2,500 km with the Schuberth E1

Due to change of job I am in the happy position to be able to commute more often by motorcycle than has been the case for the last few years, so I finally decided to buy a new crash helmet to replace my 1998 vintage Nolan N81. I had been contemplating the Schuberth range and especially the C3 for some time, and this was top of the list until I learned that the new E1 would be an “adventure style” helmet based on the C3. The greater ventilation and option for a face shield were appealing to me as a commuter travelling quite long distances on country roads. It seemed to me that the E1 would be a bit more optimised for commuting in a sit up position, whereas the C3 is probably a bit more optimised for higher speed riding in a more sporting position. So I decided to make a pre-order for the forthcoming E1, and I received the helmet in April 2016. There were some issues with getting the right sizing but Pete at Just Helmets was very helpful and despite an apparent labelling error by the manufacturer we sorted it out in the end… To my surprise I needed the larger of the two available shell sizes, and so the new helmet is considerably bigger and heavier than my old Nolan N81. Apart from that it is superior in most respects, however I have noted quite a lot of small problems with it. If you are considering buying the E1, or have already got one maybe these observations will be of interest.

  • The paint on the graphic shell is not very durable
  • The face shield (I mean the peak on the top of the helmet) is not sensibly integrated with the rest of the helmet design
  • The ventilation is not as good as it looks
  • The ventilation controls are difficult to operate
  • Water and insects get inside too easily

I am happy with the helmet, but for the price I would have expected better attention to detail. Maybe Schuberth will sort some of these things out in future, but most of them are obvious and seem easy to fix so it makes me wonder. I want to focus on the shield design and ventilation which are major factors that differentiate this helmet from the C3 and helmets from other makers.

I find the shield useful because it blocks the sun to give clearer vision, and it also does protect against flying debris like stones I have noticed hitting it a few times. To gain these benefits on an F650 the shield really needs to be in the lowest position otherwise it is just a sail on the top of your head doing nothing useful. The higher positions might be useful on bikes with a less upright seating position. The vent on top of the helmet is very effective but it has several problems:

  1. Very stiff to operate
  2. Not marked which way to open/shut
  3. Obstructed by shield
  4. Easy for flies to get in

I think that all of the above problems should have been picked up in testing, so this is pretty disappointing really. Lets move on to the problems with the front vents:

  1. The sliding vent is stiff to operate
  2. The holes on the sliding vent are very small (~ 30 %) compared to the “grille” design feature, so it probably doesn’t admit more are than any typical helmet
  3. Due to stiffness of the sliding vent you need to grip the bottom of the helmet to slide it open. In fact the natural grip point is the release button that opens the helmet. This seems like a safety issue because if you attempt to adjust the vent at speed the helmet could fly open.
  4. Easy for flies and water to get in through both front vents

I’ve done over 1,500 miles with this helmet now but I noticed most of these problems after a few hundred and I don’t see how Schuberth could be unaware of them.

Due to these problems I decided to stop using the face shield most of the time, but will install it at times of year when I expect to be dazzled by the sun more often. It is quite difficult to switch out the visor/shield because the fasteners are difficult to grip. Whilst they might be low-profile for aerodynamic/acoustic reasons this is largely irrelevant on the E1 and in my opinion the fasteners should be made easier to grip or perhaps incorporate a slot to enable a coin or screwdriver to be used. I also installed filters in all of the air inlets, replacing the useless one provided in the front sliding vent. I used the filter provided with my hoover bags which are intended for protection of the vacuum cleaner motor. This was really essential because I had to stop many times to release insects that had entered the helmet, which is a problem I have very rarely encountered with the Nolan. I couldn’t understand why it was happening until I inspected the helmet, and now I am sure that insects have entered through both the top and front vents during riding with the visor shut. It’s also necessary to install a filter to keep water out, otherwise if you ride in the rain your face will get wet even with the visor shut! One reason good ventilation was an important feature for me is that I wear glasses and prefer to keep the visor shut all of the time to protect them from rain and water which cannot be cleared on the move.

After a while I removed the white DIY filter from the helmet because it reduced the airflow too much, but now bugs can get in again…