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By: Brian Goley

HJC's AC-X3 & CL-X5 Helmets

A helmet is the most important riding equipment one should reach for before operating any ATV. Riding without a helmet or riding with an old or damaged helmet may increase your risk of serious injury or possible death in an accident.

From all of the mainstream helmets for sale at your local dealer, you will likely find a selection from the Korean helmet manufacture HJC. Some like to call these helmets starter or beginner helmets based on the relatively low price tag. The most popular HJC helmet lines, the AC and CL Series, all meet or exceed the DOT-218 and SNELL M-2005 minimum safety performance requirements. (Note: The only notable difference is with the CL Series youth sizes. They are only DOT-218 approved.) The HJC helmets, being constructed with high quality materials and receiving the DOT and SNELL stamp of approval, provide solid inexpensive protection.

HJC offers one of the most complete product lines in the industry; the largest size & price ranges and widest variety of styles & graphics. My helmet collection contains 2 HJCs from years past and they have served me well during their time. So, when HJC asked me to review 2 of their current 2006 lineup offerings: The AC-X3 and the CL-X5. I jumped to the chance. Besides, it was about time for me to replace my current aging brain bucket anyway.

The AC Series line is HJC's high-end series. HJC puts their best materials and features into the AC's, including exotic shell materials like the advanced composite fiberglass & Spectra® composite weave or full application carbon fiber, Aquatrans® moisture wicking interior material featuring open cell technology foam, superior CAD developed fit and form, and their ACS Advanced Channeling System for ventilation.

The CL Series has been the most popular helmet series in North America for over a decade. The styling and features available on any CL Series model rivals helmets up to 3 times the price. Features like SNELL approved advanced polycarbonate composite shell construction, Bioceramic Nylex® interior material, with odor reduction properties, and the widest sizing and styling range in the business.

Helmet's Info:

HJC AC-X3 Option MC-2
HJC AC-X3 Option MC-2

The top of the line helmet I selected was the HJC AC-X3 Option MC-2 Blue. The new AC-X3 incorporates racer-tested features, such as the Advanced Composite Material (ACM) shell and the Advanced Channeling Ventilation System (ACS), to provide one of the most technologically advanced helmets in its class. You can find this helmet in black or white solid colors or in a large variety of colored graphics.

FEATURES

Super-Lightweight "ACM" Shell Design

  • "ACM" (Advanced Composite Material) Shell constructed using advanced fiberglass & Spectra® composite weave
  • I-beam chin-bar design
  • Three shell sizes for a more comfortable fit

Flow-Through "ACS" Advanced Channeling Ventilation System

Removable AquaTrans® "Open Cell" Interior Liner

  • Easily removable liner and cheek pads for cleaning or custom fitting
  • AquaTrans ® interior material quickly wicks moisture away from the skin
  • Open Cell technology foam allows for increased internal air circulation
  • Padded chin strap design
The AC-X3 comes with a Roost Guard that can be inserted in the chin bar to help protect the skin exposed between the goggles and the chin bar padding.
The AC-X3 comes with a Roost Guard that can be inserted in the chin bar to help protect the skin exposed between the goggles and the chin bar padding.

Aerodynamic Visor Design

  • Adjustable 3-screw "ram-air" visor with machined aluminum side and plastic center screws
  • Integrated visor fins to reduce high-speed lift
  • Visor matches helmet graphics

Large Eyeport

  • Large eye-port opening for greater visibility
  • Integrated non-slip goggle strap holders on each side of the eye port

Nylon strap retention snap

  • Neatly secures excess chin strap

Soft Helmet Storage Bag Included

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

  • Standards: Dot-218, Snell-M-2005
  • Construction: (ACM) Fiberglass and Spectra®
  • Weight: 1570 grams or 3.46 lbs (approximate based on size medium solid color)

M.S.R.P.

  • Solid: $189.99
  • Option: $199.99
  • Agent: $209.99

 

HJC CL-X5 N8Dawg III MC-7FC
HJC CL-X5 N8Dawg III MC-7FC

 

 

HJC CL-X5 N8Dawg III MC-7FC
HJC CL-X5 N8Dawg III MC-7FC

 

 

AC-X3 & CL-X5
AC-X3 & CL-X5

The CL Series helmet selected was HJC’s CL-X5 N8Dawg III MC-7FC Orange. The new CLX-5 is offered in four different shell sizes in order to properly fit a range of riders, from size small youth to size triple extra large adults. In addition to the excellent fit, the CL-X5 incorporates the latest innovations in design, ventilation, and performance. You can find this helmet in black or white solid colors or in a large variety of colored graphics as well.

FEATURES

Injection-Molded Polycarbonate Composite Shell Construction

  • The lightweight injection-molded Polycarbonate composite shell is the latest advancement in Polycarbonate composite technology
  • I-beam chin bar design
  • Four shell sizes provide a comfortable fit from youths to adults

Flow-Through "ACS" Advanced Channeling Ventilation System

Removable / washable Bioceramic Nylex® Interior

  • Anti-bacterial Bioceramic Nylex® liner and cheek pads quickly wick moisture away from the skin and eliminate odor causing bacteria
  • Padded chin strap design

Aerodynamic Vented Visor

  • Adjustable 3-screw "ram-air" visor with machined aluminum side and plastic center screws
  • Visor matches helmet graphics

Large Eyeport

  • Large eye-port opening for greater visibility
  • Integrated non-slip goggle strap holders on each side of the eye port

Nylon strap retention snap

  • Neatly secures excess chin strap

Soft Helmet Storage Bag Included

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

  • Standards: Dot-218, Snell-M 2005 (Youth sizes DOT-218 only)
  • Construction: Polycarbonate Composite
  • Weight: 1600 grams or 3.53 lbs (approximate based on size medium solid color)

M.S.R.P.

  • Solid: $129.99
  • Tao and N8Dawg III: $ 184.99
  • Arena: $149.99

Finish/Quality:
Upon first impression, the HJC helmets look great and their finish and quality of materials are outstanding. Looking at the helmet closely, it is difficult to find any flaws within the helmet’s material or its graphics/paint.

Comfort:
The comfort level of these helmets can vary on a number of factors. As stated early, I’ve owned 2 HJC helmets in the past and both have provided an acceptable comfort level while riding. It does take time for either helmet to be broken in and the inner padding to conform to your head’s shape. Since it is winter here in the Midwest, I have not logged much saddle time in the past couple of weeks, so I’ve been wearing the helmets around the house to break them in. One of the most notable qualities of a helmet is how little you are aware of its presence after riding for an extended length of time. The lack of weight with their fiberglass and polycarbonate composite shells helps make the helmets significantly lighter than other helmets I’ve owned. Anyone remember those heavy helmets from years past that you couldn’t wait to get it off your head? The AC-X3 weighs in at 1570 grams or 3.46 lbs and the CL-X5 weights in at 1600 grams or 3.53 lbs.

Simulating an extended riding condition, I wore each helmet for 2 + hours. I was surprised to find that I really didn’t notice the helmet’s weight or felt fatigued or uncomfortable even at the end of the 2 hours. The advanced building materials of today’s modern helmets really have cut down on the weight. Both the AC and CL helmets offer a solid but comfortable fit without ever feeling heavy.

The inner padding or lining is comfortable and feels soft next to your skin. The cheek padding was overly snug when first worn, but has since broken in and still provides a comfortable feel without being too tight or making any hotspots or pressure points around the face. The removable and washable interior liners of each helmet does an outstanding job of keeping sweat away from your skin. Being able to remove the lining for washing is truly a benefit. I have seen and smelled some older helmets that would have benefited from a good cleaning, inside and out.

The overall fit is good. The shell shape seems to fit a wide range of head shapes and most get a great fit.

Retention Strap
Retention Strap

Venturi Vent System
Venturi Vent System

Retention Strap:
The D-ring fastener has a little grab tab which makes it easy to locate when strapping it on. Buttoning the strap up while wearing riding gloves is somewhat difficult, but it can be done with effort. I tend to put on my helmet and fasten the strap snap in place prior to putting on my ridding gloves.

The retention system or chin strap should be fastened as tight as possible under your jaw without causing pain. There should be no slack in the strap, and the strap must be snug up against your jaw. If the retention system is not tight, your helmet may become dislodged or knocked off in an accident. Do not rely on the snap to secure the helmet. The snap is provided only to prevent the strap from flapping in the air.

Ventilation:
To help with keeping your head cool, both helmets feature forward facing vents on the forehead, inside and outside of the helmet, and chin area for fresh air circulation. The Venturi vent system stretches across the top and around the rear of the helmet where the exit vents are located. The system not only facilitates air circulation throughout the helmet, it also finishes off the stylish and aggressive look.

Summary/Conclusion:
While I have not crash tested these helmets, and hopefully never will before I retire them, I am confident that they will provide a high level of protection.

Both of the helmets offer good protection at a very reasonable price. They will protect your head in a crash and that is the most important thing.

The removable washable liner is a great way to keep your helmet from smelling like an old sock and keeping the helmet looking newer longer. I tend to sweat buckets while riding hard & aggressive and having the option to remove and wash the inner liner is key to keeping my helmets smelling fresh and clean.

The helmets come with a very nice helmet sack. This is a bonus feature and is a great way to help the owner protect their helmet from possible damage while storing it away or transporting it.

AC-X3 & CL-X5
AC-X3 & CL-X5

This Korean helmet maker has a well-established reputation for making solid helmets at attractive prices. Both helmets are comfy, light weight, built well and the graphics look good. Both helmet lines offer many different colors so that any rider should be able to find one that matches their ATV or riding apparel.

Although HJC Helmets are constructed with the best materials available to offer a long-lasting product, it will eventually need to be replaced. Immediately replace your helmet if any of the following apply:

  • It has suffered an impact. Your helmet is only designed for only ONE impact. An impact may fracture the outer shell or compress the impact absorbing liner. You may not be able to detect this damage. Any impact in a crash or a drop from as low as 4 feet is enough to damage your helmet.
  • The shell, lining, or retention system is damaged. The helmet shell, the impact absorbing lining, and the retention system must be in good condition to provide you with the most protection.

Even if your helmet has never been damaged, it needs to be replaced every 3 to 5 years depending on how much you use it. Over time, UV rays and adhesive and component aging will damage your helmet. Wearing a damaged helmet may increase your risk of serious injury or death in an accident.

Contact Info:
HJC Helmets
16918 Edwards Ave.
Cerritos, CA 90703
Phone: (562) 407-2186
Fax: (562) 802-7706
Web Site: http://www.hjchelmets.com
Email: info@hjchelmets.com


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