We are fortunate to have Derryn Wong report on his Shark S900, which he purchased in France.
My S900 is the North American version, labeled as meeting DOT and ECE safety standards.
Derryn wrote the article, using his "World" version of the S900 as reference.
My comments, based on the North American DOT version of the S900, are separated by carets and printed in italics.
Note that some of the features of these helmets differ, due to the way in which the products are marketed in different countries.
The S900 is the top-of-the-line helmet in Shark's "Sport Route" (i.e., sport touring) range, which sits below their race range in terms of price. The S900 has high quality and ease of use and it's loaded with features, .
A stunning paint job and five-year warranty round out this excellent helmet.
webBikeWorld has been reviewing Shark helmets for many years, so the French brand hardly needs any introduction to regular readers.
To newcomers, you may not have heard of Shark -- even if the company is
celebrating its 20th anniversary this year -- but their profile has been rising
recently, thanks to a solid line-up of helmets which have enabled it to
challenge more established and storied brands like Arai.
Shark has three main motorcycle helmet product lines: Sport/Route (or sport and racing), Urban and Off-Road.
Sport and Off-Road are self-explanatory, while Urban refers to convertible and jet helmets whose primary buyers would be the sort of rabid commuters you see scouring the streets of Europe.
example of the Urban helmet range is the
Shark Evoline Series 2
recently reviewed on webBikeWorld.
The S900 helmet you see here sits smack dab in the middle of Shark’s sporting range. Within that range are the ‘R’ and ‘S’ sub-ranges; no prizes for guessing what those stand for.
The four models
in the S Range cover the affordable middle ground and reflect more general
Unlike the Urban series, all the R and S helmets are single-piece, full-face units. The S900 is the range-topper, followed by the S500 Air, S700 and S600 for 2010.
To put the S900 in perspective, the top-of-the-line Shark RSR 2 has excellent features, including an excellent face shield removal system that is 3 mm thick (claimed to be equal of those they use in Formula One) and includes an anti-fog/anti-scratch treatment.
The helmet shell is made from a high-tech
carbon fiber/Aramid weave. But, the RSR 2 also costs more than twice the
price of the S900.
The kicker here is that while the S900 sits solidly in the mid-range of
Shark's sportier range, the company hasn't skimped one bit on features.
The main difference is that the S 900 has an injected thermoplastic resin
shell and a 2.2 mm coated face shield (Shark terms this 'Total Vision'
treatment, so as far as I can tell it's the same as they give the RSR 2), which
is where they saved most of the cost.
But the S900 also boasts Shark's differing density polystyrene impact absorber, which is basically a sort of ridging within the impact liner that enables better shock absorption qualities as opposed to one homogenous piece of polystyrene used in many other helmets.
It makes sense, but of course I can't comment on the effectiveness of it, the
shell, or the visor over others until I wallop something, so hopefully this will
In terms of features though, the S900 has plenty and it's quite impressive for the price.
While the 2.2 mm face shield is thinner than the same used in the Shark race helmets, it still has the same coating as mentioned, and the visor mechanism works on the same principle as the RSR 2 except without metal furniture.
The liner in the S900 is also a fully removable microfiber fabric, and the chin strap is secured by a toothed quick-release fastener. In a nod to the helmet's sport touring purpose, it also has an integrated sun visor, mesh chin curtain and breath deflector.
►Rick: The Shark S700 is nearly identical to the S900, but the S700 has a different rear spoiler and exhaust system and different vent covers.
Also, the S900 appears to set a new direction for Shark, combining the "cost no object" features and build quality of the race helmets like the RSX with the affordability of the S-series.
The S900 is definitely a step up from previous S-series helmets and the price/performance ratio is outstanding for the S900.◄
A quick browse on the Shark website will show you the vast range of paint and graphics options available in the model line-up, and one stand-out Shark hallmark is the fact that almost every single model gets at least a few different designs.
Not all of the designs are available in all countries, but they're all nice nonetheless.
The S900 is no different and both the 'Ellipse' and the 'Fost Lumi' colour scheme (no idea what "Fost" means) shown in our review photos are both very eye-catching. The other designs are just as nice, making it difficult to choose.
For example, the S900 'Marine' design has a stunning white, gold and turquoise paint scheme. You might not like every design, but the large number of them means you'll surely find something you like when choosing a Shark.
Note that the Lumi treatment is not retro-reflective, so it is not similar to products like the familiar 3M reflective tape, for example.
It's a luminescent technology, similar to the Super-LumiNova used on the hands of some wrist watches; it glows for a brief time after it has been illuminated by light.
►Rick: By the way, many websites are using an incorrect spelling for the Shark S900 Ellipse. The word is correctly spelled "Ellipse", not "Elipse".◄
The level of detail on the S 900 Fost Lumi is quite amazing, considering the S900 helmet isn't even a range-topper. It features a white-gray camouflage pattern that's overlaid with hatches reminiscent of steel flooring.
Tribal designs go on top of this and they not only have perfectly executing edges but pearlescent paint as well. All in all, the design works well with the piano black plastic parts and vents and the helmet looks fabulous.
The Shark logos on the sides, back and front are also flawless, being part of the paintjob rather than decals.
►Rick: The same can be
said for the S900 in the Ellipse graphics, which also features a tribal/modern
line pattern, overlaid by what looks like airbrushed white and black curves.◄
The S900 Fost Lumi is so named because it uses the luminescent "Big Bang Lite" paint for the steel-pattern hatching (photo above). It looks cool in a dark room, and is quite a neat feature, but since most of us don't ride around in pitch darkness it's remains only a party trick.
Shark says it will glow for 2-3 hours after a 30 minute exposure to light and when it comes to riding, all of us need extra visibility anyway so no complaints here since it doesn't infringe on the aesthetics or utility one bit.
Lastly, like all Shark helmets, the S900 comes with a five-year warranty
against manufacturing defects.
Note: The 'Speedway' logos and reflective stickers on the Fost Lumi
helmet were affixed by the retailer, Speedway in Nice, France, where Derryn
purchased the helmet. Reflective stickers are required on helmets by
Score: We give the Shark S900 an "Outstanding" rating for paint and overall quality. See the ratings descriptions in the summary table at the end of this page.
I have a long oval type head shape and the S900 provides snug fit without any obvious pressure points; I've used it on rides of up to 45 minutes without any headaches or the like.
Of course it's always best to try a helmet in person first as head shape differs radically from person to person.
►Rick: My S900 Ellipse, made for the North American market, is a size large and it has a fit that feels similar to the Shark Evoline Series 2 I reviewed last month, and not at all like most of the other "long oval" Shark helmets we've reviewed in the past.
The size L fits almost perfectly on my 60.5 cm round head; it's rare to find a size L fit me this well. I also think the size L may fit very slightly larger than expected. I can't find a size chart on the Shark (France) website, but RevZilla lists a size large at a rather odd figure of 58.7 cm and Motorcycle Superstore has it listed as a 59-60 cm.
I think this size large fits more like a 60-61 and it has a round internal profile that feels quite different from the other Shark helmets we have reviewed.
The S900 feels like it has a lot of room in the upper half of the helmet; it sits down a bit farther than normal on my head, so I can feel the liner just at the top of my eyebrows. It feels like there is more room up top than other size large helmets I've tried.
For some reason, wearing glasses is a bit of a difficult proposition with the S900. Even my cut-down eyeglasses without ear pieces are a difficult fit.
But overall, the helmet fits comfortably and is a good replacement for the now-discontinued Arai Quantum II for my very round head. One other thing: the ear pockets feel shallower than most, making it slightly difficult to install speakers.◄
The company's attention to detail extends to the inside of the helmet too, with the Shark logo embossed on the inside and some nice pattern detailing on the inside of the chin bar.
The neck roll and surrounding area is made of soft synthetic leather, which is another nice touch.
The breath guard is a little finicky though; I wear eyeglasses, so the guard is supposed to direct the breath away from the visor, which it does, but in this case it's directed straight to my glasses.
Also, because the chin guard attaches to the helmet directly above the front vent, it blocks vision slightly.
Shark doesn't have a brand name for its internal liner material (the liner unit is fully removable for cleaning, naturally) but it's extremely plush and well-built, far better than the AGV S-4 I previously owned.
I'd go so far as to compare it to the quality of an Arai or Shoei -- get the right fit and you can simply ride and forget the helmet being there.
One drawback is that the (European version) S900 tends to be narrower toward the top so it can be a slight ear-pincher and there's no dedicated port for eyeglasses. You can still wear glasses but it can be a tight squeeze.
►Rick: The liner feels comfortable when I feel it with my hand, but the fabric does feel slightly scratchy when I wear the helmet, especially when I sweat. So I'm not sure I'd compare it to my Arai Quantum (review) or the discontinued Shark RSX (review).
It's not bad, and the padding feels plush, but the material just doesn't seem to me to be as silky soft as I'd like. This is probably a matter of individual preference.◄
The quick fastener strap (on the European version) is easy to use, even with gloves, you just push in to the desired tightness. Release is equally easy, just pull the black tab.
The padded undersides help comfort greatly and while some riders swear by D-Rings, the mechanism certainly feels sturdy enough.
One benefit though is that if you have the habit of chucking your gloves into your helmet then the hook and loop fasteners won't fray the chin strap.
►Rick: The North American and Australian versions use double D-rings◄
Score: We give the Shark S 900 an "Excellent" for fit and comfort, which would be "Outstanding" aside from the eyeglasses and breath guard issues.
The face shield used on the S900 is 2.2 mm thick, as mentioned. Shark says the face shield on the S900 is coated with its anti-fog and anti-scratch treatment. It resists fogging quite well; I can breathe directly onto the visor to try and make it fog up to no avail.
Visibility is excellent; it's almost as if the visor isn't there and there's no optical distortion at all.
►Rick: We measured the face shield on the S900 Ellipse with a metric micrometer, it is 2.29 mm. 2.2 mm actually isn't that unusual, based on other face shield thicknesses we've measured. I'd like to see Shark use the 3.0 mm face shield thickness on all of their helmets.
I think this would be a unique and distinguishing characteristic that would improve safety and also help with marketing.◄
The S900 does seem to have a slightly smaller eye port than some helmets though,
compared to my old AGV S-4 for example.
The face shield raises in five detent positions. The first position lifts it about 25 mm, so it doesn't have a 'tiny crack' setting to let just a little air flow in while keeping out bugs or rain. The visor seal seems to have a snug fit and visually everything checks out and rain takes awhile to intrude also.
►Rick: Push the face shield on our helmet and it appears to have some play, but when we ran water along the top, no water entered the eye port.
Some water will
drip down along the sides of the face shield because the gasket is not
designed to seal at the outer edges (9 and 3 o'clock), but we had no problems
with water ingress during light rain. Your experience may vary, depending
upon the weather conditions and type of motorcycle.◄
What's really impressive is the face shield removal system. As far as we can tell, it's the same as on higher end Shark helmets, but the S900 uses plastic instead of metal.
The system is very easy to use and requires no acrobatics or fear of breaking tabs -- just push the button and slide the face shield out. Are you listening Arai?
Illustrated in the video below.◄
Score: The Shark S900 face shield gets an "Excellent'', but the visor removal system itself is ''Outstanding''.
An integral sun visor is a tricky piece of kit to get right but despite that, they seem to be all the rage lately. AGV, for instance, has introduced the internal sun visor to some of its range for the first time, such as in the Stealth SV and AGV S4 models.
The Shark S900 is the first helmet that I have owned with such a device but it works quite flawlessly. I wear eyeglasses, so the prime concern was of the sun shade hitting them and possibly causing visibility/safety issues.
Luckily the clearance built in to the S900 internal sun visor is generous and there is no problem with it covering my spectacles.
Shark offers no information on the percentage of tint provided by the sun visor, but as you might be able to see from the photos, it is quite dark and suitable most for bright sunlight. It's a lifesaver in glaring conditions and spares the pain of having to swap out regular glasses for sunglasses.
Coverage of the sun visor is also excellent; when it's engaged the only sunlight that'll bother are reflections from the gas tank or handlebar.
There's very little discernable optical distortion, the only downer being a litigation-repelling 'Day Time Use' label embossed on the lower left which distracts.
The sun visor is engaged with a small lever on the left hand side, just above the visor retention switch (photo above), and the deployment mechanism feels positive and stable.
The only complaint is the size and positioning of the lever; it's rather small, so you could be scrabbling about a bit at first and being on the left hand side, you can only engage it while clutched it at the lights with your right hand.
Score: I rate the internally rotating sun visor as "Outstanding".
►Rick: I'll rate the internal sun visor only with a "Good", as it curves up too much towards the sides and I'd like it to be flatter across the bottom. Also, the tint seems lighter than other sun visors I've tried, although I'm sure it meets ECE specifications.
On the plus side, the system apparently adds very little weight to the helmet and it's easy to use.
The visor can be stopped in any position, although the small lever on the left hand side doesn't give much leverage and as a result, the movement of the visor isn't as fluid as I'd like. But overall, a good effort at simplifying a system that most helmet manufacturers have made way too complex.◄
The S900 has three vents: two on top ("eyebrows") and one chin vent. The chin vent has two horizontal intakes in addition to the automobile-style grille, which all add up to good air flow and de-fogging for the face.
The eyebrow vents don't seem to provide much air flow volume though; riding with them open or closed doesn't make much of a difference.
The rear spoiler on the S900 is supposed to manage air flow in the turbulent air directly behind the head but it doesn't seem to make a significant difference.
To the helmet's credit though, it is very quiet (the chin curtain and lack of vents on the side certainly helps) and major turbulence only occurs when the head is turned at high speed; this turns the spoiler into an air-brake of sorts.
►Rick: I concur. The chin bar has two air passageways, located on either side of the mouth, which is a definite plus and they do a good job at providing ventilation.
The chin curtain also helps to keep air from flowing in from under the helmet and helps to focus the air flow through the chin vent. The top vents are too small to do much, however.◄
Score: The Shark S 900 receives a "Good" rating for venting and air flow.
Rick: I'd rate the S900 as a relatively quiet helmet overall. It does seem to have louder than average noise around the bottom when I'm riding behind a half windscreen, with turbulence directed at the bottom of the helmet, despite the chin curtain.
But on an unfaired bike, it is a fairly quiet helmet. I can hear some occasional wind noise through the top vents if I'm in an upright riding position, but the chin vent is quiet.
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: The S900 is average in terms of noise control, so I'll give it a "Neutral" score.
We reach another outstanding point of the S900. Picking it up in the store, it feels very light and well-balanced, even if it doesn't use the high-tech carbon fibre or Aramid strands of the Shark race helmets.
My kitchen scale indicates that the size L S900 FOST Lumi weighs 1590 grams, which places it comfortably in the top third of the wBW helmet weight ranking and seriously impressive, given the cost and feature set.
►Rick: Our size L weighs in at 1565 grams (3 lbs., 7-1/4 oz.), which is a few grams lighter, probably due to the double D-rings. This is an excellent result, especially for a thermoplastic helmet that also includes an internally rotating sun visor!◄
See the wBW
Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart that compares the weights of
all of the helmets we've reviewed. The wBW
Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page lists the helmets by head shape and weight.
Score: The S900 gets an "Outstanding" rating for its good balance and light-weight despite its feature-rich nature.
►Rick: The padding under the chin strap is adequate, but I think it could be a bit longer on either side for maximum comfort.
The loose end of the chin strap on the DOT double D-ring version (and, I assume, the Australian version also) is shorter than average and it does not secure with a snap; it slides under a keeper, making it slightly fussy to operate.
The Shark S900 meets DOT safety standards in North America, ECE 22.05 safety standards in Europe and other versions meet the safety standards of the countries in which they are sold.
The North American version is labeled as meeting both DOT and ECE standards, which I believe it a technical violation of ECE rules (helmets can only be labeled as meeting ECE 22.05 when sold in EC countries only).◄
The helmet has a 5-year warranty.
|webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator (Rick): Shark S900|
The Shark S 900 is a fabulous piece of kit and for many reasons: excellent finish, comfort, build quality, ease of use, low noise levels and practicality.
The "Lumi" luminescent versions even have a free party trick thrown in, which is worth at least some entertainment value to kids (big or small) and may possibly even be a safety factor.
Even better, the faults don't detract too much from the overall package and the price on the S900 is very aggressive, proving that you don't have to break the bank for top-notch everyday-usability and quality.
►Rick: Definitely agreed, and I had to check 3 times to make sure I wasn't reading the price incorrectly. The S900 competes with helmets costing much more and it indicates a new direction for Shark. At this point, half-way through 2010, the S900 has to be the helmet price/performance leader of the year.◄
|wBW Review: Shark S900 Helmet|
|Manufacturer: Shark Helmets||List Price (2010): $299.95|
|Colors: Solids and graphics.||Made In: Portugal|
|Sizes: XS-XL Shell Sizes: Unknown|
|Review Date: June 2010|
Rating Scale is subjective: Unacceptable, Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent, Outstanding.
From "R.B." (July 2012): "Your reviews are thorough and comprehensive and I know of no peer. Best suited to things of importance like safety (helmets).
I have the Shark S700, which you make mention of as being similar (to the S900) and so I add as follows:
Directional Bias: At high speed the helmet is neutrally biased -- turning my head sideways or upwards/downwards of my forward natural road view increases corrective wind pressure.
Were this is not the case one would have neck tension on long trips which is most likely to occur in the vertical plane since all helmets are horizontally symmetrical, although rounder helmets have less corrective effect than more elongated in horizontal plane.
Hearing Aids: With hearing aids (costing as much as) a medium-priced motorbike (and) with noise canceling, wi-fi connectivity to phone and waterproof, they are a constant companion and most vulnerable to loss or damage when not worn.
With regard to the remark about glasses fitment in the review, similarly, there is no room in the S700 for the hearing aids, making for yet another equipment prep stage for that quick trip to the shops.
In future helmet purchases I will be paying more attention to ear accommodation."
From "R.B." (October 2011): "I've recently purchased the Shark S900 and find wind noise to be much greater at higher speeds than on any of my previous helmets on my commute to/from work when I don't wear earplugs. Otherwise its a very good, comfortable helmet."
From "B.D." (09/10): "Great job on the review. Very thorough. Helped me make my decision on the S900 Ellipse (silver).
Had to order from the US because the Canadian distributor/supplier didn’t have much on the go wherever I turned (grumble).
Now "former" helmet (scraped and banged
from hitting a deer) was a Schuberth C2 (flip face).
Decided to go with a one-piece this time for a change.
Helmet fits snug-to-tight, but I imagine this will loosen up a bit once it has been worn for awhile. Venting? You covered it. Seems negligible at best, but this depends on the wind screen. On my 1200GSA, I don’t get much. On my wife’s 650GS, it worked well.
As for the sun visor, it is optically challenged at the lower edge making it a strain on my eyes. So, I took it out and laid it (edge) on my belt sander. Took off about 6 mm (1/4") and filed/fine-sanded it to make it a "pro" job. That worked well.
No more distortion or pain in the eye.
Finish is nicely done although the lever for the sun visor seems flimsy. First couple of times I used it the sun visor snagged on the edge of the helmet and wouldn’t descend. Had to work it out (not hard). Now that I’ve rectified the distortion, it seems to be working fine.
There is a little
pressure on the forehead but I don’t mind. It just keeps
it snug on the head.
It is noisier than my C2, but nothing that ear plugs won’t fix. I do like that there’s room near the ears for earphones (coming). And the helmet is much lighter than the C2!"
From "D" (7/10): "Great review on the S900. I agree
with most of what you said. The quality on the S900 is way higher than the
price tag indicates. It surely has done away with the saying: a cheap
helmet for a cheap head.
Although I agree with the small size of the top air vents, I want to add that I stay in South Africa and did a lot of long distance touring of both South Africa and Namibia during the past couple of months.
The temperatures, in especially Namibia, can get very extreme.
With my previous Shark S500, I
always experienced, my hair to be sweaty after a long ride. With the S900,
although I can't tell you that I can actually feel the ventilation, the former
does not happen.
The stitching of the liner especially above the eye brows is a bit scratchy if you do not position the liner downwards when putting on the helmet. I also agree with the fact that it is a bit shallow around your ears, but if positioned right, you forget that you actually are wearing a helmet.
The anti-fog visor is surely something all manufacturers must consider a MUST have on helmets.
I ride with ear plugs and therefore the noise levels are not a problem. It surely is when I don’t wear the plugs.
With my previous helmets, not Shark, I normally wear a size medium or large. With Shark it is a size small. For the first hour or so it almost squeezed the ($#%!) out of my head and thereafter it fits 100%.
The dealer told me
to fit different sizes until I get a comfortable fit and then take one size
smaller. Best advice ever.
Thanks again for the review."
From "P.W." (7/10): "Thanks for reviewing the Shark S900 FOST Lumi helmet and opening our eyes to the type of interesting safety technology that's out there.
I bought and enjoy my Shark RSF3 based on your review and couldn't be happier with it, its a great helmet! In fact your review of the Roof Boxer helmet also lead to my purchase of that helmet too.
I was thrilled to see the S900 incorporate this kind of lumi technology, gone would be the days of applying 3M reflective tape but alas I was shocked to find out that the US importer has seemingly decided not to bring this helmet to our market!
Very disappointing since this is a great way to create a safer riding experience for those of us out at dusk or in the evenings.
Any chance you know another source from which to purchase this helmet?
Better yet, any likelihood that the distributor may change their minds and bring
it to market? This is a helmet I'd really like to own.
Thanks and keep up the great work and honest reviews!"
Editor's Reply: It may not be the distributor who decided not to bring the Lumi to North America -- it may have been Shark.
Sometimes, for some reason, the manufacturers develop different marketing strategies so I'm assuming there's a reason why they did this. Note that the Lumi treatment is not retro-reflective, so it is not similar to the 3M reflective tapes.
It's a luminescent technology, similar to the Super-LumiNova used on the hands of some wrist watches.
From "Y.R." (6/10): "I've owned the S700 European model for about 4 months. The helmet sizing also runs larger than expected, as the shell is the same as the S900. I can say that this is not something happening only on the DOT model.
This is the first L helmet that fits my head, I always wore XL helmets and my head in some L helmets wouldn't even be able to go in.
The only complain about the S700 helmet I have is basically the idea of not including the nose mask with it, even using the 'Clarity Defog It' after a few days the lower part (at the middle) is fogged is temperatures like 25 C and below when I'm stopped and the helmet is closed. If you have any kind of contact with Shark please tell then to sell the nose mask separately, I couldn't found it in ANY place."
Editor's Note: It's ironic, but both Derryn and I removed the breath guard from our S900 helmets. Derryn lives in Singapore and it's hot summer here in the Mid-Atlantic region of the east coast U.S., so we haven't noticed any fogging problems.
If you want a breath guard, any Shark dealer should be able to order the part from the S900; it is part number AC16010P, which may work when fitted to the S700.
See any of the parts diagrams for any S900 helmet in the "Technical Support" section of the Shark website, such as this one (.pdf). If the S700 has a chin curtain, you also want to try removing it, or perhaps fit a Pinlock anti-fog insert (review).
From "R" (6/10): "I own this Shark S900 helmet since a few months and I can say that I agree with the review. This helmet is a very great piece of quality, especially when you take notice of the price of the helmet.
The helmet is quiet, my other helmet (a highly priced Schuberth C2!), isn't as quiet as the Shark. Ventilation could be better, but you (can overlook that at this) price.
The helmet fits my head very good and is therefore also very comfortable. Also the helmet is very light and well balanced; on the highway it doesn't shake your head at all.
The integral sun visor is a nice gadget of the helmet, it works well and I will never buy a helmet without such a fine and safe expedient.
It's a very safe helmet, you can read the safety test of the Shark S900 on
the UK SHARP website.
I would only say: "If you are looking for a high quality helmet for a nice
price, buy the Shark S900".
Greetings from Holland!"
Editor's Note: The S900 scored four stars in a recent SHARP test. See our SHARP helmet rating page for more information and a list of all of the SHARP rated helmets.