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HJC F70 helmet review

Sometimes choosing purely on looks works out well, sometimes it doesn't. Our reviewer's experience of the F70 came down on the disappointed end
Price from: £209.99 (RRP £279.99)

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Review Conditions
Motorcycle: Yamaha MT-09 Tracer
Seasons Ridden: All year

I've owned a few HJC's over the years as I've found their balance of features, fit and quality to sit nicely within my chosen budget. So when I was looking for a replacement for my RPHA-70 (which I'd carelessly landed on) the slightly lower spec F70 caught my eye.

Like many people I can be quite shallow at times and inevitably it was the look of the helmet that first appealed. 

I went for a design called the Mago in blue as the thick stripe offset to the left of the matt white helmet was reminiscent of a bygone style, and it matched my little Yamaha project bike very well.

It's not heavy at 1500g and the ACU Gold sticker would allow me to take it on track if my heart desired

Fresh out the box, the first thing to do was to fit the anti-fog Pinlock and this is where the first, albeit low, hurdle appeared. 

The visor is screwed in place and this is one area where bygone styling is welcome to stay in the past. Tool-less visor removal has been the norm for several decades so I was somewhat disappointed to find myself back in the 1980s, scrabbling through a kitchen drawer for a screwdriver to remove a visor.

The ridge in the visor makes fitting the Pinlock quite easy, and this design means the Pinlock works well even if the concentric adjusters on my visor weren’t quite set up to provide a perfect seal in the first instance.

The helmet has an integral mounting point for the HJC Sena Smartphone Bluetooth system, but my old faithful Cardo was happy to find a new home mounted in its usual place at the side of the helmet. The fitting was a task made easier with the helmet’s fully removable liner and recesses provided for the speakers and the microphone.

The cheekpads, whilst removable, don't have an emergency-release facility, something that proved very useful shortly after the sudden demise of my RPHA-70, and it’s a feature that’s becoming more common in helmets now. 

We all have 20/20 hindsight and this is a feature I should have looked for. Many of us now wouldn't buy a helmet these days without the facility to fit a Pinlock and, for me, emergency-release pads are very high on the desirable features list.

Noise is an area that's of concern to a lot of people, but personally I listen to podcasts while riding. This eliminates annoying background wind noise but allows traffic sounds to filter through and helps relieve the boredom of the daily commute. I don't find the F70 to be better or worse than any other helmet for wind noise - and, yes I've owned a Schuberth C3.

Where the F70 is worse than a lot of other helmets is in wet weather. While the tall breathguard and Pinlock mean the visor is mist-free the design of the visor means there’s a shallow v-shaped trough at the top. Water pools at this trough and then slowly drips past the visor seal. 

I find that if I tilt my head slightly an increase in wind pressure allows a fine spray to gently invade my pores. A desirable feature on a spa day, but not on a safety helmet.

The strap is secured by the classic D-rings and the little red tab sewn on to one of the rings allows a quick escape from its clutches.

The ventilation is adequate for a helmet in this price range with relatively large twin top inlets allowing easy access with gloved hands. 

The chin has a slightly confusing twin system and I keep forgetting about the lower of the two vents. It also comes with a chin curtain that sits nicely in place and helps stop the breeze giving you an uppercut.

I've never bothered removing the large nose guard as the design seems to allow air coming in from the chin a run-up on to the visor to help keep that clear. 

I also like the near complete blackout you get when you lower the sun visor as it meets the large breathguard. 

The only downside of the design is a slight loss of lower peripheral vision, so If I had a sat-nav or a map (remember them?) in a tankbag for example I wouldn't be able to glance down quite as easily. But I don't, so it's not a problem for me.

I also like the sun visor lever being at the edge of the helmet as I think it compromises shell integrity less and is also easier to reach.

Like so many people who have been initially seduced by good looks, I have been disappointed with how the long-term relationship has panned out. 

I like to pop my visor and Pinlock off on occasion to keep things clean and tight and having to look for a small screwdriver has meant that operation hasn't been performed with the regularity I'd like. 

The longish-term reality of owning a matt white helmet is that you end up owning a very grubby matt whitish/ivory helmet as suicidal bugs and general road detritus creep their way in to the paintwork.

In the way of an overview I've got to give this helmet three stars out of five. It's perfectly adequate but the weight of its shortcomings drag it down and at this price there is a lot of good competition out there. 

I'd happily own another HJC, but not another F70, regardless of how good the carbon one looks.