Before we get into the rest of the meat of this review, I know that reviewing this particular lid is a bit overdue. Currently, we’re seeing a 22.05 rating on this lid along with DOT, but I don’t think that’s a reason to overlook it.
As someone who rides in the heat of the sun often and who only occasionally hits the dirt tracks and trails, a helmet like this is a great asset to have, but is it worth it given that HJC will probably release the 22.06 version, likely to be named the i51, sometime before the 2024 deadline?
All things considered and sans the looming 22.06 homologated model in the near future, I consider this to be a guilty pleasure to use on a daily basis in terms of style, and in terms of the near unparalleled ventilation that this brings to the table on a hot summer commute.
Yet another Red Bull Graphic on a nicely-designed bucket
I’ve been very particular about helmet graphics, so particular that the only graphics that I’ve been fond of have been the Red Bull variety. From my RPHA 1N to the i50 I’m reviewing now, it’s no secret that the energy drink’s graphics are a personal favorite of mine. HJC gets it right in the graphics department more often than not, and this Spielberg Red Bull Ring livery is quite clean with its layout and its three-color scheme of navy blue, red, and silver.
The i50 itself looks very sharp for a dirt helmet, with relatively small vent holes in the chin and only a few exhaust ports at the back. The shell is made out of HJC’s advanced polycarbonate shell which is relatively lightweight, but about as light as other brands. As a middle-priced helmet, it does well to tip the scales at just 1,400 grams in a size medium, but it’s definitely not as light as other hardcore and more expensive dirt lids from other brands. HJC isn’t particularly interesting when it comes to dirt-bike-specific helmets at the moment and this is the most premium you’re going to get from the South Korean brand.
I really like the sharpness of the chin bar on the i50. It looks very aggressive and seems to fit the personality of a dirt or supermoto rider. I paired this helmet with the 100% Strata 2 goggles for everyday comfort and ventilation in a matching colorway with an orange mirror lens to match my KTM and give the setup a bit of pop. Goggle accommodations were expectedly good and very secure given the Strata 2’s silicone strip under the elastic and the curves of the i50. Other accessories that I put on included a Cardo PackTalk Bold, whose gear plate needed a bit of modification in order for perfect fit and alignment. That also answers another question, yes you can run comms devices on the i50, and HJC has cut-outs for the speakers. I managed to fit the wiring, the mic, and the 40mm drivers into the helmet with no problem, though usability at highway speed is definitely an obvious issue.
The first wear of the i50 was a bit of a rocky road. My size with HJC is medium but it didn’t come with a bit of resistance. Being a round oval, the sides of my head made contact with the EPS liner, causing a hot spot to form. I figured that the i50 was a longer-than-average intermediate oval with a rather narrow crown. Long oval or intermediate oval heads will seat well into the helmet, but round oval heads might bump into the sides of the EPS foam. The helmet didn’t fit me perfectly and I will admit that I pushed a bit of the EPS in to give the sides of my head a little more breathing room.
Photo by: Lifestyle on Wheels
It’s also worth noting that the cheek pads and the opening of the i50 are rather tight, and since the chin bar comes to a sharp point in the front, the form of the helmet might not be great for wide heads and individuals with a lot of widths on their cheeks. Even my narrow face felt a little squished during the first ride, but that wasn’t a problem anymore after a few break-in rides.
So you will need a few break-in miles for this helmet to properly fit your head. The hot spot that the helmet caused was my physical morphology issue and not the fault of the i50. I will close this section by saying that the pads are great for a dirt helmet and are premium-feeling thanks to the Supercool interior that HJC uses. On top of that, the pads are springy, mold well, and keep your head in place extremely well, one of the traits that I enjoy about all HJC products, at least for my head.
Daily riding a dirt lid?
For most of my daily commutes, I don’t normally hit highway speeds. Usually, I find myself “streetfighting” and hustling through city traffic all the time. In dense population centers, which the National Capital Region of the Philippines is, where traffic and heat are your two biggest threats. I was met with a few odd looks from my friends and industry mates when they saw me pulling up with a dirt helmet on my road bike, but I didn’t really mind that since it ‘kinda’ fits my 790 Duke’s Hypermotard-like look, and it also fits my use case of battling city traffic and heat all day long. I used this helmet as my lid of choice when participating in a moto-gymkhana-style competition, which I thought would be a perfect fit given the slow speeds and the unforgiving sun.
I find myself reaching for the i50 on days when I know that the sun is going to beat down hard, especially in the summertime. The lid is great for in-city runs if I’m heading to the shops or visiting a few friends on the back of my bike. I like how I don’t have to fiddle with a visor in traffic since I can just leave the goggles on because my face breathes fine with it anyway. However, you will definitely start hearing the wind past 40 miles per hour, so I’ll definitely reach for a standard road helmet or pack a pair of earplugs if I do want to head to the highway.
Photo by: Lifestyle on Wheels
For a dedicated off-road helmet, however, I was rather impressed with the tolerance this had for shaving off just enough wind noise. It’s definitely a loud lid when you’re up to 60 miles per hour, but it wasn’t too bad as I had thought. Up to 80 miles per hour or more, you definitely need to pack plugs, but even then the peak tends to catch the air and cause a little bit of instability at high speed unless you angle your head just right.
On the dirt
I don’t think that this helmet lacks in any areas given my current skill level on the dirt. While I am no stranger to the surface and the technique, I probably fit the profile of a typical HJC i50 buyer, someone who wants a helmet that’s not too expensive, but with great quality and performance, and I think the i50 met my expectations in its natural habitat.
The helmet wasn’t stuffy at all, and the lid stayed secure while doing all the necessary head movements while ripping around the flat track and the trails. The i50 did well to keep my head cool as well paired with the 100% goggles and it wasn’t stuffy at all. The i50’s minuscule vents are a non-issue on the dirt since the eye-port is wide enough and no chin curtain was present, obviously.
Perhaps one issue you will encounter is that the pads are actually colored white, which is definitely going to be an issue on the dirt. I hope HJC changes the pads in the next generation of this helmet to come with an all-black liner because the white will get dirty and look old after a few gnarly rides.
Since this is a helmet, the question of safety is always a good one to ask, but the i50 is a product of its time. Prior to the standardization of the ECE 22.06 homologation for helmet manufacturers, the i50 was a more than passable helmet in terms of safety. The i50 is rated ECE 22.05 and DOT plus it has HJC’s own version of a rotational safety technology that’s similar to MIPS, but not totally the same. It’s called SLID which stands for Sliding Layer Impact Distribution. The technology attenuates impact, and it’s also a slip-plane for the rider’s head to reduce rotational acceleration in an accident. The technology can be found on the top of the headliner, and it involves the use of four gel pads and a band that moves inside the helmet. Whether HJC’s technology is better or was put in to skirt the MIPS license is up for debate. Though, I appreciate the thought and I hope I never have to use it.
So is it out of date? Perhaps. Is it safe? I reckon that HJC wouldn’t sell you an unsafe lid in the first place. I assume that HJC could stay with the SLID technology and a new design for the i50, but I fear that the helmet will get a little heavier following the updated model.
One other issue…
When I purchased the helmet at the retailer, the model that was brought to me had a broken peak. I thought that this was a factory defect native to just that one helmet, but after digging around for customer reviews, there were some complaints regarding the brittleness of the peak. Some customers were reporting that the helmet was great except for the peak which broke due to mishandling.
HJC posts on their site that the visor is flexible, but upon closer inspection, the phrase “not warranted shatter-proof” was molded on the underside. It’s a bit perplexing how HJC would list the visor as a feature, then sort of take it back. Granted, they didn’t say shatterproof, but whether it's in-transit mishandling or an honest accident, I certainly hope that the visor on my helmet doesn’t crack on me in the future.
Should you get it?
Perhaps it would be bad for me to recommend a helmet that is out of date in terms of safety rating, but I will continue to still rock mine on- or off-road. Personally, I think HJC makes a safe helmet. I know of riders who’ve crashed in 22.05-certified HJCs in the past with no major brain injuries so I’d venture to say that HJC helmets are a safe bet regardless of 22.05 or 22.06 standards.
Starting at $159.99 USD and going to about $195 USD for graphic options. It’s a great dirt lid and a passable street helmet with no big glaring issues aside from outdated ECE safety standard and the peak visor drama. Minor complaints would be the color of the cheek pads, but that’s cosmetic.
Gallery: Gear Review: HJC i50 Off Road Helmet Review
With a new model or an ECE 22.06 standard update in the future, I think that the i50 is an okay and serviceable helmet. Its best quality is the build and the finish as it feels quite solid and not as hollow as other dirt helmets like the LS2 I previously used. The i50 is dense which plays well to the overall feeling of quality, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a go-to option in the market just yet. Personally, I think that HJC has a little ground to make up in terms of dirt and adventure offerings, but there is no denying that the i50 is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the i51 or whatever HJC model in the future addresses some of the concerns presented.