The C4 is a sleek, comfortable helmet that offers wearers the very best of what modular helmets have to offer. The mic and speakers for the optional SENA SC1 come pre-installed, resulting in a clean interior with no visible wires and microphones. On-road noise is average, but that's about the only average part of the C4. In every other respect, the C4 looks and feels as premium as it is.
A couple of months ago I tested the new Shoei Neotec II, and hot on the heels of that review is the latest modular from SCHUBERTH, the C4. Camparison article coming soon.
SCHUBERTH is a household name for most motorcycle enthusiasts. The C4 is the next evolution of SCHUBERTH’s top of the line modular series (you can read what we thought of the last-generation C3 Pro here). On the whole, the C4 is an excellent helmet and is certainly in-keeping with SCHUBERTH’s motif of building high-quality, high-technology helmets. The exterior shell, switches, and interior liner are all top-notch and representative of the premium that SCHUBERTH asks for the C4.
However, a common criticism of SCHUBERTH is their choice to use two shell sizes for the C3/C3 Pro, and unfortunately, that trend continues with the C4. Sizes XXXS-S share a common shell, as do sizes M-XXXL. This means that if you wear a size medium, the shell will be the same as the one used on the XXXL. While this isn’t a problem for me (I wear a large), riders wearing a size medium may find the C4 to be quite large in comparison to other helmets of the same size.
Like the C3 Pro, the C4 has some of its electronics pre-installed. Where the C3 Pro had the Bluetooth antenna built-in, the C4 takes it a step further and integrates the mic, speakers, and antenna. As a result, the C4 is already 2/3 of the way there when looking at in-helmet audio/communications… all it needs is the SENA SC1 (sold separately) to be installed. I don’t have the SC1 handy, but I do expect to get one integrated before the end of the summer and will update this review at that time.
The C4 is a suitable helmet no matter what you’re piloting, be it a sportbike or a spaceship. The sleek aesthetic makes the C4 look and feel premium- even if you didn’t know the C4 came with a $750 MSRP, you’d get the impression that it is an expensive piece of kit. Why? Because everything on this helmet is perfectly aligned, meticulously finished, and made with quality.
The exterior is kept clean and sophisticated in part because it does not have a rear vent. There are two vents: one on the chinbar, and the other on the crown. I’ll touch on this in more depth a bit later on. The lack of a rear exhaust vent allows the C4 to maintain a steamlined shape. I think it looks great.
On this colorway, the slider for the integrated sun visor is colormatched to the rest of the helmet (though this is not the case for all colorways), and the button to open the chinbar is “safety red”. Otherwise, it’s monochrome all around.
Of all the helmets I’ve encountered lately – and there’s been quite a few (I currently have five in my garage) – the C4 is the one I think looks the best. It feels space-age and high tech, and not only because it looks the part.
The helmet I have here is a matt black version, though you can get your C4 in your pick of 16 different colorways. As good as the matt black looks upon first arrival, be warned that the matt finish is particularly fragile. This reality isn’t exclusive to the C4, by the way, but rather any helmet with a matt finish. It’s a shame, too, because matt colorways are definitely my favorite (and not just because they’re easy to snap a great photo of).
The photo above demonstrates what I mean about the fragility of the matt paint: prior to this shoot, the C4 had been worn exactly 3 times for about 100 miles of total riding. In that time, and despite not being dropped, it managed to accrue numerous blemishes. It’s a shame, too, since this exact helmet with a protective clear-coat finish would look fabulous and offer much improved longevity and durability in the paint.
Of the 16 options available for the C4, I’d personally opt for the resonate grey or spark blue colorways if I had my pick, but I don’t think any of them are unattractive. I’d avoid the matt finishes, though, since I’m particular about keeping my things looking good and the fragility of the matt finish drives me bonkers.
The rest of the helmet is tops, Opening/closing both the visor and chinbar is a smooth and refined experience. The same is also true of the integrated sun visor, which operates without sticking. Tolerances are tight all around, and to the untrained eye, the C4 might as well be a full face helmet.
All told, I’m very impressed with the build quality on the C4.
Fit & Comfort
I find the C4 quite comfortable and wear it the most of any helmet I currently have in my possession. The interior liner is very comfortable, with a snug fit that keeps the helmet securely in place while also drowning out a fair amount of ambient noise.
The C4’s shape is intermediate oval, and it comes in at 4.1 lbs. Not the lightest helmet I’ve tested, and not the heaviest either. At 4.1 lbs, it’s just a hair lighter than the Neotec II (which tips the scales at 4.2 lbs).
As mentioned earlier, there is no rear exhaust vent on the C4. Air is drawn into the helmet via the chin and crown vents and then channeled throughout. Despite the lack of exhaust, the C4 isn’t hot or even uncomfortably warm. Air circulates via specially-designed channels- a design that I find works well for keeping me cool.
At speed, air from the chin vent is directed up but not directly in front of my eyes. I’m able to ride for a good while without eye discomfort.
Many riders adore micro-rather straps, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why. I’ve never found them to be as comfortable as a good old double-d, and for the few seconds I save using one, I’d almost always prefer the classic rings.
That said, the micro-ratchet setup used on the C4 is the most comfortable I’ve worn to date. It doesn’t press into my neck/ adam’s apple, secures and releases easily, and is fine overall. Once clasped it more or less fades into the background (which is the best praise you can adorn a strap with in my opinion). You quickly get in the habit of a quick grab and pull to remove the helmet. No complaints here.
I quite like the interior liner, which is plush and moldable. It conforms to my head and face quickly, and even without the strap clasped, the C4 hangs on tightly. There isn’t much play, and as a result the helmet remains in place when rocking my head side to side and front to back.
The C4 has an intermediate oval shape, though it’s on the rounder side of intermediate. I find the C4 very comfortable to wear and have spent several hours at a time with the helmet without complaint. I don’t feel any pressure points; the helmet’s weight is dispersed evenly and the C4 feels great as a result.
The liner snaps out quickly for washing or replacement. It’s antimicrobial, helping stave off the inevitable odors that come with pounding the pavement together, and washable.
Since I haven’t tested the C3 or C3 Pro to compare it against, I can’t speak to how the C4 is different compared to its older siblings. What I can do is compare it against the Neotec II, and in that context, it’s the Neotec that’s quieter… but not by much.
While there isn’t much buffeting that’s caused by the helmet, I do find that there’s a decent amount of road noise that finds its way in. Moreso than what I notice when riding with the Neotec II. However, in the interests of transparency, I only began to notice the differences in noise levels after a friend asked me which was quieter. Both helmets offer perfectly acceptable interior noise levels, but the edge goes to the Neotec II… if only just.
With the C4 on you’re treated to a sweeping view that stretches well into your peripheral vision. The viewport is massive and the resulting view is excellent.
Face Sheild & Pinlock Visor
The face shield is quite good, and SCHUBERTH has fit it with a pinlock as well. The resulting combo provides great optics, with minimal distortion. I did notice some polarization occurring when wearing my sunglasses with the helmet.
I like that the face shield has tabs on both sides. I also like that the face shield operates with the right amount of resistance. The mechanism is also very precise: you can ride with the visor partially opened and it will stay where you set it. I’ve tried this at speeds just north of 50 mph. If you have a habit of doing this to clear fog, you’ll also be pleased to know that fog isn’t much of an issue on the visor. I’ve gone riding with plenty of rain falling and it hasn’t fogged up. Thanks, Pinlock.
Internal Sun Shield
The internal sun visor, operated via a slider on the left-hand base of the helmet, is also quite good. It extends and retracts smoothly and, once fully extended, covers the top 90% of your viewport. The default color is dark smoke, but you can swap it out with a lighter or darker color if you prefer. I find the smoke to be dark enough for my tastes.
As I mentioned earlier, the slider on the left-side of the chinbar is really smooth. The sun visor will also stay wherever you set it.
As mentioned, SCHUBERTH has fit the C4 with speakers, a bluetooth antenna, and a microphone. It’s all completely hidden from view until you go looking for it.
The speakers can be adjusted somewhat up or down. For maximum audio quality, mark the side of the helmet with where your ears sit when worn and adjust the speakers so they are inline with your markings.
Regarding quality, I can’t assess that yet as I haven’t gotten my hands on a SENA SC1, but once I do I’ll update this review.
When you start to reach speeds north of 50 mph you’ll notice the aerodynamics of the helmet coming into play. There’s not much buffering when you’re head is looking straight, and as a result, it’s a pleasant ride. However, turning your head left or right while you’re moving will catch the helmet in the airflow, and its smooth shape and aerodynamic build will work against you somewhat. The helmet will want to keep turning, and while it’s not exactly challenging to look where you want, there’s no denying the obvious forces being created as a result of the helmet shape.
This effect is not dissimilar to when you stick your hand out the window of a moving car and angle it up and down. You are always in control of your hand, but if you relax your muscles and let the hand go where it wants, it’ll take off on you. The same is true here.
This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this with a helmet, but it is decidedly more pronounced than what I’ve experienced wearing other helmets.
The difference between a $200 flip-up helmet and a $750 one aren’t always obvious. Some things – like paint or graphics quality – are easy to see, while others – like the comfort of the interior liner or the quality of the flip-up mechanism – are less tangible, especially if you’re only able to hold the helmet as opposed to go for a ride with it.
The good news is that the flip-up component of the C4 is really excellent. It raises and closes smoothly, with no sticking points or predefined parts of its path where it “wants” to go. It is, however, an open or shut affair: there’s no middle position, not that you’d ever need one.
You can ride at low speeds with it up, but the awkwardness of the resulting helmet shape and, more specifically, the distribution of the weight makes it something I’d recommend against. Remember, the C4 comes in two shell sizes: smallish, and bigish. The larger shell, which is what most riders will likely own, is even bigger when you’re rolling around with the chinbar raised.
So, you can, but I wouldn’t.
Worth the Investment
If you believe that a helmet is a helmet is a helmet, chances are that you’ll balk at the $750 MSRP of the new C4. I can’t say I don’t see your perspective, either: that’s a lot of money for a singular piece of hardware, especially when you can find pretty good modulars for under $200 (like the Vemar Sharki I recently reviewed). But, in all fairness, comparing a sub-$200 modular to the C4 isn’t apples to apples… not even close.
In the C4 you’re buying the result of top-end engineering, testing, and obsessive QA. It feels as premium as it does not because of how much it costs, but because of how much value it delivers. The integrated electrics are a nice touch, but even in their functional absence, the C4 still stands out because of its comfort, good looks, and slick operation.
If you’re shopping for a new modular, and you want the best of what modulars have to offer, the C4 is a strong contender. Highly recommended.
Disclosure: SCHUBERTH provided the C4 at no charge for the purposes of this review.