HJC RPHA Max Helmet | CR Tested

HJC RPHA MAX helmet

I've had a love/hate relationship with HJC helmets for nearly a decade now. While their fit is usually right-on for my round-shaped head, they can come with occasional annoying quirks—a trim piece that pulls loose after several months, or interior materials that grate against the skin. With the RPHA series, HJC may have banished those demons.

I noticed substantial improvements wearing the Sy-Max 3 last year, but HJC really ramped up quality with its premium RPHA (Revolutionary Performance Helmet Advantage) series, which includes the MAX flip lid. The acronym may be clunky, but the helmet is a smooth operator. Set the Max next to the Sy-Max 3, and differences become apparent; the Max's paint is more lustrous, and the shell is a different composite blend of "Carbon Fiber, Aramid, Fiberglass and Organic Non-Woven Fabric," allowing for a more compact exterior than the rounder Sy-Max 3. Even the vents and flip-up chinbar have a more precise feel—the Max uses an improved mechanism that employs metal studs on the shell and a spring-loaded clamp in the chin bar. That chinbar locks into place via a centrally located, one-touch closure that seals the faceshield against wind noise.

Chin and forehead vents are easily operated with gloved hands, and I found airflow to be slightly better than on most other modulars. With its more svelte shell shape, naturally the inside of the medium RPHA Max felt tighter than the medium SyMax 3, but that snugness was probably what made it so quiet at speed, too (HJC says 84db @62mph). The anti-bacterial, moisture-wicking interior liner gets points for being comfortably padded, and I appreciated the more robust neck roll. What was really impressive was the Max's noticeably light weight, too—a nice change from most hefty modulars.

Naturally, the Max faceshield can be easily removed, though nothing was wrong with the Sy-Max 3 system either. I'm also not a fan (never have been) of HJC's internal sunshade mechanism, which is inconveniently located at the top rear of the helmet, and feels and sounds flimsy. But I will give them points for including an anti-fog Pinlock shield in the box.

Nitpicks aside, it's hard to argue with a modular helmet that boasts a composite shell in three shell sizes (XS-XXL), excellent ventilation, good comfort, low road noise and light weight. If you're shopping for a quality flip-up with top-shelf features, you could do much worse than the Max. And you'll probably pay more. — Andy Cherney

HJC RPHA MAX helmet
Price: $459 (solids). (4 stars.)
www.hjchelmets.com

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