February 19, 2012 - Hang on -- you're gonna love this story!
I'm not even sure how to describe what has to be the strangest product announcements I've witnessed.
HJC released a new line of helmets (I think) at the 2012 Dealer Expo, but the launch is very confusing, to me anyway.
In fact, I'm not even sure what I saw.
Here's the story: I was strolling through the HJC booth, which is a story in and of itself, because so many distributors handle HJC that it's hard to find the "real" HJC booth in the crowd.
Along with the normal HJC helmets everyone knows (and apparently loves, because HJC sells boatloads -- literally -- of them) was a row of helmets with a new logo.
At first, I thought I was in a distributor's booth and the helmets with the stylized "RP" logo (looks like an R but the product literature says RP) were some new brand. This happens a lot -- a distributor cooks up a new brand of cheap helmets, trying to capture a tiny slice of too-saturated market share.
To be frank, the helmets weren't that impressive-looking at first glance, so I wondered why they would be trying to introduce a new line of helmets to compete with the other brand they were promoting -- you know, the one called HJC.
That's when a guy strolled over and I realized by looking at his name tag that it was the "official" HJC booth. So I asked him about the new helmets with the big "RP" logo (see photos below) and he responded, telling me this was the new "RP" brand.
One of the helmets looked like a generic flip-up and another looked similar to the HJC RPS-10 (review) we reviewed in October of 2010. But it had an "RP" logo on the front...
I then grabbed the flip-up. That's when I discovered that the helmets were wired and locked to the display -- something I have never seen in all my years of attending these types of shows.
He said the flip-up was the "RP Max". I said "What's the difference between this and the Sy-Max III (review)"? He told me the RP-Max was a "premium" helmet. It didn't look premium to me -- in fact, it didn't look as nice as the Sy-Max III. It had some rough edges on the flashing around the vents and although the paint had a deeper metallic than the Sy-Max III, the rest of the helmet seemed...pedestrian.
They had an electronic scale prominently displayed in the booth, but the helmet was locked to the display, so I couldn't weigh it. He said the RP helmets had a special shell design to reduce weight. It didn't feel extraordinarily light, so I'll let that one pass until I can get it on our own scale.
Then there was a motocross helmet on display in the lineup (photo below) with the RP logo. That helmet is not listed in the RP Max brochure he gave me, nor is it listed in the HJC "2012 Spring Collection" catalog. In fact, other than the RP-Max flip-up helmet shown below, no other "RP" helmets are listed in the 2012 Spring Collection catalog at all.
Confused yet? It gets better... There's a special RP catalog featuring the RP-Max, but all of the helmets in that catalog have the standard HJC logo on the front! I took a photo and posted it below.
So basically I have no idea what's up. There were some helmets in the HJC booth that did not have an HJC logo. They appeared to be of prototype quality -- not something I would have wanted on display. Perhaps they were supposed to be some type of stage props and the RP logo was for display only?
Is the HJC RPS-10 now supposed to be part of another line of helmets? Will there be a new line of helmets? If so, how do they differ from the other HJC helmets? Will they be sold under an RP brand?
What does "RP" mean? What's the difference between the Sy-Max III flip-up, the IS-Max flip-up and the RP-Max flip-up? And what about the motocross/off-road helmet with the RP logo that does not appear in any of the 2012 product literature?
Lots of questions. Your guesses are as good as mine. I'll continue to monitor this and try to get to the bottom of it.
Publication Date: February 19, 2012
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From "W" (February 2012): "I read your report about the HJC(?) RP-MAX, I think it's the R-PHA MAX DOT version, just like the relationship between R-PHA-10 (ECE) and RPS-10 (DOT).
On the HJC website they don't release news about this helmet until now. I guess it will be named "RPS-MAX" but I'm wrong. It uses the "RP" logo maybe use to claim this is lightweight series? (Something like X-LITE in NOLAN?) By the way, on the HJC European website, they are emphasizing the R-PHA MAX is very light."