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HJC Sy-Max vs. Sy-Max II vs. Sy-Max III

HJC Sy-Max vs. Sy-Max III Comparison

Yeah, I know — if you read my report on the HJC Sy-Max II helmet latch failure, I said I�d be looking for another brand of helmet.

But then I heard about the Sy-Max III and after an exchange of e-mails with the engineers at HJC, which included some detailed pictures of the revisions made to the latch anchor points (see below), I pulled the trigger and bought one.

My excuse? We want to make sure you�re up to date on the changes, that way you can make an informed decision on your next helmet purchase!

So, with both the Sy-Max II and III in my possession, I took to the road to do a side-by-side comparison.

My focus was on comparing noise, ventilation, turbulence, eye port visibility, chin bar and face shield operation, since Rick (and Burn) would be covering everything else in detail.

Each helmet was worn twice on the same route while riding my 2002 BMW R1150 GS (report) with the stock windscreen and my 2000 BMW K1200 LTC with the “barn door” windscreen.

The route consisted of slow speeds though the neighborhood; stretches at 50 MPH (80 km/h) and 65 MPH (105 km/h) with a 10-15 MPH (16-25 km/h) headwind when traveling in one direction at the higher speeds. .

Noise Levels

The Sy-Max III is just a little bit quieter than the Sy-Max II. I could tell when the top vent was open, but the noise increase was negligible.


I could definitely feel air flowing over the top of my head from the top vent, but only when riding the LT…of all things.

I did find the button that opens and closes the vent a real pain to find with a gloved finger since it�s so darned small. Of course, there�s a lot of air flowing in from under the helmet, making it very hard to determine if the chin bar vent is doing anything at all. Note: I intentionally did not wear any type of head wrap so as to better feel any air flow.


I�m pleased to find that the Sy-Max III does a better job in smoothing out the “dirty air” from vehicles ahead of me at higher speeds.

Eye-port Visibility

The vision out the top of the eye port has been greatly reduced, but since I ride in an upright position, this is of no concern to me.

The vision out the lower part of the eye port is the same as the Sy-Max II. What is different is amount of space between my chin and the rotating chin bar; there must be almost another 1/2″ (13 mm) more room. This is obvious when you put the two helmets side by side with the chin bars in the up position as the Sy-Max III is taller overall.

Face Shield

Yippee!!! They moved the tab on the face shield back towards the center! This was a real disappointment on the Sy-Max II for me, since the face shield would always twist and flex when raising or lowering and required an extra downward tug on the right side to insure it was fully closed and water-tight.

But…I noticed there�s no half-click opening for preventing fogging, perhaps because it�s equipped with the mounts for a Pinlock insert, which I don�t care for.

While I�m talking about face shields, let me say that I happen to love the internal sun shades that are becoming more common in the modular helmets. Even though I wear sunglasses (for which there is plenty of room), for those times when I�m headed directly into the sun, the internal sunshades are a blessing.

As far as adjustability of the shade is concerned, for me it�s either fully way up or fully down so it�s not important for me to vary its height.

Sy-Max II vs. Sy-Max III Front Quarter View
The HJC Sy-Max II on the left and the Sy-Max III on the right.
HJC Sy-Max II vs. Sy-Max III, rear view.
Differences in the visor parts and top vent/sun visor assembly are readily apparent. (Sy-Max III on the right).
HJC Sy-Max II vs. Sy-Max III, side view.
Sy-Max II on the left and Sy-Max III on the right.
HJC Sy-Max II vs. Sy-Max III, front view.
Flip-up visors rotated fully up. Sy-Max II on the left.
HJC Sy-Max vs. Sy-Max II vs. Sy-Max III.
Oirginal Sy-Max on the left; Sy-Max II in the center; Sy-Max III on the right.
Sy-Max vs. Sy-Max III, Front View.
Original Sy-Max (red) vs. Sy-Max III, front view.
Sy-Max vs. Sy-Max III, Side View.
Original Sy-Max (red) vs. Sy-Max III, side view, rotating visors open.
Sy-Max vs. Sy-Max III, rear view.
Original Sy-Max (red) vs. Sy-Max III, rear view.
Sy-Max vs. Sy-Max III, Side View
Original Sy-Max (red) vs. Sy-Max III, side view.
Images from HJC on improvements to chin bar visor lock. Click on photo for full-sized version.
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