We’re back to helmets. Last one was amazing – but it was $649.95 and that’s just not for everyone. The average guy or gal in Erie doesn’t need a helmet that belongs on a racetrack — they want something functional, safe, comfortable and affordable. Funny thing is there are a ton of helmets that are affordable, but a lot of them leave much to be desired.
Enter the HJC IS-16.
I’m sure this brand is a lot more familiar to you than the Bell was, after all HJC has been the most popular helmet in North America for almost twenty years. For most of those twenty years I’ve been pretty dismissive of the brand, thinking it to be as cheaply made as the price warranted. Well as is becoming a common theme in this post: I was wrong.This HJC IS-16 has a price of just $189.99, with graphics coming at just a few dollars more. When I first opened up the box I was all ready to not like it, but the anthracite paint job looked very good and made me stop and really check it out. The paint is very even, high quality, no imperfections that I can see. The gigantic HJC sticker on the front could be a little smaller for my taste, but I guess it could be pretty easily removed if it really bothered you.
I have to say I’m really pleasantly surprised to see a helmet with this finish at under $200. Even the ones with graphics look good and most of those are only ten dollars more. The seams look pretty solid as well, without any annoying gaps to be found. I also really appreciate that this helmet is not super round – it’s got some nice angles that really help you from getting that space martian look.Ok so it looks good on the outside.
Maybe great. But when I put it on I’ll know that it’s a sub $200 helmet, right? It can’t be as good on the inside and still cost so little. When you flip it over and look at it you’re surprised at just how well put together the interior is. The fabric looks good in red, black and gray, and is soft to the touch. It’s soft on the head as well, with a nice amount of padding to it. Other inexpensive helmets that I’ve tried sometimes make me think I can feel the actual shell. This one is actually kind of plush and feels like a far pricier lid – and it’s removable to boot. I also like the very neutral shape that it has. A couple of friends with different shaped heads than mine tried it on and all three of us could easily live with the fit. To me that’s a huge plus as it makes it a lot easier knowing it works on just about anyone.
The standard visor is good – easy to remove and pretty decent at not fogging up. I really love the fact that this helmet has an integrated sun visor though. There is a large slide on the back that you can easily find and manipulate even with gloves on. Bring it forward and you’re ready to ride even in bright sunlight. Things get dark out and it’s even easier to put away – just press the button on top and it shoots right back into its recess. I do have one gripe – I wish the visor felt a little sturdier. It’s not that there’s a problem with it – I mean I’m not really supposed to touch it while I ride or anything. It’s just that when I do touch it it feels a bit loose.
As far as the venting goes it’s above average with the visor down. My head felt very cool, thanks to the very well-placed vent holes in the lining, but I would have liked a little more cooling up front. The beauty of this helmet though is that if you have the sun visor down you can crack open the main visor and still be protected from dust, bugs, etc. The vents were very easy to manipulate and find and did feel like they made a difference.My overall impression is that this is a great helmet for the money and a very good helmet overall. Offroad Express has these in stock (definitely the location on Route 8, not sure about the new location at the old Cycle City on Peach Street) and you can order them at a host of other dealers in town. The only things I would wish for are a tiny bit more venting up front and a slightly tighter sun visor, but frankly if you aren’t coming from a really high-end helmet I think that you will think the venting is perfect.
If there is a piece of gear that you would like to learn more about just let me know and I will see what I can do to secure it.