Carbon Helmets: HJC AC-3 & FS-15
For years, performance-oriented riders did not take Korean-made HJC helmets seriously. Sure, they had a tempting price point, but readers of Ultimate MotorCycling focus on quality. With 2009 World Superbike Championship Ben Spies strafing tracks around the world sporting an HJC helmet, discriminating riders have been inspired to re-think their relationship with this brand.
While not the HJC that Spies uses, the FS-15 Carbon is a premium quality carbon fiber helmet that can be worn proudly in any circumstance; I have called on it for rides on machines as diverse as the Suzuki Boulevard M109R and the Aprilia RSV4 Factory. The FS-15 has a plush interior and is comfortable on sunrise-to-sunset excursions.
Features that I value on the FS-15 Carbon include the optically flawless faceshield (easily replaceable in seconds, without tools), light weight (3 pounds, 3.5 ounces for the medium), and a plush multi-density liner that suspends the helmet nicely off my skull.
The helmet is reasonably quiet, but don’t expect plentiful airflow from the top venting. Although styling is a very personal attribute, the FS-15 Carbon is a visually stunning helmet, particularly in the non-traditional copper tone-definitely an attention grabber.
A carbon fiber open-face helmet may seem like an oxymoron. Instead, the AC-3 Carbon is more of an arresting juxtaposition of the old and new. At home on a cruiser or touring bike, the AC-3 is a black-only masterpiece that weighs in at a scant 2 pounds, 10 ounces.
With a superb liner and an aerodynamic shape (with a short plastic peak), the AC-3 excels in providing daylong comfort, and it welcomes eyewear. Heads accustomed to half-helmets may consider a 3/4-helmet to be constricting, but I like the peace of mind the additional coverage offers while allowing the wind to stroke my face. Again, venting is there for a bit of cooling across your scalp. Both helmets have a simple double-D strap system that uses an easily manipulated snap to secure the otherwise dangling end.
I am happy to say I did not have any personal experience testing the protection of these helmets, but the folks at the DOT and Snell appear to be satisfied. From a rider’s viewpoint, these are excellent helmets that I wear with complete confidence.