HJC RPHA Max Modular Motorcycle Helmet Review

I’ve sometimes found flip-up helmets a bit too noisy for my tender ears…although I do like the style and ease of communication with the chinbar flipped up. But when Editor Tuttle called up and said he had a genuinely new one from HJC that I might like, I told him to send it up. The box arrived, was carefully opened, and inside the protective bag was a shiny new white helmet, size XL. The sticky bit protecting the face shield said “Lightness Reinvented.”

First thing was to try it on. Pull the straps apart, put my head in, good fit. I pulled the chinbar down and locked it into place. A very simple one-touch release latch is in the middle of the chinbar and the flip-up can be moved to a very stable full-open position. The face shield has five positions, from full-open to full-closed. A Pinlock fog-resistant insert is included, and though a California summer offers little in the way of serious fog, I have tried these in the past and they do work.

There is also a tinted sun shield, which has two useful positions, one for the crouching sportbike rider, the other for the more sit-up touring motorcyclist. Then I read the owner’s manual, which was very well done, explaining everything from removing the shield and the sun shield to washing the removable lining, even how to dispose of an old or damaged helmet. Quite complete.

HJC RPHA Max Modular Helmet
HJC RPHA Max Modular Helmet

The Hong Jin Crown Corporation has been one of the more successful helmet manufacturers in the very crowded world of motorcycle head gear. Forty years ago, this South Korean company was making riot gear for police and soldiers, and some bright light realized that all that research was a natural for developing crash—sorry, safety—helmets for motorcyclists.

Since then, HJC has been earning a lot of money making good, middling-priced helmets, many of which were sold to other companies to brand as their own, like Harley-Davidson. And recently, it decided to produce a more expensive line called the Revolutionary Performance Helmet Advantage, RPHA, acronymically pronounced “arfa.” Currently the RPHA line includes a full-face and off-road model, as well as the modular Max tested here.

The Lightness Reinvented slogan comes from a new approach to manufacturing the helmet called Premium Integrated Matrix, or PIM, using four materials: carbon fiber, aramid fiber, fiberglass and organic non-woven fabric. Not being terribly knowledgeable concerning helmet construction, my presumption is that this is a good combination or HJC would not have used it. The Max has three different shell sizes, and my XL uses the largest. On my friendly UPS Store’s scale, which is more reliable than the scale we use to weigh the cats, I found the weight was a minimalist 3.6 pounds.

Time for a ride. Helmet on, flip-up up, down the driveway, get out on the road, put the flip-up down, and we’re away. Quiet…I like that. The press packet tells me that wind-tunnel testing has shown that at 100 kph (62.5 mph), the noise inside the helmet is only 84dB. This is definitely the quietest modular I have ever used.

Ventilation is good with a chin vent and a major vent on top of the helmet that open and close with convenient toggle switches. If I want the sun shield down, I reach back and slide the slider that pushes the shield down. Easily done. And retracting the sun shield is even easier—just touch the button and it’s gone. Very handy when tearing into a dark tunnel on a bright day.

Good Cranial Protector. I think I’ll be wearing this one a lot. The RPHA Max comes in solid or metallic colors, white, gray or black, sized from XS-2XL. It’s priced at $459.99, and $5 more for the metallic.

For more information, visit hjchelmets.com or call (562) 407-2186.

(This Gearlab article was published in the December 2012 issue of Rider magazine.)


  1. I concur with your review. I went on my test ride with it and am very impressed. It is a good fit for me, feels light, good ventilation, and stable. This is a winner.


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