As the largest motorcycle helmet manufacturer in the world, HJC makes millions of helmets every year. For the U.S. market, it offers more than a dozen full-face, flip-up and open-face models, priced from $99.99 to $564.99 and available in a wide range of colors and graphics. (HJC America’s new designer, Dwayne Vance, came over from Troy Lee Designs, and his new graphic treatments look great.) After introducing its RPHA premium line in 2012 and the new FG-17 last spring, HJC has updated two of its most popular full-face helmets, the top-selling CL-17 (starting at $139.99) and the IS-17 (starting at $179.99). Both have new shells and updated features, the major difference between them being the IS-17’s Integrated Sunshield.
The IS-17’s Advanced Polycarbonate Composite shell is now smaller and more aerodynamic, shaving off a claimed 5.3 ounces compared to its predecessor; our medium-size helmet weighs 3 pounds, 7.2 ounces—lighter than 12 of the 18 lids in our last full-face helmet buyers guide (Rider, July 2013 and on ridermag.wpengine.com). Developed in HJC’s own wind tunnel, a small spoiler at the base of the chinbar creates downward pressure and a more streamlined bottom edge reduces turbulence. On the unfaired Yamaha FZ-09, the IS-17 sliced through the air cleanly with no lift or neck strain, and the level of wind noise was passable. With just two intake vents—one on the chinbar and a dual-position one on the crown—ventilation was limited.
Located at the top rear of the helmet is a small tab that, when slid forward, deploys the sunshield to one of two positions that differ by a quarter inch, with the lowest position leaving a gap of about an inch between the bottom of the sunshield and the cheek pads. Since the sunshield lets in light from below and because its tint is not very dark, on bright days I needed sunglasses to minimize squinting. Pressing a small button on top of the helmet quickly retracts the spring-loaded sunshield, or at least it should. On the first IS-17 I tried, the sunshield kept getting stuck halfway. HJC sent me a new helmet, and its sunshield retracts properly most the time but sometimes gets hung up, leaving about a quarter-inch below the top edge of the eyeport. This hasn’t been an issue with other sunshield-equipped HJC helmets we’ve tested, and it is covered by HJC’s 3-year warranty.
The new, center-locking AccuSight face shield has a 3D design for optimum optical clarity and includes 98-percent UV protection, an anti-scratch coating and preparation for a Pinlock anti-fog insert (sold separately). HJC’s new RapidFire II tool-less shield removal system is incredibly easy to use. The interior has a plush, moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial SuperCool comfort lining that is removable and washable. Grooves in the lining are designed to accommodate eyeglasses or sunglasses, but they positioned my glasses awkwardly high on my face. The IS-17 also includes a removable breath guard and the chinstrap uses a tried-and-true D-ring retention system.
HJC’s IS-17 helmet is DOT-approved and available in sizes XS-2XL. MSRP is $179.99 for solid Black or White, $189.99 for Metallic Silver, Metallic Anthracite or Black Rubbertone, and $199.99 for the all-new Intake graphic (red, blue, silver, purple or high-viz). It is a light, comfortable, feature-rich helmet for the money, but its drawbacks include noise, limited ventilation and potential quality issues with the sunshield.
For more information, see your dealer or visit hjchelmets.com.
(This Gearlab review was published in the February 2014 issue of Rider magazine.)