Review: Shark X16 quad bike helmet

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Our man Barry Ashenhurst says there’s no excuse not to wear a helmet on an ATV or UTV thanks to the Shark X16 quad bike helmet

The Shark X16 atv helmet
It’s a good looking jigger, super-light, and comes in several colours

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 full-face 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 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.


What’s so special?

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 Shark X16 helmet's chin strap
No fiddly bits. The buckle 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 unrestrictive 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 side-by-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.

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