The two faces of Mr. Evoline…
The problem with most 2-in-one products is that compromise undermines quality. You know, like those old all-in-one music systems; many features and flashing lights they may have had, but actual sound quality was nearly always better with ‘separates’. The same has usually been the case for motorcycle helmets. There have been good open face and good full-face ones, but attempts to create a combo – usually known as a ‘flip-front’ in Europe or a ‘modular’ in the US – have been beset with technical drawbacks that not all manufacturers have solved. In 2009, Shark’s Evoline was the first really radical attempt to overcome the challenge – the aim being to make a helmet approved for use either open or closed, that actually worked well in either mode. We take a look at the latest iteration – their Evoline 3 – to assess performance in use for ourselves and see what’s new.
Anyone making a flip-front helmet has to overcome some basic technical problems. A flip mechanism adds weight and usually leads to a wider cross-section which generates turbulence. This can make the helmet heavy and noisy on a long trip. A mechanism that actually clears the oval shell of a typical helmet has also been a stumbling block; use a conventional hinge and the bar will only rotate so far before it sticks. Obvious, really.
On the Schuberth C3, for instance, the chin-bar, using a conventional mounting, fails to completely clear the helmet top, a configuration that makes the bar stop in the 11 or 1 o’clock position (depending on which side you are viewing it from), a fact that prevents it being approved for actual riding in the ‘open face’ position. People who have tried riding like this report the helmet being almost yanked off their heads at over 30 mph. It doesn’t look cool either, and the ‘open’ setting is pretty much only of use in a filling station, when it may (if you’re lucky) mean you don’t get asked to remove your headgear.
Shark’s solution to these problems was as simple as it is brilliant; use an elliptical hinge that allows the chin-bar to rotate all the way to the back of the helmet and a moulded lip that keeps it securely fixed. That way the helmet can be approved for either configuration and the user gets a choice of two genuine modes; effective full-face protection or a real open front look and feel. The design proved to be a winner, with massive global sales. Several years on, we take a look at the latest model, giving it a 1000 mile test during a tour in Ireland.
The Evoline 3 works, like its predecessor, via a central catch on the chin that enables the rider to flip the chin bar up and out of the way. The bar rotates up and back until finding a lodging right at the back on the lid. In this open configuration it feels just like any other purpose made open helmet. Closing the lid up just involves pulling down the chin bar and then pushing back towards the rider’s face until a click is heard. Easy-peasy.
The helmet has a Lexan polycarb shell, a washable liner and a built in UV380 sun-shield that can be deployed or retracted with a helmet-top slider. There are helmet top and chin vents and fastening is by ratchet buckle. The clear outer visor is adjustable one-handed to a variety of open positions
A range of colour schemes are available – this one is the Moovit… There’s even one that glows in the dark, the Moovit Lumi.
The biggest news is that weight of the third gen Evoline is a significant 200g (half a pound) lighter than its predecessor with no loss of structural strength (it has DOT and ECE approval and is rated 5 star by SHARP) thanks to a new moulding process. This is bound to make the lid more comfortable on long trips. Perhaps comfort was also on the minds of the designers when they opted for new softer microfiber lining, something you really notice on the part that runs over the forehead. The lining is washable too – use the delicates or cold cycle and place inside a washing net. Internal venting is improved for a cooler noggin.
Noise and buffeting levels have also been cut thanks to a more streamlined shape. Internally the form has also changed – it’s more oval and less round than the predecessor which is apparently a more natural and ergonomic design. This should mean a better fit unless your head is shaped like a bowling ball instead of like a normal human being.
Flipping the helmet open is faster on the new model. Previously it was necessary to have the visor up before opening, but now an ‘auto-up’ device brings the visor up with the chin-bar automatically. What was easy, say Shark, just got easier.
The Evoline 3 has removable cut-outs for the Shark Tooth intercom system and there are also removable pads on the cheek pieces to open up channels for the side arms of glasses if you wear these. Now that’s what we call attention to detail.
Sizing and Fit
The older model used to be about a size over reality – that is if you took an XL with most lids, you’d probably take an L with the Shark. The Evoline 3 is a bit tighter, but still runs a tad, perhaps half a size, over the market average.
Fit from new is of course meant to be a little tight, particularly on the cheeks, where the cheek pads make soft contact. But it soon settles down as you wear it.
Build quality is truly superb. The hinges look robust and the internal components fit precisely together – tolerances have been tightened up over the early models. The visor has one of the best quick-change mechanisms we’ve ever used and the paint job is done to last.
Real world test
Dave wore the tasty black and white ‘Hakka’ version pictured above for a 1000 mile plus tour of South West Ireland. Spectacular scenery and numerous watering holes (ahem) made for many stops, and temperatures varied from 5 to 20 or so degrees C (roughly 40 – 65F) so there was plenty of opportunity to test the opening mechanism and to ride with it both fully closed and fully open.
We’re happy to report that the opening and closing of the chin-bar worked faultlessly, although it requires a brutal-feeling level of effort to open it with the visor down, despite the new ‘easy open’ fitting. But this is a small, rather petty criticism, and will not be experienced if you habitually ride with the visor slightly open. Safe to say that in everyday use its easy to open and close single handed using the central catch on the chin, and the mechanism is robust.
The removable padding to allow easier access for glasses was a great innovation. However, not one to read the instructions, Dave’s first wearing was with the chin-bar closed on a high speed run with the padding pieces still in place. The wind pressure moved the helmet back, padding gripping the arms of the glasses, and forcing the metal spectacle frame against his face. It seemed like a serious problem, but removing the pads took a couple of minutes and fixed the problem completely. Just like it was meant to do, Dave.
In wet weather ventilation is good, with both helmet and chin bar vents open and the visor open a tiny crack (one on the settings is ultra-low – almost closed which is perfect) there were no problems with misting except marginally on the last run back to the ferry when the air temp dropped below 5 degrees C (40F) . Neither did we get any water running down the inside of the visor, which was an issue with the Schuberth C3 even in a motorway white-out with spray like a solid wall. Buffeting also seemed less than on the German bone-dome.
Riding with the chin-bar closed, noise levels were more than acceptable – lower than on some full face helmets we’d say. It was also a joy to be able to open the thing up when temperatures rose. The field of view with the chin-bar down is excellent – very wide, but there’s nothing like an open face to improve peripheral vision and that’s just what opening this lid up does – from true full face to true open face in a couple of seconds.
Dave experienced no buffeting issues with the helmet open or closed, even at extreme velocities. When open, the clear visor comes a long way down, so there’s plenty of protection from bugs when open-faced. If you fancy a Judge Dredd look, then keep the clear visor up and flip down the tinted one. Cooler than a Polar bear on a glacier mint.
This has to be one of the best lids we’ve ever tried, not least because it exactly nails the objectives the designers set themselves. In full face mode you get protection and comfort with a good field of view, in open face you get even better vision and hot weather capability without turbulence.
Quality (a problem on the first gen models) seems great, noise levels are fine and misting when fully closed up is not a real problem. It’s easy to use and the mechanism is reliable. Changing visors is dead simple.
If you can afford only one lid, or if you have a range of bikes (say a cruiser and a sportsbike) then buy one of these. At around £300 (ish) it’s not the cheapest on the market, but it certainly is one of the best.