HJC’s premium flip-up touring helmet with sun visor: HJC RPHA 90.

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Full review of the HJC RPHA-90 modular crash helmet.

HJC’s RPHA series of helmets are their higher performance range of lids (it’s actually short for Revolutionary Performance Helmet Advantage – I assume it makes a bit more sense in Korean!).

HJC launched the RPHA 90 as their hyper-compact, lightweight modular helmet to head up their flip-front helmet range. And like other RPHA helmets, that means it’s got a shell made from their advanced composite construction (called PIM+ or premium integrated matrix plus) along with a full complement of pretty well every feature you could want on a modern modular helmet.

Now it’s been out a while, here’s the lowdown on whether it lives up to the hype – or if it fails to deliver.

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Chin guard down on the RPHA 90 Rabrigo

Best places to buy an HJC RPHA-90?

Please click below to visit the HJC RPHA-90 helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShopBuy from Ghostbikes UK

Safety

 (more about helmet safety)

The RPHA 90 has HJC’s advanced composite PIM+ shell. That means it’s constructed using HJCs most advanced construction tech and includes layers of fibreglass, carbon fibre and aramid (kevlar). That’s designed to produce a strong and lightweight helmet and has allowed HJC, as you’d expect, to get the RPHA 90 ECE certified, meaning it’s been tested & approved by the European certification bods (it is DOT certified for the US too but DOT doesn’t include a mandatory testing regime).

So that’s great, right?

Well, yes. ECE testing is what every helmet in Europe has to go through and pass before it can be put on sale. And it’s pretty rigorous testing, meaning that every ECE certified helmet will give a decent minimum level of protection.

Unfortunately, the HJC RPHA 90 hasn’t been independently safety tested by SHARP or Snell, so we can’t be 100% on how well it’ll score if it was SHARP safety tested too.

However, to date 3 RPHA helmets have been tested by SHARP, and every one scored 3 stars for safety – which may or may not give us a decent idea of how well the 90 will score if it was to be tested (I’ll leave it for you to decide :))

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HJC RPHA 90 front view showing front vent sliders

If it does score 3 stars, that’s still not bad at all (though not as good as some of our top modular helmets) but don’t forget a decent test score is secondary to making sure you buy a helmet that fits well (read more here).

So that’s the lowdown on RPHA helmet testing.

But the RPHA 90’s also got a ton of other features that contribute to making a safe helmet.

There’s a drop down sun visor in there – invaluable for keeping your vision clear when it’s mega bright. And it’s got a Pinlock Max Vision anti-fog insert in the box too – again, essential if you live somewhere humid/cold/rainy.

There’s also a micrometric 2 fastener, that’s the same as the micrometric 1 ratchet strip, but this one’s a bit more sophisticated and made of metal, not plastic. Note the US version of the RPHA 90 comes with a double-d ring fastener.

And finally, modulars can be a bit weighty – guess it’s all that extra mechanism needed to operate the chin bar that adds a few g onto the weight.

But the HJC RPHA 90 weighs just under 1.5Kg which is much lighter than the average flip-up helmet. That’s good for comfort of course, but it’s useful for safety too (less mass for the helmet liner to control during an impact).

All of which means there’s a whole heap of safety-relevant features the RPHA 90 offers for your money.

But note (European riders) it’s not a dual-homologated modular – click the link to find out wtf dual homologated means and why you might want one if you’re looking to buy a flip-up helmet!

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If you want to be seen, here’s the fluorescent green Hi Viz RPHA 90

Helmet Noise

(more about helmet noise)

The HJC RPHA 90 has been designed to be compact and quiet.

The shell has been aerodynamically designed and wind tunnel tested to offer as little wind resistance as possible to reduce buffeting and noise (see ‘aero’ below).

There’s also an extensive neck roll and chin curtain combo at the bottom of the helmet which should keep noise out of the helmet; and that internal lining is engineered to give a secure fit that reduces noise too.

There’s some pretty conflicting views out there on whether it all works.

I found quite a few European riders complain that it’s a very noisy helmet whereas most Americans find it quiet for a modular (though there are some complaints that a weird rattly noise comes from that top vent).

So it’s difficult to say whether that’s down to US RPHA 90s being constructed slightly differently from European helmets or some other difference. Although most of the folks saying it’s really noisy were German – so maybe unrestricted Autobahns are playing a part here too!

I didn’t find many US riders saying it’s anything other the quiet for a modular (which are broadly noisier than your typical full face helmet).

So we’ll take the middle route and mark down the RPHA-90 as about average and hopefully, if you do buy one, you’ll be pleasantly surprised (and stay away from Autobahns!).

Ventilation

(more about helmet ventilation)

Ventilation on the RPHA 90 is a relatively ‘standard’ config. There’s a large central chin vent to drive air onto the back of the visor – and you can close it off using that large panel slider slap bang middle of the chin guard.

Same goes up top. There’s a large slider that opens/closes the single top vent and both sliders are very easy to find and glove-friendly.

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Rear exhaust vent on the matt black RPHA 90

Air from the top vent will go through the helmet shell and is circulated around the helmet via channels in the EPS lining inside, exiting out of the rear exhaust vent (that’s closable by a smaller slider).

And the great news is that ventilation, particularly through the top vent, is really good.

Several owners said that you can really feel the cooling across your head and it even keeps your head cool in extreme heat.

Also, when your head does sweat, the liner is great at wicking moisture away from your head and it dries out really quickly too.

While the chin bar vent takes air onto the back of the visor, it’s not enough to keep your visor mist-free at any time other than summer. So you’ll need that included Pinlock to keep your visor from fogging.

Visor

(more about visors)

Aside from your helmet shell giving you protection in an accident, the visor’s arguably the second most important feature on any helmet.

Thankfully the visor system on the HJC RPHA 90 seems to have every conceivable base covered.

That means it’s quick release (so you can swap it out quickly and easily), it’s Pinlock ready and there’s a Pinlock antifog in the box (yay!). It’s also wide for good peripheral vision and it’s got a visor lock to stop it opening while you’re riding. Mind you, not many helmets without a visor lock do that anyhow in my experience.

HJCs’ RapidFire 3 quick release visor system is one of the best out there so you should find it pretty quick and easy to use.

And of course, the RPHA 90s got an integral drop down sun visor too.

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Tanisk graphics (there’s also a classy black/red version)

It’s worth mentioning that the visor aperture on the RPHA 90 isn’t designed for use on a sportsbike though because if you get in a tuck position, you’ll struggle to see ahead because it’s not a massively tall opening.

Overall, owners of the RPHA 90 reckon the visor system works well; though there’s a couple of potential foibles.

On the good side, both the visor and sun visor are optically very good and owners love how good the wide vision is.

On the not so good side, there are reports of the visor seals not being the greatest in the rain, and quite a few owners complain that the visor locking mechanism is too big so when you crack open the visor, it gets straight in your line of vision.

Sun Visor

(more about sun visors)

The sun visor on the RPHA 90 works on a slider on the left hand side of the helmet. It works like most other sun visors – but if you’ve not tried one before we heartily recommend you try a helmet with a sun visor because they’re mega-useful when things get too bright and you’ve forgotten your shades or a replacement visor.

And usefully, the sun visor on the 90 is both anti-scratch and anti-fog coated (not all are).

It’ll also give you extra UV protection; polycarbonate visors (sun visor and main clear visor) inherently give you somewhere between 90%-99% UV protection because it’s one of polycarbonate’s innate properties. Hurray for plastic!

You’ll sometimes find that sun visors don’t drop down low enough, leaving a stripe of bright light at the bottom that can really get on your nerves.

RPHA 90 owners reckon that’s not the case with this sun visor – it comes down nice and low, the action and movement of the visor’s good and vision’s nice and clear through it.

Chin Guard

(more about chin guards)

The RPHA 90’s chin guard is opened using a single button on the bottom of the guard. As you can see in the images, the fully-raised position raises it to about 90 degrees – some helmets let you pull the chin guard right round to the back of the helmet and out of the way – and are dual-homologated too.

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Chin guard in fully raised position.

If you’re intending to ride with the chin guard up, then we’d suggest you buy one of those dual homologated helmets (meaning it’s tested, approved and legal to be ridden with the chin guard up – Europe only).

Also, if you buy a modular helmet, chances are you like the flexibility of having that chin bar up when you want, but having the protection of a full face helmet when you’re putting some serious miles in. Which means you want to be able to trust that the chin guard will stay locked and closed during an accident.

The most recently SHARP tested HJC modular – the IS Max 2 – scored an outstanding 100% for this when tested (meaning the chin bars on every test helmet stayed locked throughout testing).

Whether that gives us an indication on how well the chin bar on the RPHA 90 will perform remains to be seen – but a 100% rating is surprisingly rare.

Some recently tested modulars which scored 100% include the X-Lite X1004 the LS2 Strobe and the budget MDS MD200 – and all Nolan modulars tested to date have scored 100% too.

However, owners of HJC RPHA-90s like the way the chin bar works. It’s easy to open and close, it feels solid, and it gives a nice reassuring clunk when you close it so you know it’s closed and locked.

Comfort and Sizing

(more about comfort and sizing)

As you’d expect on a premium priced modular, HJC has thrown quite a bit of care an attention at the internals on the RPHA 90.

It has a removable and washable lining of course and the lining foam has been shaped to form a close fit with the face; called a 3D lining.

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Rabrigro graphics

It uses ‘Polygeine’ fabrics which use small amounts of silver chloride to make the fabric resistant to bacterial growth and therefore reduce odour – meaning you’ll need to wash the lining less often.

And it also uses what HJC calls Multicool which is a moisture-wicking material which should keep your head drier while simultaneously removing heat and keeping your head a bit cooler.

We’ve heard reports that it really works – pulling sweat away quickly and drying out just as quickly when you’ve finished riding.

Also, if you wear glasses, there’s a glasses groove inside to take the stems of your glasses and stopping them pressing into the side of your head while riding.

I found one RPHA 90 reviewer who tried several pairs of glasses along with pulling down both the chin bar and sun visor to see if they’d interfere with each other. They found neither touched the glasses – so that hopefully means you’ll be able to keep wearing your glasses when you wear a RPHA-90, and don’t keep having to remove them.

According to many owners, the lining is soft and plush and makes for a really comfortable helmet that’s fine for all day riding.

So, if you’re thinking of buying an RPHA 90 and you’re a medium oval internal shape (the RPHA-90 should suit most riders unless you’ve got a longer oval head shape), please follow our motorcycle helmet fitting guide to find out how to get the right size of helmet.

Don’t forget, wearing a correctly-fitting helmet is your number 1 priority to ensure your helmet will give you max protection during an impact.

Looks & Graphics

For the latest designs and deals, it’s worth clicking through to our recommended retailers using the links below.

But at the time of writing, there’s a gloss and matt black RPHA 90 along with a pearl white and a dark grey titanium version. And if you’re after a hi viz helmet, there’s the bright fluo yellow and there’s a slightly toned down fluo yellow Rabrigo (see Rabrigo pic above). Finally there’s the Tanisk graphics in black or red.

Best places to buy an HJC RPHA-90 helmet?

Please click below to visit the HJC RPHA-90 helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShopBuy from Ghostbikes UK

HJC RPHA 90 Video

Other stuff – audio, weight, aero, warranty

The RPHA 90 is designed to take the Cardo Smart bluetooth set. But it should also work with most headsets provided their speakers aren’t too deep – the speaker cutouts on the 90 are about medium depth.

Modular helmets are never the easiest places to mount 3rd party comms units on. But we have heard of Sena SMH-10s and Cardo Packtalk Bolds being mounted successfully – though you may have to mount them further back than on full face helmets.

The HJC RPHA-90 is one of the lightest modulars, coming in around 1.47Kg (3.2lbs) give or take. And many owners say it really feels lightweight when you’re riding too.

Several owners also reckon HJC’s aero efforts have paid off – saying it feels really stable on the road.

Like all HJCs RPHA helmets, it comes with a class-leading 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.

Overall/Summary

The RPHA 90 is HJC’s premium (i.e. most expensive) modular helmet. But for that you get a light weight modular (not the lightest ever but not far off) that’s compact and has high quality internals.

There’s some great alternatives for quite a bit less money (see some below) but the RPHA 90 is a really good performer – offering excellent ventilation and visor system along with all-day comfort and quality materials.

It’s stable too and it’s widely regarded as not too noisy – for a modular. Overall then, it pretty well does everything HJC set out to achieve. And now there’s deals to be had on older graphics (check out our links to reliable and trusted retailers below) you can have HJC’s great-performing, premium modular at a bargain price.

Crash Helmet Buying Guides

For (hopefully!) other useful information to help you when buying your next helmet, check our various guides - or have a look at our top helmet lists where we've got the top 10 rated helmets overall and best budget/safest/full face/flip-up helmets.

Good Alternatives to the HJC RPHA 90?

First off, there’s the Shark Evo-One 2, that’s a SHARP 4 star safety rated modular that’s comes in composite and carbon fibre variants – but check the ‘summary’ on our review page for details.

There’s also AGVs Sport Modular, that’s a mega light weight (1.3Kg) carbon fibre modular designed for sports bikes. It’s a a good few quid more expensive than the RPHA 90 though.

Or there’s Shoei’s well regarded Neotech II, that’s the follow up to their successful original Neotech that features sun visor and Pinlock too.

Or how about something on the Adventure side? Schuberth’s E1 has an optically correct main visor, 5 year warranty and is a combo of adventure bike and modular.

Best places to buy an HJC RPHA-90?

Please click below to visit the HJC RPHA-90 helmets pages at our recommended stores. And if you buy from one, we get a small sum from the sale at no extra cost to you – a massive THANKS! (it’s how we finance the site).

Buy from SportsBikeShopBuy from Ghostbikes UK

Other Modular Helmets

If you're after a new modular/flip-up helmet, they've never been more popular and there's a ton of choice out there. You can find our latest top 10 modular helmets list here or check out all our modular helmet reviews here. You can also visit our smart filters page where you can click the flip-up/modular check box then choose a few other features to find the best flip-up helmet for you.

Star Ratings

1 COMMENT

  1. I bought this helmet for a number of reasons, but mainly because I wanted a quieter helmet than my earlier model HJC modular. All the marketing told me they’d done clever engineering to reduce wind noise.
    Unfortunately I was unable to take one for a ride before buying which means I spent nearly $900 (NZ) dollars on a comfortable, lightweight, good looking noise amplification system.
    I have custom earplugs that I can play music through, and they are drowned out by the heavy buffeting noises this helmet emphasises. Even the slightest tap to the chin straps is amplified directly to my ears and sounds like someone is knocking on the side of the helmet to get my attention.
    On some bike, at some angle, I’m sure this will be a wonderful helmet – but to me it’s an expensive mistake.

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