.
forget, Shark offers a 5-year warranty with the RSF 3 and
the brand is well supported in the U.S.A.!
UPDATE: Shark sent us a
note after publication of this review. In part, it
said "Shark is currently developing a new high end
helmet that will also (and again) carry the 3 mm shield.
So don't worry, we are definitely not going the easy way
by "looking like the others"!
Also, look for some new helmets from
Shark; a completely new injection molded design, the
S700 and S900!
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "A.D." (01/11): "I'd just
like to say how excellent your site is and how you
saved me a lot of time when I was looking around for
a new helmet.
The Shark RSF3's were not on the shelf in Australia
when I first found your website due to dealers still
holding old stock but the national distributor had
them hidden out the back and was good enough to send
one through my local dealer upon request. It was
very possibly one of the first to be aired in Oz
Having researched your head shape guide, I was
impressed with the way the Shark RSF3 fitted
perfectly straight up although a bit firm on the
cheek but who wants a loose helmet. After having had
an old Shoei, an Arai for many years then a HJC
CL-14 the first thing that really impressed was
being able to look sideways at speed without nearly
being ripped off the bike, superb aerodynamics.
A couple of years ago the ... Labour government
imposed speed limits in the Northern Territory of
Australia which were previously unlimited on the
open road, acknowledged by some but not all (the new
limits that is), which was a good test of both bike
and gear. It was not uncommon to legally sustain
speeds of 240 km/hr + for prolonged periods of
time. All day if you so desired.
The Shark didn't wobble, vibrate, whistle
excessively or lift in an undue manner, unlike ones
wallet frequently did at the petrol station. 16
months on and the visor is still in good condition,
the airflow controls are still tight, paintwork is
still glossy and the fit is still firm.
Thanks for steering me towards an excellent product
that has proved to be really good value for
money. Since moving to North Queensland (a
reasonably heavily policed state) I've purchased a
Triumph Speedmaster and the helmet works ... fine on
that too. My two bikes in the Territory were a
Ducati S2 MILLE with fully flowed heads and a
Kawasaki ZRX 1200 Eddie Lawson replica. Have fun,
From "J.S." (6/20): "I received my new Shark RSF3 helmet
6 days ago. I live in an area where it is impossible to try all the
different brands of helmets before buying, so I had to rely on an internet
store that has a good return policy and your helmet review to select a
After using the helmet for 6 days I think your review is very accurate;
however I would add a couple things.
When I first attempted to put the helmet on I was sure I had gotten the
wrong size, I checked, it was a XL just as I had ordered. It seemed
there was no way it was going to fit on my head and I was about ready to put
it in the box and send it back.
I decided to try once more to put it on, It was very tight over my ears,
almost painful pulling it down over my ears, but once I had it on it fit
very well. I slipped it off and on a couple more times and decided I
would give it a try.
The other thing I noticed right away was the cheek pads were tight, however
not having them in my previous helmets probably made them more noticeable.
I called the supplier to see if there were thinner ones, not available.
He recommended that I let them "break in" or remove them and compress them
over night. I chose to let them break in and they seem to be OK.
I found my old Silks helmet liner I hadn't used in a couple years and
started using that which makes it much easier to put the helmet on.
The helmet is a little warm because of the tight fit around the neck, chin
and cheeks. On a hot day and not moving it could become a little
uncomfortable. I have found riding under 60 mph I like to open the
face shield to the first detent, increasing the vent flow and the noise
level is still low.
Also with my helmet liner, I have been able to wear my eyeglasses, just slip
them under the liner and they slide right over my ears. I like this
helmet better than my Nolan N102 because the fit is better and much lighter
and better than my HJC Sy-max II because of the fit, noise level and
Editor's Note: Some helmets with a "race fit" have a
tapered fit around the bottom of the shell.
From "J.T.F." (6/10): "I received my the Shark RSF3 a
week ago and will be be putting it back (up for sale). It's a
beautiful helmet but there are three areas that are causing me to sell it.
First, I wear glasses and am having a difficult time getting
my glasses to comfortably fit inside the helmet and getting the bows over my
Two, whenever I hit about 35-40 MPH I hear a low rumbling
sound. I think it's the same effect as blowing over the top of a soda
or beer bottle.
Three, I didn't find the air vents particularly useful.
And the detents hardly move. I thought perhaps my helmet's detents
were defective until I watched your video.
Aside from the glasses issue, I like how the helmet fits.
Very snug and comfortable, but the other issues I mentioned are causing me
to sell. I'd like an Arai Profile Force but can't find one in my price
range. And before I buy again I'm going to give any prospective helmet
a test fitting."
Editor's Reply: Thanks for the feedback.
What you are saying I think can pretty much be said of any/many motorcycle
helmets; i.e., vent noise, poor air flow, noise around the bottom...
Unfortunately, that seems to be the rule pretty much for every helmet we've
Also, very few helmets are compatible with eyeglasses, and fitting a pair inside
a helmet also depends heavily on the way the helmet fits and the way the ear
pockets are shaped. I've pretty much given up on trying to fit eyeglasses
in any helmet, and took and old pair and cut off the ears (see
this article). Now I can simply slide them between my face and the
helmet padding in any helmet, no problems ever.
One thing puzzled me though -- since the most difficult part of finding the
right helmet is finding the correct fit, and you say that you like how the RSF3
fits, I hope that you won't be giving up what is the most difficult thing to
find -- a helmet that fits -- in a quest for a helmet that is quiet, has good
air flow, etc., which may not exist!
Anyway, good luck, let me know what you find!"
Follow-up from J.T.F. (6/10): "Two
days ago my Arai Profile Force blue helmet arrived.
Here is my main comment — I love it.
First, I can easily put on and take off my glasses.
No more trying to force the bows around me ears and
then trying to straighten out the frames once the
bows were sort of on.
Second, I can actually feel the air blowing across
the top of my head. This is the first of three
DOT/Snell/ECE rated helmets that I've experienced
Third, no rumbling sound such as what I experienced
with the Shark. Quiet? Of course not.
Tolerable noise levels? Very much so, and I'm
not wearing earplugs.
Finally, I have found a helmet where I can ride 70
mph and not have the thing bouncing around and
shaking my glasses. What a revelation to be
able to ride at that speed and clearly identify
objects. That wasn't the case with my Vemar or
The fit of the Arai is as good as the Shark.
The latter gives you more of a closed in feeling
since it has a longer chin bar. I think I can
ride hours with either one, and the Arai has the
advantage of better airflow.
Is the Arai perfect for me? No, but my search
for the helmet that suits my needs — and then some —