Let’s not overthink this. You’re on a budget. You want a good, safe, comfortable helmet. If the number you’re thinking of is right around $200, take heart; there are a lot of lids in that neighborhood.
Of course, to get a helmet down to $200 requires a few tradeoffs—like, how many features it has and what it’s made of. Which is why many of the hats in this price range either carry basic features but are made from more labor-intensive fiberglass or are a molded polycarbonate construction with additional features.
That latter category describes the HJC IS-17, a polycarbonate-shell design with an unexpected number of features. In addition to the de rigueur quick-release visor, the IS-17’s is prepped for a Pinlock antifog insert (a $40 option). Surprising for the price, the IS-17 also has an internal flip-down sunshield. Side and chin vents work with front and rear ports to keep the cool air flowing, though we’d call the IS-17 about average for airflow.
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A surprisingly plush “moisture wicking” interior features removable crown and cheek pads; the cheek pads come in four different thicknesses that fit all shell sizes. Overall, the IS-17 is amazingly good for a $200 helmet. It’s comfortable, with no pressure points—the fit very slightly favors a long oval head more than a round skull.
Complaints are pretty minor. We’re not in love with the sunshield deployment, which requires you to slide a small pin forward from near the rear of the crown to put the sunshield down and to find a similarly small button to retract it. The IS-17 is also a bit noisier than average. But considering the price, the IS-17’s feature set—along with its very nice fit and finish—make it an excellent choice in the $200-helmet category. That’s what we think, anyway.
HJC IS-17 HELMET
MC GRADE: B+
Verdict: Above average quality and features in an inexpensive helmet.