In our first gear review, we are going to be testing the all-new HJC i70 Helmet, which is distributed in New Zealand by Darbi Accessories and retails from just $399. Is this mid-level helmet punching above its price tag? We'll soon find out.
Words and Photo by Mathieu Day-Gillett
It's a new year and after 3-years wearing the same old helmet it was time for us to find ourselves a new lid. Lucky for us, when we put the call out to New Zealand gear distributors, Darbi Accessories – the team behind motogear.co.nz and distributors of HJC – answered the call and sent us the all new i70.
The i70 replaces the long lived IS 17 in the HJC lineup and retails from $399 here in New Zealand putting it in one of the most competitive segments for helmet buyer's dollar.
It's a good thing then that the HJC i70 is packed full of features which only a few years ago would have seen a much higher price tag.
First impressions of the helmet are good, with the Rias MC1SF graphic we chose looking top notch (and an excellent match for our Rev'It! Replica leather jacket), and if the red white and black colourway isn't your thing there are plenty of other great looking options to choose from. Just check out the motogear.co.nz website for the full range of available colours.
A big thing for me when choosing a new helmet is whether or not my glasses will fit without causing a headache as I'm one of those unfortunate riders who legally need to wear corrective eyewear while riding. Lucky for me the i70 is totally spectacle friendly and is an absolute breeze to slip my glasses on while wearing – but that's not its only trick for the optically challenged.
Having maximum peripheral vision is an important consideration when selecting your next helmet, as you don't want to be swivelling your head around like a demon doll just to check what's in the lane next to you. HJC designed the i70 with an extra large eyeport, which roughly is 10mm wider than other HJC helmets. It doesn't sound like a lot but in practice it works a treat.
There is of course the "must-have" in helmets these days as well, which is of course, a drop down sun visor. Using it so far the mechanism is smooth and the visor drops down and retracts easily and drops down far enough to completely cover your eyes. No annoying sun strike issues here!
Now normally I prefer the traditional double D-ring method of doing up my helmet, but the i70 comes with what HJC calls a Micro-Buckle and I have to say I might just be converted. It is simple and easy to use, and instead of taking a minute to do up my helmet I can literally plonk it on my head, clip the buckle together and ride off. Plus I can do it while already wearing my gloves which is another big tick for me.
Ventilation is good, with five ports to allow cool fresh air in and out of the i70.
A pet peeve of mine which has stemmed from my older helmet is the ease of opening and closing those ventilation ports. My old helmet still has me confused from time to time as to whether or not it is actually open or closed. Thankfully there is no such issue with the HJC and it is quite obvious which setting you have the vents in, even with a quick glance in your mirrors.
Wind noise is comparable to other helmets in this price bracket, with noticeable noise while riding at a constant 100km/h. This is part and parcel of an affordable helmet and one that even some of those $1000+ lids you see advertised still haven't managed to rectify. While it's not annoyed me in the slightest, if wind noise is something you could live without a simple pair of ear plugs from your local pharmacy almost completely eliminates wind noise.
Stay tuned in the coming months as we come back with our thoughts after some more time to get to know the HJC i70.