I’m not sure if anyone has actually charted the evolution of flip-up helmets, but if they did, SCHUBERTH would certainly be right there at the root of the flip-up family tree.
The SCHUBERTH C2 is the direct descendant of the Concept, which was the lid that probably did more than any other to popularize flip-up, or “modular”, helmets.
SCHUBERTH is relatively new to the U.S.A., so many motorcyclists probably don’t know the story of how the brand became popular with American motorcyclists. BMW owners used to lust after a Schuberth, going to extreme lengths to obtain one.
They’d hound their traveling friends to bring one back from Europe. They’d buy a half-dozen and ship them back to the U.S.A. and sell five of them to friends.
A whole Euro-US mail order business sprung up, with UK dealers charging outrageous premiums to ship them to desperate U.S. riders.
SCHUBERTH sort of turned a blind eye to the gray market, but the lure of the almighty dollar eventually became too much to bear, and so they started a formal U.S. distribution system not too long ago.
I was one of the Concept lustees back then, and during a trip to Blighty I took a day-long trek from London up to see a SCHUBERTH dealer.
It was quite a letdown — the Concept was known for a very strange fit, and as much as I wanted one, I couldn’t find one that worked on my earth-shaped head. Needless to say, I was very disappointed.
This was before flip-ups were popular, back when the type was so rare that people would come over to see the helmet after you flipped up the visor at the gas pump.
Although flip-up helmets still don’t seem to be as popular as I thought they would be by now (and for a number of good reasons, as it happens), there are many more choice available today, and nobody takes a second look when they see one.
We’ve reviewed a few — everything from the ROOF Boxer to our current favorite, the Vega Summit XPV. As far as we’re concerned, the perfect flip-up hasn’t been invented.
Is the C2 an exception?
Let’s start with the C2’s weight. Modular helmets are, by nature, heavier than their full-face counterparts. Our guess is that the added weight is a result of the extra hardware necessary to rotate the visor upwards.
Most of the modular (or flip-up) helmets we’ve reviewed start at about 3.5 lbs. (1587 grams) and go up from there. The real heavyweights weigh in at 3 lbs., 15 oz. (1814 grams) and up.
I’m here to tell you that once a motorcycle helmet gets over 4.0 lbs., it’s no longer a helmet — it’s a burden. Unless it’s perfectly balanced, you’ll feel all that mass every time you rotate your head.
Remember “an object in motion tends to stay in motion”? The mass makes itself known when you whip your head back and forth and the helmet (and your head) wants to keep going.
Some of the real bruisers actually give me a neck and back ache. And I can’t believe that my head will be fine after all that mass gets pounded into the blacktop.
So what about the C2? It’s borderline at 4 lbs., 0-3/8 oz. (1827 grams) in size XL. That’s pretty hefty, but the C2 balances way better than Schuberth’s own S1, which we also reviewed and found to be too heavy for comfort.
The C2 is one of those helmets that surprised us when we put it on the webBikeWorld scales — it didn’t feel like it would be as heavy as it actually is. That’s the good news.
The bad news, at least for me, is that the C2 has the same internal head configuration as the S1. That is, our opinion is that the helmet fits “oval” to “egg” shaped heads best, not “earth” shaped heads, which are widest at the temples.
See the wBWMotorcycle Helmet FAQ page for a much longer dissertation on head shape and a chart comparing the weight of every helmet we’ve reviewed.
The size XL fits very nicely on top, but the sides are narrower than most other XL helmets, and the pressure on my temporomandibularjoint (jaw joint) becomes painful. After only about 20 minutes of riding, it puts me in agony.
The size XL runs normal for that size at the top but slightly small at the sides, in our opinion.
Our C2 also has a shorter front-to-back dimension than the roomiest flip-ups, like the Vega Summit XPV and the Zeus 508.
It’s not as short as the Caberg Justissimo, and I can live with the C2’s minimal space, but I can just feel my chin touching the back of the rotating visor. Jay Leno types need not apply, so be warned that if you’re large of chin, the C2 may not work for you.
While we’re on the subject of fit (we’ll get it out of the way so we can move on to the other nice features of the C2), the C2 has another feature that apparently is becoming the norm for Schuberth.
On one hand, we give them lots of credit for finally addressing the problem of noise created by helmet buffeting. This is typically noticed as a low-frequency “booming” noise that comes up around the helmet’s neck area.
SCHUBERTH created a virtual head womb (tomb?) with the S1, using various sections of padding and wind blocking fabrics around the S1’s neck (see photo).
They’ve done the same with the C2 — put this helmet on (if those with wide heads can fit the very tight sides over their noggin) and close the visor and you’ll notice it’s different than any other flip-up.
The padding underneath the visor is very wide, and it takes some practice to get the visor down around my chin and secured in place.
Once I’m inside, it feels like my head is locked inside a box. If you’re like my neighbor, who claims that full-face helmets give him claustrophobia, you’ll freak inside the C2.
In fact, it creates such a good seal around the neck that SCHUBERTH actually has a web page advising people not to worry about CO2 poisoning: (“No negative effects on health need be feared as long as the CO2 concentration remains below 0.5%…”)!!
A tight seal serves a couple of purposes. First, it helps the air intakes and exhaust vents to work efficiently, because of the correct amount of vacuum. A good neck seal also goes a long way to preventing the low-frequency booming noises.
The C2 does a great job with the former, and not so great with the latter.
The top air vent is a simple on/off sliding bar and it works very well, forcing lots of cool air on to the top of the rider’s head. The chin vent also works, albeit not quite as dramatically.
This is helped by the “skeletonized” (and removable) inner liner — just a couple of strips of padding run across the top, and the foam liner is visible up top, but it doesn’t seem to affect the comfort (much) and does allow the air to flow down inside (see photo).
The C2 is quiet — but only when used on a “naked” bike, sans windscreen. In fact, we’d go as far as saying that the C2 is probably one of the quietest helmets we’ve ever experienced — again, on a naked bike).
But get behind a small windscreen, especially one that dumps the air right at the middle of the helmet, and a low frequency rumble really takes over.
Certain combinations of speed and airflow spilling over the top of a fairing and hitting the C2 seem to make the helmet vibrate in tune with the rumble, something that we can’t stomach for very long.
Most riders don’t realize that helmets are usually quieter on an unfaired bike, but it’s true. Unless you’re sitting completely behind a big, honkin’ windshield, chances are you’re going to have your eardrums bombarded by wind noise and turbulence.
Don’t ride without them – ever – or you’ll regret it! Remember that hearing is precious and hearing loss is permanent.
The latch that opens the C2’s rotating visor is located on the left side of the helmet. It’s not easy to open the helmet when it’s not on the head.
It’s unfortunate that modular helmet manufacturers seem to be moving away from what ought to be a standard position for the latch — right in the middle of the chin, with a squeeze button to make it easy to open or close.
The C2 does have an interesting safety device built in to the bottom of the eye port: two little red buttons pop up when the helmet is opened, and if they’re visible, then the helmet is not latched.
When the helmet is properly latched and securely closed, the buttons will disappear.
Speaking of the eye port, it’s probably about the largest we’ve ever used. It comes way, way down, almost out of the bottom of my vision, seemingly down by my mouth.
This actually takes some getting used to — it almost felt like I had an open face helmet on at first — but it’s very nice. It gives a huge amount of downward vision and helps make it easy to see the instruments.
Peripheral vision is excellent also, making it easy to see cars coming down angled side streets. The clear visor on our helmet doesn’t fit very tightly against the seal.
There’s no final “snap” to tighten it against the seal when it’s lowered, but although this is disconcerting, it doesn’t seem to affect the noise levels.
The clear visor is treated with an anti-fog and anti-scratch coating. It’s relatively easy to remove by rotating two flat, circular side knobs.
But hang on to those knobs — they come off and can go flying away and disappear in a jiffy, so this is not something you want to be doing on the side of the road at night.
We’ve railed about the gimmickry of internally rotating sun shades in the past, mostly because they just don’t seem very usable and the quality of the tinted plastic that many of the use can leave a lot to be desired.
NOTE: It has been brought to our attention that SCHUBERTH helmets with the drop-down dark visor can be modified to a straight bottom edge rather than the sculpted edge.
Simply remove the visor and turn it upside-down and refit it with the straight edge at the bottom.
SCHUBERTH has finally won us over on the C2 — the internal rotating tinted visor must use a higher quality plastic, because we haven’t noticed any distortion at all.
SCHUBERTH also offers a couple of different tints, but we haven’t tried them and don’t know how hard (or easy) it is to remove and replace the original visor.
Which brings us to the last feature that seems to be a SCHUBERTH standard, the “quick release” buckle. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (although not everyone agrees with us!): there’s nothing wrong with good old-fashioned D-rings.
They’re simple, infinitely adjustable, have no moving parts, take up a minimal amount of space, and they work.
The so-called “quick release” buckles are fussy, have moving parts that can break, and have a very limited range of adjustment.
The combination of the neck padding, the asymmetrical neck strap padding and the thick buckle means that anyone with a slightly large neck will probably be suffering.
I haven’t been able to get used to it yet, I feel like I’m choking, with the buckle and the chin padding pushing up above my Adam’s apple. I’m honestly afraid that if I do crash that I’ll choke to death before I finish sliding.
The perfect flip-up? Not yet, unfortunately. Our opinion is that the C2 isn’t for everyone. Like the SCHUBERTH Concept, you’ll have to try on a C2 before you buy to make sure it fits.
It seems best suited for “classic” head shapes, round on top, slightly flat on the sides, with a normal chin profile. It fits so tight against the side of my head that I have trouble fitting it over my eyeglasses, which is one of the primary reasons for wearing a flip-up to begin with.
It flows lots of air, but seals so tightly that the clear visor must be flipped up at slower speeds and especially at stop lights and even stop signs, or it can get very hot and humid inside the “fish bowl”, even on cool days.
This is probably not a helmet for someone coming from an open-face or half-helmet.
If it fits and if you can live with its idiosyncrasies, the C2 is a quiet helmet that is very well made and may be perfect for you. But at $450.00 to $500.00, it’s very expensive.
We still think the $130.00 Vega Summit XPV is the Deal of the Century in flip-up helmets. It’s certainly not perfect, but a lot can be overlooked at that price…
From “K” (10/08): “I’ve been using a SCHUBERTH C2 helmet for about 18 months now. I use it less and less because of its size and weight. I have a small head and neck. The C2 gets tiresome to me in about an hour of riding my Ultra Classic.
The C2 also seems to vibrate my vision more than a 3/4 helmet. This may be common for full fact helmets, I don’t know. But if I put my hand on the helmet while riding, the vision clears.
The tinted sunshade rattles when it’s up . . . a lot. That is quite annoying for my nighttime riding or any time I have the sunshade retracted.
Finally, the clear visor won’t stay in the up position. A passing truck or crosswind rides seem to always slam it shut while I’m riding. I can’t hear the radio with it shut, so I ride with it cracked or fully open most of the time.
One big detriment is the inability to have a radio headset with this helmet. The construction totally eliminates the possibility of installing one. I’ve tried and have asked many headset vendors. No luck.
Having said that, the helmet is quiet. It’s well padded. It gives me a better feeling of safety from face-plants should something nasty happen.”
From “M.J.”: “I have been using a SCHUBERTH C2 helmet for a year of all-season biking and would like to offer some comments that might compliment your review.
I have been a bit of a helmet tart, buying and discarding an increasingly expensive collection of helmets; getting closer to the right one each time but never quite reaching nirvana. The main problem is that I wear glasses which this is a real limiting factor on choice.
Having tried and bought a range of different helmets of varying styles I hit on the idea of a flip-up helmet which by its nature creates enough space to don with your glasses on or to fit after the body of the helmet is on your head.
I shopped around, tried several bike shows and settled on the C2.
Strengths include its quietness: I ride a half faired bike and no longer suffer wind booming on anything other than high speed motorways. If anything, in traffic, you can sometimes not hear the engine as well as you would like.
Another strength is the drift-forward visor which allows you to pull the visor forward just less than a quarter of an inch from the helmet.
This is great as the trade-off for noise reduction is a tight seal around your neck and chin that can lead to misting.
The visor is coated with an anti misting surface that works. A combination of the visor coating, SCHUBERTH breath guard, generous chin venting and the drift-forward visor means that I have never fully misted up whatever the weather.
It also comfortably fits the earphones from my intercom set into the ear-wells.
Weaknesses are a humming noise at some angles of attack from the top vent; the fastener which is safe but fiddly, and the flip unlocking latch which is easy with summer gloves but a different story with my Held Minsk winter warmers.
It’s heavier than my other helmets although this seems to be less of an issue at high speed as it seems to have a really slippery aerodynamic profile, allowing lane change high speed ‘lifesavers’ with ease. It is heavy to carry round though.
No, it’s not nirvana. If it weighed half as much and didn’t occasionally hum inexplicably it might get close. However, I’ve worn the helmet for a whole year with no thought of going back to that helmet store of digging out an old lid.”
From “R.A.”: “I believe in your review you missed the most brilliant thing about the helmet: you can push the visor forward. That creates an air inflow that clears any fog but it’s not disturbing on the eye or face. Whenever I’m doing in-town commuting I always have it open.
On any other helmet I’ve tried, you need to open it a crack and the air flow is not natural. Some will open too much or too little.
Regarding sealing, my unit is perfect. It does not may any special noise when closing completely but the rubber bands seal very well and it turns just so silent…
The sun visor is great as well. I’ve had it for a year an a half and I just love it.
On the cons, I’d say the price is just way too expensive. I managed to buy mine from Germany and save a few quid, but the helmet is not the latest thing out and they still retail for 300-350 GBP in the UK.
The latch to flip it up is also a minus, for it’s a bit awkward to use.
I contacted SCHUBERTH about a breath guard and they replied to me within a week.”
Editor’s Note: I wasn’t aware of this feature; perhaps it is something new and was not available on the helmet we reviewed, which was one of the first C2’s available back in 2005?
From “G.P.”: “Hi, Like the site and always checking it before purchasing anything. Brief report on my SCHUBERTH C2. I commute 100 miles a day from Cambridge to London. I have had my C2 for one month and it is much quieter than my Nolan flip helmet.
It feels snug, at first a little claustrophobic but I got used to that after a while, keeps the cold out very well.
In traffic the fact that you can pull the visor forward a few millimeters (either one side or both together) ideals with any misting at all, also the chin vent is very effective as is the vent on the top of the helmet.
The Internal sun visor is excellent; it is there just when you want it, easy to bring it down and take it up again.
That’s all the good news, now the bad is that I do find it a bit of a struggle to pull down over my ears and taking it off I have to check if any of my ears have been left inside!
Now the worst news: I have had to send it back to be inspected as the vent slider does not seal the vent properly and depending on the position of my head there is a continuous drone rather like a really loud fly buzzing.
The shop I bought it from have sent it back to Oxford Products the UK importers and I understand they will send it back to SCHUBERTH in Germany — my shop tells me don’t expect a reply for one month (we will see).
I will report back on Schuberth’s findings. Oh incidentally I did email SCHUBERTH direct but did not even get an acknowledgment. Ho hum.”
G.P.’s Follow-up: “Earlier this year you added my comments (above) about the problem I had with my SCHUBERTH C2 flip up helmet. The vent on the top of the helmet had developed a wine just like a noisy buzzing fly!
The helmet was sent back to Germany by the shop that I bought it from. 6 weeks later it was returned supposedly fixed.
However the internal sun visor mechanism had not been re-assembled correctly and meant the sun visor was hanging down lopsidedly and could not be retracted. I rejected the helmet as not fit for purpose and got my money back.
I emailed SCHUBERTH in Germany 3 times expressing my concern about the initial problem and the lack of quality control. Schiuberth have ignored all my emails.”