Review: Shark Race-R Pro Carbon (£519.99)

Shark’s range-topping helmet has everything you'd expect from a premium lid, but was initially difficult to get along with

SHARK'S Race-R Pro Carbon is the French firm’s top-of-the-range helmet, which boasts a five star rating from SHARP. It’s got a double D-ring strap, lots of effective venting, an anti-scratch visor and a carbon-aramid shell that gives it a claimed weight of 1250g.

When the Race-R Pro Carbon came out a couple of years ago, I thought it looked great, and told myself that I'd try one. Well here it is, in the colours of the French flag, no less. Mange tout!

The exterior is well finished with a crisp, bright paint job that lends itself well to the shape of the helmet. It’s got an aggressive shape and profile, with a rear spoiler that Shark claims smooths airflow around the helmet. It looks like it’s been designed to go fast.

With the Race-R Pro Carbon slipped on to my precious head, it felt good… initially. During the first three weeks’ use, after wearing it for approximately 40 – 50 minutes, I’d end up with a headache and red marks at the top of my (modestly sized) forehead. I’m sure it’s because the internal shape is best suited to round heads and not my slightly oval bonce. The plump padding makes me think this too – for my head shape it feels like it needs more material at the sides to relieve the pressure at the front. 

I persevered with wearing it though and after a month, the removable lining had conformed more to the shape of my head and the problem resolved itself. Now with my noggin ensconced, the lining cossets my head with a reassuringly snug and comfortable fit – the kind of fit I expected from the start.

I still have one small niggle; when I take it off, without fail it catches and rubs my left ear. If I end up putting on and taking off this lid several times a day, I end up getting a tender, red left lug, which is unpleasant.

The venting is superb. The mouth vent lets loads of air through and has a filter behind it, which traps particles of dirt. I like that the filter dissipates the air, so with the vent open it doesn’t feel like someone is blowing onto my lips through a straw. My Arai Chaser V felt like this and it was irritating. The top and forehead vents also provide very effective cooling and airflow. The forehead vent in particular is great because it routes air in front of the face which helps keep the visor mist-free and your face cool.

Thanks to the simple and effective visor release mechanism, it’s a doddle to swap visors. I had one minor problem with the left side when I noticed that the black circular pin/post that the visor locates on to was loose and needed to be tightened up with an allen key. That was a month ago and it’s been fine since. Put the visor down and the Race-R Pro Carbon seals up beautifully - becoming much quieter (I wear ear plugs usually and don't find it too noisy) and free from draughts.

Other details include a wind curtain and a magnet to hold the strap in place. The wind curtain is very good but I’d rather have a popper to keep the end of the strap out of the way. With the strap done up, the U-shape formed by the excess can occasionally catch on the top of my jacket, resulting in the magnetic end of the strap getting pulled free and flapping around.

The Race-R Pro Carbon is a top quality helmet and having used it for a while, I really like it. If you have a suitable head shape, you’re sure to get on with it. If not, you might go through an uncomfortable few weeks. Good things come to those who wait.

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