Date reviewed: January 2023| Tested by: Steve Lamb | Price: £299.99 | www.nevis.uk.com
I've been using the Shark Spartan RS for around 6 months and have ridden for over a thousand miles on my own Honda NC750X DCT and Ducati Scrambler Classic as well as test bikes including KTMs 390 Adventure. In this time, I've been able to wear the helmet in all weather conditions from frosty mornings and torrential downpours to sweltering hot (for the UK, anyway) days. So how did it perform?
The Intercom/Camera mount on the left hand side is not supplied with the helmet and is part of my own Sena 10C pro system
The Shark Spartan RS uses what Shark call 'a multi-axial composite shell', or in simpler terms a shell made up of fibres or varying diameter, which run in all directions. This gives a lightweight shell, while still providing consistent strength across the helmet. It's not quite the targeted construction used by Arai on their top of the range RX-7V, but still provides a very strong shell, as proven by this helmet's new ECE 22.06 safety standard rating. You can find out more about the new ECE 22.06 rated in our video review of the Shoei NXR2 helmet, which was the first on the market to meet the new standard.
As the Spartan RS is aimed at the sportier end of the sports-touring market, the shell profile is kept as smooth as possible with only the rear spoiler extending into the airflow to keep the helmet stable at higher speeds.
When it comes to colour schemes, while I chose a more subdued silver and Hi-Viz yellow matte colour combo, the Spartan RS is available in a range of colours, graphics and surface finishes to suit every taste (including a tasty Zarco replica). Prices vary according to the finish, from £299.99 RRP for the matte finish plain colours, through £329.99 RRP for the gloss graphic designs up to £349.99 for the Zarco replica.
As the Spartan RS is aimed at the more sportsbike orientated rider, I was surprised to see that my size Large weighed in at 1,695g, which sounds a lot when compared to Shoei's 22.06 compliant NXR2 at 1,392g and similar to the Arai Quantic at 1,588g, but in use, the Shark hides its weight well and that extra weight isn't even noticeable.
Schuberth's C5 modular helmet (also ECE22.06 certified) matches the Shark at 1695g, despite its extra chin bar hinging mechanism, so it's certainly not the lightweight, racing spec helmet weight that you might expect.
Ventilation is provided via two front facing vents - one in the chin bar which is intended to direct fresh air up into the inside of the visor, and one on the forehead which allows cool air to pass across the top of the helmet cooling your head in the process.
In the back of the helmet, integrated into the rear spoiler, exhaust vents allow the warm air to exit the helmet.
All vents are easy to find and use, even with winter gloves on and provide a good level of ventilation while the mesh coverings prevent any bugs or flies finding their way into the helmet.
While the vents are easy to use, I found that the level of ventilation provided was a bit disappointing. The top forehead vent works very well with a noticeable blast of air across your scalp when open, but the chin vents struggle to keep the visor free of fogging even in mild conditions.
While I understand that the helmet is aimed at sportsbike riders (and as such your head positioning may provide a more direct airflow to the vents, which are aimed more upwards than forwards) I was disappointed at the performance, especially at lower speeds.
As with most modern sports-touring orientated helmets, but one of the first in the new ECE 22.06 category, the Shark Spartan RS is fitted with both a clear main visor and a retractable smoked visor to reduce glare on sunny days.
The main visor (Part No VZ300) is shared with the Spartan GT and GT Carbon helmets, so if you have invested in a smoked/black visor for race days, these can be fitted to the RS.
The inner visor provides excellent visual clarity and, with its blueish tint, provides excellent contrast in less-than-ideal conditions. Putting the inner visor up and down is quick and smooth via a slider on the top of the helmet.
Once securely fastened, the main visor seals very well against the elements and I have been able to ride for multiple hours in the rain without any sign of a leak. The central release button works well, being accessible with either hand, but does take some getting used to as its so close to the ventilation opening button. Once you get used to it though, the action is quick and easy and allows multiple opening positions via the ratchetted movement,
The lack of ventilation means that the visor is prone to fogging but, as with all Shark helmets, the Spartan RS is supplied with a pinlock insert, which is quick and easy to install and soon becomes a must as the temperatures drop.
Replacing the visor couldn't be easier with small levers at either side which, once undone, allow the visor to pull out from the side pods. If you feel that the visor mechanism is loosening over time (my Spartan GT did loosen off with use, allowing the visor to slam closed at slow speeds), then a quick tweak of the lever securing screw is all that’s needed (you'll need a 1.5mm hex key though as its quite a small fastener).
The lining of the Spartan RS really sets the helmet apart in this price range, with a luxurious brushed finish on the cheek pads, which gives the helmet a real premium look and feel.
The main helmet lining comprises a soft perforated material which means that any sweat is quickly wicked away, keeping you feeling cool.
While the RS doesn't feature the excellent emergency-responder removal features of the Spartan GT, the lining is, as you would expect, easily removed and is fully washable.
The EPS (expanded polystyrene) inner liner has cut out around the ear positions meaning that intercom speakers can be easily fitted (I have fitted a Seno 10C Pro camera-intercom with no issues).
All interior lining materials carry 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 makes 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.
Fastening of the helmet is via a traditional double D ring, meaning that you can always get a snug and secure fit no matter what you are wearing around your neck. As you would expect, there's a press stud to secure the loose end of the strap and prevent it flailing in the wind. The D rings also provide some additional purchase when pulling on the helmet which, thanks to the snug fit and the neck skirt, can be a bit of a strain.
I had assumed that the fit of the Spartan RS would be the same as the Spartan GT Carbon that have been previously wearing, but this isn’t quite the case.
While the 'face' of the helmet feels similar, the back seems a tiny bit less roomy, meaning that I can 'feel' the back of the helmet more. It's far from uncomfortable, but worth bearing in mind if you were thinking of buying unseen.
Apart from this very minor niggle (and one which, with time, I soon forgot about – you would need to wear both helmets back-to-back to really notice it), the Spartan RS really impresses with its day-long comfort and combination of features.
With all helmets, sizing and fit is massively important, so we always thoroughly recommend you try on as many helmets as you can before buying.
While your riding position, height, speed, weather conditions and bike can all influence the noise you experience in any helmet, the smooth shape of the Spartan RS, coupled with the integral spoilers means that it's no noisier than equivalent helmets. There is a noticeable increase in volume with the top vent opened due to the additional airflow, but not to the point where the helmet is uncomfortable or unpleasant.
With earplugs in, I have been able to listen to music via my Sena 10C Pro quite comfortably, though the volume does need to be at max when on the motorway.
While I am guilty of doing the odd short hop in the Spartan without earplugs, we always recommend the use of earplugs when riding any distance.
For more information on why earplugs are vital with any helmet, and advice on which are the best, click here.
Yes, yes it does.
There are countless sport-touring orientated helmets in the market, many of which have achieved the higher ECE 22.06 certification standard, but not many match the Shark on price:
To use a well-worn journalistic cliché – the Spartan RS soon became my go-to helmet for work and leisure.
Even on full day rides (as proven by an eight-hour trip up to Knockhill for the Bennetts British Superbikes), the RS remains a supremely comfortable helmet. Despite a few niggles – the whistle when the visor is up, and the misting prone visor – the RS is a great performer and provides outstanding value for money.
I was impressed with Sharks Spartan GT when I tested that, but the RS delivers almost the same features while being just as comfortable and luxurious feeling at a considerably lower price point, and takes a lot of beating.