HJC IS-Max Motorcycle Helmet Review

[This HJC IS-Max Motorcycle Helmet Review was originally published in the October 2009 issue of Rider magazine]

There are two major trends in full-face-style helmets today. One is the proliferation of flip-up modular versions, and the other is the popularity of the integrated, drop-down sunshield. If you like these features, you’re going to love the HJC IS-Max motorcycle helmet as it incorporates both.

The IS-Max consists of a polycarbonate composite shell with pivoting polycarbonate chinbar that lifts out of the way with the touch of the release lever on the chinbar. The release is large, centrally located and easy to find while wearing gloves. The integrated sunshield is a tinted, two-stage adjustable device that drops down before the eyes when the rider slides a lever forward along a slot in the top of the helmet. It resembles a fighter pilot’s helmet-mounted shield and offers two positions, one of which does not drop down quite as far and is for use when aboard bikes that have a leaned-forward riding position; the other deploys slightly farther for use on bikes with a more upright position. A third position allows for sunshield removal and replacement.

The benefit of the sunshield over a full-face tinted shield is that this spring-loaded device retracts forcefully and immediately with the push of a button atop the helmet, for when the light changes or when entering a tunnel. Its drawback is that unlike sunglasses or a full-face shield, it does not fully cover, so there is some light leakage around the bottom, which can be bothersome on a bright day.

The helmet’s interior is lined with SilverCool, a moisture-wicking material with “advanced silver anti-bacterial fabric.” It’s quite comfortable, and the entire interior is removable and washable. The IS-Max’s chinbar vent is effective for shield defogging, but not much else. Its crown vent is quite effective, but over only a relatively small, concentrated area at the top of the head. Opening the face shield a crack provides additional cooling.

HJC IS-Max Modular Motorcycle Helmet
HJC IS-Max Modular Motorcycle Helmet

Main shield removal is about as good as it gets. Raise it, push a lever on each sideplate and that side of the shield pops off. To reinstall it, slide the lever again and snap the shield back into place. On a modular helmet I always like to see that the latch mechanism that secures the chinbar involves metal-to-metal contact, and the IS-Max involves metal hooks over steel rivets. The chinbar opens far enough that I can leave my eyeglasses in place when donning or removing the helmet.
Overall, in terms of the function of the chinbar and sunshield features, the IS-Max works very well, its interior is comfortable and it has a quality feel overall. Nitpicks: That broad stripe down the center of the helmet is plastic and cheapens the overall look, and like most flip-ups the helmet lacks EPS foam in the chinbar as you usually find in a standard full-facer—there’s just a hard plastic cover there instead.

The IS-Max is DOT-approved and colors include White, Black, Anthracite, Silver, and Wine, with a contrasting gray section along the center of the top and chinbar. Sizes run from XS-XXL. Suggested retail price is $199.99 in solid colors, and $209.99 in metallics.

For more information: See your motorcycle retailer or visit HJC


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