Become an Apex Predator in the Shark Raw/Drak Open Face Helmet


French Helmet manufacturer’s Shark has been turning out quality, eye-catching lids for over a quarter of a century. With a new Shark being sold somewhere in the world every two minutes, not only are they one of the biggest helmet makers in France, but also the world.

Started by ex-professional racers, it’s no surprise that the company always put safety features high on their list of priorities. Their sporting background also means they take a keen interest in sponsoring riders in both MotoGP and Moto2 events. Amongst many innovative patents, the company may be most famous for their Evoline modular range. This helmet was the first to get dual safety ratings for integral and jet as well as a 5-star Sharp rating.

Shark Raw/Drak Open Face Helmet Review

Shark Raw_Drak Open Face Helmet Review

Shark Makes a Splash

It was the Shark Raw helmet, making its debut in 2013 though, that really made a splash. The helmet was three years in the design stage, which shows you how seriously Shark take new products, but it was worth the wait!

If there’s a bike rider out there who doesn’t like jet fighters, I’m yet to meet them. The Raw traded on this fighter pilot helmet look and threw in a side of post-apocalyptic road warrior. In other words, Top Gun meets Mad Max.

Changing the model name to the Drak, specification stayed the same as did the thermoplastic resin construction. The helmet is excellent bang for buck regarding structural strength in relation to weight. Safety is a department Shark pay particular attention to, and the Drak carries both DOT rating and the far more stringent ECE 22.05.

The primary function of a crash helmet is not to look cool, but to earn its keep in a crash which is why it’s important to take notice of the safety rating. Legislation in the US says a helmet must have a DOT rating to go on sale in the 50 states.

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Twice as Good

What it doesn’t say, is that DOT (Department of Transport) rating is virtually self-certification by the manufacturers, with no batch sampling or independent testing. Naturally, most well-known manufacturers take safety seriously, but it makes me feel a whole lot better if the DOT stamp is backed up by an ECE one too.

Remember, this tests as an open face or three-quarter helmet and as such will give you excellent protection given its obvious (open face) limitations. In the event of an off, the rubber lower mouthpiece may offer some initial slide resistance, but its primary role is to keep dust and debris out of your face.

Likewise, eye protection comes via goggles, and if you’ve grown up on a diet of pull-down visors, goggles may at first be a bit of a challenge to wear. Unlike a visor, goggles feel a lot closer to the eyes, and the thick frames do limit peripheral vision slightly.

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World Class Optics

Don’t worry though, about their ability to handle the rough stuff or give a clear view of the road ahead. The lens in these units is a twin-pane, optically correct construction, by the legendary German manufacturer, Carl Zeiss Optics.

You’re also getting built-in venting to keep fogging at bay (the curse of cheap versions), and a breathable soft foam gasket prevents road crud from getting in.

The goggles are also designed to be an exact fit into the helmet opening, so there’s no chance of them flying off. Plus, thanks to Shark’s ‘Easy Fit’ system they will accommodate glasses comfortably underneath.

Some owners of the Drak with a riding season under their belt have expressed criticism that the strap on the goggles does lose elasticity after a while. This problem isn’t a deal breaker though, as not only are the goggles available as spares but they come in five color options ranging from dark smoke to iridium.

The safety theme continues with the padded chinstrap which uses a micro-lock buckle system for smooth operation, and the goggles are removable without the need for tools.

Weighing in at just under 3lbs, the lid shouldn’t cause even diminutive riders any problems, and when the weather hots up, the liner comes into its own. For riders who put in the miles in hotter climates, a helmet that feels and smells like a three-week-old sock is no laughing matter!

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Breathable Bamboo

Stale sweat smells and can cause a buildup of bacteria, but the Drak quite literally has you covered. The liner is a breathable, woven bamboo fiber, which is both hard wearing and has natural antibiotic properties.

Areas of higher perspiration such as the forehead and temples get an extra layer of softer padding designed to wick fluid away. The entire comfort liner is removable via snap fasteners as are the cheek-pads and new liners are available as spares.

As for ventilation, the Drak gets one large horizontally mounted inlet. Located on the top of the lid, it channels air via cutaways in the liner, over the top of the head. A series of holes in the facemask takes care of frontal venting, and you can flip the goggles and mask onto the top of the helmet if you need a face full of air.

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Top Gun Comms

If you want to take the whole jet fighter vibe a stage further, the Drak now comes Bluetooth-ready. Ear pockets will happily take speakers, there are slots for the comms system housing and battery, and you can get callers to address you as ‘Maverick.’

Shark makes an OEM system called Sharktooth, which couples wirelessly to your iPhone/smartphone, to give hands-free calls, music and intercom options.

As for wind noise, this is an open face after all, but thanks to the Drak’s facemask, shouldn’t be quite as bad as regular three-quarter helmets. Be aware that the Sharktooth intercom will only talk to other Shark systems, but other Bluetooth equipment should fit the helmet.

Considering the Drak is now five years old, the design and features can still cut it with the best of them. Remember, you’re buying an open face with features, not a convertible full-face and you too can become an apex predator in the Shark Raw/Drak open face helmet.

(Photo links courtesy of MPC Pictures, Shark Helmets, RH Photos, BC Helmets.)