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HJC FG-17 Review

HJC FG-17 Review
HJC FG-17 Helmet Review
by Rick K. and "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com
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Summary

The HJC FG-17 slides in just under the company's top-of-the-line RPHA-10 race helmet, which was formerly known as the HJC RPS-10 (review).

The FG-17 incorporates many of the high-spec features from the RPHA-10, including the unique centrally-located visor lock.

It has a fiberglass composite shell in place of the polycarbonate shells found on the more pedestrian HJC helmets.

The face shield is Pinlock-ready and the Pinlock anti-fog insert and chin curtain was included. Note that as of May 2014, the Pinlock insert and chin curtain are extra-cost accessories.

The liner fabric, padding and the overall fit, finish and build quality of the HJC FG-17 is a noticeable step beyond the IS-series and CL-series helmets from the "#1 in the World" helmet manufacturer.

Background

In this review, we'll describe the features that make the FG-17 different from the HJC CL-16 (review), which was the "World's Best All-Around Motorcycle Helmet Bargain" and also from the HJC CL-17 (review), which received the 2013 webBikeWorld "Motorcycle Helmet Value of the Year" award recently.

After those reviews were published, many webBikeWorld readers asked about the FG-17, a helmet that we hadn't considered. So acting on that feedback, we bought an FG-17 in the cool "Force" graphic shown here, this one with the yellow high-viz color.

We had no expectations one way or another but, as it turns out, the FG-17 really is quite different from the CL-series helmets and it's yet another HJC hit, with fit, features and finish that compares to helmets costing a heck of a lot more.

HJC FG-17 Top View
Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality

It's always difficult to make an accurate assessment of paint and graphics with a nearly all-black helmet like our FG-17 in the "Force" graphics, but this one is easy: it's excellent, with no errors that we can find, even after going over it carefully.

The bright high-visibility yellow accents really pop against the black, which isn't quite matte but more like an eggshell slight gloss surface that's much easier to clean than pure matte (or worse, that rubberized stuff).

Just within the last few days, HJC also released a couple of new FG-17 graphics, including the "Mamba" and "Banshee"; both are pretty wild. Of course, the helmet comes in basic black or white, but you only save 10 bucks compared to the good-looking Force graphic.

As soon as the FG-17 is pulled out of the box, the difference between this helmet and the CL- and IS-series is noticeable. The lower-rent HJC helmets use polycarbonate for the shell, but the FG-17 has a fiberglass composite shell that feels very solid.

The fit and finish of the hardware is of a noticeably higher quality than the CL-series helmets; the FG-17 has what appears for all the world to be metal rockers for the top vents and a metal slider for the chin vent, but on closer inspection, we're almost positive they're plastic coated with some type of paint that sure looks like aluminum. This is a nice touch that adds to the overall "luxe" ambience of the FG-series compared to its lesser siblings.

The rear exhaust vent also looks very stylish and it has what appear to be perforated metal mesh screens over the exhaust ports, which again add to the appeal. And by the way, if you look at the exhaust vent from the rear, it has a sort of "angry Transformer robot" scowl -- not sure if this was done on purpose or not?

The interior also is more upscale than the CL-series, even with the slight liner and padding improvement that the CL-series received with the recent introduction of the CL-17. The stitching and fabrics used in the FG-17, along with the vinyl along the bottom of the cheek pads, appear to be an upgrade.

The FG-17 is about a $50.00 to $60.00 cost difference from the CL-17 and -- as long as the helmet fits (see our discussion below) -- it's definitely worth it. Not only do you get the composite shell, the higher quality (and tighter toleranced) vents and face shield with the center locking/lift tab from the RPHA-10, you also get an included Pinlock ($30.00 list) and an included chin curtain (about $7.00) not included with the CL-series helmets.

UPDATE: HJC said that as of May 2014, the Pinlock insert and chin curtain are no longer included but are available as accessories.

You may find an FG-17 on sale (although the CL-series helmets are on sale for even less also). Just remember, the FG-17 has a different fit and view out the eye port than the CL-series, so read on...

Score: We give the HJC FG-17 an "Outstanding" rating for overall quality. See the Summary Table at the bottom of the page for a description of our rating system.

HJC FG-17 Slide Show
HJC FG-17 Helmet Fit, Internal Shape and Liner

The internal shape of the FG-17 is very similar to the other HJC helmets we've reviewed recently, with a more-or-less "Neutral" to "Slightly Round" internal shape profile as defined in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ. This means that the helmet should match the majority of head shapes.

But the FG-17 has a slightly different fit than the CL-16 and CL-17. The cheek pads in the FG-17 are a touch more firm and their profile makes the lower half of the helmet feel noticeably tighter than CL-series helmets of the same size (XL in this case).

The slight taper of the fiberglass composite shell of the FG-17 may account for some of the difference; it feels more like a "race" fit (tighter towards the bottom) than the "tour" fit of the CL-series helmets. The FG-17's cheek pads in size XL are actually too thick and thus too tight for me (Rick) and the pressure is a bit too much after about 20 minutes of riding. Optional cheek pads with different thicknesses are available.

The liner and cheek pads are removable and the fabric and the vinyl along the bottom of the helmet looks and feels higher-spec than the materials used in the CL-series also and the padding feels slightly firmer all around. Overall, the differences in fit from the CL-series is slight, but noticeable.

The chin curtain that comes with the FG-17 is a friction fit between the EPS and shell, but it needs something to give it more grip, because the tabs on either end of the chin curtain are too smooth and they slide out too easily from the helmet as the helmet is pulled off the head. This means that the chin curtain sometimes pops out on one side or the other and chances are, one day it will disappear.

Our FG-17 "Force" in size XL also fits about a half-size smaller than the CL-16 and CL-17 in size XL. We have those helmets on hand to make the comparison. So between the slightly firmer or tighter fit at the cheeks and lower half of the helmet and the slight difference in sizing, the FG-17 in size XL should fit a "Neutral" shaped head up to about 60.0 cm.

A 60.5 cm "Round" head like Rick's is borderline and may need the thinner (30 mm) cheek pads. 20 mm cheek pads are also available (we believe the stock cheek pads are 35 mm thick). By the way, the new Cardo SHO-1 intercom (review) will fit the FG-17.

Otherwise, the FG-17 definitely feels more upscale than the CL-series -- it's a near-perfect cross between the CL-series and the top-of-the-line RPHA-10.

Eyeglasses

The problem here is that there is no definite answer. If the owner has a "Round" shaped head and the helmet has narrow sides, fitting eyeglasses or sunglasses may be a problem. But an owner with a narrower head may have no problems fitting eyeglasses.

This makes it very difficult to make any kind of statement about it that makes sense. Eyeglass fit is also is highly dependent on the eyeglass shape. Straight temple glasses with flat sides or temples, like the Randolph Engineering Aviator glasses (review) can usually fit in any helmet, while eyeglasses with hooked temples can be very difficult to fit.

With regards to the FG-17, the Randolph Engineering Aviator sunglasses fit Rick's "Round" head inside the helmet. For more information on fitting eyeglasses in a motorcycle helmet, read this webBikeWorld Motorcycle Eyeglasses article.

webBikeWorld Internal Shape Estimator: HJC FG-17
Narrow Med. Narrow Slight Narrow Neutral Slight Round Med. Round Round
Helmet Shape
Helmet Shape
Helmet Internal Shape Examples (see more Motorcycle Helmet Shapes)
Arai
Profile
Arai
Vector 2
AGV
K4 EVO
AGV
Stealth
Arai
RX-Q
Bell
Arrow
Arai
Quantum II

More information on helmet fit can be found in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page, along with the chart that lists the helmet weights of webBikeWorld reviewed helmets and also by shape on the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Score: We'll give the HJC FG-17 an "Outstanding" rating for shape, comfort and thick padding.

HJC FG-17 Helmet Liner
The HJC FG-17 liner feels more expensive than the CL-series. The FG-17 also comes with a chin curtain.
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HJC FG-17 Face Shield, Eye Port and Outward Visibility

The face shield and base plate used in the FG-17 is labeled as the HJ-10M, used in the FG-17 and IS-17 helmets. It looks identical to the HJ-20 used in the RPHA-10, but we're not sure if there's a difference.

The FG-17 face shield has the center locking lift tab first seen on the HJC RPS-10 (review). It still seems larger than it could/should be and it can be difficult to operate when wearing thick winter gloves, so make sure you become familiar with it, because you don't want to be fumbling around trying to open a face shield that's becoming fogged while in traffic.

The eye port in the composite shell of the FG-17 seems slightly smaller than the CL-series in both the vertical and horizontal planes. For reference, the view out the eye port is similar to an Arai RX-Q (review).

The face shield seals very tight against the full eye port gasket on the FG-17. Water runs along the top of the gasket and is then shunted along the sides, where it quickly drains down through the rotating mechanism (base plate) and away from the rider.

The HJ-20M base plate on the FG-17 feels very precise and it's manufactured with close tolerances. Like other HJC helmets, it's very easy to remove and replace the face shield (as illustrated in the video below). Optional mirrored and tinted face shields are available as accessories.

The face shield has a first small position for city use and/or defogging and it raises through five detents. It's also Pinlock ready and a Pinlock anti-fog insert (review) is included in the box.

webBikeWorld Eye Port Visibility Estimator: HJC FG-17
Visibility Poor Below Average Average Above Average Outstanding
Vertical
Horizontal

Score: The HJC FG-17 face shield gets an "Outstanding", while outward visibility rates a "Very Good".

HJC FG-17 Top Vent System
HJC FG-17 top vents with "metal-look" rockers.
HJC FG-17 Chin Bar
Large single "metal-look" slider opens the dual chin vent.
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HJC FG-17 Ventilation and Air Flow

The FG-17 has the standard two vents on top and dual chin vent system. The vent hardware looks like metal and feels like metal but we believe it's plastic with a faux metal coating. It looks good and gives a richer appearance to the helmet.

The top vents have rocker switches and the air has a clear path down through two nicely aligned holes through the EPS and into the helmet, where the air flow is unencumbered by the liner. The air flows directly on to the rider's head and along channels in the top of the helmet liner and the air then exhausts out the back.

The upper ventilation is very good -- excellent actually -- although it isn't without some noise under certain conditions. The vents seem biased towards a sportbike riding position, with better air flow and less noise when the head is tilted slightly downwards, as it is when riding a sportbike.

Behind a fairing or windscreen when sitting upright, as on a touring bike, the air flow is still good but not as noticeable and the noise level can increase as the air flows off the windscreen and is directed towards the top of the helmet.

The air flow from the chin vent is a bit of a disappointment; it doesn't seem to flow as much air as the CL-17. There are no direct air vents through the chin bar, unfortunately, so the air is channeled up along the top of the chin bar. Overall, the chin vent could probably be rated as slightly better than average, but it's not outstanding by any means.

The rear exhaust event assembly looks really nice. It has a sort of robot look with eyes and a nose as you look at the back of the helmet, which is kind of cute/cool. The metal screens covering the exhaust ports are a nice touch and the system is effective.

Overall, the ventilation system in the CL-17 performs better than average, but perhaps not quite as good as the CL-17.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: HJC FG-17 Ventilation
Location Poor Below Average Average Above Average Outstanding
Top/Upper
Chin/Face

Score: We'll rate the ventilation system of the HJC FG-17 as "Very Good" overall.

HJC FG-17 Face Shield Removal Mechanism
The face shield removal system on the FG-17 is very easy to use.
HJC FG-17 Rear Exhaust Vent
Exhaust ports are covered by metal mesh screens.
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HJC FG-17 Sound Levels

Overall, we think the FG-17 is a relatively quiet helmet that's quieter than average, based on all of the nearly 200 helmets we've reviewed on webBikeWorld.com.

The FG-17 top vents can generate a bit of noise, as described in the previous section. The noise is more noticeable when sitting upright or when riding behind a windscreen, depending on how the air moves off the windscreen and on to the helmet.

The rest of the helmet seems quieter than average and the snug "race" fit of the cheek pads and the slight inward curvature towards the bottom of the composite helmet shell, along with the thickness of the neck roll, help keep noise levels low.

On an unfaired motorcycle with the head tilted slightly forwards, the FG-17 can be very quiet.

webBikeWorld Opinionator: HJC FG-17 Noise Levels
Location Very Quiet Quieter Average Louder Very Loud
Upper
Lower

Note that our helmet evaluations are normally a combined effort of several riders over time, on different types of motorcycles with and without windscreens. Evaluators wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs (even when evaluating motorcycle intercom systems) and (usually) a helmet liner. It is strongly recommended that hearing protection is used when riding a motorcycle.  See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.

Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual. Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit; the type of motorcycle and windscreen; wind speed and direction and even the type of clothing that is being worn. For more information on helmet noise, visit the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Noise page.

Score: We'll give the HJC FG-17 an "Excellent" rating for noise control.

wBW Video: HJC FG-17 Helmet
HJC FG-17 video on the webBikeWorld Vimeo channel.
Helmet Weight

This FG-17 in size XL weighs 1667 grams (3 lbs., 10-3/4 oz.). The composite shell apparently shaves around 90 grams from the weight of the HJC CL-17 (review) at 1754 grams. The HJC CL-16 (review) in size XL weighs 1702 grams.

Other size helmets in this weight range include the AGV Horizon in size XL at 1685 grams and the Icon Airframe (XL) at 1657 grams.

Note that all of the helmets reviewed on webBikeWorld have been weighed and the weights are available on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page, along with a chart that lists the helmets by weight and shape on the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Shapes page.

Score: We rate the HJC FG-17 as "Excellent" for its reasonable weight and good balance.

City Defogging Mode
HJC FG-17 face shield in city defogging position.
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Miscellaneous

The HJC FG-17 has a double-D ring chin strap attachment system with a metal snap to hold the extra length (upgraded from plastic on the CL-series). There's a nice, large rubber pull tab attached. The padding under the chin strap feels short -- like they copied it (unfortunately) from Arai!

The FG-17 meets the DOT standard and it's Snell M2010 certified in the U.S.A. It is available in sizes ranging from XS to 3XL. Two shell sizes span that range.

webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: HJC FG-17
Picks...
...and Pans
  • Another outstanding HJC value.
  • Comes with Pinlock insert and chin curtain.
  • Very comfortable liner.
  • Excellent upper ventilation.
  • Locking face shield.
  • Face shield has city position for defogging.
  • Snell M2010 certified.
  • Three shell sizes.
  • Solid feel and upscale appearance.
  • Tight fit at the cheeks is different from the CL-series (a pro or con, depending on your head shape).
  • Disappointing chin vent performance.
  • Slightly noisy at the top vents under some conditions.
  • UPDATE: Pinlock insert and chin curtain no longer included, which makes it not quite the bargain it was.
Conclusion

The HJC FG-17 is yet another home run. It offers several discernible upgrades over the CL-series.

UPDATE (June 2014): Note that the Pinlock insert and chin curtain are no longer included, so the FG-17 is not the bargain it once was compred to the CL-16 and CL-17.

There are some slight fit differences from the CL-17 that are noticeable enough to make the FG-17 a possible no-go for certain head shapes.

But if it fits, the FG-17 is probably the better deal, because it looks and feels more upscale than the IS- and CL-series HJC helmets and it's nearly the equal of the much more expensive RPHA-10.

wBW Review: HJC FG-17 Helmet
Manufacturer: HJC Helmets List Price: $189.99 (solids) to $239.99 (graphics).
Sale Price: FG-17 on sale with this link.
Colors: Solids and graphics. Made In: China
Sizes: XS to 3XL Shell Sizes: Three Star Rating (1-5): Four Star Rated
Review Date: February 2014
Ratings Scale: For reference, our ratings scale is subjective and ranges from Unacceptable to Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.

Note: For informational use only. All material and photographs are Copyright © webWorld International, LLC since 2000. All rights reserved. See the webBikeWorld© Site Info page. Product specifications, features and details may change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read the Terms and Conditions!

Your Comments and Feedback

Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details).  Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.

From "J.N." (July 2014): "This is a very odd fitting helmet. HJC even acknowledges this by having a special sizing chart, specific to the FG-17 and none of their other helmets.

After much measuring and review reading, I opted to go up a size from XL, as my last 4 helmets were XL to an XXL. In the middle of a 3 hour ride, the hot spot on my forehead was so uncomfortable, I could not wear the helmet. Had I not been with a friend who had saddle bags, I might have had to leave the helmet at a gas station.

HJC says the padding in that area of the helmet is specified at 12 mm, about half an inch. The pictures on your website reflect this measurement. The padding on my helmet does not reflect this measurement. On the contrary, the padding is virtually flat.

I am sending pictures to HJC for their evaluation. However, I doubt that any amount of replaceable padding size changes will significantly affect the hot spot problem. Although, I am hoping for some relief or the helmet is a total loss."

Editor's Reply: The FG-17 fits very similar to other HJC helmets. There may be something wrong with the padding in yours. Usually, a forehead "hot spot" is the result of trying to fit a "Narrow" head in a "Round" helmet. You may find that a Shoei or Arai will fit you better.


From "J.F." (March 2014): "More and more I am relying on webBikeWorld for motorcycle gear reviews. I found the HCJ FG-17 at the cycle show recently. Came home to find out more about the helmet on webBikeWorld -- it was not there. Nuts! Unlike others I did not ask for a review.

So it was with great pleasure I read the HJC FG-17 helmet review. The review confirmed my impression from the cycle show. Thanks for posting the review.

I have read the positive review on the Tourmaster Over Pant. So I bought a pair but found them bulky in the legs and lacking in protection so I bought the Tour Master Caliber Pants. I use them as an over pant and they work great. I'd like to see a review of the Tourmaster Caliber Pants -- I think there is more bang for the buck vs the Tourmaster Over Pant. Thanks for opportunity to leave feedback."

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