HJC’s all over the place nowadays, and I mean that in a good way. From the more budget-friendly lids to the premium RPHA series, there’s something for pretty much anyone. Whether you want to spend a bit of cash or a lot of it, there’s probably an HJC lid for you somewhere in the lineup.
My experience with the brand can be traced all the way back to the HJC i10, an entry-level Snell-rated helmet that started my journey with Hong Jin Crown (HJC). I was so impressed with the brand that I just kept upgrading from there. I went through an RPHA 11 which served me extremely well. I could have just stuck to the ‘11’ all the way, but everything changed when HJC announced that they will be introducing an FIM-homologated lid, the RPHA 1N, also known as just the RPHA 1 in other countries.
We first covered the helmet back in 2021, with the announcement of the special Red Bull Circuit of The Americas (COTA) colorway following not long after. The moment that those stories were published, I was sold. I contacted our local HJC distributor and immediately placed an order. I was warned that it would be pricey, but I didn’t care. Now, following several months with the helmet, I can safely say that my money was well spent.
As for the price of the RPHA 1N, basic colors will set you back $699 USD, but if you want graphics this Red Bull COTA colorway is the priciest of them all and will set you back $949 USD. That’s a $250 USD premium over the standard solids, but that’s understandable given that it’s Red Bull’s very first officially-licensed graphic on a commercially-available helmet. You have to really want the Red Bull logo on your head to spend an extra $250 USD, and not gonna lie I really wanted this graphic.
Daily riding a racing helmet
My testing with the RPHA 1N involved a ton of road use and some track use. In both scenarios, I felt very conspicuous riding around with it. Whether at a paddock or a stoplight, it’s hard not to notice this helmet. The blue, and silver elements glisten in the light and contrast nicely over the flat red, white, and yellow elements on the helmet. It’s definitely a more complex graphic once you get up close and personal with it, which adds to its appeal and sort of justifies the extra cash you have to front. I had to get an extra visor, however. Unlike the RPHA 11, you only get one visor in the box along with tear-offs and a Pinlock lens. While the tear-offs and Pinlock were a nice bonus, the smoked visor is sold separately.
Still, daily riding a track helmet isn’t without some cons, like how the visor only has two real detents and how the cracked position is a little on the small side of things. While you can work the visor up to a usable crack and it stays cracked, it’s not as easy as a standard road helmet with a secure city position. Other than that gripe, however, the visor hinge is one of the helmet’s strong points, opening and closing confidently and securely without any wobble at all. Locking the visor is a little tricky at first. You have to slide a tab on the left side of the helmet to keep the visor locked in the closed position but the switch is a little slippery with gloves on. It’s easy enough to get to once you’ve had a little practice, however. If you want to change out the visor or take it off the helmet for cleaning, the RPHA 1N doesn’t feature a quick-release system found on other HJC lids, but it uses screws that can be loosened with just your fingers. It’s a different process compared to most road helmets, so it’s something to keep in mind if you like swapping your visors out often.
Another point of praise for this helmet is with regard to the venting scheme, especially the front vent. Eagle-eyed gear nuts will be quick to say that the front facia of the lid bears a striking resemblance to the Shoei X-Fourteen, especially the chin vents. Even then, I’m very satisfied with the performance of all the vents. The RPHA 1N flows a ton of air through it without affecting the helmet’s quietness all too much. Other racing lids tend to get quite loud, as is the case with the AGV Pista GP and I often ride on the highway without earplugs and with my Cardo Packtalk’s volume set somewhere near the middle. Overall, my head remained cool even on the hottest of days, where temperatures would rise to about 104 degrees (F) on some days. The helmet never once felt stuffy to ride in though I would advise you to close the vents during a downpour.
As for all-day comfort, I’m happy to report that the RPHA 1N performed well for some light touring, daily city riding, and all-around street helmets. The helmet tends to be on the heavier side of the spectrum, coming in at 3.31 pounds without the additional accessories, but you won’t feel that it weighs as much since it’s well-balanced front-to-back and side-to-side. HJC’s fit is often quite snug and the RPHA 1N is no different. I have a slim face and the RPHA 1N conformed well to my cheeks with the pads doing a great job of securing my head in place, though do try on the helmet to see if it will fit you. Also, HJC lists the RPHA 1N with an intermediate oval head shape, so it should fit most riders, but again, the cheek pads could be a little too snug for some.
Whether on the track or on a twisty road, the RPHA 1N offers a secure and snug fit that feels reassuring when things get exciting. The vents keep you cool when things heat up, and the FIM certification keeps your head in check just in case things go a little too sideways. The helmet is at home on the track.
Visibility out on track was exceptionally good. The RPHA 1N features a widened eye port for that ever-important vertical field of view while out on track. You can enjoy good visibility while out on track and while in a full tuck. The side-to-side view is also perfect for spotting other riders in your peripheries which is no surprise considering that HJC’ designed this with track use as its primary purpose. I never felt like I couldn’t see enough out of the RPHA 1N, which is a testament to how well-thought-out it is as a helmet for serious riding.
Even though it’s a dedicated track helmet, the HJC RPHA 1N is a surprisingly usable daily driver. The helmet is comfy even after a bit of distance and it’s remarkably quiet. Only the weight reminds you that it is on your head from time to time, but its aerodynamics give you a sense of weightlessness as it cuts cleanly through the air at speed. Ventilation is also a key strong point for riders who frequent hot days on the saddle, and it was literally a breath of fresh air for me with the vents being so focused and so aerodynamically sound.
Perhaps one big hurdle that I had to contend with is the price I bought it at. Is it worth close to a thousand dollars? Probably not. Again, I have to stress that the Red Bull graphic is a very pricey option that may not be worth it for most people. Though, for about $699 USD in a solid colorway, the HJC RPHA 1N’s an exceptional piece of kit. Sure, there are other more affordable lids that’ll give you an FIM Certification, but the RPHA 1N strikes a good balance between on-road, and on-track performance, in my opinion, and it’s definitely worth considering if you’re on the hunt for a high-end helmet. As HJC’s first-ever FIM Homologated lid, it’s a winner, and definitely, something that I don’t regret splurging on.