Did you know that HJC is the largest helmet manufacturer in the world, producing over ONE MILLION helmets a year from four factories based in South Korea and Vietnam? And the factory also claims that its products are hand-made by very skilled workers with over 40 steps in that process. Time to see if the work has paid off with our HJC IS-17 helmet review.
Despite being in business for 47 years, HJC may not automatically be regarded in the same vein as the bigger, premium players like Arai, Shoei or AGV. But their range is vast (27 options) and adorned by a host of top racers, such as Jonas Folger (not racing at the moment due to illness) Andrea Iannone, Mika Kallio and Danny Kent.
Anyway, forget all that. I’ve owned a few HJCs over the years and always got on well with them. They don’t provide quite the same premium, snug feeling you might have slipping your head into an Arai. But you do get what feels to be a precision constructed helmet with well thought out features, great service support and – quite important – at good value.
Why I bought the IS-17 was simple. I was looking for an everyday helmet for mundane commuting and touring along with bolting various intercom systems and cameras to while keeping the stone chips, sweat and miles off my ‘Sunday Best’ helmet. Which means a pretty wide range of use for my HJC IS-17 helmet review!
So, the ideal candidate needed to not be too heavy, look good, have convenient features – such as a drop down sun visor, removable/washable lining, anti-fog visor insert for cold days and good vents for hot ones. My budget was set at £200 and after speaking to some local dealers and other riders, I opted for the IS-17.
In the shop, it was comfortable from the off. The fresh pads giving the usual ‘hamster cheeks’ but no obvious pressure points (but they always take a good half hour ride to show up). The drop-down SunShield worked one-hand easily and the vents easily operated with gloves hands. Most important, the visor aperture is wide and wearing glasses underneath is made easy with its ‘glasses groove’ – a big plus point for me. But I didn’t like the lack of a Double D fastener, which looking at other reviews must have featured on earlier models of this helmet.
I opted for the Genesis graphic in orange, because I like orange and the design by OCD is not conventional but works. This, of course, is personal, but the IS-17 is available in a huge array of colours and graphics.
Fast forward three years and I’d estimate 12,000 miles (mostly road, but one track day) in the UK, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and even Thailand and I’d say the HJC has been a sound investment. I haven’t crashed in it or dropped it, but for the big mile trips, it’s the helmet I always take from the shelf.
It’s quiet at motorway speeds on naked bikes and is genuinely all-day comfortable for me – with or without glasses on. The wide aperture makes it suit riding on a lot of bikes – from head-down, arse-up sports bikes to armchair tourers. It shares the same visor as a lot of HJC’s race helmets, so adding a black visor made it look 10 x better, but obviously messes up the convenience and point of the SunShield. But hey, who cares?
It’s not the easiest to thread intercom systems into – I’ve added two now, including the awesome Nuviz – but the ear cavities mean that adding speakers is comfortable enough.
Bad points, the paint seems to chip easily, which is probably exaggerated by the fluorescent orange underneath the black at the front. But still seems thin. I got fed up of using black marker to touch up the chips that I ended up putting some black vinyl on the brow piece – covering the HJC logo – and then adding some ‘evil eye’ stickers. The sun visor quickly lost the spring in its retraction; requiring a manual bit of encouragement for the last inch or so to pop out of the way.
I hate the micro buckle. For lots of reasons. Sometimes it gets caught up on the helmet so you can’t find it easily with gloved hands – negating its ‘easy use’. If I set the strap length for a neck tube it then doesn’t seem to have enough adjustment for when using without – but that’s probably me. I just don’t trust the design over a Double-D that I’ve used forever. But we checked with the UK importer, Oxford Products, and it seems the latest generation has a Double-D fastener – yay!!!
Ventilation wise, the IS-17 is ok for most days, but it doesn’t deliver in extreme conditions. Let me explain. When it’s very hot, there’s not enough options for cold air to flow through; top and bottom – that’s your lot. The chin vent works ok, but I don’t what’s going on with the top vent; all I know is that I had to tape it this past vent as brain-freezing cold air seemed to flow through.
So, aside from the SunShield and maybe the vents, everything still works as it should. I might have been unlucky with the paint and stones but the thing still cleans up nicely, inside and out. I genuinely like this helmet and if the IS-17 was available with all its plus points but in weight-saving carbon with a Double-D fastener, I might be tempted to trade up. Oh, wait, there’s the RPHA 70 (£469.99 – available at Ghostbikes and other retailers)…
HJC IS-17 Helmet Review Summary:
- Chin strap securing system – but we are told Double-Ds now fitted
- Drop down sun visor – the spring quickly lost its retraction strength
- Venting – not enough or efficient on really hot days
- Paint depth/quality
- Visor aperture
- Drop down sun visor
- Washable lining
MODEL USED: Genesis Orange (discontinued but still available at retails including Ghostbikes)
PRICE: From £159.99 (plain)
DURATION USED: Three years/12,000 miles
TESTED BY: Wayne Stroud