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The HJC Calido Plus is a good quality urban cycling helmet, and its removable visor can help glasses-wearers, but there were some issues that undermine the high price tag and prevent it competing with the best cycling helmets on the market.
As a cyclist who wears glasses all the time, I was keen to see if the Calido Plus would solve my wet-weather urban cycling problems. The helmet comes with a removable rain visor which is attached using three magnets. It's also slightly tinted which helps to reduce glare.
The recessed magnets ensure a flush fit to the helmet, and this meant that no rain got through the seal to my glasses, so I avoided the typical double whammy of rain-splattered spectacles with rain streaming down my face.
I found that the distance between my eyes and the visor allowed me to focus more easily on the road ahead through the rain than when riding only with specs. The curvature of the visor also helped, as when whizzing along on an e-bike (yes, I'm lazy in the rain) the wind helped to blow the raindrops off the visor. Because it's a half-visor, there was no fogging as my breath didn't reach the visor as it would with a full-face helmet.
There are some negatives to the visor, though.
First, it has a black nose-protector. I found this invasive as it was noticeable when riding – I can't understand why clear plastic wasn't used for this element.
Secondly, and more problematic, the visor is meant to attach to the top of the helmet when you don't need it, clipping onto additional magnets hidden within the helmet. However, when trying to do this I found that the grip wasn't good and the visor rattled about. Only on very close inspection of the publicity photos did I find that instead of just pushing the visor up and into place on top of the helmet, it's designed to fit the opposite way around.
This is very awkward to do when riding, as it means taking the visor off, turning it around, and then finding the magnetic catches. This was no mean feat in winter gloves on a group ride where I couldn't stop!
I can't see why HJC has designed the visor so it needs to be turned 180 degrees to be stored on the top of the helmet, it's just not conducive to changing its position while riding, though we're assured by HJC's UK distributor that it gets easier with practice.
Looking at the fit of the helmet, HJC has included a system that works like an elastic band, adjusting the tension automatically as your head moves during the ride. This, combined with a five-point adjustment system for the initial fit, meant I was able to get a comfy and tight fit around the circumference of my head.
The chin strap adjustment is left wanting, though. The leather strap itself was comfortable, but there was only a single point of adjustment under the chin, with no adjustable strap splitters. This was surprising as the HJC helmet lower down the range comes with additional adjustability in the strap divider, to ensure that a good fit around the ears can be achieved.
The chin strap has a magnetic catch which worked well, though there's no cover for it. This, combined with the inability to change the strap angle or position, makes me think it could be more comfortable.
There's also a piece of plastic on the end of the strap which looked like it would clip somewhere to stop the loose end flapping, but I couldn't find anywhere to clip it, so it did just flap annoyingly in the wind.
The Calido Plus is made from an EPS liner bonded to the outer polycarbonate shell using an in-mould process, which is meant to provide a safer and cleaner finish. It comes in white, grey and black as well as the gloss blue on test, which is prone to marks and scratches, so didn't look pristine for long. The other colours have matching leather/leatherette sections; they also have brown leather straps (strict vegetarians, beware), so I'm not sure why this one has a black strap when it could have a matching brown one.
The inner helmet has plentiful soft, washable pads, with spares included. It also comes with additional ear covers as part of the inclusive 'winter pack'. These worked well as wind and cold protection in cooler weather.
In terms of airflow, there are two channels and an air vent at the back. As the key feature of this helmet is the rain visor, I wondered whether the vents were actually a negative, as I certainly felt the rain through them, and this clearly isn't a helmet for use at speed. Testing the helmet in the autumn, I didn't feel any need for additional venting, though you might in the summer.
At 404g with the visor for the medium size, it's certainly not 'feather-light' as HJC claims. In fact, we've tested lighter high-end urban helmets that have in-built lights, such as the Abus Hud-Y – 334g and £129.99 – and lighter lids with Mips: the Chpt 3 x Thousand Barrivell is £26 cheaper, weighs 378g and has Mips.
There is no getting away from the fact that £165 is a lot of money for an 'urban' helmet – it's the most expensive one we've tested, and with no light, no Mips tech, and the annoyances of the visor storage it's not the best value. At this price, I would want all of the bells and whistles possible.
It's cheaper than the Kask Urban R, which costs £189 and weighs a claimed 410g in a medium size, but that looks to have a better visor design and closable vents.
Overall, though this helmet has many interesting features, it feels like it could have done with more rigorous testing on the road, with the need to turn the visor through 180 degrees to clip it out of the way being the biggest annoyance.
Interesting looking helmet, but pricey, and some design issues mean there's room for improvement
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road.cc test report
Make and model: HJC Calido Plus Urban Cycling Helmet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
HJC says: "CALIDO PLUS is the ultimate urban helmet to suit any environment. The shell's minimal weight and multiple helmet features provide safety and comfort for every cyclist. An interplay of materials with a modern colour palette, high-end chin strap, and easy-to-use magnetic buckle enhances the fashion-forward design to satisfy not only those looking for a classic style but also the latest fashion trends."
HJC's claims about minimal weight aren't followed through – indeed the Calido Plus is on the weighty end of our recent test helmets in the same style.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
S 51-56 cm 20-22in
M 55-59 cm 21.6-23.2in
L 58-63 cm 22.8-24.8in
WEIGHT 350g (+/-10) *(our weight tests showed that the M weighed in at 370g without the visor and 404g including the visor)
*5 STEP SNAP FIT
*Wind Tunnel Tested
Advanced Air Channel 2.0
This is a well-finished helmet with lots of attention to detail, such as the sewing on the chin strap. The in-mould construction means the EPS is bonded together with the outer polycarbonate shell for greater structural strength. HJC claims that "this improves the rider's protection by providing a compact reinforcement and gives the product a perfect finish".
The helmet was comfortable, and luckily I didn't get to crash-test it.
Everything feels solid and like it will last, though the gloss shell and the leatherette finishes were both easily scratched in normal use.
The helmet is not, as is claimed, of minimal weight. At 404g with the visor, it was heavier than several recently tested urban lids with lights on them.
While the adjustment for head circumference and the generous padding provided a good level of comfort, the lack of adjustment in the straps meant this helmet didn't sit as comfortably as it might have. It isn't pony-tail friendly either.
At £165 and without an integral light or Mips, this is an expensive helmet; it's the most expensive urban helmet we have tested.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It was fine for its intended purpose when used in dry weather without the visor attached, and in wet weather with the visor.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The stretchy adjuster in the cradle which kept the helmet in place.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This is an expensive urban helmet. The Abus Hud Y is £35 cheaper and comes with a light, and the Chpt 3 x Thousand Barrivell is £26 cheaper and has Mips.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
I'm going for a middle score of 5; for the money, I would have expected the issues I found to have been ironed out.
About the tester
I usually ride: Trek 7.5 WSD My best bike is: Turquoise Cruiser
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, Leisure