Is the C4 the best motorcycle helmet?
The C4 flip-lid was released in early 2017. Some people had expected it to be an upgrade on the C3 Pro, and that it would, over time, replace it. Actually, that was never really Schuberth’s intention. In fact, the C4 was not designed to compete with the C3, but rather to compliment it.
When Schuberth first announced the C4, they made it clear that the motorcycle helmet was aimed at sports bike riders, and it wasn’t a totally daft idea. But on a sports bike your requirements are a little different.
Leaning forward with your weight more on the bars means two things. It means you are naturally looking downwards. So to see a mile down the road, as any advanced rider would want to, you have to lift your head. The other issue is that, in this forward position, it’s much harder to look over your shoulder; to put in a life-saver, for example.
And that’s why Schuberth gave the C4 both a taller and a wider, visor aperture. Now, most people would consider that to be a good thing, but a larger visor increases the possibility of fogging. It also potentially adds a degree of noise because the visor is not the quietest area of a helmet.
The C3 Pro, of course, has been around for a while. It was first released in 2014, and was an upgrade on the basic C3. It is a fantastic helmet; for many, many years it was untouchable. It has a slightly round, internal head shape, but it fits many people very well. It’s solidly built, and was officially the quietest helmet on the market. If you were a high-mileage commuter or someone who did long days in the saddle, it was the helmet to have. It was, of course, also a staple of many, if not most, Police forces.
By the time the C4 actually hit the shops, Schuberth had slightly revised its story about the C4. Realising the market potential, they backed off on messages about the C4’s sportier ptetentions, thus putting both their helmets in competition with one another. The problem for Schuberth was that the C3 Pro was a better helmet, that benefited from years of development.
By contrast, the new C4 was initially beset with a number of gremlins. The larger visor area meant that the cheaper, anti-fog insert that Schuberth
Which is why, earlier this year, Schuberth upgraded the C4 with a version that is now called the C4 Pro. All of the issues that befell the first generation C4 have now been addressed and so, for the first time, we now think it’s valid to draw a direct comparison between the two helmets.
Of course, whilst all the issues with the old C4 have been addressed, it is too early to state categorically that the problems have been resolved. But we think they have been. We've been living with the C4 Pro for three or four months now. We’ve sold quite a few, and we've had very, very few issues.
The new C4 Pro, perhaps on account of the rider it was initially intended for, is a better-looking, smoother, less cluttered helmet. When you're wearing the C4 Pro, it really doesn’t look like a flip-lid at all, and for some that’s still important.
Now usually, a smoother outer shell makes for a quieter helmet, but that didn’t happen with the original C4. Partly, as we have suggested, that was down to an extra large visor, but Schuberth has admitted that the C4 came to market before it was properly tested.
Schuberth has its own in-house wind tunnel, but the C4 didn’t spend much time in it. Had they done more work, they would have realised that more sound deadening was required. And that’s exactly what the C4 Pro has got.
Testing showed that many areas were generating unnecessary noise, and even the mechanism that operates the sun visor has received attention. Importantly, though, the helmet has received a much more sumptuous, more comfortable, and more noise-absorbing, internal liner. As a result, Schuberth tells us that the C4 Pro is now just as quiet as the C3 Pro.
We’ve mentioned the misting or condensation issue on the C4, and for many this was the helmet’s Achilles heel. If you commute daily, it’s important to be able to enjoy a clear view in all conditions. The problem was Schuberth’s decision to fit a cheap, anti-fog insert.
The C4 Pro, by contrast, comes with a top-of-the-range 120 Pinlock. Large as the external visor is, the better Pinlock has solved the problem.
It is also perhaps ironic to note that one of the C4’s most innovative features also became one of its weaknesses. The C4, like the M1 before it, came pre-installed with earphones and a recessed microphone. It’s a brilliantly clever system. When you bought the helmet, you simply purchased two cartridges that you slid into compartments on the underside of the neck roll. One was the battery, and the other was the control unit.
But the wiring was not as robust as it should have been, and a number of users experienced intermittent transmission issues. The positioning of the microphone in the forehead of the helmet was also not a brilliant idea. But with the new C4 Pro, the circuitry has been upgraded, and the microphone has been moved to a much more logical position, just inside the left cheek pad.
The question is, given where we are today with these two helmets, what do we think, and is one helmet better than the other? And I think the answer is going to come down to whether you're prepared to let your head be led by your heart, or whether you make decisions based solely on rational criteria.
The C3 Pro is the sensible choice. It’s proven and it works. It won’t let you down. It’s comfortable enough, and it’s as quiet as anything out there. It now takes a Sena comms. package which fits neatly into the helmet, with only the tiniest, plastic, postage stamp-sized microphone protruding from the cheek pad. There is only one upgrade we would suggest, and that would be to swap out the cheap anti-fog insert for a 120 Pinlock. Clearly, Schuberth still hasn’t quite got the message!
The C4 Pro is now a very, very good helmet; the helmet the original C4 should always have been. We are 95% confident that Schuberth has rectified all the C4's faults. Meaning that you are left with a very pretty, quite sporty-looking, very smooth helmet that, to all intents and purposes, looks like a full-face. It has excellent visibility, won’t fog up, is as quiet as the best, and it has a wonderfully trick comms. facility.
Personally, I’ve always loved the C3 Pro. I've worn one for years. It fits me, and I’m comfortable with it. I rate the comms. very highly. But despite this, when it comes to a change of scenery, I think I will give the C4 Pro a go. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. Fingers crossed!
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