HJC CL-17 Helmet
The HJC CL-17 is a fantastic choice for a low-priced helmet and definitely a best-buy option in my opinion. It does have some minor flaws, but those can be overlooked easily if you take another look at its price tag.
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When buying a motorcycle helmet, one of the defining characteristics we look at is the price. Of course, you can’t put a price on your own safety, but just because you can’t afford the high-end models, that doesn’t means your head will instantly fall off if you buy the cheaper one instead.
However, you will typically have to sacrifice some of the features and luxuries found on the more expensive models, but that stuff is secondary anyways, as the helmet’s primary purpose is to protect your head in a crash, and hopefully, that will never happen, and even if it does, wearing the most expensive helmet hardly makes you immortal. It is just a question of what you’re willing to give up in order to save money or simply what you’re looking for in a helmet.
Some people make their choice based on safety ratings, or design, others like to stick to one manufacturer in particular, or they find some other criteria that they consider important. Most of us, though, set a budget and try to find the best helmet possible for the money. That’s where HJC CL-17 comes in. HJC, according to their claims, has been the largest helmet manufacturer in North America for the past 20 years, and if the CL-17 is anything to go by that claim makes sense. My focus in this article is their popular yet affordable helmet, the CL-17. Let’s take a closer look.
The most important feature, as far as most of you should be concerned. The HJC CL-17 has a polycarbonate shell, coupled with a standard EPS liner, and surprisingly, it is not only DOT certified, but bears a Snell certification as well (except for the 3XL-5XL size which meets only the DOT safety standard).
What’s interesting about this particular helmet is that it’s astonishingly light despite having such a solid design accompanied by the two safety ratings. Actually, it’s two grams lighter that it’s predecessor, the CL-14. That might not sound like much of a difference, and it really isn’t, but where most manufacturers make their helmets heavier in order to meet the Snell safety standard, HJC has gone and done quite the opposite, without sacrificing safety.
The overall build quality is excellent and while there are some places where you can tell it’s a budget helmet, like the paint job, or the use of cheaper material in order to keep the price low it’s still structurally sound and robust.
Comfort is Key:
Since I’m not willing to test the CL-17’s performance in an actual crash (duh!), I’ll stick to how it fares in everyday use. It comes as pleasant surprise that the HJC CL-17 comes in sizes ranging from XS to 5XL and while most companies use just one helmet size, and change the thickness of the padding on the inside of the helmet, HJC apparently uses several different shell types which sets it apart from the rest.
The padding is thick and comfortable and doesn’t cause discomfort even when you wear the helmet for a long period of time. I took this review model for a 6 hour spin down Highway-101 last weekend and barely felt any discomfort.
One minor flaw can be attributed to the quality of the vinyl used at the bottom of the opening, but in my book it’s absolutely something you will be able to live with. It does, however, make the helmet somewhat noisier but that can be circumvented by buying additional padding or by wearing earplugs.
There are also problems with the ventilation mind you. While the chin vent lets in a fair amount of air inside, along with a good airflow coming from the bottom of the helmet, I found the top vents barely let in any air at all and they appear to turn at right angles, which further diminishes the circulation of air. Something to think about.
“All New HJC CL-17”
The HJC CL-17 Features:
HJC has been able to cut down on the cost of the CL-17 by introducing standardization for the face-shield and removal system, called the RapidFire which is one the most simple designs on the market and it works perfectly. One additional plus due to this standardization is the inclusion of a Pinlock anti-fog insert with the HJC CL-17. A lot of manufactures have given up on anti-fog treatment for the face-shield and went with the Pinlock insert instead. While there is nothing wrong with the Pinlock system, it is a bit puzzling why the same can’t be applied to the face-shield itself?
The Pinlock can be a bit difficult to install, you have to be extremely careful when cleaning it and it influences the visibility of the lens somewhat negatively. The CL-17’s viewport provides above-average visibility for the rider and the chin bar appears to be located lower that on some of the other models which allows for a better view of the road and all the instruments and dials on the dashboard.
While the HJC CL-17 doesn’t not have an internal visor, in order to maintain its low price, you can still choose from a wide variety of tinted or mirrored face-shields which HJC has to offer. For those of you who prefer wearing sunglasses instead, there’s still enough room inside the helmet and the padding is soft enough so you won’t have any trouble putting them on or removing them.
The HJC CL-17 is a fantastic choice for a low-priced helmet and definitely a best-buy option in my opinion. It does have some minor flaws, but those can be overlooked easily if you take another look at its price tag. At the end of the day, when you consider the reliable and creditworthy HJC brand combined with the fact that this lid meets the Snell safety standard while offering great comfort and visibility, a Pinlock system and a three-year warranty all for under $150 – this one is a no-brainer.