By Guido Ebert
Founded as a box maker in Braunschweig in 1922, Schuberth began manufacturing military helmet interiors in the 1930s and motorcycle helmets in 1954. It was a family-run business up until 2006, when a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based equity firm snapped it up. Germany’s Perusa GmbH purchased majority share in 2013.
Although a long-time staple of the Braunschweig business community, Schuberth has manufactured helmets a half-hour east, in Magdeburg, Germany, since 2004, when government incentives linked to German reunification reinvestment lured the company to build in the city formerly a part of the communist Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). The firm operated from both Braunschweig and Magdeburg until July 2009, when all business aside from a wind tunnel and ballistics range was transferred to Magdeburg.
HEAD PROTECTION TECHNOLOGY
Schuberth markets itself as a leader in “head protection technology.”
During my visit, CEO Marcell Lejeune defended the statement as more than a simple marketing slogan. Lejeune said it ultimately stands for how the company’s departments exchange technologies to protect the human head – for example, in sharing the latest developments in fire helmet fireproofing for the production of F1 helmets or using venting knowledge secured in F1 helmet design for the development of motorcycle lids.
“We’re the only motorcycle helmet manufacturer, the only company devoted to ‘head protection technology’, operating in such a wide range of industries,” Lejeune said. “We want to be more than a company selling a helmet. We want to be proactive in developing safety measures.”
Back here in the U.S., Schuberth North America currently offers the S2, SR1, C3, C3W for women, C3 Pro and C3 Pro Women, and Bluetooth-enabled Schuberth Rider Communication (SRC) system.
I have been rolling around with the full-face S2 ($599-$699). Before the S2, I spent a few years inside the C3 – a lid that, for its fit and amenities, quickly took a top-three spot among my seven-helmet collection.
The S2 is specially designed for a sport touring riding position and, thanks to its shell shape and full circumference rim spoiler, proves to be directionally stable with practically no upward lift, oscillating or buffeting. Remember that wind tunnel? Schuberth used it to come up with a comprehensive acoustics package that optimized the shell, wind deflector and ergonomic shape of the neck padding to make the S2 achieve 85 dBA at 60mph – one of the quietest helmets available.
The helmet’s shell is manufactured using Schuberth’s proprietary compression molding process while the inner shell is made of multiple density EPS foam. Placed within is a hypo-allergenic, antibacterial liner made of washable COOLMAX and Thermocool materials, then covered in a special coating to promote moisture wicking.
The face shield is injection molded for optimal clarity, and features a Pinlock insert to eliminate fog and patented “turbulators” to break up air flow and eliminate noise; ventilation is aided by a chin vent, face shield vent, adjustable top vent, a variable pad system and channels in the EPS shell; and the chinstrap can be adjustment on both sides and proves easy to fasten and open, even with two fingers, via its ratchet lock.
“Head protection technology”? Even the silver-colored appliqués of reflective material on the neck collar of every Schuberth helmet help you get noticed.
The S2 also is prewired for Schuberth’s SRC system ($429) – designed in part by Cardo Systems – which features a Bluetooth-enabled communication & entertainment system that is compatible to TomTom, Garmin and BMW GPS units, as well as the Cardo Scala Rider system.
PROGRAMS THAT WORK
Schuberth North America offers a special Three-Year Service Plan on new lids on top of an existing five-year manufacturer’s warranty from date of purchase. At the time of helmet purchase the customer will receive a certificate that can be redeemed for a helmet inspection and adjustment within three years of the purchase date. If anything proves wrong with the lid, the customer can either have the certified Schuberth Service Dealer perform the desired service or have the helmet shipped directly to Schuberth North America.
Another offer likely to keep existing Schuberth customers loyal to the brand is the Schuberth Mobility Program, which allows a rider to replace their helmet with the same model for one-third of the retail price within one year of a crash. All the customer has to do is bring a Schuberth Service Dealer the damaged helmet, a copy of their driver’s license, a police report and their original sales receipt.
Schuberth’s new helmet development process takes two to three years. Looking into the future, expect to see a motorcycle helmet with impact sensors and a communications system that, like E-Call or OnStar, will be able to initiate an emergency call and supply GPS coordinates to first responders in case of a crash.
“We have 126 helmet brands sold in Germany today, but 100 are coming from the same place,” Lejeune said. “We, as with companies like Nolan, Arai and Shoei, still continue to think about development of technologies.”