The HJC IS-17 is the replacement to the popular IS-16. It’s been designed to be a bit of a jack of all trades, for riders of all types of road bikes and with features that the modern rider will find useful thrown in; from integral sun-visor and Pinlock anti-fog insert to wind-tunnel tested shell design to reduce noise and buffeting that’ll also be good for the odd track day or two.
But the problem with trying to be all things to all people can be that you end up pleasing no one. Can the HJC avoid the trap? Here’s a quick clue – by jingo it can!
- 5 Star SHARP safety rating (maximum score)
- Very comfortable
- 1.55kg (average)
- Polycarbonate shell
- Sizes XS – XXL
- Typical price range: £120-£170
- NOTE: the IS-17 has now been phased out and replaced by the HJC C70. To find a great alternative, please visit our HJC main review page or check out on of our top 10 helmets lists.
First off, safety. As we always say, if you’ve gotta wear a helmet, you might as well wear one that’s been proven to be safe.
The HJC IS-17 is advertised as having an ‘advanced polycarbonate composite’ shell, but there are no more details about exactly what the polycarbonate is composited with. Either way, whether it’s just plain old polycarb or something a bit more hi-tech, it’s been been tested by SHARP and rated as a (maximum) 5 star helmet. This means it is among the highest rated helmets around and should offer great protection in an accident. Nuff said – top marks for safety – can’t get better than that.
Of course helmet noise is subjective and depends on how noisy your last helmet was, but most owners are happy about how quiet the IS-17 is (but do read owner comments at the bottom of this post). HJC have recently invested in a wind tunnel and the results show in the IS-17 as it has a new slippery shell with vents and sliders with a lower profile meaning there’s less to catch the wind and create noise. But the majority of owners reckon it’s a relatively quiet helmet. We still recommend you ride with ear plugs if you’re going any distance – but unless you come from a helmet that was particularly known for noise suppression, you should find all’s good with the IS-17.
Crash Helmet Sizing
There’s no information been published about the number of helmet shell sizes HJC have produced for the IS-17 – usually the more the better – but with this lid coming in at such a low price, we’re assuming it’ll be one, maybe two. As for fitment, it’s available in sizes XS-XXL (53-64cms). If you’re unsure how you can tell if a helmet fits you – check here.
With an internal sun visor in the way, there isn’t space for any of the usual brow/forehead vents, which can be a problem for full face crash helmet ventilation. However, HJC seem to have overcome any problems with the IS-17. There’s a big central chin vent, a crown vent and three exhaust vents to the side and rear of the helmet. To help out, there’s also an integral breath deflector to help keep your breath away from the visor and your face. All these work very well with owners saying it’s great for keeping your head cool in the summer and, more importantly for us Brit bikers, fog-free in the rain and cold weather.
The central vent pulls air up and across the visor while the forehead vent brings air into the top of the lid and through the now ubiquitous channels through the internal shock-absorbing EPS liner to keep the head cool. The air is then pulled out of the rear of the helmet through the rear exhaust vent. All vents are designed to be closed off and their sliders/openers are sturdy and easy to use with gloves.
The only fly in the ointment is that some owners report that even with vents closed, air can leak in, making for a draughty helmet (thanks for this info commenters below). That said, most owners praise the IS-17’s ability to keep the visor clear and the head cool which means it broadly scores highly for ventilation.
HJC have worked hard on the visors and seem to have got things (almost) spot on. The IS-17 comes with a Pinlock-ready, UV repellant, anti scratch main visor and an integral drop-down sun visor. Taking the main visor first, it’s interesting because it has a slight recess in the inside of the visor that will fit a Pinlock anti-fog insert. Pinlocks usually sit on the inside of the visor and so are slightly raised from it. HJC & Pinlock have decided that it’s a better idea to form the main visor with a recess to allow the insert to fit flat – a system that’s called Max Vision. It’s also slightly larger than regular Pinlocks offering a better field of view that’s obscured less by the edges of the insert.
That’s also shown on the visor opening and closing mechanism. There’s a central tab on the visor that clicks the visor locked when it’s down – and owners seem to like it. It stops the visor opening up when you’re hoolying along – not that it’s a problem on many other helmets who do very well without a visor locking mechanism. It does help when keeping the visor cracked open on it’s lowest defog setting as well though, allowing a small amount of breeze in when needed. A couple of owners had a problem with the ratchet being a little too ‘soft’ – it’s OK when it’s fully closed or open, but intermediate positions can be a problem with this soft ratchet not being strong enough to keep it there. One owner reckoned the central locking tab is quite large too so it can get in the way of your vision if the visor’s half way up. That’s probably not a problem for many riders, but if you like to ride with your visor half way up, this might not be the right helmet for you.
The last thing to mention about the visor is that it has HJCs Rapid Fire II visor removal system. This is awesome. Just push a little lever below the visor pivot and the visor’s released. To replace it, just push the visor in place and it seats with a click. Job done – even with one hand. You can check out how well it works in the video below.
Onto the sun visor. You lower it with a slider on the top of the helmet and retract it with the press of a button. It’s spring-loaded so it’ll snap back up instantly which makes it easy to use and is a good safety feature. Some helmets with spring-loaded retractors are pretty basic and the visor bangs back up. The IS-17’s is shock-absorbed so it’s quieter and nicer to use. The only complaint some users have is that it’s not sun-dimmed enough. I’m assuming it’s dimmed down to the legally allowable level but have no way of verifying this. Apart from that, and the fact that it can mist up on cold days (which is the same for all sun-visors) it’s universally liked.
There’s new internals for the IS-17. It has what HJC call their Supercool moisture wicking interior – that’s full removable and washable and is anti-bacterial; which is very similar to the features of most of the best-performing helmets. What all that stuff means is it’s designed to be comfortable, to help with ventilation, to pull moisture away from the head and to be fully removable and washable. There’s also a range of replaceable cheek pads available which are a great way to get the fit of the helmet just right. So HJC tick all the right boxes, but what’s it actually like in reality?
Well, when people talk about the HJC IS-17, they almost universally say it’s comfortable. Very comfortable. Folks don’t really talk about great wicking and how easy it is to wash – but they’ll moan about feeling too hot or they couldn’t wait to get the lid off. And in the IS-17s case, everyone says how it’s better than their previous lids (granted, most are stepping up from really budget lids) and that they’ve ridden all day in it without a problem. It also has a glasses-groove incorporated into the sides of the lining so is great to easily slip glasses on and off with the helmet in place.
All in all, we reckon you’ll be pleased at how comfortable the IS-17 will be. Check this link for other crash helmets that are reported as being really comfortable (or click the feature tags to the right)
Here’s a video of some guy who really likes the IS-17 (mostly because he’s trying to flog em, granted)
Other stuff – fasteners, audio, weight
The IS-17 comes with a double-d fastener in the UK, meaning that it’s eligible to wear an ACU Gold Star sticker for trackday use (though if that’s important to you, make sure you check with your retailer before buying because it also comes with a micrometric fastener in some parts). It’s also very friendly for folks wanting to add communicators to their lids as owners reckon there’s bags of space behind the chin guard for a mic and space near the ears for ear phones. One final note is that weight and buffeting are reported as top notch. The lid weighs in around 1.55 kilos which is about average weight for a full face. And finally, because this latest generation of HJCs have been wind tunnel tested/designed, it’s very slippery from every angle, meaning buffeting has been reduced.
From all the comments we’ve found across the interweb, there aren’t many nay-sayers. It’s a feature packed helmet that’s well-built with good finish and that’s packed with useful, well-thought-out design features. Not only that – it also scores a maximum for safety – and while it’s not exactly a budget helmet, for the price (around £120-£170 at the time of writing) it represents very good value for money. Oh, and I nearly forgot – it comes with a free Pinlock anti-fog insert! All of which makes it a great package and well worth looking at if you’re in the market for a new low-price lid.
Even though the IS-17 represents excellent value for money, there are some great alternatives around. The Shark Race-R Pro Carbon is another 5 star rated helmet that’s wonderful for comfort and scores either average or well in almost every category. Having said that, it’s over twice the price of the HJC – though if you’re looking after something a bit more exclusive, it’s worth checking out. If you’re looking for a crash helmet in the same price range as the HJC, then the Nolan N86 can be found for around the same price if you look hard enough (or check out our crash helmets on sale section where you’ll find some of the best deals around the web). The Nolan performs well in every respect – but just not quite as well as the IS-17. It’s a lovely helmet though and well worth a look.
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 or the tags to the right.
If you’ve any experience of the IS-17, we’d love to know what you think in the comments section below. Nice one.
More HJC crash helmet reviews/info?
Visit our HJC page to quickly browse all our HJC helmet reviews including all the latest safety-rated full face and modular/flip up helmets.