HJC FS-10 Helmet Review
by "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com
Shell seems bulky.
The exhaust vents and design of the liner allow higher than average noise levels.
Rotating internal sun visor works only in the full on or off positions.
The HJC FS-10 fills a gap that HJC apparently perceived in their lineup.
The FS-10 is one of the most expensive HJC helmets at $249.99 (solid), which is more expensive than the top-of-the-line HJC AC-12 (wBW review), which lists for $229.99 (as of this writing).
The HJC CL-SP (wBW review), is next in the lineup, and it lists for a reasonable $169.99 and is a bargain at that price.
The CL-SP's low price is probably due to its polycarbonate shell, which some riders actually prefer.
Some claim is a longer duration time in the distribution of G-forces during impact, which may theoretically lower the amount of force transmitted to the rider's head.
Is it possible then that CL-SP owners are paying less for more?
The FS-10 has the same "Advanced Fiberglass Composite Weave Shell" as the HJC AC-12, which could theoretically lower the weight.
But the addition of an internal rotating sun visor and the mechanism that controls it, which incorporates a rather large exhaust vent on the rear of the helmet, seems to add the weight that might have been saved.
All told, I have been riding with the HJC FS-10 for several weeks in a variety of conditions, and although it's a decent helmet, I'm just not overwhelmed, and I've been struggling to figure out how this helmet fits into the HJC product mix.
HJC is known for high quality helmets at very reasonable price points, but the FS-10 doesn't meet that goal, in my opinion.
We've found HJC helmets to have some of the best quality you can find for the price, and the FS-10 is no exception. I may disagree with the company's strategy with the FS-10, but I can't argue with the build quality.
Our size XL is a solid white, which makes it difficult to judge the quality of the graphics and the paint, but ours is very nicely turned out. The paint has no orange peel or dust bumps, although I'm not sure about the clear coat -- the HJC decal on the front of the helmet is not located under the clear coat, which makes me wonder if there really is a clear coat over the paint.
But everything else has been assembled with precision; the liner seems to be high quality, it fits perfectly, the gasket around the bottom of the helmet is tight and perfectly aligned and the hardware, levers and switches all work as they should and don't feel cheap.
The "RapidFire" visor removal system has be the fastest and easiest-to-use system we've seen yet, although I'm not sure if it would pass the racer test for security. The eye port gasket is nicely done, but the only exception is that the very topmost corners of the gasket don't seal fully against the back of the clear visor when it's closed.
Score: We give the HJC FS-10 an "Excellent" rating for paint and overall quality. See the ratings descriptions in the summary table at the end of this page.
The FS-10 has what I'd call a "round" internal shape. The helmet shell on our size XL seems very large -- it's one of the few XL helmets I've tried recently that have that "fishbowl" or "space helmet" feeling, like the shell is too big for my head or for the size of the helmet.
For more information on the importance of internal shapes and choosing and fitting a motorcycle helmet, please see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet FAQ page.
The helmet does look very large when I put it on a table next to some other helmets; for example, it seems much bigger than the Arai Quantum II, so I don't think I'm dreaming.
But the liner is very comfortable; it doesn't have that slightly scratchy feeling that I seem to get from the average helmet. The FS-10 uses what HJC calls its "SilverCool" liner, which is claimed to be "moisture-wicking and odor-free...with advanced silver anti-bacterial fabric."
The liner and cheek pads are also removable and washable, and although the padding feels nice and thick, the liner fabric doesn't necessarily feel plush, but it does have a very soft feel, almost like doe skin suede. The combination of the thick padding and the fabric make for a comfy fit.
Note that I think either the padding at the forehead is either slightly thin or the helmet is slightly tight around the top, because I do feel a bit of pressure on my forehead when wearing the helmet, which for me is unusual. Although it feels slightly tight, it hasn't bothered me during rides of about 1-2 hour duration.
Also, as with many helmets, the padding at the bottom rear doesn't seem thick enough and it doesn't fit tightly against the back of my head and neck, which might help prevent some of the booming wind noise I experience (see below).
This size XL FS-10 feels like a near-perfect size XL fit, maybe just a touch small around the top of the head, so I'll have to assume that the helmet will fit true to size across the rest of the sizes, which run from XS to XXL.
Each ear pocket is filled with a separate triangular shaped section of padding, which I think could be easily cut from the liner if desired for the installation of speakers. I can wear my regular length eyeglasses with the FS-10, even though the liner doesn't have a specifically designed eyeglass temple notch. See our article on modifying a pair of eyeglasses to fit inside a motorcycle helmet.
Score: I'll give the FS-10 an "Excellent" for its internal shape and the comfort of the liner, which should fit a wide variety of riders. That drops to a "Good" when taking into account the seemingly larger-than-normal shell size for the XL.
The HJC FS-10 has two vents on top, which open with a single sliding switch. The vent opening faces the front of the helmet, and it would probably move more air if it was wider. When the top sliding switch is moved towards the rear, some plastic moves back in the vent opening, but the opening is very small, and I can't believe more than a very tiny amount of air gets through.
It's actually a shame, because there was some care taken to create channels in the foam liner, the padding and even through the back of the liner at the rear of the helmet to allow air to flow through and out the back of the helmet. But the vent just doesn't seem to allow much air to flow through into the helmet.
The chin vent also uses a small vertical switch lever, but the chin bar does not have holes in back; the air flows up on to the back of the visor only.
The helmet has a large exhaust vents at the rear, at the back of the raised assembly that also holds the mechanism for the rotating internal sun visor. Two vertical exhaust vents at the lower rear of the helmet also allow air to escape.
The upper exhaust vents cause some noise, especially when the helmet is turned side-to-side while riding. I can put my hand over the vents and the noise ceases.
Score: I'll give the HJC FS-10 a "Poor" rating for venting and air flow.
Our size XL FS-10 weighs 1641 grams (3 lbs., 9-7/8 oz.); slightly heavier than the average weight of 1628.5 grams for the 80 helmets we've reviewed as of this writing.
The strange thing is that the helmet feels heavier than it really is. I think it must be a combination of the seemingly large-sized shell and the shape. The "fishbowl" effect provided by the large shell also seems to make the helmet feel heavier than normal, and the large shell also moves around in turbulent air and crosswinds, bouncing the helmet and adding to the feeling of mass.
For more information on helmet weights, see the wBW Motorcycle Helmet Weights page for a chart comparing the FS-10 with the other 79 helmets we've reviewed as of this writing.
Score: Although the FS-10 should get a "Good", I'll have to give it a "Poor" for the combination of shape and weight, which make it feel heavier than normal, in my opinion.
The FS-10 is available with either a clear or optional tinted face shield. The face shield is treated with HJC's anti-fog and anti-scratch coating, and it's claimed to filter 95% of UV rays. I measured the thickness of the face shield with a micrometer at 2.2 mm.
The face shield does open just a crack to allow fresh air to enter, which is a nice feature. But it only opens up in 3 stages, with a top, shorter fourth stage allowing face shield removal.
The removal mechanism has to be the fastest and easiest I've ever tried. Flip up the face shield, move a lever towards the back and the face shield simply pops off. This is demonstrated in our video tour below.
A rocker switch on the left-hand side locks the face shield closed if desired, to prevent it from accidentally opening when riding.
Score: I'll rate the face shield clarity, operation and visibility of the FS-10 as "Excellent".
The FS-10 has an internally rotating sun visor, and apparently this is one of the main selling features of this helmet. My feeling is that the helmet -- no helmet -- should be chosen on that particular feature.
The rotating sun shade in the FS-10 has what I think is a poor design because it is usable at only two positions: on and off. The spring-loaded visor is engaged by sliding a lever located on top of the helmet forward about 55 mm. To disengage the visor, a small button on top of the helmet is pressed and the visor snaps closed.
This may be some attempt by HJC to avoid a theoretical liability issue, where they think that if the visor is only partially engaged, it may affect the rider's vision. Or, it may simply be what they think is a clever idea. But this feature diminishes the capability of the visor because it can't be lowered only part way to shield the sun coming in from above the rider's eyes.
The other problem, which is common on every one of the internal sun shades we've tried, is that it doesn't come down far enough to move out of the rider's line of sight. And, it's curved at the bottom and with a notch for the rider's nose, which is silly, because there's basically no way that I can see that the visor would interfere with a nose.
Finally, like just about every other rotating sun shade we've tried, the tint isn't dark enough to have much of an effect anyway. I'll bet the manufacturers are scared silly of being accused of making the visor too dark, which someone will use in a lawsuit.
Combine all of this together with the added weight and complexity of the internally rotating sun visor, and it adds up to a negative, rather than a positive, in my opinion. But take away this feature and, to be honest, you'd have a mediocre helmet at best -- my feeling is that the helmet is not up to the value equation that HJC is known for.
Give me a nice dark internal sun shade with perfect optical clarity, that rotates all the way down to the bottom of the eye port, with a straight edged bottom, that is infinitely adjustable up and down and that weighs maybe 50 grams, and I'll be all over it. In the meantime, no thanks.
Score: I rate the internally rotating sun visor as "Poor".
Two of us have ridden extensively with the FS-10, and our opinion is that it transmits more wind noise than average.
The problem seems to come from two areas: the large raised center spine that houses the front vent, the sun visor rotating mechanism and the rear exhaust vents; and the design of the padding at the bottom and in back of the helmet, which needs to be thicker to block the noise caused by turbulence around the bottom of the helmet.
The seemingly large shell size also contributes to the turbulence problem, in my opinion. The helmet has some rushing wind noise around the back that can be greatly reduced by holding a hand over the top exhaust vents or around the bottom of the helmet. This to me is a sign of a poor design.
Remember that we always wear correctly fitted, high quality earplugs and an extra helmet liner when riding, and we strongly recommend that you always wear hearing protection also. See the wBW Earplugs and Hearing Protection page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs.
And also remember that your experience with noise levels will probably be different because it depends on many factors, including your head shape, the motorcycle configuration, prevailing winds and more.
Score: I rate the HJC FS-10 as "Poor" for the amount of noise that it transmits.
The FS-10 is DOT FMVSS 218 only at the time of this writing. Although it seems to have the same fiberglass composite weave shell as the AC-12, which is also Snell approved, I'd guess that the rotating sun visor mechanism on top has one more added negative because it probably prevented the FS-10 from getting a Snell rating.
The FS-10 uses a D-ring attachment system and the extra length of chin strap attaches with a snap. The padding under the chin strap is comfortable.
My feeling is that the HJC FS-10 is a disappointment. It is apparently designed to be one of the top HJC helmets, but it just doesn't seem to offer the same value as other HJC helmets. Take away the internal sun visor, which has a poor implementation anyway, and I don't think the helmet offers anything that the much less expensive HJC CL-SP has. I think I'll pass on this one...
wBW Review: HJC FS-10 Motorcycle Helmet
|Manufacturer: HJC Helmets||List Price: Solids - $249.99; Metallics - $254.99; Fossil graphics - $259.99|
|Colours: Red, blue or gray graphics. White, black, silver or anthracite metallics and solids.||Made In: Korea|
|Review Date: October 2007|
Rating Scale is subjective: Unacceptable, Poor, Neutral, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.
From "B.L." (September 2011): "I Just read your review on the FS-10 and agree with all but the Sun Visor comments. I love that feature of the helmet and it works great for me. You donít have to mess with sun glasses on or off as needed or change visors after the sun goes down. Just a quick flip and you have sun protection or not.
That however is about as far as it goes. The size feels way too big on my head, indeed like being in a fish bowl. And the noise, wow! My 4 cylinder bike isnít loud, but itís almost like the exhaust note is being amplified at slower speeds.
I have a low windshield on my bike and even with foam ear plugs I have a constant drone and buffeting wind sound that is terrible. On a long ride my ears are ringing for an hour after getting off.
I bought the thing because of the integral sun visor but wish I would have read your review first. Keep up the great reporting as I will be looking for a replacement in the future."
From "D.A." (7/08): "I'll agree with some of your opinions on the FS-10 and disagree with others. I do think it's a noisy helmet. I notice that when turning my head to the side I usually get a whistling noise coming from the helmet. Not a big problem with me personally because I wear ear buds with music anyway. It might bother some people though.
The venting isn't great either. I totally disagree with your review of the sun visor though. Before, I would bring a pair of sunglasses with me and could only take them off if I stopped. I love how I can just flip a switch if I'm riding into the sun and switch it back if the clouds come out or I'm facing away from the sun. The tint is good for blocking the glare in my opinion.
Also, why would you want the sun visor partially down? I don't quite understand you complaint that it's either up or down. The only complaint I have with the sun visor is a slight distortion. Other than that, I love it! Good helmet for my money. Not the best, but good."
Editor's Reply: The reason we don't like the "only on and off" internal sun visor system is because the visors that have an infinite adjustment setting (like those that use friction to hold them up) have a much greater range of adjustment. A greater range of adjustment means that the visor can be lowered only slightly if desired to block out sun from above. It just gives a better range of adjustments that fit more riders, depending upon the rider's preferences or head shape/size.
It's such an easy thing to do, I'm not sure why HJC chose a relatively heavy and cumbersome mechanism for their visor. All that's needed is a friction fit so the rider can pull the visor down to the desired position.
From "R.": "I will disagree with your review, I found the FS-10 helmet to be a joy to wear. The sun shield being one of the best features. It is easy to deploy and retract, much better than carrying two shields. The helmet is a bit noisy, so I turn up the installed speakers. I would rate the helmet as a good purchase and would recommend."