How Shark Changed Motorcycle Helmets Forever
Racing protection and European design combine to make a unique and practical helmet.
You may remember a time when helmets were…helmets. Full-face, modular, three-quarter…they did the job but were kind of bland, monochromatic and didn’t have a lot of features we take for granted today. Features like dropdown inner sun visors, carbon-fiber shells or modular lids designed to be worn as either a full- or open-face. And then came Shark.
What Shark did – for the lucky few U.S. riders who could get their hands on one – was bring class-leading European design, fit and function to the marketplace at an affordable price. “We like to think of ourselves as outsiders, always thinking outside of the box,” says Shark. “Pushing the boundaries of the motorcycle helmet industry by offering unique designs and concept helmets which ensures only the highest level of performance and safety.”
Founded by a pair of ex-motorcycle-racing brothers in 1988, Shark earned world attention in 1991 with the XRC Carbon, the first mass-market carbon-fiber lid. That same helmet was recognized in 1995 by Motorrad magazine – not a publication known for being a pushover – as being the lightest and safest helmet around. Racers who relied on Shark to protect their speedy heads include Carl Fogerty, Troy Corser and Jorge Lornezo and others. Shark has racked up nearly 70 World championship titles in many organizations including MotoGP, World Endurance and World Superbike.
Shark still makes top-of-the-line carbon-fiber racing helmets, but the street models are big sellers. The Evo One 2 model is a great example of how Shark still leads the way in modular helmet design. It’s designed to be light, easy to use and perfectly balanced – whether the chinbar is locked in the front position, making the Evo One 2 a full-face lid, or flipped around to create an open-face design. It’s also one of the highest-rated modular helmets in the European-market SHARPS tests, and, of course, has that distinct Shark style.
That European style gets mean-looking with the DRAK range. This 3/4 helmet comes in a variety of colors and styles, with a slim, aerodynamic profile and detachable anti-fog goggles and facemask. The X-DRAK with sun visor looks great for urban Supermoto riders and the carbon-fiber S-DRAK Dagon, resplendent in retro-flame graphics and soft suede interior, is just the thing for high-end vintage and custom riders.
Shark isn’t just about style: it’s about engineering as well. Shark focuses on the end user in its product-creation process. Applying reverse-engineering principles, the company starts with the rider’s body shape, resulting in a “design for a function,” according to Shark: “Each line, each curve, each function serves a purpose,” according to the company.
That’s not just a motto: Shark takes product development very seriously. The process is aided by powerful software applications, identical to those used in automotive and aerospace engineering. “We rely heavily on CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamic) studies in order to optimize the aerodynamic profile of our helmets and their penetration in air,” Shark tells us, “in addition to reducing the ‘buffeting effect’, acoustic nuisances and the aerodynamic drag coefficient (CX).” Next, the ideas become solid, thanks to a next-generation 3-D printer at the Shark R&D facility. That’s why hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists in 77 countries have become loyal Shark fans over the last 30 years.
Shark helmets weren’t as widely available in the United States once upon a time, but that’s changed. Shark Helmets North America, LLC – Shark’s company-owned USA distributor – is now in business in Chicago, Illinois, offering full product support for U.S. riders. Check out the site today to find a dealer near you so you can get your hands on a Shark helmet today.