Same is coming true of motorcycle helmets. While there are still plenty of pricey, top-shelf lids from companies such as Arai, Shoei or AGV, thereís been a proliferation of low to mid-priced helmets in the past three to five years. These newer, or new-to-the-U.S.-market, helmet companies had to overcome the stigma of being made in countries other than Japan, Italy or the U.S, but they listened, learned and adapted, so today the choices of quality helmets available in the sub-$300 category seems greater than ever.
In the interest of fairness, and after years of being a scoffer, I decided to give HJC a try. In short, Iím impressed. The hat I gave a go is the companyís full-face FS-15 model. The shell is made from a fiberglass composite with the help of CAD.
The shield is a ď3D designĒ that claims to provide 95 percent UV protection along with an anti-scratch coating and is ready to accept HJCís anti-fog insert called, Pinlock. The shield uses a proprietary tool-less removal system; it comes on and off with no more or less effort than most other tool-less systems Iíve used, including those on pricier helmets. I prefer shield ratchet systems that have multiple opening positions. The FS-15 only has two: half way or full open. It can be popped open just a skosh from closed for increased venting. One other shield feature is the locking tab on the left side that prevents it from blowing open when youíre screaming down the road. Thus far Iíve not used the lock, but neither has the shield been sucked open by the wind.
The chin strap is secured via the ubiquitous double D-ring, and has a snap on the long end to secure excess strap from slapping you in the neck.
There are two vent openings located in the usual spots: the chin bar and forehead. The ventilation system includes what HJC calls ďchanneling vents.Ē In essence they are exhaust vents with a subtle but good looking wire mesh cover. Exhaust vents are located relatively close to the chin vent, and in the mid-rear as part of a spoiler. Like the tool-less shield removal system, I canít say the venting is significantly better or worse than most other helmets Iíve worn.
I chose the Surge MC-5 (black) design scheme. Paint and clear coat is excellent with a smooth gloss finish. Painted-on rather than sticker logos enhance the look and general quality that belie the helmetís $239.99 MSRP. Prices for the FS-15 range from $219.99 to $269.99 based on color scheme.
So, with all the good things going for this helmet, including its reasonable 3 lb, 10 oz. weight as measured on my Dualit kitchen scale, there has to be a catch, right?
The one caveat with HJC is that, in my experience, they tend to run one to two sizes too big. Typically I take a medium in most brands, but I know HJC run a tad big so I opted for size small. Had I selected medium in the FS-15 it simply wouldíve been too big. The small is livable, but Iíve worn an extra small in a different HJC model, and though that size created a bit of a hot spot on my forward, overall it was a more secure fit.
Roomy fit aside, this DOT and SNELL certified helmet offers good value in just about every area. Itís one more of a growing number of quality helmets that looks and functions like a lid twice the cost.