Review of the HCI 15 Helmet
2010 - By Jordana Whyte
Introduction by David Harrington
It makes sense to wear a helmet.
Research, statistics, common sense, they all point to the validity of wearing a
helmet when one rides. When it comes to scooter riders, there seem to be a
number of people who think that because scooters are generally operated at lower
speeds (as compared to motorcycles) and are small and often cute, helmets
aren’t really necessary. OK. Fine. Hop on your pedal-bike, run it up to 20 MPH
on the street and jump off. After your head hits the pavement let me know if
lower speeds eliminate the need for a helmet. (Do I even have to warn you NOT
to really do that?) The helmet that offers the best protection is a
DOT-approved full-face helmet. I can attest to this from (unpleasant)
experience. That being said, nearly ANY helmet is better than no helmet.
A common style often associated with
scooter riders is the three-quarter helmet in the “copter” style. These offer
protection for most of the head (except the lower jaw) and help reduce
the claustrophobic feeling some riders experience with full-face helmets.
Copter-style helmets differ from other three-quarter styles in that they have a
visor shaped to cover the eyes and expose the nose and lower face. This
configuration is used by pilots to facilitate the attachment of an
oxygen/communications mask, hence the copter nickname. For this review I
selected an HCI model 15 copter-style helmet – retail price of $89.99. HCI (Helmet
City, Inc.) has been around since 1997 and their helmets are offered in
several retain locations including Scooterville and Mill City Motorcycles in
Minneapolis. It is a DOT-approved helmet with a shell made from fiberglass. The
overall dimensions of the helmet are a bit smaller than some other models.
Several people have told me they like this as it reduces the “bobble-head”
appearance of smaller riders with the helmet on. For our bobble-head (ooops,
I meant “smaller rider”) I asked Jordana Whyte to review the helmet. Jordana
has been incredibly helpful with reviews and podcasts for JustGottaScoot.com.
She rides a Genuine Buddy 150cc scooter and prior to reviewing this helmet rode
with a Fulmer three-quarter helmet.
If you don't
ride with a helmet because you hate the way it looks, find it uncomfortable or
feel it limits your vision...well, first of all, quit your whining and just put
one on. Second, consider the HCI 15 as an option that will mitigate all three of
I've been wearing this helmet for two months' worth of riding and absolutely
love it. The medium size satisfies the
basic rules of a properly fitting brain bucket: snug but not tight, and doesn't
move much when it is tugged and twisted, or jostled like after hitting a manhole
cover (oops). There are no obvious pressure points. I find this helmet much more
comfortable than my Fulmer, in part because of its perfect fit, and in part
because the foam lining is extremely soft and cozy. If it's possible to feel
like a helmet is giving your head a hug, this one pretty much fits the bill.
This helmet is much lower profile than any other I've previously owned or used.
If you remember the movie Spaceballs, my Fulmer feels akin to the get-up
that Rick Moranis' Dark Helmet character is rocking. The HCI 15 is more Speed
Racer, complete with the "copter" style curved clear visor, and racing
stripes. I no longer feel ridiculous when I’m geared up. Looks aside, this
streamlined design also makes the helmet lighter, easier to get a bag strap
over, and leaves me more room in my scooter's under-seat storage. Visibility and
peripheral vision are very good. I have not had to exaggerate head movements
because the helmet restricts vision on the sides.
real selling point for me on the HCI 15 is its ability to accommodate glasses
without a constant need for adjustment. With others, both ¾ and full-faced, I
have to strategically angle my glasses under the helmet in order to keep them on
the bridge of my nose. Inevitably, they start rising up as I ride, magically
hovering in front of my face. This is annoying but acceptable when wearing my
prescription single-vision sunglasses, but completely worthless at night or on
overcast days when wearing my regular glasses, which are bifocals (yes, I am
way too young for bifocals, thank you). At night I often have to adjust my
glasses at stops, or angle my head down in order to peer through the top part of
my floating glasses. This is not only aggravating; it is inherently dangerous.
The HCI 15 liner keeps my glasses in place. I can even pull this helmet on and
off with my glasses already on my face. I cannot overstate what an improvement
this has been for me.
After two months
of regular use the helmet is no worse for the wear, with no scratches or chips.
The visor still glides smoothly and hasn’t needed tightening. The lining did
“break-in” a bit, but still fits snugly as it should.
most helmets, this one is pretty low on features, but provided it gets its job
done in a crash this isn't a shortfall. There are two small vents located above
the visor. Rotating the plastic cover on the vent allegedly opens up a little
airflow into the helmet. I say "allegedly" because there is no appreciable
difference between open and closed. However, in this hotter than normal summer,
the HCI 15 has been totally adequate in terms of temperature regulation. Even
with the humid weather, visor fogging hasn’t been an issue. There is a small
band of elastic located on the chin strap in which to tuck the loose end of the
strap after fastening. A cloth storage bag is included. As for purpose-built
features, that's pretty much it.
The review helmet is white with two red racing stripes running from front to
back across the top, subtly edged with gold. There are four colorway options,
including striped (red, pink, blue/yellow), solid (red or black), curvy stripe
(green/gold, black/gold, green/black) and the unfortunate hibiscus pattern
(black/white, pink/white, yellow/white) for those people. A smoke-tinted
visor is available. Sizes range from XS to XXL.
At around $90, the HCI 15 is a steal. It is comfortable, streamlined,
attractive, lightweight and will protect your noggin in a crash. HCI kept it
simple, and it simply works.
The helmet used in this review
was equipped with an Echo helmet quick-release. These are readily available at
local stores and online for about $8 - $10 and work quite well.