Review by Olaf Wolff
[This HJC Sy-Max Modular Motorcycle Helmet Review was originally published in the January 2007 issue of Rider magazine]
I’ve been seeing more convertible or “flip-up” helmets on the road in the past year; statistics bear out that their popularity has grown significantly. Convertibles make certain functions a tad easier without taking the full-face helmet off, such as taking a drink, eating, talking, wearing prescription glasses and exposing your face for a friendly first impression (or maybe positive ID).
The new Sy-Max modular motorcycle helmet from Korean manufacturer HJC delivers an “all-business” first impression—there’s not the least bit of clumsiness in the design, and it’s styled in a complementary way. The Sy-Max weighs in at approximately 3.5 pounds, making it fairly lightweight for the convertible category. A single button located in the center of the chinbar makes one-handed opening easy. Once open, the chinbar clicks up into position and the solid locking mechanism feels firm. There are two vents on the Sy-Max, one located on top of the helmet and one on the chinbar.
Both vents do their jobs well when fully open and don’t really need the intermediate open positions, as the increments are far too small to make a discernable difference. The helmet liner is made of DuPont CoolMax material with mesh trim. The CoolMax functions well for channeling moisture away from the skin, and the cheek and crown pads are removable for cleaning. There are also removable ear pads for use with communication devices. Left in place, the ear pads help with noise reduction. Overall, HJC has done some nice work designing this helmet to remain comparatively quiet on the road. The nylon retention chin-strap is the D-ring type and functions smoothly. HJC says the face shield provides 100 percent UV protection; the shield’s ratcheting mechanism holds it in place in all positions while riding, and the shield can be replaced sans tools.
When all is said and done, I enjoy the Sy-Max and I can easily see it becoming my everyday helmet. It initially fit quite snugly, but it’s shaping better to my melon with each ride. This magazine neither condones nor encourages riding with the chinbar up, so we didn’t test it that way. When I asked a helmet designer at HJC to comment on the subject, he said, “The flip-up helmet is designed to be worn with the chinbar closed. When the helmet is tested for its (DOT) standard, it is tested with the chinbar closed.” So, open it when you’re parked, close it when you’re not.
Over the years HJC has earned a reputation for making solid helmets that are reasonably priced. The Sy-Max convertible helmet admirably reinforces that reputation. It comes in sizes XS-2XL, and is priced at $249.99 for solid colors and $259.99 for metallic.