Review: HJC RPHA X Off-Road Helmet
Itís probably safe to say HJC knows a thing or two about helmets. As the number-one producer of helmets in the world, the company went back to the drawing board to provide a new helmet line to bridge the gap between its current product line and the premium offerings currently on the market. The result is the new HJC RPHA lineup that is intended to offer a full-featured helmet at a an affordable price.
Each helmet Ė be it the RPHA 10 (a full-faced street bike helmet), the RPHA Max (also a full-faced street bike helmet), or the RPHA X (an off-road helmet for dirt biking at ATV/UTV use) Ė features HJCís Premium Integrated Matrix (PIM) construction, which the company says is a process that integrates four materials (carbon fiber, aramid fiber, fiberglass and organic non-woven fabric) to create a strong, yet lightweight, helmet.
The construction process follows precisely sized segments of PIM material that are hand-laid into helmet pre-molds to avoid overlap material to eliminate weight to create a more comfortable, lighter helmet. It took the company more than a year to develop this process, as the precision needed to reach the proper safety standards was not consistently achieved in an automated process; they needed human input to visually inspect and adjust this construction process.
The RPHA X helmet touts a host of features, much of which has to do with airflow and ventilation. HJC says its Advanced Ventilation System provides full front-to-back airflow to reduce heat and humidity build up. The RPHA X also features 15 vents, including nine intake ports and six exhaust vents, to provide maximum airflow while on the track or trail. Keeping the cool concept in mind, the double-layer liner of the RPHA X is designed to help route the airflow from the intake ports over the riderís head.
As for the fit and feel of the helmet, the SNELL and DOT approved RPHA X comes in three shell sizes of XS-S, M-L and L-XL, with liner sizes ranging from XS-XXL. HJC notes that many hours of development were spent on the helmet shape testing for optimum low-wind resistance and maximum ventilation. The Cool4Ever interior of the RPHA X is constructed of an innovative new liner with moisture-wicking, self-cooling interior that features odor-free, antibacterial fabric. The pads are also fully removable and washable as well. HJC says the RPHA X has been developed and tested in AMA Pro Super and Motocross competition, and it is backed by a five-year-limited warranty.
When it came time to test out the HJC helmet, we headed out to one of the many riding locations here in Southern California Ė this time, just outside of Barstow at the Stoddard Wells OHV area. It was typical Southern California desert weather during the day Ė it was warm out but not too warm since itís finally fall. The wind was blowing and the sun shining clearly with the weather about 75-77 degrees.
When speaking to HJC representatives about helmet sizing, I explained I was somewhere between a medium or large depending upon the manufacturer (for instance, I wear a medium in Arai but need a large for One Industries). A medium was what HJC suggested. Proper helmet sizing is definitely important so it can actually do its job Ė too loose and it wont stay in place and could pop off during a crash; too tight and itíll give you a headache after 15 minutes of riding.
The RPHA X fit snug yet comfortably when I put it on Ė a good blend of proper fit while not feeling too tight. The RPHA X comes in a few different color options. Thereís a solid color option (white or black), matte black, or thereís the colored design patterns of the Airaid, Factor and Tempest. Our black solid color looks clean and matches easily with whatever gear we decided to ride Ė not that matching is required for off-roading.
We went on about a four-hour ride, which was an hour longer than intended because one rider in our group kept having bike issues. During the ride, the RPHA X never felt stuffy or too hot, as the vent system certainly kept airflow moving during the ride. Even when we stopped the helmet never got too hot. The large eye port provides clear visibility and a solid fit with our goggles to keep out dirt. Even though I was riding for hours and had worked up a sweat, the liner wasnít soaked after we were done either.
The new RPHA X appears to hit the mark HJC set for it. Itís a well-constructed, lightweight helmet that provides good airflow and comfort. It has the feel of a high-end helmet but isnít at a top-of-the-line price point. The MSRP ranges from $349.99 to 359.99 depending upon color options, so itís not at the low or high end of pricing for off-road helmets. The new RPHA X is a good off-road helmet that we feel will keep our melon protected if/when we take that next spill on the trail.