The RPHA Max is a modular/flip-up helmet that’s well liked by most owners. It’s comfortable, well put together, pretty quiet and light for a flip-up. It’s a more expensive helmet, isn’t Snell certified and only scored 3/5 stars in the SHARP crash helmet test. But for daily use, it’s practical and works well.
- Weight – 3.2lbs (1.45Kg) – size XS
- Not Snell certified
- SHARP 3 star safety rating (out of 5)
- Average/good wind noise
- Integral sun visor
- Comes with Pinlock anti-fog insert
- Good for glasses & speakers
- Available in sizes XS-XXL
- Typical prices: $450-$500 (depending on design)
HJC reckon the shell is one of the most advanced around – and is made up of layers of Aramid (Kevlar is an aramid), carbon fiber and fiberglass. It sounds like it should be the business for safety – and of course it’s DOT certified. However, when tested by SHARP, it only scored 3/5 stars so it’s not as safe as some other flip-up helmets such as the five star Shark Evoline (check here for other 5 star helmets*).
Its worth noting that the HJC R-PHA Max isn’t dual homologated in the EU (meaning it’s only been approved for use as an open face helmet). I know I’d want my own flip-up helmet to give as good protection – or at least be designed to try and give as good protection – as a full face. If you’re reckoning along the same lines, then check out our reviews of dual-homologated lids as they give you an idea which helmets should perform best as both open and full face helmets.
Having said that, the RPHA Max’s chin guard stayed in place during 93% of the impacts during the SHARP tests (yeah I know, I’d like to see a score of 100% there too!).
Most folks love how quiet the R-PHA Max is – HJC claim 84db at around 60mph. It’s been wind tunnel designed to be as slippery as possible – and we need to add the usual caveat here that how noisy your helmet is also depends on the type of bike you ride and the position you ride in – plus you should probably ride with ear plugs most of the time anyhow. That said, it’s widely regarded as a quiet helmet – though a couple of guys who previously owned Schuberth C3’s reckoned it’s not as quiet as that. Again, it’s a relative judgement – to the man with no shoes, the flip-flop is the height of comfort (Confuscious).
HJC have included an integral (non-removable) chin curtain and neck curtain around the bottom of the helmet that should keep some breeze out and is designed to reduce noise coming into the helmet from wind blast around the bottom of the helmet and the jacket collar. Words pretty well by all accounts.
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The R-PHA Max is produced in three shell sizes. Which is a good thing. Most expensive lids are produced in three shell sizes meaning they don’t have to over or under-pad the shell to make it fit the different sizes. If you have only one helmet shell size, they have to really cut back on shock-absorbing material and/or padding for the larger sizes or stuff it full for the smaller sizes – often resulting in a helmet that looks massive on an XS head. Having three helmet shell sizes means the Max should have the right shell size for your head whatever size helmet you pick – XS to XXL.
There’s mixed opinions on the interweb about ventilation. There’s an air vent in the chin and one in the brow – with an always-open exhaust vent at the back. When you look inside the helmet, it’s obvious HJC have made quite an effort to make sure there’s good routing for the breeze around the head and most people who ride in hot places say it does a good job of keeping them cool with the chin guard down. All good there. There are some minor moans (and it has to be said, they are pretty low-key) that because the shield fits quite close to the face in the RPHA Max, that it’s more prone to fogging – even in warmer temps.
However, the shield on the Max is Pinlock-ready and there is a Pinlock insert supplied – so fit that and it will stop the fogging – though if, like me, you’re rather well-endowed in the snout area – you might find that brings the inside of the shield a bit too close for comfort as a few wearers reckon the R-PHA Max is slightly shorter front-to-back than your average helmet, so the shield sits closer to your face.
Shield & Sun Visor
As mentioned, the main (clear) shield comes with a Pinlock so fogging needn’t be an issue as that’ll sort it out. The R-PHA Max also comes with an integral sun-shield operated, rather bizarrely, by a spring-loaded slidy-knob towards the top centre back of the helmet. Most folks find it a bit odd to have it there – but once you get used to it, it works well enough, with three positions – fully down, slightly less than fully down – and up. If the sun visor’s down, because it’s spring-loaded, you can press a button on the top of the helmet that will
retract the sun visor in a second. It does feel a bit cheap to operate and there’s the occasional report of squeaking – but all in all, it does its job.
One thing worth mentioning is that the Rapid Fire II shield removal mechanism is pretty easy to use (though not as easy as some other HJCs). Open the shield, and there’s a little tab that needs pushing up while wiggling the shield to release it. A bit weird why they’ve replaced their awesomely-quick Rapid Fire I shield mechanism with one that’s a bit fiddly. However, it’s still good and allows you to quickly pull off the shield when you need to clean bee/horse fly/bird-juice off it after a fast summer blast.
To open the chin guard, you push in a button under the guard and the guard rotates upwards. Push it down and it clicks back into place locating over a couple of sturdy-looking aluminum pegs at each side. The occasional person complained that it feels like a two-handed job to click the chin guard back in place so might be worth having a go in person to see if it suits you (though in my experience, you get the knack pretty quickly).
One of the main plus points reported by owners is that it’s very comfortable. Not for people with square heads apparently – and of course it needs to fit pretty snugly – but for those with a good fit then it’s a very comfortable helmet. It comes with fully-removable and washable internal padding made from an anti-bacterial and wicking material – that’s also supposed to suck heat out quickly (called it Cool4Ever – nice). That’s arguably not such a great thing in January in Washington State – but no one seems to think it works particularly well anyhow, so possibly no damage done there.
Other stuff – fasteners, audio, weight, glasses
The HJC R-PHA features a double-d ring fastener – which is a very reliable and easy to use fastener (if a bit old-style these days). It’s a pretty light helmet – though note when comparing helmet weights, it does depend on which helmet size is tested. The XS version of the Max is 3.2lbs (1.45Kg) while the Large is around 3.5lbs (1.6Kg).
One feature liked by most who wear intercoms or Bluetooth is that there’s plenty of room for speakers in the helmet. There isn’t a corresponding cut-away inside the foam but there is one in the padding so most 3rd party speakers seem to work well.
The RPHA Max has also been designed with glasses-wearers in mind – and there’s plenty of room at the side of the eyes to slot the glasses stems through.
It’s not the cheapest of helmets, but it’s a good all-round performer that holds together well with good build quality and lots of useful features. It’s quiet and comfortable though not the safest as tested by SHARP, scoring only 3/5. That said, If you’re after a flip-up that looks sleek, with a full-array of features like sun visor, anti-fog, then the HJC R-PHA Max may well be the one for you.
There are a number of good alternatives to the R-PHA if you’re looking for a flip-up. A few we’d recommend checking out the Schuberth C3 is a good performing and quiet helmet, the Roof Desmo which is great-looking and dual-homologated, the Lazer Monaco which has great ventilation and scores 4/5 in the SHARP test; and the Shark Evoline 3 that’s got some great features and scored a maximum 5/5 in the SHARP test.
To see reviews on other helmets, click our crash helmets review section. For other four or five star SHARP rated crash helmets, choose from the menu at the top.
If you’ve any experience of the RPHA Max, we’d love to know what you think in the comments section below. Nice one.
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