Korea-based HJC has been manufacturing motorcycle helmets since 1971, and it has been the top seller of helmets in North America since 1992. HJC has always made good helmets, but over the last five to six years we’ve noticed its quality levels ratcheting higher and higher. Now, after investing several years and lots of money in R&D and manufacturing improvements, HJC has released its first premium helmet: the RPS-10.
HJC picked the brain of sponsored MotoGP racer Ben Spies, used 3D rapid prototyping and built a 130-mph wind tunnel to develop and test the slippery shape of the RPS-10. The result is an elegantly sculpted helmet with built-in top vents and a rear spoiler that cuts through the air cleanly with minimal buffeting. To make the shell, HJC starts with Premium Integrated Matrix (PIM), a special blend of carbon fiber, aramid fiber and fiberglass. Segments of PIM are precisely sized and molded by hand to minimize overlapping layers and excess resin. The result is an incredibly strong yet light helmet—our size medium lid weighed in at 54 ounces. HJC claims the RPS-10 is the lightest Snell 2010-approved helmet available.
Built into the HJC RPS-10 are intake vents on the chinbar and top of the head and exit vents at the back. The top vents can be set to one of seven positions from wide open to closed via small, knurled adjustment wheels that are easily dialed with gloved fingers. The range of adjustability is too subtle to be practical—closed, half-open and wide-open would suffice. Airflow is generous, and it is complemented by a luxuriously plush, moisture-wicking, antibacterial, removable/washable Silver Cool Plus liner. Sliding the RPS-10 onto my head is truly a pleasurable experience, and riding with it on is just as a premium helmet should be: so light and comfortable I forget it’s on. It also has a breath guard and chin curtain, both of which are removable.
The RPS-10 uses an all-new face shield that employs a unique shape and locking mechanism. The upper and lower edges of the face shield are slightly beveled to create a flush seal against the rubber gasket around the eyeport. A black plastic clasp attached to the center of the lower edge of the face shield locks it shut; pushing up on a spring-loaded tab at the bottom of the clasp unlocks it. The system works well and keeps the face shield securely closed at almost any speed. But the upshot is that, when the face shield is cracked open to let in more air, the locking mechanism is in the rider’s line of sight and the beveled lower edge creates some distortion. A high-performance helmet such as this one is really designed to be wide open or locked shut. Otherwise, the optical clarity of the shield is excellent, it has tabs for a Pinlock anti-fog insert (a clear one is included) and the RapidFire II Shield Replacement System is intuitively simple.
HJC has done a bang-up job on the RPS-10, which has become my new favorite helmet. It fits perfectly, its padding is plush and compatible with sunglasses, wind noise is minimal and the light, aerodynamic shape reduces fatigue on long rides. All this for just $349.99-$359.99 in solid colors or $399.99 for graphics. If you want to be like Ben, plonk down $499.99 for a limited-edition Spies replica model—only 1,000 will be made.
For more information see your HJC dealer or visit www.hjchelmets.com.[This HJC RPS-10 helmet review was was originally published in the November 2010 issue of Rider magazine.]