HJC CS-R3 Helmet Review

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

Big value for just 100 bucks

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.

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


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.

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’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.

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.


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


Kevin Duke
Kevin Duke

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2 of 17 comments
  • Andy C Andy C on Oct 03, 2017

    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!

  • Dropping Logs Dropping Logs on Sep 18, 2020

    Looking at all these reviews, it seems they don't really like the wind in the face which is personal preference. I actually just bought one of these helmets and it will arrive today. I usually just wear a typical HD helmet and have no issues with wind noise or gadgets as they are as basic as they get. I like the feel of the wind and the sound of the road. The purpose of getting a cheap full face is solely for the colder months riding. No amount of face coverings will keep the cold off the cheeks and your eyes from watering. So this, while cheap and not as flashy as you alls helmets. This should do the trick just fine.