HJC CS-R3 Helmet

Editor Score: 77.25%
Aesthetics 9.0/10
Protection 7.5/10
Value 9.5/10
Comfort/Fit 7.75/10
Quality/Design 7.5/10
Weight 7.0/10
Options/Selection 8.5/10
Innovation 6.0/10
Weather Suitability 7.5/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 7.0/10
Overall Score77.25/100

When you’re the editor at a motorcycle magazine, new helmets are a dime a dozen. Actually, they don’t usually cost us even a dime. So, we’re blessed with the luxury of strapping on premium lids at nearly every opportunity.

However, we’ve been told by our non-motojournalist riding buddies that, shockingly, most people have to buy their own helmets, which I’m sure must be horrible. If that’s the case, spending $700 or more for a helmet may seem a bit onerous. Still, I wouldn’t want to suffer the indignities of wearing a $100 helmet, would I?

It turns out I would. HJC’s CS-R3 replaced the CS-R2 in 2016, changing to a smaller and more aerodynamic shell design along with a new interior and a purported improvement in ventilation. The DOT- and ECE-approved R3 uses a polycarbonate-composite shell to keep its price reasonable. Very reasonable. Solid colors retail for just $94.99. The Spike version tested here (and other graphics) is just $10 extra.

HJC CS-R3 Helmet

The Spike MC-1 graphic option is an attractive version of the CS-R3, although HJC tells us it has been dropped from the lineup in favor of newer graphics. That said, HJC notes the Spike is likely still available at many of its retailers.

You might be thinking a $100 helmet must feel and look awful, and some do. Not this one. The finish looks deep and glossy, and its moisture-wicking Nylex interior feels smooth against skin and scalp. Clean freaks will appreciate the liner and cheekpad covers are removable and washable. For skinny or fat faces, HJC sells alternative cheekpad thicknesses to accommodate oddly shaped heads/mugs.

Other nice details include eyeglass slots in the liner and pockets in the ear area to slide in speakers if you have them. Also, the CS-R3 uses an intuitive tool-less faceshield-changing system. The stock clear shield is said to provide 95% UV protection, and it has detents that firmly hold the shield in three positions: fully open, half closed, and barely cracked. Additionally, the shield has a rocker switch on the left side that secures the shield closed.

HJC CS-R3 Helmet Spider-man graphics

HJC’s collaboration with the Marvel franchise trickles down to the CS-R3, with this Spider-Man version retailing for $159.99, a graphic previously only available on the higher-end RPHA 11. Now it can be had on the RPHA 70 ST ($609.99), as well as the CS-R3.

The CS-R3 is available in sizes XS to 2XL and, fittingly, I requested the XS version for my pea brain. The helmet fits comfortably on my skull, with no pressure points, even on my forehead. Cheekpads fit tightly against my face, but the padding is so supple that it allows perhaps a little too much lateral movement when performing the chinbar-tug test.

For ventilation, the CS-R3 uses a chinbar port and a vent on either side of the forehead area, all of which are closable. Mesh-covered vents at the rear are intended to aid exhaust flow. However, incoming airflow with the shield closed isn’t very effective. Cracking the shield to its first open position proved more effective at circulating cooling air.

Another small demerit is the absence of a pull tab on the D-ring fasteners to simply loosen the strap when doffing a helmet. This seems like a peculiar cost-saving choice (pennies…), although one ring has an extended tab that can be pulled to loosen the strap easily enough. A snap keeps the strap from flapping uncomfortably.

HJC CS-R3 Helmet tinted visor

I ordered up a tinted shield (HJ-09) for my CS-R3, an accessory item that costs about $24.99 (price dependent on retailers) and includes tear-off posts.

Conclusion

HJC’s CS-R3 is a fine value for reasonably priced helmet, offering good comfort, a decent set of features and a really nice appearance. Although not quite as comfortable or as rich in features as pricier lids, it offers most of what anyone needs from a motorcycle helmet.

HJC CS-R3 Helmet
+ Highs

  • Incredible value
  • Looks sharp
  • Fakes expensive well
– Sighs

  • Mediocre ventilation
  • Lacks some bells and whistles
  • The attractive Spike graphic no longer in production
  • Jon Jones

    The first two paragraphs made me lol.

    I’m also easily amused.

  • HazardtoMyself

    It’s just about time for me to get a new helmet.

    It sounds like you guys really are having a hard time trying them all out. The amount of stress involved to choose which helmet to try must be massive. I think a lot of us would be willing to help you out.

    It is a big sacrifice working for free, but if you want to send me an RF1200 I would be happy to take one for the team and do a long term review for you free of charge.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      How long of a long term review?

    • Kevin Duke

      I would hope I’d be able to get an RF1200 before you! 🙂

      • HazardtoMyself

        Ok, of course you can have first crack at it. Just trying to help you out.

        If we can’t help with the helmets, guess we will just have to settle for helping with bike tests.

  • kenneth_moore

    For years I convinced myself that low and mid priced helmets were just fine. Then I bought a Neotec and realized what I’d been missing. I’m never going back.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I was talking today to a friend who has a modular HJC helmet. He said the inner pads have to be replaced more frequently than in a Arai or Shoei because they compress and the helmet becomes loose.

  • Matt O

    I’ve owned two hjc lids, a basic one and a top of the line modular, and I have been very happy with them. Especially considering the price and how long they lasted

    • Steve T

      For the money they are good. I’ll give mine away to a friend in need when my new one comes in. The Shoie’s imo are of better quality after wearing both in different models.Skip graphics and good helmets are reasonable.

  • Old MOron

    “When you’re the editor at a motorcycle magazine, new helmets [and new girlfriends] are a dime a dozen…”

    It’s good to be the E-i-C.

  • tjeepdrv

    If they ever make a cheaper version of the Venom helmet, I’m in.

  • Kahless01

    ill probably buy that spidey helmet now that its not 600+. but the quality difference is pretty apparent between the cpt america version i have and my bell star carbon. the strap alone is a huge different. feels much better on the star. i second the need for a cheaper venom version.

  • Steve T

    I just want a helmet that is semi-quiet. My HJC is comfortable but the noise horrific. My Shoei RF 1100 is just as bad.

    • Kevin Duke

      No helmet is quiet enough not to require earplugs at highways speeds. Do your ears a favor and wear them whenever riding at more than 50 mph.

      • Steve T

        I do many times, but rather have a quieter model. I just ordered a new Quest. $265. Decent price and Shoie quality. Most noise comes in from under the helmet.

  • Andy C

    My 3 year old Shoei GT Air got stolen so I needed a cheap replacement until I can find a GT-Air under $500.
    Went with a HJC IS-Max II (about $150), for the modular experience, but was not impressed. I had to buy the pinlock (which doesn’t even cover the full height of the shield) as well as a chin guard. The drop down tinted shield’s operation isn’t as easy as Shoei’s, and the venting is poor. The front vent moves too easily and I can’t really tell if it’s open or not.
    It’s got a much better soft cloth bag… but I won’t be going cheap again!