It’s mid morning. You’re riding down a serpentine mountain road at a nice clip, surroundings streaming by you in a fuzzy blur of greens and browns as the broken yellow lines ahead of you seem to pulse rhythmically as they near your front tire. An undemanding curve approaches, sweeping softly to the right, and you lean in early to hug the right shoulder. At the apex of the turn, under the shade of overhanging trees, is a little wet spot that hasn’t yet dried. When you see it, it’s too late. First come the butterflies, then both the front and rear tire start to slide out from under you in slow motion, and we all know what happens next.
Well, in my case, it was a quick kick at the asphalt with the right foot that kept me upright just long enough to regain traction. Scary. Thankfully, my face has never had a high velocity encounter with the pavement, and therefore I’ve never really been able to a put a helmet to the ultimate test. So I won’t be able to tell you just how safe HJC’s new RPS-10 helmet is, but what I can do is tell you a bit about its comfort, ventilation, and other details that are important when you’re not busy crashing. The first thing that struck me when the helmet landed on my doorstep was how light the box was. After taking out the HJC RPS 10, it was immediately evident that this was the lightest helmet in my arsenal, and probably one of the lighter helmets on the market. At 3 lbs, 5 oz, it is 5.5 oz lighter than my next lightest helmet, a Scorpion Exo. Though that might not seem like a big difference on paper, it sure feels like it, and this adds to the overall comfort of the helmet. With fewer ounces weighing on my spine, the RPS-10 made things just a bit more pleasant on day long rides. The reduced weight does not come at the expense of safety ratings though, as the lid is DOT approved and also meets SNELL’s tougher safety benchmarks as well.
Once I slipped it over my head, the helmet had a very unique feeling to it. The padding in the RPS-10 feels very smooth over the cheeks and head, without the fuzzy, cotton-like feel of most other lids I’ve owned. This makes it easier to slip on, a little more itch-free, and a bit cooler in hot weather compared to other helmets. HJC claims the “SilverCool Plus™ Interior” is made with Ginkgo extract and has anti-bacterial properties as well.
On my somewhat narrow head, the size medium fits exceptionally well. The cheek pads push my jowls up just a bit, for a nice safe and snug fit, and the crown padding is nice and plush too. This gave me a fit that was even all around, with no loose spots, and no overly tight spots either. The softly padded chin strap is a nice addition as well, and all the padding is removable for washing.
A feature I really like in a helmet is a chin curtain that blocks those chilly morning updrafts from shooting across my neck and face, and the RPS-10 delivers. With all the vents closed and the chin curtain in place, the helmet felt cozy on cold mornings. This little detail definitely goes a long way. The only drawback is that on those same chilly mornings, the curtain doesn’t allow hot exhalations to escape the helmet easily, which consequently makes fogging more of an issue at slow speeds—even with the removable breath guard in place. The good thing is that the chin curtain can be yanked off easily and stuffed in your pocket if you so desire. When it comes to ventilation, the RPS-10 has its pros and cons. The two forward-facing vents on top of the helmet have wide intake apertures that really bring a lot of air through the upper portion of the helmet. The vent openings can be fine tuned via two glove-friendly thumbwheels that are easy to use, and little recessed channels inside the lid route the streams of air over the rider’s head, and toward the exhaust vents in the rear. This part of the ventilation system works very, very well—you can actually feel a cool breeze running through your hair, which is a lot more than I can say about many other helmets.
The vents at the chin area are not quite as effective. There are two thin slats on either side of the chin, covered by metal mesh, which always remain open, but because they’re muffled with spongy foam, it feels as if hardly any air comes through them when riding at lower speeds. Once the pace quickens, they seem to function well enough, though.
The central chin vent, which has an opened and closed position, deflects a stream of air up and against the inside of the visor. Theoretically this should help defog the lens, but the vent only works moderately well at lower speeds. So in the chin venting department, the RPS-10 performs like your average full face helmet—acceptable for the most part, but it could be better. Cracking the visor open a bit is still necessary to properly defog.
The RPS-10 seems to be pretty quiet. Without earplugs in (not recommended), freeway riding didn’t bother me whatsoever, and the foamy padding between the ear slots and the shell seems to help quite a bit. Opening or closing the chin vent does not seem to change the noise level much. Opening the topside vents doesn’t increase sound levels much either, as the ear slot seems to be well insulated from that area.
The face shield system on the RPS-10 feels solid, and the visor is very easy to remove and reinstall, with no tweaking, twisting or guess work involved. For starters, the mechanism has few moving parts, and looks and feels quite durable. The visor opens and closes with a fairly fluid motion and only a bit of jerkiness.
Where things get interesting is with the center locking system, which keeps the visor firmly in place. I must say it takes a little getting used to. To open up the shield, one thumb pushing up on the spring loaded tab suffices, while locking it back down requires more effort: you need to place a thumb under the chin bar while applying downward pressure on the locking mechanism with the index finger. If you just push down on the locking mechanism, the whole helmet rolls forward down your face before the lock snaps into place.
Once in place, the visor has an airtight seal worthy of space travel though. It doesn’t rattle whatsoever, and it probably won’t spontaneously crack open at high speeds like some of my older helmets do now after years of use.
To wrap things up, let me just chat a bit about how nice this new HJC looks because, well, it looks great. Of course, appearances won’t save your noggin’ in a crash, but having a good looking lid is definitely a plus, and the RPS-10 I received nails it. The matte black model HJC sent me has an immaculate finish, with no visible imperfections. The molding around the bottom is smooth and solid with no noticeable irregularities. All the vents mesh seamlessly with the helmet’s graceful and simple lines, and the gunmetal grates at the chin compliment the finish well. Another plus about the matte finish is that it seems to be hiding scratches really well and stays looking clean longer than some other lids.
Overall, the RPS-10 feels great to ride in. The top venting works very well, the interior is smooth, cool, and snug, and the overall feel is very light and comfortable. All in all, having my noggin ensconced in this top-of-the-line HJC is great feeling, and the helmet is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Again, my only real gripe with it is the funky visor lock. But with a base MSRP of $349, it’s really hard to complain much at all. The fact is HJC really offers helmets with a price-to-performance ratio that is very attractive to budget conscious riders like me who squirm at the thought of forking over 600 big ones for headgear.
Suggested MSRP is as follows:
Glossy Black, White, Dark Yellow: $349.99
Metallic Silver, Anthracite: $359.99
Matte Black: $359.99
Mugello : $399.99
Ben Spies Replica: $499.99
For more information and photos of HJC’s RPS-10, visit http://www.hjchelmets.com/.
The manufacturer provided Motorcycle Daily with this product for purposes of evaluation.