The SMK Titan Carbon Nero is acarbon fiber motorcycle helmet priced under $300. It has some desirable features such as an internal visor, emergency cheek pad removal, and good aerodynamics. It comes with a Pinlock ready visor, with the insert included. However, the position of the insert impedes the rider’s field of vision. It is relatively heavy, and visor and liner replacement are fairly difficult. While ventilation is adequate, wind noise is very noticeable and it whistles at high speed. Nevertheless, attractive pricing, coupled with DOT and ECE safety certifications may make it an enticing choice for budget-conscious riders who want a carbon fiber helmet.
The Titan Carbon Nero is designed to be a sport touring helmet, coming in at $289.99 USD.
A pinlock insert is included but is problematic in its location for sport riders as the edge of the insert will obscure rider view and eye line.
It is DOT and ECE 22.05 certified and comes with desirable features such as an internal visor, emergency cheek pad removal, and good aerodynamics.
There is a recessed area for a BT speaker system.
The Titan Carbo Nero fell short in the noise management criteria due to the constant whistling noise at highway speed which was evident even with earplug use.
Carbon fiber has been a popular material in the motorsports industry for its lightweight composition, excellent tensile strength, rigidity, and resilience to high temperatures. The characteristic glistening black threads are undeniably alluring even for those who are not motorsports enthusiasts. Unfortunately, this superior material is not cheap. Carbon fiber helmets usually cost more than $300, with Arai’s Corsair-X RC as the pinnacle with its $4000+ price tag.
Now enter the SMK Titan Carbon Nero, an entry-level carbon fiber helmet with a modest sub $300 price tag.
SMK Helmets is a new contender in the North American market. When I was presented with the opportunity to try their Titan Carbon Nero helmet this season, I honestly never heard of this company. Yet since its parent company, Studds, started manufacturing helmets in the confines of the founders’ family garage in India in the 70s, SMK has been in the business for more than five decades. They are one of the largest helmet manufacturers in the world producing more than 14 million helmets annually.
I wore this full face helmet for a little over two weeks, logging about 1,000 miles primarily on freeways.
Design, Fit & Shape
First things first, let’s talk about aesthetics. Titan Carbon Nero doesn’t disappoint in this department. I like its aggressive style and the premium appearance with carbon fiber. If you want to make a statement without breaking the bank, this helmet certainly delivers on style.
Head Shape and Sizing
There is no information on the head shape of Titan Carbon Nero. But I believe it is an Intermediate Oval, the most common of helmet shapes. Sizing is available in XS to XXL. According to the SMK Helmets’ size chart, my head with a circumference of 55cm (21.65 inches) falls between Small and Medium. I chose Small, and it turned out to be a good fit.
If the helmet doesn’t quite fit, unfortunately, SMK doesn’t have options for replaceable cheek pads with different thicknesses or peel-off foam parts for small adjustments. Titan Carbon Nero is SMK’s top of the line helmet even though the pricing is still approachable. An option for a small adjustment for proper fit would have been nice.
Outer Shell and EPS
In addition to carbon fiber composite, two other technologies are used for the outer layer. The multiple-layer fiber construction provides superior penetration resistance. EIRT(energy impact resistance thermoplastic) outer layer enhances impact resistance without adding too much weight.
The multi-density EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) layer, which SMK manufactures in-house at their factory in India, offers impact resistance and energy absorption. It has a deep recess for the comm system speaker as par for the course for modern helmets.
When you remove the head liner, you find a 1.77 inch x 0.59 inch (4.5 cm x 1.5 cm) opening in the EPS layer just below the crown vent. This opening appears to serve as an enhanced air intake for improved ventilation. Nevertheless, the presence of such a significant void on the protective layer may raise concerns.
My small Titan Carbon Nero weighs 3.85lbs (1.6kg) which is on the heavier side even for a non-carbon fiber helmet. It feels a little front-heavy but not enough to give me any pressure point or neck strain on a long ride.
Titan Carbon Nero is DOT and ECE 22.05 certified.
Interior & Construction
The Interior fabric is breathable and hypoallergenic. It is soft and comfortable on the face. The foam underneath is in different densities to ensure comfort while wearing the helmet. Adequate padding makes the helmet fit snugly but doesn’t feel like it’s pulling the skin off of my face when doffing.
The cheek pads are secured with two plastic snaps and velcro on the EPS layer. The thick bottom of the cheek pads works as a side neck roll. The shark-fin shaped flap on top covers the recess for the speaker for the comm system and sits beneath the headliner. It has a small pocket where you put your fingers for emergency cheek pad removal which is a great feature to have for any helmet. I am very happy to see this feature on budget-friendly helmets like Titan Carbon Nero.
The headliner is attached to the EPS layer with a plastic bandela which snaps in on the front and two plastic snaps on the back. It has a mesh fabric flap for better ventilation. The foam is relatively thin so once the helmet is worn in, it may become a bit too loose.
Removable and Washable (With a caveat)
Titan Carbon Nero has a removable chin curtain/ wind protector. Both cheek pads and headliner are also removable and washable. However, it is very disappointing and annoying to discover that reinstalling the cheek pads to where they were before was practically impossible. I watched their instruction video which showed that you can just push the cheek pads back in place. But however I tried, the plastic wings of the cheek pads did not go back deep enough into the slit. I hope they come up with a better system for securing the liners.
Quick Release Strap
Titan Carbon Nero has a plastic quick-release strap instead of ordinary double-D rings. The system works well, but my only gripe about it is the strap covers are too thick and too wide. While I appreciate the padding of these straps, it feels too bulky around my neck and chin.
Titan Corbon Nero has a Pinlock-ready clear visor with scratch-resistant coating and an internal sun visor which is operated with the slide on the left side of the helmet.
It is great that the Pinlock insert is included. However, the placement of the insert is problematic. The top edge of the insert sits about ¾ inch (2cm) below the edge of the eyeport. If you are riding upright and looking straight, it is not an issue. But if you bend over slightly and try to look up ahead, the edge of the insert falls right in front of your sight and obscures the view. The helmet is designed to be a sport touring helmet. But it does not accommodate the sport riding position.
Visor Removal / Installation
According to the SMK’s instruction video, changing the visor on Titan Carbon Nero looks like a breeze. But in reality, it is not that simple.
To remove the visor, lift the shield fully open and push up the visor opening lever. The visor should come off from the slots. But this is not an easy task. You have to wiggle and yank the visor to get it out of the slots. I was worried that the small tubs on the visor may break off. It will take some practice for sure.
The process of installing the visor is the reverse of the removal process. First, pull up the opening lever, align the visor on the slots, and snap it back in. It is as difficult as removing the visor.
I rate this system 1 out of 5.
Visor Mechanism and the Latch
The visor has several fixed positions. It snaps closed with the visor button on the front. I like the button’s positioning because I can open the visor with either hand. The button is large enough to operate easily with gloved fingers.
I didn’t encounter rain during the few weeks I tested the helmet, which is normal for Southern California weather. To test the helmet’s waterproof capability, the shower test was conducted.
The rubber seal is water-tight, and the lack of vents on the visor definitely helped to keep the water out. Well done!
Titan Carbon Nero features a large center crown vent, a chin vent, and four exhaust vents on the back of the helmet. Air intake vents have open or closed positions only, and four exhaust vents stay open. The operation of the vents is simple. You move the whole vent cover, so it is easy to operate with gloved fingers. I prefer this to ubiquitous small sliders which I often fail to find with gloved fingers.
While the ventilation feels adequate and the moisture-wicking fabric on liners keeps you comfortable on a warm day, the airflow is not very noticeable. In a warmer climate region, I think more airflow would be appreciated.
According to SMK, Titan Carbon Nero is tested in a wind tunnel to be aerodynamic. I was a little skeptical at first, but my doubts were quickly dispelled. The drag and lift are minimal even at freeway speed. It is pretty impressive.
Their aerodynamic testing in the wind tunnel did a great job on the drag and lift. However, this is not the case for addressing the wind noise. Certainly, the noise level of the helmet is a subjective matter, and it doesn’t matter much for riders who regularly wear earplugs. Regardless, the wind noise of Titan Carbon Nero is not intolerable but definitely noticeable. When you ride faster than 45 mph and tilt your head down, you can hear the whistle noise from the top portion of the helmet. Opening or closing the crown vents doesn’t seem to affect the noise level much. The whistling noise may be attributed to the helmet’s vent design or the ridges on the parietal area of the helmet.
Titan Carbon is available in solid for $279.99 and with two accent colors for $289.99. I received one with red accents which matches my red VFR. During the testing, I received a lot of compliments for this aggressive-looking helmet.
Unlike meticulously handcrafted premium helmets like Arai or Shoei, the paint and finish of the Titan Carbon Nero are not at that level of flawlessness. You can find small imperfections or blemishes if you look very closely. However, I find it to be well within the bounds of acceptability at this price range.
SMK Titan Carbon Nero: The Final Verdict
I really liked the look of this budget-friendly carbon fiber helmet. I did receive many compliments while I was testing it.
However, I did not enjoy wearing this helmet for two reasons. First, the obscured view due to the positioning of the Pinlock insert is simply unacceptable for safe riding. Secondly, the constant whistling noise at the highway speed was more than annoying even with the earplugs.
SMK is a newcomer in the North American Market. Their products are very reasonably priced. However, unfortunately, I have to say “you get what you pay for” rings true here. Titan Carbon Nero has some desirable features, but there is surely room for improvement in terms of quality.