Flip-up helmets have won me over. I love being able to quickly raise the chinbar—during a roadside stop, at a gas station, wherever—and have a chat with my passenger or co-riders, or drink water or eat a snack or take a selfie or apply sunblock or blow my nose, all without having to remove my helmet.
HJC offers four flip-up (or modular) helmets, ranging from the budget-conscious CL-MAX II ($159.99) to the premium RPHA MAX ($499.99). Starting at the sweet-spot price of $199.99, the new IS-MAX II’s “advanced polycarbonate” shell was reshaped in HJC’s own wind tunnel, improving airflow, stability and noise reduction. The IS-MAX II slices through the air cleanly with no lift, and its Advanced Channeling Ventilation System moves 40 percent more air through the helmet than before. Easy to operate with a gloved hand, a single button in front unlocks the chinbar so it can be raised up and out of the way.
An EPS liner absorbs impact energy and a removable, washable, moisture-wicking, antibacterial SuperCool interior coddles your noggin. It has channels to accommodate eyeglasses, and cheek pads are available in three thicknesses to customize fit. The optically correct, scratch-resistant, Pinlock-ready face shield blocks 95-percent of UV radiation, and the QuickSlide attachment mechanism makes shield removal a snap. Sliding forward a lever on top of the helmet deploys the sunshield, which offers two positions; pressing a button quickly retracts it.
The IS-MAX II is an attractive, comfortable, affordable helmet that is reasonably quiet and of average weight (3 pounds, 14 ounces for a medium), but there’s still room for improvement. The sunshield isn’t very dark, and even when in the lowest position a lot of sunlight comes in from underneath. The chinbar locks closed by way of metal hooks and pins, but with the helmet on there isn’t an audible “click” to let you know the mechanism is secure. On several occasions I thought it was locked when it wasn’t, so I resorted to slamming the chinbar closed and then jiggling it to be sure it was locked. Finally, I found a seam in the forehead area of the comfort liner to be intrusive enough that it became uncomfortable at times.
Sizing for HJC’s DOT-approved IS-MAX II covers a wide range (XS-5XL), and it’s available in various solid colors and graphics for $199.99-$219.99.
For more information: See your dealer or visit hjchelmets.com
(This Gearlab review was published in the February 2015 issue of Rider magazine.)