Have you ever tried finding a modular helmet that is lightweight, comfortable, quiet, and safe to use in the ‘visor up’ position?
No? Well, it’s a nightmare.
And to make things worse, this wasn’t a helmet that was sent to us to review. This is my own helmet, bought with my own money, and will be used for my own riding purposes. So it had to be right.
I looked at numerous ‘premium’ lids, including Shoei, AGV, Schuberth, Caberg, and Shark. So how (and why) did I end up with the HJC R-PHA 90s Carbon motorcycle helmet?
Well, the HJC R-PHA 90s helmet was the lightest and quietest modular helmet on the market. Additionally, it was cheaper than other premium brands, fitted me better, and was the only one certified as dual-homologated.
Find the HJC R-PHA 90s Carbon here:
What Are Dual-Homologated Helmets?
In a nutshell, modular (or flip-front) helmets come in three classes: P-approved, J-approved, and P/J-approved.
P-certified modular helmets are those tested to withstand impacts with the chin guard down. This is the most common you will find.
J-certified helmets are those tested to withstand impacts with the chin guard in the ‘up’ position.
Helmets with both certifications are referred to as P/J-approved or dual-homologated.
Whilst almost every modular helmet sold in the EU is P-approved, not all of them are approved to be ridden with the chin guard in the ‘up’ position. And this is something you need to dig into when buying a modular helmet.
Most manufacturers don’t make it clear that their helmets are NOT approved to ride in the chin guard ‘up’ position. So you really need to check before you buy.
HJC R-PHA 90s Carbon Helmet: First Impressions
There were two things I noticed when taking receipt of this helmet.
The first was how light it was. And the second was just how high the quality was.
The detailing and the little nuances that HJC put on this R-PHA premium helmet are a pleasant surprise.
But more about those in a minute.
Shell, Sizes, & Safety
The first thing I noticed about the shell was the build quality and carbon fibre finish. Up close and personal, you can tell this is a premium helmet.
HJC’s PIM+ (Premium Integrated Matrix Plus) technology forms the shell construction. And it comes in three colours (although I could only find it in two colours in the UK.)
In terms of sizes, you have a choice of 6 to fit your requirements: XS to 2XL (54-63cm.)
The HJC R-PHA 90s Carbon also meets/exceeds DOT FMVSS218 approval as well as meeting/exceeding ECE 22.05 approval.
HJC R-PHA Helmet: Fit & Weight
True to form, I have an awkwardly shaped head because its circumference is 56.5cm.
For most manufacturers, this puts me in the middle of a Small and a Medium. Invariably, smalls are too small, and mediums are too big.
In the case of this HJC helmet, I opted for a medium, and the fit (for me) is perfect for my intermediate/oblong-shaped head.
Regarding weight, my medium weighs in at a very respectable 1,550g. This makes it one of the lightest modular helmets on the market – and it’s the first thing you notice when you pick it up.
It’s impressive that HJC has managed to construct a modular helmet that weighs so little.
The fastening on this HJC helmet is a ratchet (seat belt-style) fastening that works exactly as you would expect.
The detailing, however, is fabulous. And the brushed aluminium-style materials add to the premium feel of the helmet.
The fastening is easy and intuitive. I can fasten/unfasten the helmet even whilst wearing gloves.
Based on my research, some markets outside the EU may receive this helmet with a double-D strap – rather than the micro-ratchet like mine.
HJC R-PHA Helmet: Ventilation
I find the ventilation on this helmet to work efficiently, especially considering I got it in June when the weather was particularly stuffy.
HJC have utilised their ACS (Advanced Channeling Ventilation System) to keep air flowing through the helmet.
The intake and exhaust ports do a good job of moving air around your head, and the chin vent keeps air moving in front of your mouth and nose.
The top intake port also keeps air moving across the top of your head.
Depending on your preferences, the chin, exhaust, and head ventilation ports can all be opened or closed.
I find that many visors have a certain flimsy feel to them. But the HJ-29 visor present on the R-PHA Carbon is solid and secure.
There is a centre clip that secures the visor in the bottom position. And the visor stays put when riding at normal speeds.
It has a smooth mechanical feel during operation and secures well in the down position.
The only issue I have with the visor is that opening the centre clip can be fiddly – especially with gloves on.
It feels natural after a while. But it does feel like HJC could have come up with a better mechanism for the visor lock.
On a positive note, the helmet is Pinlock-ready and comes in the box as part of the package.
Internal (Drop-Down) Sun Visor
This is another important feature for me as I often ride with the visor (or chin guard) up whilst dropping the internal sun visor.
The visor operates with a tactile slider on the side of the helmet, is in an intuitive position and is easy to use.
Vision is clear, and the visor drops down far enough to avoid that horrible gap at the bottom that lets in light.
In fact, vision as a whole (including panoramic vision) is excellent with this helmet.
HJC R-PHA Helmet: Chin Guard
The chin guard performs as expected, is perfectly smooth and gives a feeling of quality. Locking in the up or down position is accompanied by a satisfying clunk that lets you know it’s in position.
The big red button under your chin is accessibly placed, and I can lift my chin guard with one hand whilst riding.
The mechanism is predictable, smooth, and has a feel of quality.
Based on research by Champion Helmets, the HJC R-PHA Carbon is quieter than Schuberth’s C4 Pro, Shoei’s Neotec 2, and AGV’s Sportmodular.
But in the real world? To be honest, it’s the same as every other helmet.
Does it blow my eardrums out every time I ride? No. But it certainly isn’t quiet enough to ride without earplugs.
Whilst many praise the noise reduction qualities of this helmet, for me it’s neither worse nor better than the ‘average’ helmet.
HJC R-PHA Helmet: Liner
The interior of the R-PHA helmet is simple, functional, and comfortable.
It’s nowhere near as plush as the liner of a Schuberth C4. But it uses HJC’s MultiCool Interior with Polygiene, provides antibacterial properties, and enhanced moisture-wicking.
With a nod towards noise reduction, the helmet utilises a 3D-engineered, ergonomic interior to reduce noise. But as mentioned above, to my ears, at least, the effect is negligible.
Whilst not as luxurious as the Schuberth C4, the interior of the HJC is more comfortable than most. I have zero complaints.
The HJC R-PHA 90s Carbon is Smart HJC ready – although the helmet does not come with a Bluetooth headset as standard.
I have added a cheap intercom system off eBay with no problems. And I also know that the Sena 50S fits without any issues.
HJC RHPA 90s Carbon Helmet: Conclusion
Have you ever bought something that you were really happy with? For me, the HJC R-PHA 90s Carbon helmet is one of those purchases.
Having never ridden with a HJC helmet before I was a little unsure about what to expect. But in comparison to similar helmets from other premium ranges, it’s cheaper, lighter, quieter, and is the only one that is dual-homologated. Plus, it fits me better.
As it’s come down in price, you can now find it at around £400. And that’s over £300 cheaper than the Schuberth C4 Pro (the red one clocks in at over £700.)
Some more colour choices would be nice, and it’s lacking a luxury liner that’s present in other ranges.
But overall, HJC has produced a solid helmet that competes highly in the premium helmet market.
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