HJC Sy-Max III – review

HJC Sy-Max III flip-u[ modular helmet

HJC Sy-Max III flip-u[ modular helmet

I reckon I’ve worn the my new HJC Sy-Max III helmet for some 5,000 plus kilometres after buying it to replace my much liked Nolan N90 flip-up helmet.

The Sy-Max III has gone through some extreme weather – blinding rain, and, for us Canadians, hot temperatures (32 degrees C.)

Overall

Overall, the Sy-Max III has been a great purchase for me.  It fits my ’round-oval’ head and wide face better than the Nolan N90.

But there are ‘fussy bits’ that have taken me time to get used to.  I’ve worn Nolan helmets for more than ten years, and the Italian brand helmet has some features that are slicker than the HJC’s, such as a ratchet (seat belt-style) chin strap, a tab on the faceshield located at the bottom centre (instead of HJC’s left-front position), and simple left helmet side lever to deploy the retractable sunshade.

The Sy-Max III uses a spring loaded slider. It's awkward and not intuitive at first

The Sy-Max III uses a spring loaded slider. It’s awkward and not intuitive at first

Retractable sunshade

The HJC has an awkward and non-intuitive spring loaded slider on top of the helmet to deploy the retractable sunshade.  One has to use one’s left index finger and find the slider tab on top of the helmet, then slide it forward until the sunshade clicks into one of two lowered positions.  Nolan’s left side lever is much better.

Retractable sunshade in lowered Position 1

Retractable sunshade in lowered Position 1, allowing the greatest air flow

Retractable sunshade in lowered Position 2

Retractable sunshade in lowered Position 2

Slide the tab forward until the first ‘click’ and you get the sunshade in lowered Position 1.  Position 1 leaves the largest air opening and the position I favour because it has the greatest air flow to my face.

Finally, the HJC sunshade’s optical quality seems to be better than the Nolan’s.  My Nolan N90 suffered from vertical scratching due to the insufficient clearance between the helmet’s aperture and the moving sunshade.  This is a common complaint heard from Nolan owners.  The HJC has no such issue.

Chin vent doesn't provide much ventilation and doesn't keep visor fog free on cool days

Chin vent doesn’t provide much ventilation and doesn’t keep visor fog free on cool days

Ventilation

The chin vent operates simply by pushing in the bottom of the plastic ‘plate’ that covers the opening.  It’s simple, fairly easy to operate with thin gloves, but the opening is small and doesn’t allow a lot of air flow.

On cool days, the open chin vent cannot keep the visor (when fully closed) free of fogging.

Top vents open via a small, black sliding button. Top vents are merely 'good', not outstanding

Top vents open via a small, black sliding button which is difficult to feel with thick gloves.   Top vents are merely ‘good’, not outstanding

Removing visor is super quick and easy. 1. Lift visor to max open position, 2. Push spring-loaded lever and visor pops off. Repeat for other side

Removing visor is super quick and easy. 1. Lift visor to max open position, 2. Push spring-loaded lever and visor pops off. Repeat for other side

Visor removal

Visor removal is brilliantly simple.

Step 1:  Lift visor to max open position

Step 2: Push the spring-loaded tab and that side of visor pops free.  Repeat for other side.

Reinstalling the visor is equally simple and fast.  Just reverse the above described process.

Noise

I’m not sure there is such a thing as a truly quiet helmet.  I always wore the Nolan N90 with the visor cracked open one notch because I liked the air flow.  (The Nolan has a standard chin curtain; the HJC does not.)  Because the HJC doesn’t have a chin curtain, its air flow is superior, and I find I ride with the visor completely closed.

Subjectively, the Nolan N90 (with the visor open one notch) and the HJC Sy-Max III (with the visor closed) seem to have about the same noise levels.

No matter . . . I always use ear plugs on the highway.

Quality

All in all, I’m happy with the HJC Sy-Max III.  I still feel the HJC Sy-Max III feels a little more ‘plasticy’ and somehow less ‘solid’ than the slightly pricier Nolan N91, but the HJC is working very well for me.

Value

The $392 street price (including GST) makes the HJC Sy-Max III a very good value.  And as I’ve argued previously, at this price, one can wear the HJC for two years and throw it away, buy a new one and wear it for two years, and it’s still cheaper than buying the ‘Mercedes’ of helmets, the Schuberth C3 Pro.

 

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