Date reviewed: May 2021 | Tested by: Stephen Lamb | Price: from 349.99 | www.nevis.uk.com
I've been wearing the Shark Spartan GT Carbon on a variety of bikes from the Triumph Rocket III to my own Ducati Scrambler and in that time have ridden through torrential rain, on track at Cadwell Park in 25°C sunshine, and pretty much everything in between.
Starting at £429.99 for the Spartan GT Carbon Skin model shown here, the GT Carbon tops out at £479.99 for decaled models, though surprisingly, considering the race inspired styling, no race replica designs are available in this model (you need to go up again to the Race R Pro for race rep helmets).
The Spartan GT also comes in a full glass-fibre range, starting at a more pocket friendly £369.99 in base colours and rising to £409.99 for decals.
I have to admit that I'm not usually a fan of carbon fibre accessories on bikes, probably because when they were introduced in the 90's most of them were clearly fake, looked awful and added more weight rather than saved any, but the Shark Spartan GT Carbon is the exception to this rule – it looks absolutely stunning with a deep lustrous shine and finely detailed carbon weave.
Under that thick lacquer the shell of the Spartan GT Carbon is constructed with a dual layer laminate of traditional glass fibre shell, but then coated with carbon fibre weave, providing a strong, yet light shell which is considerably less expensive than a 100% fibre lid such as the near-£1000 AGV pista.
The Spartan GT Carbon is available in two shell sizes and sizings from XS to XXL so finding a fit should be possible for even the most oddly shaped headed among us. It's worth noting that Shark helmets have always used much bigger shells than, for example, Arai or Shoei and the Spartan GT Carbon is no exception. At first glance the shell looks massive, even on the size large example shown here. The shape of the shell doesn’t help disguise the enlarged proportions either, with a more elongated oval shape rather than the more rounded shape of some more traditional lids.
While the super light carbon fibre may help with weight a little, being a composite mixture means that the Spartan GT comes in at 1555g – on a par with similarly speced lids from Shoei and Arai, but considerably (for a helmet) heavier than full carbon lids.
On the move, the weight is negligible, and I found that even after a full 14-hour day riding to, around, and back from Cadwell, the lid still felt incredibly comfortable.
The Spartan GT Carbon is, as you would expect that this price and tech point, well-endowed in the ventilation stakes, with twin vents in the chin bar, a large double vent on top and exhaust vents to the rear, allowing air to flow through the helmet and across your scalp.
All vents work at directing air flow into the helmet, they offer a mixed bag in terms of air flow vs preventing the ingress of flies, bugs and other flying detritus. The chin vents for example, port air in from the top of the vent meaning that there is little chance of anything entering. The top vents however act as a scoop, not only for direct airflow, but also collecting incoming particles and providing a direct route to the inside of the helmet.
None of this is a deal breaker and nearly all helmets I have worn have allowed entry to a bug or two in use - all the more reason to wear earplugs.
While on colder mornings, I found that the chin vents were not very effective at preventing visor misting making it necessary to ride at lower speeds with the visor slightly cracked open (or to install the supplied PinLock) after a full day of sunny riding, my head was kept fresh and surprising sweat-free considering the amount and close fit of the internal padding.
The Spartan GT Carbon provides two visors – the outer clear visor, complete with Pinlock posts for anti-misting inserts, and a retractable inner smoked sun-shield visor for improved visibility in sunny conditions.
The mechanism for the inner visor is located on top of the helmet and, as the action is not geared in anyway, this does mean you end up reaching over the crown, toward the back of the helmet to find the lever. Once found though, the action is light and swift. The sun visor gives good coverage although, on extremely bright days, some light does creep between the bottom of the visor and the top of the breath guard.
The main visor is secured by a central button which is recessed into the mouldings of the chin vent. Coming from helmets such as Aria and Shoei, where the main fastening is to the side, I did find this strange at first, but soon got used to it. I can certainly see the advantage in that the opening latch is well recessed and thus protected in the event of an impact, but when coupled with the fast to mist visor, it does make for some panicked openings at the lights.
Visor removal is quick and easy - twist the lever (one each side) to disengage a locking pin, then simply pull the visor from the mounting posts. Installation is just as easy, but make sure that the locking pins haven’t moved while the visor is off – they need to line up with the interlocking channel.
For those thinking of upgrading to the Spartan GT from either the Spartan, or from other Shark helmets, it's worth noting that while the inner sun visor is compatible with the Nano, Vantime, Evo1 and Spartan, the outer visor is unique to the Spartan GT, due to the central locking tab.
Both visors are very well made optically, with no discernible distortion, double vision or blurring when looking through both together.
The combination of larger than normal shell and deep lining is what takes this helmet above its price point for me, in fact it's one of the most luxurious, and all-surrounding, helmets I've worn.
A combination of deeply padded cheek pads and a full 360-degree neck skirt makes the Spartan GT Carbon feel like it's protecting every part of your head, chin and neck.
As you would expect, all interior pads, neck skirts and the skull cap are removeable for cleaning or replacement (different thickness cheek pads are also available, meaning you can fine tune the fit) and, while removal is incredibly quick and easy thanks to the provision of emergency pull cords and clear labelling in the order or removal, it may take some practice to get them all back in place snuggly.
It's certainly worth spending some time removing and refitting the pads though, not only so that you know how they work, but also as it gives you a great insight into what goes into a good helmet.
The interior lining material carries a Sanitized® certification - an antibacterial treatment that prevents the growth of odour causing bacteria, meaning that, no matter how long you leave it between washes, a funky-smelling helmet should be a thing of the past.
Finally, Shark make a point of the helmet offering Easy Fit for those of use wearing glasses. This effectively provides more space at eye level providing some extra room for the arms of your glasses and I found that it worked well, providing firm support for my glasses without them hovering over my nose or digging in.
The Spartan GT Carbon is fitted with a traditional double-d ring fastener on the strap with a popper to secure the loose end when done up. I personally prefer the security of double-d fasters and also found that the rings do give some additional purchase when putting the lid on which, due to the full neck skirt, is a snug fit at the best of times.
The fit of helmets is incredibly subjective so you should always try on as many helmets as necessary to get the right size and fit for you, but I found the Shark Spartan GT Carbon to be a great fit in a size Large. Don't be put off by how difficult the Spartan is to put on though, the plush padding and neck skirts make it a tight fit going on, but once seated, is just right.
Until recently, I had been wearing helmets in a medium, as I had since I started riding 24 years ago, but the least few helmets I have worn, I have gone up a size to a large, so its always worth trying on a size above your 'usual' size, in case something has changed.
While we would always recommend wearing ear plugs for all but the shortest of journeys, thanks to the sleek design of the Spartan GT, wind noise is kept to a minimum and I experienced no buffeting or wind deflection, even at motorway speeds on naked bikes. While Shark make a point of highlighting the 'shark skin' patterns on the visor mounting pods, I couldn't feel that this small area was having any discernible effect on noise, especially considering the locking levers for the visor protrude far beyond the profile of the side pods.
The all-encompassing chin skirt and neck roll make a huge difference the overall noise and feel of the helmet (especially when coming from a bare-bones helmet such as Shoei's Glamster) and give the helmet a real quality feel.
For more information on why earplugs are vital with any helmet, and advice on which are the best, click here.
This my first Shark helmet, having previously worn budget lids such as KYB as well as more 'luxury' brands such as Arai and Shoei, and I have to say, I am very impressed with the Spartan GT Carbon.
Aside from the angular looks, high gloss carbon finish, and cool blacked out design, all of which I love, the overall fit and finish of the Spartan GT Carbon feel exceptional.
The attention to detail in such areas as the emergency lining removal, antibacterial lining material, easy to replace visor and even little things such as including reflective stickers in the box for fitment should you ride in France (Shark, being a French company, clearly need to do this for the home market, but it's still a nice touch) make this feel a premium purchase, far more than the price would indicate.
If the £429 price point of the Carbon model here is over budget, the Spartan GT range provides all the same features and details with a 100% glass-fibre shell, starting at £369.