Head first

Shark X16 quad-bike hel­met

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

With­out be­ing in­ten­tion­ally dis­re­spect­ful to them as a group, farm­ers ev­ery­where have an aver­sion to safety hel­mets. De­spite ev­i­dence prov­ing that fewer of them would die in ATV ac­ci­dents if they’d sim­ply wear one, many farm­ers in­sist that hel­mets are too hot, too heavy and too clumsy to wear all day.

They have a point. Un­til now, most hel­mets, par­tic­u­larly full­face mod­els, have not been de­signed with farm­ers in mind.

If you want to keep dust out of a full-face hel­met you must wear gog­gles, an­other com­pli­ca­tion. Full-fac­ers are de­signed to keep out wind noise, which means they also keep out the in­for­ma­tive sounds that an­i­mals make. And de­spite cool­ing vents, these hel­mets are hot. Any­one who rides in the warmer parts of Aus­tralia can tell you that.

Sev­eral hel­mets come close to be­ing fit for pur­pose in an agri­cul­tural set­ting but don’t quite cut it.

The $130 Bell Shorty comes to mind, a favourite with Har­ley rid­ers and any­one else who wants to look Like Colonel Klink.

Some open-face mod­els are suit­able too, or are al­most suit­able, but they too lack the qual­i­ties that would con­vince a farmer to wear one.

ATV and UTV man­u­fac­tur­ers have been aware of this prob­lem for years, par­tic­u­larly in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, but it wasn’t un­til mid-2017, through the ATV Safety In­sti­tute, that a hel­met was con­ceived to solve these his­toric short­com­ings.

That hel­met is the Shark X16, weigh­ing a measly 1200 grams and fit for pur­pose, not only on rough ter­rain but com­pli­ant with ECE 22-05 and DOT stan­dards man­dated for on-road hel­mets.


Eigh­teen months of de­vel­op­ment went into this hel­met. Its main fea­tures are: • Global cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, so you can wear it any­where

• Ven­ti­la­tion for max­i­mum air flow at low speeds

• Re­mov­able ear pods ei­ther sup­press or in­crease sound in­put from ex­ter­nal sources, such as an­i­mals or other ATVs work­ing in the vicin­ity

• The re­mov­able lin­ing can be cleaned and is de­signed to

com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­date glasses or sun­glasses

• The buckle – usu­ally a pesky item on hel­mets – can be done up or un­done while you’re wear­ing gloves. It’s un­com­pli­cated and won’t piss you off.

The X16 comes with sev­eral ac­ces­sory packs that adapt it to spe­cific en­vi­ron­ments. The sun pack has a vi­sor ex­ten­sion and a neck pro­tec­tor. The dust pack pro­tects you from air­borne wind and dust, and a fly pack – only in Aus­tralia! – frus­trates op­por­tunis­tic in­sects.

I wore this hel­met for sev­eral hours dur­ing the launch of the Yamaha Ko­diak 450 ATV. It felt in­cred­i­bly light and not re­stric­tive in any way. The only com­ment I’d make is that its pur­chase price of $250 might seem a bit steep to some.

On the other hand, some road rid­ers think noth­ing of shelling out $1000 for an AGV Valentino Rossi replica, so once again, what you’re will­ing to spend is rel­a­tive to how much you have. And what your head is worth.

And one more point, if you don’t mind …

Re­cre­ational users and farm­ers are be­gin­ning to die in sideby-sides, bet­ter known as UTVs or ROVs. This is dis­turb­ing. The gen­eral be­lief is that a UTV’s rollcage makes it a safer ve­hi­cle. It does. But only if you’re wear­ing a hel­met. You can die in a UTV if, in an ac­ci­dent, your head slams the rollcage.

It’s not that com­pli­cated. Hel­mets save lives.

Wear a hel­met.

It’s a good look­ing jig­ger, su­per-light, and comes in sev­eral colours. Price: $250

Left: No fid­dly bits. The buckle won’t piss you off

Left: The liner is re­mov­able and there­fore wash­able. While re­mov­able ear pods help con­trol the vol­ume of ex­ter­nal noise, ac­ces­sories are avail­able to help ex­clude dust, sun­light and in­sects from reach­ing the rider’s face

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