HJC has been the largest selling motorcycle helmet brand for 25 years in North America. However, until recently, there has been a gap in the Korean helmet maker’s lineup. The DS-X1 is the first adventure helmet from HJC, and it is both inexpensive and quite good.My head, which I describe as an Arai head, always gets on well with HJC helmets. The DS-X1 is no exception. It’s rare that I will grab a helmet I’ve never worn and set off for the day with no backup, but that is exactly what I did with the DS-X1.
Unsurprising to me, the DS-X1 was perfect the entire first day. This is not a helmet that requires some sort of break-in. It worked immediately, and continued to fit perfectly and feel good on my head on repeated extended rides.With an MSRP under $200, regardless of the size or graphics you choose, you might expect that the HJC DS-X1 is not a high-end helmet. That’s a fair assessment, as the venting is sparse and not particularly effective, and it’s not especially light for a plastic-shelled lid. Still, the DS-X1 has quite a bit going for it, besides the wallet-friendly price tag.The DS-X1 is nicely padded inside, with the padding around the perimeter of your skull being plush, and a thinner scallop-style padding at the top to help evacuate heat. There are some nice details, including a channel between padding layers that allow for eyewear. Given that there are no photochromatic shields for the DS-X1, the ability to don sunglasses comfortably makes a big difference. We had no problem with eyewear from Serengeti, Maui Jim, and Sikk Shades.Although weight is important when considering a helmet, especially if you’re going to be jostling your head around off-road, the DS-X1 is nicely balanced. Again, all-day rides with plenty of twisties, high-speeds, plus some dirt, didn’t cause any sort of neck fatigue.Noise and wind deflection is something of a personal experience, especially on adventure bikes—the bike you’re riding, as well as your height, can make a big difference in your perceived performance of a helmet.For me, the DS-X1 was pleasantly quiet on a number of adventure bikes, and I never suffered head buffeting on the freeway or issues when turning my head to check traffic at high-speed. The HJC DS-X1 performed on open roads exactly how I would like it to perform.I was impressed by how quiet the DS-X1 is, even at high speeds. One notable feature of HJC’s RPHA 11 helmets is that they keep wind noise away from the ears. As an adventure helmet rather than a pure street helmet, the DS-X1 isn’t going to be that quiet, but the RPHA 11 influence seems to be there.The faceshield has two positions between fully up and down. While the large left-side tab is easy to find, the action of the shield is neither smooth nor light. This is one of those places where you know the helmet runs less than $200. On the upside, the eyeport is large enough to accommodate goggles for off-roading in dusty conditions with a group.I would have liked a longer peak, as even when it’s in the low position, it doesn’t do much to shield my eyes from the setting sun. It is adjustable while riding, as the single securing double-wing nut at the top can be easily manipulated with gloves on.For a first attempt at an adventure helmet, HJC did an excellent job, especially considering the price point being targeted. As satisfied as I am with the DS-X1, I’ll be anxiously awaiting an RPHA DS to see what HJC can do with a larger budget.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.