Everybody needs a helmet, and it seems like there is an endless number of them to choose from.
Prices range from the astronomical to the untrustworthy, and customers can be left scratching their head when deciding which is best for them.
Over the years, HJC has built a reputation for producing high quality helmets at a reasonable price point, and this review will highlight one of their most popular models as a bastion of clarity in the chaos that is shopping for a helmet.
This flip front modular lid comes in at around the £125 mark and you get a lot of lid for your money.
The IS-MAX 2 sits at the top end of the budget category, and as such has a lot of competition. It’s features let it hold its own, however, and compared to other helmets released at a similar level the IS-MAX is a compelling choice.
Safety and Construction
The IS-MAX 2 has a polycarbonate shell and adjustable chin bar, coupled with the usual EPS foam layers and a fully removable internal liner. The helmet’s trim feels robust, as do the switches for the one-touch sun visor and multi-point ventilation.
HJC IS-MAX 2 The helmet’s lining also has a groove to accommodate for riders who wear glasses.
Sharp awarded the IS-MAX 2 four stars overall, with a 100% latch safety rating to boot. It also meets UN ECE regulations. At its price point, it exceeds the safety ratings of competitors, and even competes with some helmets of a higher level.
The most obvious feature of the IS-MAX 2’s construction is its flip-front. Modular helmets are a source of controversy in motorcycling, as their safety credentials are often held in doubt.
As the IS-MAX 2’s Sharp rating proves, however, contemporary technology has brought modular helmets into the same ballpark as their full face counterparts.
What’s left after we eliminate the safety concerns is convenience, and really, who likes taking off their helmet to scratch their nose?
The IS-MAX 2 is available in sizes XS to XXL, so most riders will be able to find a fit that suits them. I usually wear an XL to accommodate my massive head, and the MAX 2 in this size fits well. In my experience, HJC helmets seem to generally fit the size that they say on the tin.
The IS-MAX 2 weighs in at 1728g for a large, so falls in the middle range of weight for a helmet of its type.
The weight is noticeable after long rides, and would be worth considering for riders interested in regularly covering a lot of distance.
Personally, I found it to be perfectly amicable for commuting and general daily use, but after long stretches of motorway riding and twisty roads on day trips, my neck was definitely feeling a little worse for wear.
The IS-MAX 2 was tested in HJC’s in house wind tunnels, and uses CAD in its design to aid flow through the helmet, improve aerodynamics, and reduce wind noise.
In practice, this technology is effective, and overall the IS-MAX 2 is a relatively quiet helmet.
If helmet noise is a major concern check our article about the quietest helmets available on the market but expect to pay a lot more!
The standard visor shipped with the IS-MAX 2 does support a pinlock, but one is not provided with the helmet (you can pick one up on SportsBikeShop). It also has a scratch resistant coating.
The integrated sun visor, which is operated by a sliding mechanism on the top of the helmet, is easy to use with gloved hands and has two height settings.
It doesn’t offer infallible protection from the sun, but is practicable for all but the brightest winter mornings.
The straps on the IS-MAX 2 are made of good quality textiles, and close with a micrometric style latch.
Compared to a fiddly D ring set up this style of latch is easy to operate- perfect for those riders that forget to do up their helmet before putting on gloves.
As with the aero and noise reduction, HJC used their wind tunnel tests to improve the IS-MAX 2’s ventilation, and this is acutely felt when wearing the helmet.
At no point did my bonnet overheat.
This was in British weather, however, so the accuracy of this claim in countries with an average temperature in the double digits remains to be seen.
The IS-MAX 2 does not have any dedicated spaces or mounting points for comms equipment. There are still plenty of comms systems on the market that don’t require dedicated mountings though, and the IS won’t impede your use of any of them.
The only unusual detail I noticed with the IS-MAX 2 is that there isn’t any feedback when you close the helmet, which means that it can sometimes be hard to tell if the helmet is locked in the full face configuration.
So then, the roundup.
The IS-MAX 2 is an excellent choice of helmet for the budget conscious. If you’re looking for an entry level lid with loads of features, great ergonomics, and all the advantages of a modular helmet, this is it.
This helmet would be at home on a daily commute, and is ideal for lazy Sunday cruises to your favourite local spots. Couple it with some low profile in helmet speakers and you’ve got the recipe for an awesome day out in the fields.
I would recommend this helmet to anyone who is looking for a nice looking bucket that won’t drive them mad and won’t break the bank.