HJC’s latest flipfront helmet is a strong new contender in the premium flip arena.
I’ve worn an HJC RPHA-91 for just over a month and covered more than 2000 miles, including a tour of northern England and Scotland that involved day-long rides in a wide variety of weathers.
That experience has left me massively impressed with the helmet, which is a major evolution from the RPHA-90S that went before it.
The new lid is sleek, comfortable for my head shape, offers great peripheral vision and also protection against rain and mist.
Its sun visor is excellent, and can be adjusted to offer as much or as little depth of coverage as you need, and the operation of the flip mechanism is excellent too. Removing the intercom cover on the left rim reveals a switch to adjust the amount by which the sun visor drops.
The sun visor is also coated to protect against fog, which I found effective and very welcome on early mornings and in damp weather.
There’s a good cracked position for the main visor, which allows some air to flow inside, but those who want to ride with the visor in other intermediate positions may be disappointed as I find the visor automatically shuts to the cracked position when I get up to around 50mph. I’m happy with that, but some riders want visors to stay partially open at higher speeds.
Photography: Helen Meeds
When raised into open-face configuration the RPHA-91’s chinbar pivots back and down at the end of its travel, reducing the surface area that’s pointing into the windflow as you ride along. This gives better aerodynamics and a more comfortable weight balance.
A switch on the left side means you can lock the chinbar up and legally ride with it raised, which is a requirement for all flipfronts that meet the new ECE 22.06 safety standard. The RPHA-91's click when closing the chinbar isn’t as obvious or reassuring as on some other flipfront helmets, but I developed a method that meant I could be sure I’d locked it properly in place.
Ventilation comes through strongly at both the chin and up top. The chin vent rocks open in two stages and scoops lots of refreshing air up and into the helmet.
The sliding top vent does the same job, giving a real cooling breeze over the top of my head.
There are two additional vents just above the visor, but I couldn’t feel any effect from these when riding the Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE I used for this review. In the end I just left them shut to save the risk of bugs getting in them.
Noise is always a very subjective issue. I didn’t find the RPHA-91 louder than any other helmet I’ve worn on the V-Strom (and I’ve worn lots as part of my job), but the V-Strom is quite noisy anyway so it’s even harder than usual to pass comment on noise levels.
I was also able to test the RPHA-91 with an optional extra intercom fitted. There are two options available and I used the more sophisticated HJC 50B with this helmet.
It fits very easily, has a minimal effect on weight and aerodynamics and is very high in technical specification.
I was able to reliably communicate with my partner on another bike for long days in the saddle without a single worry about battery life, or signal breakdown. She was using a Sena Spider ST1 intercom and we connected using the mesh function (the Spider is mesh-only).
If big gaps or solid buildings came between us then our connection would drop out - as it would with any intercom combination I've used - but the two reconnected automatically as soon as we were back within range of each other.
The way the HJC intercoms fit to the helmet means it’ll be tricky to fit an off-the-shelf intercom - and the attachment location will be less than ideal. Some will find that disappointing, as they want to use an intercom they already own.
The 50B is HJC’s premium intercom that is the best of the two HJC options if you expect to be trying to connect groups of riders in the same conversation - note that every rider in the group will need to be using a Sena mesh intercom, though.
If you only want to connect to your phone, a pillion or one other rider then the simpler HJC 21B intercom is cheaper and will still suit your needs.
I’m lucky enough through my job to have tried all of the premium flipfront helmets currently on the market, from the AGV Tourmodular to the Schuberth C5 and Shoei Neotec 3. The HJC RPHA-91 stands comparison with all of those models and if the fit suits you then I would have no hesitation in recommending it.