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HJC-RPHA 90 Helmet Review

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RPondaRoad

I bought one of these about a month ago.  Last week while riding along Highway 89 in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  I didn't know what it was, as it was way over to the left in my peripheral vision.  A place in my vision that I couldn't see into with my last helmet.  Instinct had me on my brakes as a very large doe trotted out in front of me as she crossed the highway.  It is not an exaggeration to say that between the brakes and the swerve that I missed her by inches.  Had I not had the extended peripheral vision that the RPHA 90 offers, I would have hit her, or worse, she would have hit me.  

This helmet gets a lot of praise for being quiet and it is when the outer visor is down.  With it up, like all helmets air flow into the helmet makes it noisy.  This review talks about how well the helmet accomodates glasses and I agree that putting it on over mine is a snap.  But, I have to take my glasses off before taking the helmet off or it will pull my specs off of my face.  

 

Fit is a personal thing, but mine fits snugly without being restrictive.  In the area where I live we suffer through upper 90 degree to 108 degree temps all summer long, so the helmet feels warm.  But, it does flow a lot of air from front to back which makes it more comfortable when the bike is moving.  The only thing you could put on your head that would be cool where I live would be ice water.  My Cardo JBL speakers for my blue tooth comm system fit into the recesses nicely and are directly across from my ears.  Having the speakers closer to my ears and enjoying a more quiet helmet allows me to enjoy some of the nuances of the jazz music that I like to listen to.  

 

I really like the dark inner visor in our blazing sun.  I really don't care for the slider that activates it.  It's a minor nit-pick thing, but after a month I still fumble with it a bit.  The only other thing I would like to see on the helmet is a longer retention strap.  Threading it through the D-ring would be a little easier if it were a bit longer.  Again...I'm nit picking here.

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Published in: Gear

HJC-RPHA 90 Helmet Review

Since 1971 HJC has done one thing only, make solid helmets at a price that doesn’t break the bank. Five years into their RPHA line (pronounced Ar-fah) they’ve advanced to the 90. The RPHA-90 is HJC’s top-end modular design for the sport touring market and it has quickly become this rider’s go-to helmet for a number of reasons.

RPHA90 BLACK01

The first thing you’ll notice is how easily it slips on. Described as an intermediate oval shape, it should welcome most U.S. riders’ head shapes. With the front open, it glides onto a rider’s dome with a gentle flex, and it does so easily over any eyeglasses. I tested this with a variety of glasses, including vintage AO safety glasses with side shields and cable arms. It easily accommodated them all.

Once on, a rider will notice what’s missing: weight. With a well-balanced composite shell of carbon, fiberglass and aramid, it weighs just under 3.5 lb., making it one of the lighter modulars on the market, and perhaps the lightest in its price range.

Though light, the 90 retains a solid feel thanks to what HJC calls it’s Premium Integrated Matrix (PIM) construction and its metal latch system keeping the front secure. Six hours of riding left no feeling of fatigue, and made previous helmets feel like bowling balls.

Its expansive view also helps limit rider strain by making helmet edges barely visible, only on the extreme periphery, and minimizing the need for side-to-side head movements. Another nice touch is the reflective material around the front opening.

RPHA90 PWHITE bty03

The visor is optically excellent, no waves here, and it’s Pinlock-ready. When raising the visor there are five click stops, and they’re well placed and sturdy. It stayed put at every click stop through 70 mph. Equally excellent is the integrated sun visor that covers nearly the entire field of view, leaving just a sliver of space down low. Operated by a left-side, bottom-edge slider that locks in the retracted position, its placement may limit spots for a comm system, but only a bit, as the slider is only about 1.5 inches long. The sun shield is a neutral color and dark enough for you to keep your shades in your pocket. It also fits fine over your specs or sunglasses if you want to double up in especially bright sun.

Another nice touch, HJC includes the Pinlock anti-fog visor insert. This performs flawlessly, adding only a tiny bit of glare at night from oncoming headlights. It installs easily with a two-pin insert and was fog-free to single-digit temperatures.

Release latches for the flip and visor are centered and easy to find, and they operate with one hand, even in thick winter gloves. The modular release latch feels solid and smooth and is a quick natural flick to release, up and out. Its click-lock into position is crisp and a bit loud but lets you know for sure it’s secure. It’s an easy effort both up and down and there is very little play up, and none while down. For someone new to modulars it should put any fear of chin guard failure to rest, it’s that solid.

RPHA90 PWHITE Profile02

The interior is comfy, soft in fact. It’s MultiCool liner is easily removable, washable, anti-bacterial and comes without any annoying pressure points on your head. The front and top vents are generous, with slides that are easy to find and operate and actually do allow significant air movement through grooves in the interior’s top, but also keep things quiet when closed. While this was tested in winter, there is reason to be optimistic moving into summer heat. The front especially takes care of keeping an already fog-resistant shield clearer as the rear vent pulls moisture out pretty well. Other nice touches include the hook and loop-lined speaker recesses that welcome comm systems. It’s no sweat bucket.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the RPHA-90 is how quiet it is. The rubber seal for the shield, the streamlined exterior and extended neck flaps make this one very quiet, well insulated and comfortable helmet. It is fast becoming my favorite.

MSRP: Solid Black—$459.99 | White—$469.99 | Semi-Flat Black or Titanium—$469.99 | Graphics—$499.99

Sizes: XS−2XL (add $5 for the 2XL)

HJChelmets.com


PROS:

  • Lightweight, quiet and comfortable
  • Integrated sun shield, fits almost any glasses
  • Pinlock anti-fog shield included

 

CONS:

  • Speaker recess could be deeper for thicker units
  • Shield release button does obscure view in middle visor positions
  • Sun shield slider limits comm unit placement

Where to Buy:

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