The burdens of the big headed. Buying a HJC i90 in 5x.

Now, I know it's hard to believe, but I have a huge head. Like, not just figuratively, but literally! Now, I don't just mean that I'm outside the norm and need an XL or even a XXL. I'm talking that this is an actual issue kind of huge. I'm talking I can never buy a snap back hat that fits right. I'm talking 3XL on most helmet brands in a modular or full face are uncomfortably tight on me. I actually have a 3x Scorpion AT950 that I can barely wear because it squeezes my cheeks.

The situation is so dire that I literally cannot use the majority of high-end helmet brands. Ruroc, Arai, and AGV literally do not make a helmet that will fit me. Even Shoei only has a handful that I'd even dare to try on. Scorpion, Bell, LS2, and lately HJC are really brands that cater to my size and even Scorpion will leave us out on their higher end helmets, I couldn't find a GT3000 in 3X anywhere to even try out.

A Scorpion 3/4 CT-220 has been my daily driver for a couple years now, and while it's been a heck of a helmet, and won't be completely retiring, common biker wisdom says that lids should be changed every few seasons. I also recently purchased a touring bike with the intention of doing some longer cross-country trips in the next couple years. The responsible rider in me admits that if I'm to be doing triple digit mile days on the interstate, a full helmet is a no-brainer, pun intended. With that in mind, I've been eyeing some modular helmets, but because I've got my sizing issues to consider that is unfortunately easier said than done. At least, I thought it would be.

Buy the Scorpion 3/4 CT-220 here:

Enter the HJC i90. The thing that really caught my eye is a 4x and 5x sizing! A big part of what makes a helmet's size is it's outer shell. Typically, XS and Small are basically the same helmet with different depth impact media(the Styrofoam stuff), and internal cheek pad width. Same with LG and XL or 2X and 3X. This is relevant because it means that those of us who are on outside edges aren't so much getting helmets made for us, as we are smooshing our heads into the size below with thinner pads! The result is usually a prolonged uncomfortable break-in period. The introduction of a 4X and 5X means that I'm finally for the first time, getting a shell made for my size range. This was too attractive to pass up for me.

The size is what drew me in but as I researched the helmet, there were also a number of great quality of life features that made the sale even more attractive. I've owned more than a couple HJCs, again they tend to be a company that actually makes helmets in my size, but to be honest I've found them to be hit or miss on build quality, though I've read good reviews in recent years as they've started releasing higher end models. Helmet tech is catching up to pricing and now one can get a $220 HJC that has features previously found in a $500 Shoei just a few years ago.

The HJC i90 has a $220 MSRP, but I scored it this weekend at $197 on sale. I've had a chance to ride a couple hundred miles with it now, and there's a lot to like! The cheek pads are thick and comfortable and in a new trick for HJC, they contour around the bottom of the face, greatly reducing wind noise. This is easily the most quiet modular helmet I've ever used, which really helps the sound from my Cardo's speakers deliver great sounding music.

Buy the HJC i90 Here:

Which brings me to the next bonus, under those cheek pads is perhaps this helmet's greatest trick. This helmet has slots for speakers like basically every decent helmet now a days, but HJC has taken this a step further. This helmet is ostensibly designed to carry HJC and Sena's collaboration of Bluetooth/Intercom devices but many of their changes are beneficial regardless of which music/communication system being used. I have a Cardo PackTalk Bold, and my new helmet install kit went in in a breeze. This is HJC has actually provided not just speaker cut outs, but cutouts that allow a variety of positions, with a variety of speakers. One of my biggest complaints from most helmets in this regard is that they make perfectly circular cut outs and none of the speaker OEMs make perfectly circular speakers. Even when they are round, the wires coming off of them mean that they don't fit well into a circular hole. This usually results in a meeting between helmet and dremel in order to have a comfortable fit. For the first time ever, my oval Cardo speakers dropped right in and fit flush! There's even channels for the wires to go through! Very nice!

Ergonomics and ventilation are actually very nice. I could feel air flowing over my head in all vent positions, and I was able to go over 45mph with the chin bar up, which is very nice on a hot Florida day. With the chin bar down, the visibility is still great, in fact this might be one of the best full face helmet eye ports I've ever used, with no obstructions to my peripheral vision at all. The face shield is sturdy and clear and sports HJ-33 pin lock

posts for fancy upgrades like auto tint.

With that list of positives of course, there's a couple things that aren't perfect. It's got a polycarbonate composite shell, which is really the compromise that makes this a $200 helmet rather than $400 one. Polycarb is heavier than other materials like carbon, fiberglass, or kevlar. That said, this helmet is pretty light compared with other polycarb modulars I've owned, but is still noticeably heavier than some of the high dollar models. My other big complaint is that the face shield will often close on it's own at high speeds, which is a minor problem to be sure, but on a hot Florida day certainly is annoying!

I've not had it long, but I did a full 100+ mile day with my matte black 5x in the blistering Spring Florida sun, and it was comfortable and functional throughout. Overall, it's I think it's great value for the price tag, whether for someone like me who has little choices or whether for someone who wants a decent touring or everyday helmet at a good value.

Looking for a new helmet? You can pick one up here:

Like it, hate it?  We'd love to hear what you think... please leave your comments below:

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About Me (Site Editor):

Matt Ramieri

       Founder/President of All Riders: IMC:

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  • 2015 Ducati Diavel Dark

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  • 2021 Kawasaki Ninja H2

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