Forgive me, for I am about to gush...
I have owned an Arai Corsair RX-7 helmet for eight years. It has been a great helmet during that time -- perfect fit, excellent comfort, two visors (smoke and clear), and light weight. But as any helmet manufacturer will tell you, these things should be replaced every 5-7 years. Something about the protective foam breaking down over time, or profit margins or something. So in honor of my FJR, I decided it was time to replace the Arai.
I first looked at a new Arai. After getting over the shock of the increase in sticker to $800, I realized that it was not significantly different from my original. I also realized that I was very tired of changing shields over and over. It was a guarantee that whenever I wanted to ride, I had the wrong shield on. A flip-down sun visor would be awesome.
I was not looking for a modular (or flip-up) helmet at all. But it seems that with very few exceptions (like the HJC IS-16), getting the flip-down sun visor means getting a modular helmet. In reading all the reviews (special shout out goes to WebBikeWorld for their excellent helmet reviews), I realized that one helmet stood out above the rest: the Shuberth C3. The main downside: it isn't available in the United States.
I deliberated a ton on this one. Buying a helmet without being able to try it on is a Bad Idea. What if it doesn't fit? I don't want to have to return the thing across the pond. Argh. In the end, I decided to have my wife very carefully measure my skull and take my chances. A twice-checked measurement yielded a skullsize of 58.25cm. Schuberth's Large is for 58-59cm heads. I chose silver for high visibility and pressed the order button from Bikers Direct UK.
To my astonishment, the helmet -- ordered Thursday -- arrived on Monday! Score one for Biker's Direct. I pulled it carefully out of the cloth bag, and gingerly tried to put it on my head. And tried again. My eight-year-old helpfully suggests that maybe it would be a good helmet for her. Then I realized: it is a modular helmet. Lift the chin! And the helmet fit perfectly. Absolutely perfectly.
I had to ride in this morning on my naked 850. Slipping the C3 on, I sped off to work. My first impression was the panoramic view; it was like a theater buff experiencing IMAX for the first time. Huge visibility and crystal clear distortion-free visor. I flipped the switch on the left side to lower the sun visor, and did a virtual dance of happiness. Light and glare were instantly cut to manageable levels. All with the flick of a switch. The C3 also includes a Pinlock anti-fog insert. The entire ride I kept my face shield closed, and had zero fogging.
The second thing that I noticed as I eased up to 60MPH on the freeway was that I literally felt that I was already wearing earplugs. The helmet was so quiet it was actually eerie. I found myself in a state of calm as I negotiated the morning's traffic. I cannot overstate how quiet this helmet is.
So that's my tale. I hope it was helpful. And sure, the C3 is not endowed with the mystical DOT seal of approval, but I am willing to bet that the Europeans value their lives as much as us Americans.