Wicked Rippa: HJC RPHA 70 ST Helmet

Since I have the racer tag on me here at CityBike World Headquarters, I sometimes miss out on testing non-track oriented gear, so I was pretty stoked to try HJC’s new sport-touring RPHA 70 ST.

I own the more track-oriented RPHA 11, so I was already familiar with the HJC brand and all that comes with it. I discovered with that helmet that some riders’ perception of HJC as a budget helmet maker is unjust.

The “Rippa” (as I call  it) 70 ST offers features that put equal emphasis on both sport and touring. But before I get to the S and T, let’s talk about how safe the Rippa will keep your nugget. It comes to us with the standard DOT sticker, but also an ECE R 22.05 certification to actually make you feel good about its protective capabilities.

The lining is easily removable for de-funking and features externally-releasable cheek pads for emergency situations. The shell is HJC’s proprietary combination of Carbon and Carbon-Glass Hybrid fabric aka the Premium Integrated Matrix / P.I.M. Plus. HJC says that their redundantly-named PIMP(lus) composite is both lightweight and strong. Since I was not willing to test the durability in live action, I pulled out my wife’s cooking scale.

The 70 ST weighs in at 1729 grams—with a Sena 10C installed on it—making it lighter than an unintercommed Shoei X-Fourteen by a seemingly appropriate 14 grams. Not bad for a street lid with a built-in sun visor (and an intercom).

That drop-down sun visor is extremely convenient and effortlessly slides in and out of the shell. Unlike some variations on this theme, HJC does not use a loud, clunky spring-loaded mechanism to actuate the visor. Instead, it is a quiet, almost-too-easily-manipulated lever that lets you select just how far down you need the darkness. I always have it all the way up or down, but you do have the option to put it just about anywhere in between.

HJC says the ST’s sunshield has an anti-fog coating, and that seems to be the case when it is deployed. When it is up, however, the visor seems to collect condensation from sweat as it is sometimes hazed over when brought out of the stowed position. I’ve made a habit of checking it before sunny rides and cleaning it as needed. When clean, the inner visor is optically correct and offers excellent sun blocking coverage.

The comfort factor is very much in line with touring helmet expectations. The sparse weight is a huge contributing factor here, but increased comfort requires more than reduced mass. I’ve worn the ST on five-hour rides without fatigue—a nice shoutout to the liner and padding’s above-average finish.

Ventilation is about as good as it’s going to get without sacrificing the generally hushed wind noise of the 70 ST. There are a total of seven vents: two on the chinbar, a massive Snork-style vent on the top, two rear intake vents, and two static exhaust vents.

The two chin-mounted vents flow air up the front and directly into the mouth area. The rear intakes, while functional, are not a main source of airflow but do add to the overall cool factor. The top vent is designed to work in both an upright touring position, as well as the sportier Ricky Racer stance that sometimes happens out there in the real world—a huge plus.

Since it’s California Winter, I’ve only ridden in temps slightly under 60 degrees in this lid, so it’s tough for me to say exactly how quenching the ventilation is, but I can say with them all open it was quite brisk inside the ST.

The tight seal on the double-locking main shield adds to the quiet factor. When the centrally located locking mechanism is fully secured, the front of the helmet is pretty much airtight. The shield also is very easy to remove to swap out, clean, or attach the included anti-fog insert.

As mentioned, I have my Sena 10C installed. HJC assumed that this type of helmet would be popular with the intercommies, so they made the ear pockets deep and wide enough to accommodate such devices.

The sport part of this touring helmet is partly how the ventilation works when in a tuck, but it does not stop there. The styling is quite sporty, and the rear spoiler is quite functional: air flows smoothly over and around the helmet, providing a buffet-free riding experience.

Collectively, the HJC RPHA 70 ST’s features add up to much more than what the $399.99 starting price would lead me to expect.

$399.99 solids, semi-flat and graphics are more, and the Iron Man version will set you back just over six large. Learn more and find out where to buy at HJCHelmets.com.

This story originally appeared in our February 2018 issue, which you can read in all its original high-res glory here.

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