HJC R-PHA 70 helmet review

Review
HJC R-PHA 70 helmet

Overall SBS Rating 88 /100
Reviewed by: Tony Hoare
   VERSTOMD
Review Conditions
Mileage
2000
Seasons
ALL YEAR
Motorcycle
VARIOUS

HJC’s latest high-spec sports-touring helmet, released in 2017, has impressed me a lot in the 2000 miles I’ve spent with it on my bonce.

The R-PHA 70 is not perfect, with some issues that I’ll get to later, but the riding experience is mostly very reassuring.

Comfort is always a very subjective issue, but the RPHA range of HJC lids – which also includes the RPHA-11 race helmet and RPHA-90 flip – seem to offer a near universal fit. The customer reviews on Sportsbikeshop’s site give the R-PHA 70’s comfort a resounding thumbs-up, a verdict I can only concur with.

It delivers put-on-and-forget levels of comfort with plush padding and a soft anti-bacterial liner that cossets the head. There’s room inside for spectacle arms without faffing around removing slices of foam, as you need to on some helmets.

Taking out the lining is simple, taking five minutes with no prior practice. That was slowed slightly as the rearmost popper in each cheekpad had escaped their mountings to stay fastened to the EPS liner, but it’s dead simple to rescue them and slot them back into their rightful place on the cheekpads themselves.

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The cheekpads have emergency release tabs, which is an important feature to many riders, and foam inserts fill recesses designed to accommodate intercom speakers… until you want to put speakers in there and can pull the inserts out to make room.

The light weight afforded by the composite-fibre shell reduces strain on the neck, and generous ventilation means plenty of air flowing in to keep thing cool.

The top vent is an absolute doddle to use even with the thickest winter gloves and it makes a significant difference to the internal temperature.

The main chin vent is similarly easy and is also effective, though the same can’t be said of a smaller vent at the base of the chinbar. This is operated by an internal slide switch and I lack the dexterity to operate it while riding.

In addition there are front-facing vents either side of the crown, though I can’t tell the difference between having them open and closed. This is not an issue as the other vents do an impressive job of drawing in enough airflow to regulate temperature on the inside.

The visor change is excellent – one press of a lever and it’s off, with subsequent replacement just as easy.

I’d love to say the visor is Pinlock-equipped, but instead it’s fitted with a Skipfog anti-mist insert. It works in the same way as a Pinlock insert, the design is owned by the same group of companies that own Pinlock and the majority of the material is even the same, but there is one key difference…

While the sealing bead around the edge of a Pinlock is made from silicone, the Skipfog is made entirely from one piece of the same material, with a rolled-over edge making up the sealing bead.

If Pinlock didn’t exist and Skipfog came along to save us all from misted visors, I’d think it was magic. But Pinlock does exist, and in my experience it does a better job.

The Skipfog works quite well, but even after careful tension adjustment I still suffer with mist patches on the visor’s inner surface. In heavy rain those patches grow and I need to ride with the visor open very slightly to bring in mist-clearing air. That isn’t an issue with a Pinlock that’s been set up properly.

I have another niggle surrounding the visor, and more specifically its two-stage locking process. The larger silver tab at front and centre secures the visor against the seal, and pushing a release button on the lower surface releases it so I can lift the visor. So far so easy, but…

In addition, there’s a horizontal slide switch that firmly locks the visor against the seal. The switch is so small that it’s easier to accidentally operate it than to deliberately do so. I’ve managed it on more than one occasion and found myself feeling trapped inside the helmet, which is quite an unpleasant feeling.

If you don’t know about the slide switch, or have forgotten in the panic to get the visor up, a mighty shove against the silver tab will release the lock, but it takes enough effort to feel as though the lifting tab is vulnerable to breaking.

If you do plump for a R-PHA 70 – and there is plenty to commend the helmet for – then practise operating the little slide switch so you remember it’s there and know what to do if the occasion ever arises that you need to release it.

These two issues around the visor are my only problems with the R-PHA 70, which has otherwise been an excellent companion.

The internal sun visor is excellent with good coverage, a strong tint and an easy operation via a chunky slide switch under the rim on the left-hand side of the shell. It’s also anti-mist treated, which sadly isn’t all that common on bike helmets.

With superb levels of comfort and an impressive build quality, I’ll happily carry on wearing the R-PHA 70. But in an ideal world I would want to slot a Pinlock between the Skipfog pins and disable the little visor locking switch.

88/100
Road helmet scores
  1. Vision
  2. Ventilation
  3. Fit & Comfort
  4. Build Quality
  5. Features

Features

    1. Dropdown sun visor
    2. Removable lining
    3. Breathguard
    4. Quick-release visor
    5. Composite-fibre shell
    6. Chin curtain
    7. Speaker recesses
    8. Visor locking tab
    9. Emergency cheekpads
    10. Anti-mist insert
    1. Pinlock MaxVision insert

Vision

14/ 20
The visor itself offers good field of vision, mounts well and has a recess so the anti-mist insert sits flush for better clarity. But the insert is a Skipfog that hasn’t been as effective as a Pinlock.

Ventilation

19/ 20
It’s a sports-touring helmet and it brings in a plentiful supply of air to keep the ride comfortable without increasing noise significantly.

Fit & Comfort

19/ 20
I’m usually a medium but sometimes need a large (Scorpion, Shoei, Schuberth). In this HJC I’m in a medium and it fits a treat, with cushy padding that’s softly lined. It’s a snug fit with no hint of a crush.

Build quality

17/ 20
The mechanism for the internal sun visor was sticky to operate in the early days, but that has eased with time. I’ve also knocked off points for the needless, fiddly and annoying slide switch that locks the visor down hard.

Features

19/ 20
It’s got the full-house of features we would expect from a sports-touring helmet, though the Skipfog anti-mist insert loses the lid a point.