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Pain in the neck? Get a lighter helmet!

By Michael Mihalevich

AC-3 Carbon Fiber Open Face Helmet

HJC

$299.99
www.hjchelmets.com
562.407.2186

Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ne-braska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. What do these 20 states have in common? There is no freedom of choice—they have full helmet laws for all motorcycle riders.

I’m from Missouri (or Mizzourah, as it’s meant to be pronounced), so it’s time to go shopping for that lid. As a street rider you can go all the way to the new full-face modular flip-up helmets for maximum coverage. You can go to the opposite spectrum of helmet choices and opt for the half-shell beanie to meet the minimum requirements of the law. And then there’s the middle of the road compromise with the three-quarter shell open-face cruiser helmet.

Let’s explore the open-face option. This style is similar to a full-face helmet, but it does not wrap around your face and chin. The shell extends from your brow, over your head, to the base of your neck and forward over your ears. The helmet can be quickly removed without momentarily blocking your vision, unlike a full-face helmet. However, three-quarter-shell motorcycle helmets still afford much of the same protections as full-face helmets. You can also install a headset in three-quarter-shell helmets to communicate with others.

I like the idea of the open-face helmet. It feels less confining than the full-face helmet, yet it offers more pro-tection than the beanie. I particularly like the HJC AC-3 Carbon Fiber helmet. It is strong, lightweight, and stylish.

The carbon fiber composite weave shell is extremely lightweight. The AC-3 weighs in at about 2 pounds, 10 ounces, only twice the weight of the cardboard box it was packaged in. The carbon fiber weighs approximately a quarter pound less than similar helmets of traditional materials, which seems quite significant while you’re wearing it.

It offers superior fit and comfort, and it was designed using advanced CAD technology. I know my head was not one of HJC’s computer models, but the helmet fits nicely around my cranium. HJC claims full front-to-back airflow flushes heat and humidity up and out using the Advanced Channel-ing Ventilation System. Admittedly, I have not had the opportunity to ride in the heat of the summer with my AC-3, so I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the ventilation system, but it is an open-face helmet, after all.

HJC states that the AC-3 also offers a SilverCool Interior, which is moisture-wicking and odor-free with ad-vanced silver antibacterial fabric, so it is comfortable, removable and washable.

The helmet retention system uses standard double-D rings, but HJC thoughtfully adds a snap to the end of the chin strap to keep it from flapping in the wind and beating you about the face and neck. The AC-3 is shipped with an aerodynamically designed visor, but there is an optional shield available. The only problem is that you cannot attach both the visor and the shield at the same time, which is an option I would appreciate. However, it’s easy to switch from the visor to the shield, and no tools are required. The shield can also be flipped up out of the way when it is attached to the helmet.

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