Date reviewed: July 2018 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: From £79.99 | www.oxfordproducts.com
The HJC CS-15 is an ACU Gold-approved full face lid costing £79.99 for plain colours and £89.99 for graphics (or £149.99 for a Spiderman model). I’ve been using it on my BMW G310GS for commuting and back-road hacking…
The polycarbonate shell of this ‘Songtan black/red’ model has an excellent overall finish, with good-looking vents. The wire mesh in the exhaust vents is quite thin, but it stays in place if poked.
The graphics are sharp and well applied – it’d be easy to mistake this for a lid costing at least twice as much.
At 1425g the CS-15 is a relatively lightweight helmet – you certainly don’t feel any strain on your neck while riding.
There are two independently closeable vents on the top, and one on the front – both of which are easy to operate with gloves on – along with a pair of always-open exhaust ports on the rear.
Air from the top vents can be felt when opened, but it is a relatively small amount of cooling; in this price range it’s good, but it can’t compete with helmets that admittedly cost four times as much. The chin vent gives additional circulation, but what’s most impressive is the visor, which can be clicked just off latched to give an excellent cooling breeze without allowing wind into the eyes. This stays in place at speed, so makes for a really cool lid in the summer.
With the vents shut, the HJC is quite still, thanks to the removable chin skirt, so will be a good choice in the colder months.
The visor has a locking lever on the side (to help meet ACU approval), but I’ve never felt the need to use it – it’s secure at speed, even when looking over your shoulder, and also stays up in the fully open position.
The visor mechanism is very smooth, but only has three positions. However, the excellent ‘just open’ setting above the latch sets this helmet apart from the majority of its competition in this and higher price points.
The visor has pins to accept a standard Pinlock anti-fog insert, but one isn’t supplied. It’d cost you around £20 for one, but the ventilation is so good when cracked open that you could pretty happily use this lid without.
In heavy rain, the visor leaks slightly at one point on the top edge. Adjusting the mounting plates backwards did reduce this, but on this one at least, there’s still a small point to the left of centre that allows water through.
There’s no drop-down sunshield; this will upset some people, and it is a shame, but I can’t help thinking that the money has been spent on producing a really good, albeit simple, budget helmet.
The lining is nothing special to look at, but it’s soft and very well fitted. It’s also fully-removable for easy cleaning; it’s a little fiddly to put back in, but you won’t have to do it often, so it’s no great disaster.
The micrometric ratchet fastener takes just a couple of minutes to set at the right length, then – unlike a double-D – can be used with gloves for a quick a secure fit.
This HJC design is slightly different to many others, having a two-piece construction that locks very well, but can add an extra layer of faff; the fabric tab that you pull in order to release the strap is at the front of the mechanism, rather than the back like it is on others – this often folds down over the aperture, stopping you poking the other side of the strap in. You soon get into the habit of moving it first, but it’s not quite as convenient as the usual design.
It’d be easy to consider this helmet too tight when first trying it on, but like most HJCs, it simply has a narrow aperture. You need to keep the straps pulled out to the sides, but once on, it’s a wonderful fit – on my head at least.
It’s really snug, with firm pressure all over my head, but not uncomfortably so, and there are no pressure points. It’s a reassuring feeling.
All helmets require the use of earplugs, and I always wear them, but I tried this without and was impressed – no weird whistling, no buffeting and no screaming. Again, I’ll still wear plugs normally, but this is relatively quiet.
I’m very impressed with this helmet. It’s far from the cheapest in the budget range, and of the models BikeSocial has tested, you could get something for around half the price, but this is a very well made, comfortable and secure-feeling lid. It’s got great ventilation yet is relatively quiet; the leak in the visor is my only criticism, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to riders on a tight budget.