HJC Debuts First Premium Helmet

#1 in the World by Design

There’s a darn good chance that you sell more HJC helmets than any other brand — they’re the best-selling brand in the world and hold the vast majority of market share in the U.S. motorcycle helmet market.

But what if I asked you to sell me your best, premium helmet? Would you steer me to another brand? I’m guessing your answer is yes.

“HJC’s slogan used to be #1 in the world. Now it’s #1 in the world by design. A slight shift, but it’s significant,” says Ken Vreeke of Vreeke & Associates, HJC’s marketing agency.

He told MPN how HJC considers its top ranking as more of a challenge to continue striving forward rather than an accomplishment to be savored. That forward momentum is evident in the investment the company has made in the newly released RPS-10.

“With the introduction of the RPS-10, HJC is ready to be competitive in the premium helmet marketplace,” says Vreeke. 

Need convincing? Read on to see how HJC has invested and innovated to earn its place among the best of the best in the motorcycle helmet marketplace.

Research and Development

There is no textbook titled  “How To Build An Industry-Leading Helmet.” There is no computer program on “Helmet Innovations” you can run, no formula to follow. In the case of the new RPS-10, substantial capital upgrades to the HJC manufacturing and testing facilities were performed to facilitate this process.

Development of the RPS-10 encompassed more than three years of intensive work, along with substantial capital investment to the HJC manufacturing and testing facilities — including the creation of an all-new, full-size wind tunnel that enabled engineers to make the RPS-10 the most aerodynamic helmet HJC has ever produced.

During the RPS-10 development process, HJC employed CAD design and rapid-prototyping technology to build more than 20 different 3-D prototype samples. Each prototype was then tested in many ways and in many environments — including dynamic tests with an engineer seated on a motorcycle inside HJC’s new 130-mph wind tunnel. Such testing techniques allowed HJC engineers to measure high-speed aerodynamic performance and interior noise levels at varying angles and riding postures to fine-tune the helmet for reduced aerodynamic drag, maximum stability, minimum lift, minimum vibration and noise and more. Based on these testing results, the prototype was revised and a next-generation prototype was then designed and constructed, and the testing process resumed once again.

Finally, the complex and unique shell shape that defines the RPS-10 was born of untold hours of development work.

Having created a helmet shape with advanced aerodynamic properties, HJC engineers next aimed at creating a shell that would establish new standards for lightness. Net result: Weighing in at less than 1500 grams (3.30 pounds in small and medium sizes), the RPS-10 is the lightest Snell 2010-approved helmet on the market. Mission accomplished.

To gain this remarkable degree of lightness, the RPS-10 features Premium Integrated Matrix (PIM) construction, which incorporates three different materials — carbon fiber, aramid fiber and fiberglass — to create a unique woven blend both remarkably strong and noticeably lighter compared to conventional materials. Next, precisely sized segments of the PIM material are carefully hand-laid into a special pre-mold for shaping — a new process developed specifically for the RPS-10. This exacting production method (only six people who trained for a year are qualified to perform this pre-mold process) precisely controls placement of these layers to virtually eliminate unneeded overlap of fibers, which also allows a more precise amount of resin to be used in the forming process, thereby significantly reducing shell weight. The shell is then formed with the use of a new, proprietary blend of resins. The net result is a world-class shell that is more than 100 grams (3.5 ounces) lighter than a shell constructed in a more conventional manner.

Moreover, this development process also incorporated testing and feedback from World Superbike Champion and MotoGP star Ben Spies. He specifically requested that HJC develop a shield locking system, since he often turns his head to look around while in the heat of MotoGP racing. The RPS-10’s patented self-locking/center locking system locks the shield shut in a most positive manner, yet it can be instantly and easily opened with one touch of the finger when desired. This shield system also produces a secure seal, and the shield itself is an optically superior Pinlock-ready 2D Flat-Racing Shield that mounts via HJC’s RapidFireII Shield Replacement System. This simple and secure shield-ratchet system features a spring-loaded feature that firmly retains the shield in place during use. In addition, it also provides ultra-quick, tool-less shield removal and installation for efficient operation. Also included with the RPS-10 is a clear, anti-fog Pinlock insert.

Within the helmet, the RPS-10 incorporates an ultra-plush, premium SilverCool Plus interior that is fully removable, washable and moisture-wicking, and it also combats odor buildup with an advanced antibacterial fabric. A special antibacterial ginkgo extract helps fight odor buildup in the lining. HJC’s innovative Max Air-Flow Top Vent yields variable air intake that can be easily adjusted to one of seven click-stop positions to suit riding conditions using glove-friendly rotating dials on each intake vent. And the Advanced Channeling Ventilation System (ACS) gives full front-to-back airflow to flush out heat and humidity. The countless hours of development and testing conducted in the real world and within the wind tunnel were also employed to create a remarkably effective airflow within the helmet. The reward is an increase in ventilation of approximately 50 percent along with a measurably lower noise factor — about 4 dB — over previous designs.

Top it all off with a five-year warranty on materials and workmanship, and it becomes patently obvious that the new HJC RPS-10 is no mid-range helmet.

HJC RPS-10 Product Features at a Glance

• Max Air-flow Top Vent: Variable air flow is adjusted by glove-friendly dials on each intake vent.
• Advanced P.I.M. (Premium Integrated Matrix) Fiberglass: Super lightweight shell is designed for superior fit and comfort using advanced CAD technology.
• RapidFire Shield Replacement System: Simple and secure shield ratchet system provides ultra-quick, tool-less removal and installation for efficient operation.
• Optically-superior Pinlock-prepared 2D Flat-Racing Shield: The innovative Center one-touch open/close locking system is designed for an extremely secure seal.
• “ACS” Advanced Channeling Ventilation System: Full front to back airflow flushes heat and humidity up and out. Countless hours of development and testing conducted inside of our advanced wind tunnel have resulted in absolute smooth air flow both inside and outside. The reward is low wind resistance and maximum ventilation.
• SilverCool Plus Interior: Premium soft feel with Ginkgo Extract, moisture-wicking and odor-free interior with advanced silver anti-bacterial fabric. Crown and cheek pads are fully removable and washable.
• SNELL/DOT approved


Suggested Retail: $349.99 to $549.99

Winds of Change: The HJC Wind Tunnel

The art of motorcycling constitutes a most dynamic activity with the rider fully exposed to the elements — especially the oncoming windstream. That windstream does not stay constant and the rider’s head does not remain immobilized. Whether the day calls for gentle meandering and sightseeing down a shady country road or handlebar-to-handlebar racing at speed, the rider — and the helmet he or she is wearing — is very much subject to ever-changing wind conditions with his or her head and the helmet constantly taking on varying positions.

As a result, it makes sense to test a helmet’s form for aerodynamic efficiency and stability in a full-sized wind tunnel while it is strapped onto a test engineer sitting aboard a motorcycle. This is the ideal setting for simulating real-world riding conditions in a quantifiable, repeatable test environment. And this is what spurred HJC to build such a facility to conduct extensive testing for the new RPS-10.

Substantial capital investments were made to add this large wind tunnel to HJC’s design center. Dynamic tests with the helmeted testers could be performed at wind speeds as high as 130 mph. Why such high speeds? Certainly because racers regularly attain such velocities and more, but consider this: Should a rider heading down the freeway at 70 mph encounter strong headwinds of 45 mph or more, such an everyday occurrence would easily surpass the 100-mph mark. Which is to say, a helmet’s superior aerodynamic performance gained through wind-tunnel testing at high wind speeds can benefit all riders. In addition, such testing techniques allowed HJC engineers to fine-tune the RPS-10 not only for high-speed aerodynamic performance at varying angles and riding postures, but also for interior noise levels, effective ventilation, maximum stability, minimum lift, minimum vibration and more.

The inclusion of a full-scale wind tunnel within a helmet manufacturer’s R&D arsenal requires a substantial commitment. But for HJC, the benefits attained with the superior design of the new RPS-10 certainly made the costs of building such a wind tunnel more than worthwhile


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