HJC IS-MAX II Helmet Review

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.

HJC IS-MAX II Motorcycle Helmet
HJC IS-MAX II Motorcycle Helmet

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.)


  1. Have used Schuberth C3 for several years. Now I’m waiting on a CABERG Tourmax helmet. The important thing for me is that the visor has many notches between the upper and lower position. One must also be able to ride with flip-up halfway up so that it can be used as sunshade.

    Do not know how HJC IS-MAX works but if they meet the requirements, there is a helmet to consider for me later.

  2. Just got the IS-MAX 2 Today… As the owner of 2 CL-MAX2’s, I was GLAD to see someone build a helmet with the built-in sunscreen.
    When I tried to fit it, I was surprised to find it felt like it was at least one size smaller. Not a problem for most, but it is for me since I am a member of the super-sized cranium club. My CL MAX2’s are 5xl. as is this IS-MAX2 is.
    Sadly, I must return this and go on with my CL’s and sunglasses….

  3. Bought this from my local Yamaha/Triumph dealer over the weekend. Was about the only one they had that was 3xl, which apparently I need. Used to be 2xl, so I gotta think maybe this helmet fits a little tight. Anyway, love the helmet! Only drawback–the 3xl is kind of heavy. Almost feels top heavy at this size! Anyway, I am confident this is a great helmet, and knowing the interior cheek pads can be ordered in different sizes makes me even happier.

  4. I recently have reintroduced myself to road bikes ..last date about 1992 … so I bought a good used bike , the seller gave me everything with the bike all new in 2005 good and bad ,the H J C modular has a date inside man.in 2005 ..so do I throw away and buy new or keep it and relax and enjoy the ride ?


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