HJC RPHA 70 ST Review
HJC updates its top-tier sport-touring helmet for better all-around performance. The new RPHA 70 ST is a refined version of the outgoing ST model, with improved venting and other touches aimed to have this lid ready for whatever the road might throw your way.
RPHA is HJC’s premium line, so you’re getting the best the brand has to offer with the 70 ST. From a material standpoint, this means a PIM+ (Premium Integrated Matrix) exterior shell. This is a multi-layer design made from fiberglass, carbon fiber, carbon fiber hybrid and aramid layers, intended to create a durable yet lightweight shell. The result is a helmet that tips the scales at two-pounds nine-ounces in extra-large.
This is an upgrade from the PIM material (notice no +) used in the ST and is the same hard shell you’d find on a race-spec RPHA 11 Pro. Engineers utilized a new process of layering the materials that helped cut weight and streamline design.
The restructured profile of 70 ST is a highlight for me, particularly the narrow, compact look when viewed straight on. The indentations along either side of the chinbar and those leading into the top rear vents make it seem like it’s itching to slice through the air.
And in practice, it does. The slim build and thoughtful aerodynamics contribute to a helmet that virtually disappears on your head when riding. It’s stable at freeway speeds on a fully naked bike and doesn’t pull when you look to make a lane change. Ending a full day in the saddle with no neck fatigue is a huge plus in a sport touring helmet.
The caveat is that most of the time I spent wearing the helmet was in an upright riding position. HJC has built the RPHA 70 ST to be just as effective in a more sporting, tucked position, though.
Much of the RPHA 70 ST’s versatility as both a sport touring and more relaxed touring helmet comes from its ventilation design.
Starting at the chinbar, there’s two options. The main vent is opened and closed via a slider on the outside and a lower vent has an adjustment tab located on the inside. On the crown, a two-step vent is shaped to draw air in in either the tucked or the upright position.
The two top rear exhaust vents can be opened or closed. So for riders keeping the pace high and the head behind the bubble, HJC recommends the exhaust ports be left open for maximum Venturi effect. If you’re wanting more complete airflow front to back, keep the ports closed and air will push back through the exhaust ports at the rear of the lid.
Out on the road airflow is noticeable and well-directed with all the ports open. With as cold as the weather has been and riding without the Pinlock insert, there has been fogging on the main shield at stops. That’s relieved immediately once you start rolling though, and can be mitigated if you leave the main shield open just a crack.
Thankfully, there wasn’t any issue with fogging on the dropdown sun shield in these cases, showing the benefit of an upgrade HJC made over the outgoing ST. Responding to customer comments, the company applied an anti-fog coating to the internal shield and it works like a charm.
More on that Sun Shield
The outgoing model used a spring-loaded design for the internal sun shield. But after customer complaints regarding the shield not dropping down or retracting all the way, HJC decided to go with a wire-operated design for the 70 ST.
Slider action is seamless and directly linked to the operation of the shield, allowing the rider to place it in any position between fully down and fully retracted. When down all the way, it provides ample coverage and protection from the sun and is tinted enough to ensure reliable vision in harsh sunlight.
Bits and Pieces
The eyeport is larger on the 70 ST compared to the outgoing model and HJC updated the eyeport gasket for a reliable seal against the wind, rain or other road hazards. The main shield also has a locking mechanism.
This makes for a nice, quiet experience out on the road and unencumbered field of view.
Head shape is similar to what you’d find on the ST or RPHA 11 Pro, which HJC described as somewhere between round and intermediate oval. This was the only real problem I had with the lid, because my head just isn’t shaped for such a helmet. I had the same issue when I tested the RPHA 11 Pro last year, and have the same problem with the 70 ST – a hotspot on the top center of my forehead after a bit of time in the saddle. I inquired whether a thinner crown liner might solve the issue, but company rep said it probably just isn’t meant to be considering my long oval head.
C’est la vie
Which is a shame because this is a fantastic helmet otherwise, and one riders with a round or round-to-intermediate oval-shaped head will doubtless love. It’s lightweight, quiet, all it’s moving parts work reliably well. It can accommodate communicator pockets and eyeglasses if needed and best of all, it won’t break the bank. This is a premium lid that could go up against just about any sport-touring helmet on the market. But it’s starting price of $399.99 makes it a stellar deal when set up against helmets of similar build quality that can run $100 to $200 more in price.
Give it a close look if you’re in the market for a new sport touring lid in 2018.
HJC RPHA 70 ST Helmet Highs & Lows
Slim and lightweight
High quality build and materials
My long oval head shape is not quite right for the lid
Without Pinlock installed, fogging occurs at a stop on colder days
HJC RPHA 70 ST Helmet
MSRP: $399.99 – $414.99
Sizes: S – 2XL
Colors: Black, Semi-Flat Black, Semi-Flat Titanium, White
Warranty: Five year limited
Weight: Two-pounds, nine-ounces in XL