Shark Helmets has been producing their EXO 400 series for years now, and every few years they come out with a new version of this helmet to continue the tradition. The latest entry into this series is the R420, and to say that it’s a worthy successor would be an understatement.
If you’re looking for a helmet with all the bells and whistles, then this might not be the one for you. This no-frills, entry-level helmet might be light on features, but what it does have makes it a perfect helmet for the budget-conscious consumer still looking for safety, durability and comfort.
Outer shell material : Polycarbonate shell
Shell size : XS-XXXL
Liner : EPS shock absorbing liner
Weight : 3.75lbs (1.7Kg)
Pinlock : Ever Clear is their anti-fog coating
Strap System : Double-D ring fastener
DOT : Yes
ECE : No
SNELL : Yes
SHARP : No
Shape and materials
The R420 is made of a lightweight polycarbonate shell, which is pretty standard for helmets on the lower end of the luxury scale. It’s lightweight, yeah, but it’s not quite as light as some of the other materials out there. This helmet comes in at almost 4 pounds, which for some people is a bit on the heavier side of things.
Still, there are other helmets out there that are much heavier, so in reality the weight on this could be much worse. And the good news? Polycarbonate is extremely strong, which helps give this helmet such a high safety rating. So, what you’re missing out on one, you’re gaining on the other.
Like other helmets in the 400 series, the 420 is a bit on the ovular side, but not so much that it makes for an uncomfortable fit. If you’ve had a 400 series in the past then you might find it to be slightly different, but you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. Some users – especially on first buying the helmet – say that the cheek pads can be a bit tight, but they generally loosen up and break after a few rides, and after that there are very few problems with the fit.
In addition to the shell, the R420 comes with the patented KwikWick II moisture wicking liner on the inside, which is removable and washable, and does a very good job of keeping your face dry and comfortable.
Like we said before, this helmet is comfortable, although it might take a few rides to get it adjusted and broken in like you like it. It only comes in two shell sizes, which can be a bit of a hassle if your head is somewhere in the middle between large and small, but the adjustable interior can make up for a lot of these problems.
Things I liked
Things I don’t like
If features their HydraDry triple-layer liner we’ve so much grown to like specially for helmets on the least luxurious end of the spectrum, and double D ring strap system, americas’ favorite.
Another feature we really like is the cutout shape at the back of the helmet, which keeps it from tapping against the bulkier back protector from some jackets, allowing for a comfortable full-tuck position.
Let’s talk about comfort:
Props to ICON for a helmet that’s pretty neutral on terms of air dynamics, with no true push on any head position.
The faceshield we’ve so praised in terms of looks and quality of build, does come at a minor usability price and it’s that the tab to open it is on the middle of your chin, vs on the side as 99% other helmets, so it’s going to take you a minute to get used to it.
In terms of how well the lid sits on your head, we’re quite satisfied with the overall feel and fit, I’ve got an oval head and I had no weird pressure points straight out of the box, and the cheek pads fit very nicely too. All expectable stuff, but hey not every helmet delivers!
In terms of how easy is it to pimp and add stuff to it, the helmet does come with speaker pockets but the way the wall and the hard plastic piece from the check pads are built, it’s going to be hard to fit a clamp mount for an intercom without doing some DIY mods. Boooo. Otherwise, flat side wall for sticking a gopro or intercom mount
Overall, the visibility on this helmet seems to be pretty average. Side-to-side visibility seems to be pretty good, but top-to-bottom vision might be a little less than some other helmets. Of course, that can change a bit depending on your shape and size, how you hold your head and how you ride, but most users report that there is more than enough visibility with this helmet to see and ride safely.
The included face shield is clear with minimal distortion. Tinted options exist, but cost more.
The R420 comes with its own EverClear anti-fog system which seems to work pretty well. It’s a coating that does a good job of keeping the fog away. However, that anti-fog coating will wear off after a few years of use. You can always replace the face shield at that time. If you’d like to use the more standard Pinlock system, that’s sort of a good news-bad-news situation. The good news? There is a Pinlock-ready visor that fits in the R420. The bad news is that you have to buy it extra. Still, it’s nice to know that this option exists without much trouble.
As with many things, quietness in helmets is most definitely a situation in which you get what you pay for. You can spend hundreds and hundreds more (and many do) just to get a helmet that is quieter. So we’re not going to lie to you and say that this helmet is crazy quiet and you don’t have to worry about road noise. However, for a budget-level helmet the R420 is much quieter than it has a right to be.
The R420 comes with three vents: a chin vent to let air in from the front, a top vent and an exhaust vent in the rear. The chin vent is very effective and useful, and comes with three different positions. The first position is closed, the second directs air towards the face shield and the third directs it around the chin and into the rest of the helmet. OVerall, the chin vent works very well and presents no problems.
The top vent is not quite as effective. This seems to be pretty common amongst most helmets, though, so it’s not really a specific thumbs-down on this particular model. The faster you go, though, the more the top vent picks up and actually delivers flowing air throughout the interior of the helmet. However, at slower speeds you might not feel much coming from up there.
The R420 is both DOT and SNELL certified, and as you know that’s pretty much gold-star. The SNELL rating in particular lets you know that this helmet hs been vigorously tested under all sorts of conditions and come through with flying colors. So, even though the polycarbonate material adds a little extra weight, it definitely holds up when it comes to keeping your head intact and safe even in extreme conditions.
As we said in the beginning, this is not the helmet to get if you’re looking for a super-expensive one with tons of extra features. However, what you do get for the price is a strong, durable helmet that protects you from the rigors of the road. It’s comfortable, quiet and safe, and really isn’t that what matters the most?
Where to buy this helmet :