HJC CL-Y Youth Helmet Review

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

A rare street helmet that fits smaller heads, including children

The market for motorcycle helmets is saturated with choices, but there are surprisingly few options for street (not off-road) helmets that fit the smaller head sizes of children. So, when I was trying to outfit my daughter with decent motorcycle gear so I could take her on street rides with me, I found few options.


It turns out HJC is one of just a handful of companies that produces DOT-approved street lids for youth riders, the CL-Y, stretching down below the 53-centimeter size typical for XS adult sizing. HJC’s sizing chart is listed below. HJC tells us it rarely produces the XXS size and that same-circumference numbers of the XS and Youth Large are differentiated by different shell sizes.

SizeXSXXSYouth LargeYouth MediumYouth Small
The CL-Y is available in several color and graphics version, with solid colors retailing for just $89.99. A Matte Black version ups the price by $5, while stylish graphics models have an MSRP of $99.99.

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She’s not quite ready for the front seat, but she’s happy, safe and comfortable on a motorcycle until she is.

After checking out HJC’s website for color and size options for the CL-Y, we selected a Youth Medium in its Striker graphics option, a version that isn’t offered in HJC’s 2018 lineup. When we opened up the box, we were impressed with the helmet’s bold styling and attractive finish. Sure, it’s not as swanky as top-line lids, but it looks very nice for a $100 item manufactured in Vietnam.

The CL-Y uses a polycarbonate shell that shaves cost when compared to fiberglass or carbon, but its diminutive shell size keeps it lighter than expected. Its Nylex interior feels fairly plush against skin and is removable and washable. “It was very cushiony around my skull,” she commented. The faceshield uses a simple ratcheting system that can be placed in eight open positions. The chinstrap includes a snap for securing it from flapping in the breeze, but it lacks a pull tab typical of modern helmets that loosens the strap for easier removal.

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Reviewing the CL-Y isn’t simple, as its fit and comfort are gauged by a kid who never had a helmet before, so there isn’t much context for a proper evaluation. That said, my girl reports a generous eye-port area that doesn’t restrict peripheral vision and no comfort issues even after hours of continual use. Ventilation seems to be adequate if not generous.

Adding a Sena Bluetooth communicator presented no problems during installation. The CL-Y’s recessed ear areas and flap covers allows space for speakers without bothering ears.

Taking your offspring along for motorcycle rides brings joy to both child and parent.

Overall, we were pleased to have the CL-Y be the entry point for my girl’s forays into motorcycle riding. She was always proud to strap it on her head, even if she now claims to be shifting her tastes away from pink, and not once did she complain about any comfort concerns while wearing it. It’s held up quite well after nearly two years of use, with a faceshield scuff being the only cosmetic blemish thus far.

Precious Cargo: Riding With Kids

And while we’re discussing riding with children, allow me to fully endorse use of the Grip-n-Ride belt (tested here), which provides two sets of handles for passengers to hold themselves securely in place. How securely? Wheelies securely! Made in the USA, the belt’s pricing starts at $89, which is reasonable for an indispensable piece of riding kit. We simply don’t ride without it.

The smaller shell size of the CL-Y is evident in this shot next to a XS Bell Star.

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Kevin Duke
Kevin Duke

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3 of 7 comments
  • Old MOron Old MOron on Feb 09, 2018

    This is good info. I've had difficulty finding street helmets for kids - armored kit, too. I understand it's probably a small market and difficult to tempt the OEM's to invest in manufacturing. Good on HJC.

  • Barry_Allen Barry_Allen on Feb 14, 2018

    That lead photo is priceless!
    It's always apparent when you write about kids that her joy is your joy.
    Since soon your only bikes will be the ones you pay for with your own money, make sure to get ones with comfortable passenger seats. Here's to the day you get to ride pillion behind her.