Schuberth J1 Helmet Review
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
In Turkish: Bu yazının Türkçesi de var.
The Schuberth J1 gave me one of the biggest slap-the-forehead "why didn't I think of that" moments in my life.
The J1 is basically an open-face motorcycle helmet with a snap-in hoop, designed to protect the rider's chin.
Leave it to Schuberth to think of something like this and have the guts to bring it to market!
Well, I'm sorry if you didn't like those reviews, but we call 'em the way we see 'em. That's why we're here and that's why our visitors keep coming back for more.
But that's yesterday's news, and whether we liked the S1 or C2 or not, there's no question that Schuberth has some of the most innovative motorcycle helmet designs on the planet.
And just so you don't have to read all the way to the end of this Schuberth J1 review for our conclusion, I'll tell you right now: we like it. A lot.
The J1 has a couple of flaws no doubt, which I'll get into in a bit, but the benefits of the design came shining through the first time I wore the helmet.
Let's start with the J1's weight, or lack of it, which is one of the advantages of this design. Open-face helmets are (usually) naturally lighter than their full-face cousins, but they give up a lot of potential for protection and the tradeoff is not worth it, in my opinion.
If I fall off a motorcycle, my face will probably be one of the first of my body parts to get planted into the tarmac. So it just doesn't make much sense to me to go through the trouble of wearing a motorcycle helmet unless it has 360-degree protection.
But I do understand how some riders may feel claustrophobic in a full-face helmet, or how an open-face helmet might be more comfortable on a touring bike behind a big fairing.
Our J1 in size XL weighs in at 1480 grams (3 lbs., 4-1/4 oz.) which, as of this writing, puts it in some pretty good company as one of the lightest weight helmets we've tried. It's also 5 grams less than Schuberth's own claim of 1485 for the size XL. There are actually a couple of full-face helmets that weighed less, but for all practical purposes, they don't get much lighter than the Schuberth J1.
The J1 feels very light when it's handled, and I'll bet that the size large and smaller J1's are some of the lightest weight helmets to be found.
See the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for our helmet weight comparison table and chart to get a better idea at how the Schuberth J1 compares with the 55+ other helmets in our database of reviews.
We've complained about the strange fit of Schuberth helmets in the past, but the J1 seems to have a more "normal" internal profile. It's a comfortable fit on my round "earth" shaped head and it doesn't have that characteristic narrow jaw-crunching profile that seems to be part of the Schuberth standard head shape.
We wear many helmets in a year's time, and I can truthfully say that Schuberth helmets fit very differently than anything else I've ever tried. The J1 may fit better because it doesn't have the solid chin bar that prevents the S1 or C2 from flexing enough to allow room for the rider's cheeks.
Although the J1 does noticeably tighten up along the sides when the chin bar is snapped into place, the helmet seems to have an overall slightly wider profile than others in the Schuberth line. This means that the J1 should fit a wider variety of head shapes, from the so-called "long oval" to round head shapes.
The bottom line is that I've worn the J1 for hours at a time with no complaints. My feeling is that the XL size runs true to slightly larger than expected by approximately 1/2 size. It's likely that the shape and sizing will hold true for all sizes in the range.
By the way, correct helmet fit is crucial for comfort and safety; see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page for more information on finding the right fit for your particular head shape.
The Schuberth J1 has a huge clear visor that provides a very wide and high view of the road. It's amazing how much more comfortable and safer one can feel when riding with a nearly unobstructed view. Now I know another reason why so many motorcyclists choose an open-face helmet! It's liberating to not have to peer through a narrow and thin eye port.
The visor has 7 distinct detents; the first two raise the clear visor just a tiny amount, which allows a good volume of cooling air to blow through the sides. The next 5 detents are spaced at wider intervals and allow the visor to be raised normally, although because it is much taller (longer) than a visor found on a typical full-face helmet, so when it's raised up all the way, it seems to stick way out in front of the helmet, like the peak of a baseball cap.
The clear visor is also very wide, which matches the wide cross-section of the helmet at eye level. The helmet is designed with cutouts at eye level on either side and these provide excellent peripheral vision. Turning the head to do an over-the-shoulder check when merging with traffic or switching lanes is a real joy. I have never experienced such an unencumbered view, which is definitely a safety factor.
Schuberth has also done their homework with the J1's aerodynamic profile. It barely moves at all during those same side-to-side head checks, which also provides a great deal of confidence to the rider.
Schuberth has disappointed us in the past with the amount of noise transmitted by the helmets we've tried, but this time the J1 is surprisingly good. I wouldn't say that the J1 is the quietest helmet I've ever tried, but it's much quieter than I expected it would be for it's nearly open-face design. The aerodynamics and simple shell profile allow the air to pass smoothly over it without much fuss.
I found this to be the case whether I wore the helmet while riding our new Ducati GT1000 with no fairing or behind the half fairing on the Triumph Tiger, which normally spills lots of air right on to the base of a helmet, where it can cause lots of turbulence-induced noise. There just doesn't seem to be much difference in noise levels on either bike.
We always use earplugs when riding, and we also wear a skull-cap type helmet liner. See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
Let's get to the most innovative part of the helmet, the removable chin bar, or "chin guard hoop", as it is called by Schuberth. The chin guard hoop is not metal; it's made from some type of plastic material. It is inserted into a channel on either side of the helmet and it easily snaps in place. I found that it pays to give the chin guard a good push in the front while I the helmet is held in the rear with the other hand. When the chin guard is correctly inserted it will create a distinct snapping sound.
The guard is removed by pushing up on the red sliders, located on either side of the helmet. It's slightly clumsy because the spring-loaded sliders must be pushed up as the guard is pulled away from the helmet, but it doesn't take long to learn the trick.
The chin guard hoop can also be removed by releasing one side at a time. It can be removed when the helmet is on or off the rider's head. The J1 can be removed from the rider's head with the chin guard in place; it's sort of like a cross between trying to remove a full-face helmet and a flip-up without raising the chin bar. But it's so easy to remove the guard that it doesn't really make much sense to try and beat the system. I do wonder what might happen if I lose the chin guard hoop though...
Inserting the guard tightens up the sides of the helmet slightly. I haven't noticed any undue noise coming from the visor where it meets the base of the chin bar, so again Schuberth has done their homework.
The Schuberth Owner's Manual claims that the J1 chin guard hoop "is the only jet helmet equipped with a new kind of chin guard hoop".
"The purpose of the guard hoop", they go on to say, "made of a special plastic - is to spread the forces, which occur in the area of the chin in the event of an impact, over the entire helmet shell. The additional safety zone thus created helps to keep these forces away from the rider's face...".
With regards to the chin guard getting caught on something during a crash, Schuberth says that "...the J1 is fitted with a self-release mechanism that allows the chin guard hoop to detach from the helmet when a given pulling force is exceeded. This mechanism can counteract the helmet getting hooked up on another object and placing unnecessary stress on the throat and neck region...". They also caution the owner not to carry the helmet by the hoop, especially with something inside, as the weight may cause the hoop to disengage!
Schuberth also cautions that "The use of the chin guard hoop provides significantly more protection than conventional jet helmets, but it cannot counteract all dangers and risks and cannot replace the protective capability of a full-face helmet."
In practice, installing and removing the guard hoop isn't a big deal and it's virtually unnoticeable when riding.
The J1 is currently available only in silver, black and matte black. The paint on our silver version is evenly applied and apparently of high quality but it's rather plain, so we have no complaints but no real praise in this area either.
The helmet has built-in reflectors on the front and rear (see photo above) and one is sewn into the rear of the liner (visible in the photo of the helmet liner at the top of this page).
The J1 includes the standard Schuberth flip-down sun visor. A sliding lever on the left-hand side moves the visor in and out of the rider's vision.
Our J1 has a problem -- its sun visor rotates down just far enough so that the bottom edge is exactly in the center of the rider's vision. Three different riders tried the helmet and discovered the same problem.
I can pull the sun visor down farther but it won't stay in that position, so I'll assume that this is a problem with our particular helmet. This is too bad, because the sun visor on our J1 does seem to have better optical qualities than the visors on the S1 and C2. The J1 can really benefit by the sun visor because the huge clear visor acts like a fishbowl, gathering glare and heat from the sun like a magnifying glass. I'll investigate this and post an update at a later date.
I have taken to lowering the sun visor just enough to stay out of my direct line of sight but where it blocks some of the sun from above.
The Schuberth J1 has a single top vent for incoming air. The entire external vent slides back and forth to cover and uncover a simple hole, allowing air to flow over the top of the rider's head. There are also several exhaust vents along the top of the helmet.
The helmet liner doesn't cover the top of the inside of the helmet; there are simply three narrow fabric pads in the crown of the helmet, which are secured with "hook and loop" fastener. They are removable and cleanable just like the liner (Note: we originally and erroneously said that the strips were glued to the liner). Although the strips don't necessarily provide the liner with a posh look, it does allow the air to easily flow through the channels and on to the rider.
It's been very hot and humid here lately, so it's slightly difficult to ascertain the true venting ability of the helmet, but the sides and rear of my head do seem to get hotter and sweatier than normal. The visor can be lifted slightly to allow air in through the sides, although this does increase the noise levels.
But overall, I don't have a problem with the venting on the J1.
Schuberth yet again went with their complicated "quick release" (an oxymoron if there ever was one!) buckle system, rather than the tried and true D-ring. I've said it before and I'll say it again: we have yet to find an acceptable quick release system that works as effectively and efficiently as a D-ring. We're not sure why helmet manufacturers keep trying to reinvent a system that works.
By the way, bad news for potential U.S. owners: the Schuberth J1 is not DOT safety standard and apparently Schuberth has no plans to sell it in the U.S.A. It does conform to the ECE 22-05 standard though, so it's legal for use by European riders.
The more I wear the Schuberth J1, the more I like it. I'm not sure how it compares in terms of safety and protection with a full-face helmet, but the design offers many advantages. It's low noise levels are a pleasant surprise and it provides the rider with almost unlimited vision, which is a huge safety factor.
|wBW Review: Schuberth J1 Motorcycle Helmet|
|Manufacturer: Schuberth Helme GmbH||List Price (2006): £329.99 (Gloss and Matte Black); £349.99 (Silver).|
|Colors: Black, Silver, Matte Black.||Made In: Germany|
|Sizes: XS to 3XL||Safety Homologation: ECE 22-05|
|Review Date: August 2006|
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From "N.P." (October 2013): "This helmet is terrible in the rain. The rain gathers in small droplets on the inside and together with the misting makes it almost impossible to see when it's raining - and at night when raining it makes it almost impossible to ride!
The visor won't stay opened at any reasonable speed and is difficult to open and the little tab to open it with is difficult to find with gloves on. All in all, for me, an expensive and dangerous mistake.
I do like the looks and feel and when none of the above problems are bothering me it is great."
From "B.S." (August 2012): "I've been using the J1 for the last 8000 miles or so.(because of your review). No issues as yet. I love the helmet.
The view is like looking out of a picture window. Not having goggles in my peripheral vision is a revelation. I only see the road and sky. The only thing I would compare it to would be riding with no helmet and no eye protection.
Moving the visor up and down is like changing the fan speed on a car AC. In a lot of rain, zero leaks. The sun shade had the same issue of not staying down all the way at first, but now works properly. Needed a break-in period I guess.
It's great to flip the shade up and down, zooming between bright sunlight and dark shady roads in a instant. I've learned to be very careful when carrying the helmet around because I don't want to scratch the very large face shield. Thanks for your review, great helmet !!"
From "A.B." (6/09): "Just been reading your review of the J1 helmet. I have had exactly the same problem with the visor. Had the helmet just over a year and the visor has just failed for the second time. A replacement will set me back £50.
Great helmet but not impressed with the weakness of the visor where all the pivot forces are taken by a small injection moulded plastic part. I am a chemical engineer with lots of experience in plastics and it should have been clear to the designers from the initial proposal that this was an obvious failure mode.
They clearly have either not carried out normal design reviews and failure mode analysis or have deliberately allowed a bad part to enter the market to generate frequent replacement business."
From "M.": "I just read your review of the Schuberth J1 helmet. I have owned one now for two years. My visor has failed me twice in the same manner, a little tab broke off which slides into the adjustment slot on the side. If I raise the visor too high, it pops out on that side and flaps in the wind.
I bought the helmet from on overseas retailer who aided in the warranty replacement of the visor the first time. Now that its out of warranty, I am on my own. With the Euro exchange rate the way it is now, buying a new one will be expensive. I wish these were available over here. I hate to think that the third one will break also."
From "J.S.": "I read a bad comment about the after sales problem at Schuberth. My helmet fell from my bike at my fault....I reported to them that my visor scratched and my system broke. They promptly send replacements at no cost...to Brazil. I have three Concepts and one J1 and I do not even consider using another brand. Thank you."
From "M.S.J.": "I would just like to add a note about the J1 helmet which I bought 3 months ago and had shipped to me. When new the helmet was great, light, and visibility was awesome, however, a few weeks ago the tab on the visor broke when raising it, now the sun shade will not work while the helmet is being worn, it works while the helmet is off. I e-mailed Schuberth and mentioned what had happened and what was wrong, I have never received a reply or even an acknowledgement from it. In my opinion, poor customer support... I will probably not buy another Schuberth again."
From Doug Klassen: "Everything old is new again! Back about 1970 when the Bell Star, the first "full face" helmet, made it's appearance, racers quickly realized that face protection was a good thing.
We adapted by bolting football helmet face guards to our open face helmets. It became so common that Webco began making a double loop protective guard to screw to your open face helmet.
It was made without the steel reinforcement of the of football piece so the potential greater impact of a motorcycle crash would not leave the face piece bent in against one's face and requiring the Jaws of Life to remove it.
A picture of yours truly riding my Bultaco in a La Mesa, California motocross in 1970 is attached." Doug Klassen Forty Years on Two Wheels - A personal blog.