We are far from the world’s largest seller of motorcycle apparel, but we are probably one of the noisiest. We care about the detail. We like gear to work. And so we spend more time than other retailers talking with the manufacturers in an attempt to help them improve their products.
For example, when it became apparent that the Schuberth C4 just wasn’t working, we were quite vocal on the matter. And so the man from Schuberth helmets came over from Germany to talk to us about the problems, and out of that visit arose a dialogue. It was clear that there would be a C5 in the future, and so we explained to them that one of Schuberth’s weaknesses was that retailers like us could not custom fit their helmets in the way that we were able to with pretty much all Shoeis and Arais.
It was, therefore, no surprise to us that, when the Schuberth C5 helmet was announced, changeable liners formed part of the new helmet’s spec.. The C5 has now been on the market for about six months but, until this point, the pads and interior parts have not been available. Well, the good news is that they are now here. Up to this juncture, it has, in truth, been difficult to take the C5 as seriously as we would have wanted because, to all intents and purposes, it has been just like any budget helmet. You put it on, and it either worked or it did not. Well, now we should be able to properly custom fit the helmet, and so we can do a far better job of trying to make it work on a far wider range of heads.
But Schuberth has put their own spin on how these liners should work. They probably wanted to do things their own way, rather than just copying Shoei or Arai, which is understandable. But the Schuberth way, in our view, is more than a little confusing. Changing the internals will only work on three key sizes. Taking them out and putting them in is way more time consuming than it is on an Arai helmet or a Shoei helmet. And Schuberth has bundled the liners in a way that is simply too complicated.
The first thing to recognise is that the liners can only be swapped over in three of the helmet sizes. That is Medium (57), Large (59) and Extra Large (61). And that’s a bit half-hearted because the helmet comes in six sizes. Now, it’s true that these three sizes account for the majority of sales, but I still think it suggests that Schuberth is not taking custom fitting as seriously as it could. Perhaps they are putting a toe in the water, before they roll the programme out. We’ll see.
The good news is that Schuberth has separate pads for the side of the head and the back of the neck. And that is potentially better than the situation with Shoei. With Shoei a thicker headliner is thicker at the sides, at the front and at the back. With Schuberth, you can in theory fit thicker padding at the sides of the head, but a thinner pad at the neck. And this is good. It gives us more scope for fine tuning.
But Schuberth has packaged their pads into sets. Now you can either get a set to make the internal shape of the helmet rounder or more oval. To achieve the former you buy a pack that has two thinner side pads but a thicker neck pad. To achieve the latter, you buy the set with thicker side pads and a thinner neck pad.
This we understand, but knowing what shaped head one has is immensely difficult. And rarely is a helmet fit that simple. The world does not break down into three universal categories; that is to say Standard, Oval or Round heads. I look at a lot of people’s heads on a daily basis, and even I can never be totally confident about what their shape is, so how is the individual sat at home attempting to order over the internet ever going to be sure?
Plus, there will be times where the width is fine, but we just need to make the front to back length a little shorter or a little longer. And for that we will need just the single neck pad and not the pack of three pads bundled together by Schuberth.
This, as we see it, is the first problem with the Schuberth system. Which is why we are going to tear Schuberth’s packs apart and offer all the pieces individually. This will mean that, for any of the three sizes where we can fit new liners, we can separately offer a thicker or thinner neck pad, or thicker or thinner side pads.
Now, if you’re ever looking to do this on your own, what you need to know is that Medium and Large helmets share a set of liners. Extra Large helmets take a different set of liners. No two ways about it, this can get complicated; so let us explain the situation as simply as we can.
Below, we have three charts. Each depicts one of the three sizes where head liners can be changed. The charts show what the standard liners are, and what the thicker or thinner options are.
Medium sized C5s (57) are fitted with 15 mm side pads and a 15 mm neck pad as standard. To make the helmet roomier, one can fit 7 mm or 10 mm pads, both on the sides and at the back. To make the helmet smaller, one can fit 17 mm pads on the back and sides. Obviously you can choose to fit pads only in the sides or only at the back to improve the fit.
With Large C5s (59), the side pads and the neck pad are 10 mm. To make the inside of the helmet more spacious, you can fit 7 mm pads. If you want to make the helmet smaller internally you can fit either 15 mm or 17 mm pads; again either on the sides or in the neck.
Which leaves Extra Large (61). All Extra Large helmets are fitted with 15 mm side pads and 15 mm neck pads. If you want to make the helmet less restrictive, you can fit 12 mm pads on the sides or in the neck. If you want to make the fit tighter, you have the option to fit 17 mm pads; once more either on the sides or in the neck. But just bear in mind, as we have already mentioned, if you want to play with the internals on an Extra Large helmet, you cannot use the pads that fit into the Medium or Large helmets. Extra Large has its own dedicated set of liners.
The good news is that the situation with the cheekpads is much more straightforward. There are thicker cheekpads and thinner cheekpads that will fit into all six sizes of the C5. Some helmets come with a 15mm as standard, some with 20mm, but with any size of helmet you can go up or down.
Couldn’t be any simpler, although because of the AROS strap system changing the cheekpads still takes a few minutes.
With Shoei, dealers like us work with the importer on an exchange programme. We buy the aftermarket linings, but when we return the standard ones we are refunded. In other words, we don’t actually pay anything for the liners. And so neither do customers.
But that’s not how it will work with Schuberth. There is no exchange programme. But we have decided that, if you come to the shop, we will not charge for any of the liners. It seems wrong to us that you should pay £500 plus for a helmet, and then be expected to pay more to get it to fit properly. By the same token, we really cannot accept sending customers away in a helmet that we know doesn’t fit well. In other words, if you come to the shop, we will fit the helmet to make it as good as it can be. And there won’t be any charge.
Out of interest, a set of cheekpads would normally cost £61, a set of two side pads would cost £18; a neck pad would also cost £18.
So, the bottom line is this. If you want a C5, or rather if you want a C5 to fit properly, you should come and see us. Helmet fitting is something we are pretty good at. If you do come to see us, we will perform a number of tests when you’ve got the helmet on to see if it works. If it’s basically okay but needs adjusting we will deploy the different internals to get the fit just right.
If we jointly feel that the C5 is not going to work for you, we may well get you to try the Shoei Neotec 3 helmet as an alternative. But if your head is too round for either, then a C3 Pro may be the best solution. We are big on flip-lids here. Rarely do we find that, with these three options, we can’t get a good fit. But it’s probably true to say that no other shop in the UK will be carrying all the internals for the C5 and the Neotec, so we are probably in a better position than anybody else to get a good fit on a premium flip lid.
And don’t forget that if you do go for the C5, we are going to be the only retailer prepared to swallow up to £100 on the internals, which is the cost for a full set of liners if that is what is required.
We are still, in truth, getting to know the C5. That it is better than the C4 is, thankfully, beyond doubt. We have sold quite a few. We have had a few niggles with individual helmets, which is what one might expect. But we have not noticed any trends. We have had a few nose vents fall off, but that really is the extent of it. And even here the problem seems to be more ‘user error’ than manufacturing fault.
We have had some people who have found the Shoei more comfortable then the C5, but that was when we couldn’t offer any custom fitting on the C5, so that may now change.
Some people have found the the C5 to be quieter than the Neotec; but probably a similar number have found the converse to be the case. The Sena SC2 mesh comms.. with high definition speakers was initially a selling point for the C5, but now Shoei can offer the same for the Neotec.
The unavoidable truth is that Schuberth studied the Neotec before they started work on the C5, and this is what one might expect. The result is that there’s very little clear blue water between these two helmets. Ultimately, the choice may come down, perhaps, to brand preference; but more likely it will come down to fit. Until now, that has very much acted in favour of the Shoei, but now that we can custom fit the Schuberth, it’s going to be a much harder result to call.
What isn’t going to be so hard to call is that you stand a much better chance of getting a C5 to fit properly if you come and see us in Guildford. Actually, ditto the Neotec.
For more information and to buy online, click Schuberth C5 helmet liners..
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